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'No tears, just sweat': Parents of deceased Shanley player encourage Deacons to go out and have fun

The Fargo Shanley scoreboard memorializes Nick Bailey prior to the start of Friday's game against Wahpeton. Bailey, a sophomore football player for the Deacons, died Tuesday at his home. His funeral was Friday, the same day that the Deacons took the field to face the Huskies. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Paul and Kara Bailey delivered a pregame message to the Fargo Shanley football team in an end zone Friday night at Sid Cichy Stadium.

"Go out there and have some fun," Kara said. "Nick wanted you to have fun. No tears, just sweat."

"That's really all we have to say," Paul added.

It was a difficult day for everyone.

Paul and Kara's son, Nick, a sophomore football player at Shanley, was buried Friday.

Nick died at his home Tuesday. A preliminary autopsy report showed evidence of an enlarged heart.

The entire Deacons football team and coaching staff attended the funeral Mass on Friday at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Fargo. The players wore their red game jerseys.

Hours later, Shanley played a grueling game against Wahpeton, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 2A.

The Huskies remained undefeated when a potential game-tying drive for Shanley ended with an incomplete pass as time expired.

The final score: 14-7.

"I'm glad they did," said Shanley coach Steve Laqua said of the Bailey family's pregame words. "That's a strong family. And the poise they showed those young men is what they needed before they took the field. And that's what they needed to heal. They really needed to see that."

The Deacons players and coaches wore stickers with Nick's No. 59. They will do so for the remainder of the season. A moment of silence in Nick's memory was observed at the start of the night.

The emotional day had his team drained before it ever hit the field, Laqua said. The coach declined to make his players available after the game.

As emotionally spent as they must have been, the No. 5 Deacons had a chance for the upset, despite allowing 243 rushing yards - and a 90-yard touchdown run - to Wahpeton star senior running back Ryan Smith.

Shanley's final drive started at its own 18-yard line with 1 minute, 43 second remaining.

Nine plays, including a 37-yard pass from quarterback Myles Montplaisir to Dylan Dunn, got the Deacons to the Huskies' 12.

Montplaisir's final pass into the end zone fell to the ground untouched as the final horn sounded to seal the win for Wahpeton.

"It's just an emotional week and an emotional day," Laqua said. "There were some guys that didn't have all the juice in the tank, but they did the best with what they had."

"With everything that went on up here, it made practice a little more somber, so to speak," Wahpeton coach Mike McCall said. "But I'll tell you what, I give a lot of credit to coach Laqua and those kids. They came out and played hard. They are a good football team.

"They are going to be all right."

Wahpeton 0 7 0 7-14

Shanley 0 7 0 0- 7

W-Smith 58 run (Weisz kick)

SH-Montplaisir 3 run (Montplaisir kick)

W-Smith 90 run (Weisz kick)


RUSHING: W, Smith 31-243, Weisz 1-1, Zarak 1-4, Houle 9-20, Hickel 2-32. SH, Webber 15-39, Nelson 1-(minus-10), Jones 9-19, Montplaisir 8-65, Rivard 1-2.

PASSING: W, Smith 0-1-0 0 yards, McCall 0-4-2 0. SH, Montplaisir 10-24-1 172.

RECEIVING: W, none. SH, Rodenbiker 2-28, Dunn 4-103, Jones 2-28, Savageau 2-13.