Connect with us


Haskins key member of Northern State backfield

Northern State University’s Stanley Haskins Jr., center, sets to stiff arm University of Mary’s Reginald Morrow, left, as the Marauder’s Kevin Butler, back right, gives chase during a game earlier this season at Dacotah Bank Stadium. Haskins went on to score a touchdown on the run. Photo by John Davis taken 9/16/2023

Stanley Haskins Jr. has been through ups and downs during his football career.

The Northern State senior running back has seen the highs of winning a state championship in high school. As a sophomore, Haskins helped lead Britton-Hecla to their first state championship as a co-op in 2017. The Braves defeated Corsica-Stickney 44-36 in an overtime thriller in the Class 9A state title game, giving Haskins a sense of excitement.

“It felt real good to do. It was something that wasn’t accomplished in Britton for a very long time,” Haskins said. “It was fun to do and it was real exciting, especially, I think, for the town of Britton in general.”

Haskins’ success continued to blossom while in high school, where he eventually totaled 5,115 career rushing yards and 71 total touchdowns in his five years as a starter and three years as a team captain. Haskins said he has translated that success over to his college career as well.

“A lot of it is just knowing how to win football games,” Haskins said. “It’s keeping that same intensity that we had in high school, the same motivation, the same focus. Transitioning that over to college, I really think it helped me in practice especially. Just keeping that intensity and that focus and just getting a group of guys to buy into the team.”

Britton-Hecla’s success also continued after the state championship, as Haskins was an integral part in the Braves run to the Class 9A semifinals in 2018 before making it back to the 9A championship game his senior year in 2019. However, Haskins and the Braves fell short, losing to Canistota-Freeman 46-34.

Despite experiencing the low of losing the final game of his prep career, Haskins was proud of all the team accomplished over those three seasons.

“It wasn’t really a feeling of losing. It was a feeling of just a whole bunch of sense of pride,” Haskins said. “Being proud of what we accomplished during that winning span that we had. I just felt very prideful and very humbled to be playing the game that I love. I was glad to do it with that group of boys.”

While the loss did not devastate Haskins, it did motivate him as he went off to college at Northern State the following year.

“It just motivated me to keep going. I did that season with a knee injury and an ankle injury, so I couldn’t really give everything I had in that state game,” Haskins said. “It was kind of just bounce back and get healthy, and get back to my regular self and college ball.”

Northern State head football coach Mike Schmidt took notice of Haskins while on the recruiting trail, and immediately knew that the program needed him on the team.

“When I first got here, he was one of those guys that I said to our first staff in 2019-2020 ‘This is the guy we have to get,’” Schmidt said. “This guy is the real deal and he has proved that over and over again in his time at Northern.”

Schmidt said he saw several key attributes in Haskins that the team needed to have.

“He’s everything that we kind of thought he was going to be,” Schmidt said. “A combination of speed and power and a great teammate who is willing to do anything that is demanded of him throughout the game.”

Northern State University’s Stanley Haskins, Jr. (28) runs into the end zone as University of Mary’s Bryce Tate (33) passes by late with a tackle attempt Northern State during a game earlier this season at Dacotah Bank Stadium. Photo by John Davis taken 9/16/2023

Once at NSU, Haskins was determined to see the field as much as possible. Haskins said he focuses on his intrinsic and extrinsic motivations when pursuing playing time.

“I kind of just like to keep a fine line between those two, but more so focus on my intrinsic motivations, like family, friends, football, faith, and really just the love of the game,” Haskins said.

This season, Haskins has seen the field much more than his past three seasons. He has taken on a leadership role and says it takes consistency and effort to stay on the field.

“The big thing for me was consistency and showing up every day trying to get the plays right,” Haskins said. “It’s showing up and giving 100 percent focus and 100 percent of your cause.”

Schmidt noted that Haskins’ play on the field has led to a larger role this season.

“He creates big plays. That’s the difference with him, is that he has that ability to really break a big one,” Schmidt said. “He has the ability to pretty much score from anywhere.”

Although the Wolves are 1-4 so far this season, Haskins has led the team with 200 rushing yards, while also scoring a pair of touchdowns against the University of Mary in the team’s lone win on Sept. 16. Haskins wanted to motivate his teammates by helping them come together.

“Really I just wanted the team to come in with a lot of confidence,” Haskins said. “I wanted them to remember how good of a team we are and how good we can actually play.”

Haskins’ encouragement helped, as the Wolves earned a convincing 41-10 win over Mary.

However, the celebration was short lived as the Wolves fell to Winona State the very next week, 39-16. Haskins led the team with 88 yards rushing in the loss, while also seeking to lead the team by example.

“I just wanted to be a guy that other people could lean on,” Haskins said. “I like to lead by example. I like to just be a constant motor and do as much as I can for the team every week selflessly.”

During his time at NSU, Haskins says he has felt at home and he appreciates how much the community supports the school and its athletic programs.

“I just think the support and the community is unbelievable around here, and the staff that the school has, they go the extra mile to make sure that guys are eligible and help make sure that we’re learning everything,” Haskins said.

During this week’s Gypsy Days festivities, Haskins has reflected on how much the week and the Gypsy Days football game mean to him.

“It just means a lot of pride for Northern State,” Haskins said. “It shows how much the community cares about the football team and all the athletics, really. It’s really just going to play for the people who support us.”

Haskins says his favorite part of the week is the football game itself.

“Just seeing everybody at the game, excited, and ready to see a win,” Haskins said.

Northern State University’s Stanley Haskins Jr. (28) celebrates a touchdown run during a game against University of Mary earlier this season at Dacotah Bank Stadium. Photo by John Davis taken 9/16/2023

This year’s Gypsy Days opponent will be against Minot State, a team that Northern State has beaten the last 12 times. The Wolves last lost to the Beavers was in 1992, and Haskins says the team will need to come together to get the win.

“It’s going to take a lot of focus and grit,” Haskins said. “It really hasn’t been the season that we wanted. We’ve got a couple of injuries at quarterback and stuff like that, so it’s going to take mostly togetherness. We’ve got to play together. We’ve got to trust each other, and we’ve got to play with confidence and go out there and believe that we can do it.”

Schmidt says Haskins has meant a lot not only to the football program, but to him as well.

“He was a big-time recruit and getting him to stay close to home and getting him to come to Northern was a big marker for us in that first year. For me personally, that was just a huge win for us in recruiting to get Stanley here,” Schmidt said. “Since he’s been here, he’s just been such a great leader and teammate. He has really set some really high standards for himself, that position group, how they play, and how they show up for practice.”

As Haskins’ time as a Northern State Wolf comes to an end, he gives this advice to other Wolves football players that are just entering the program.

“If you play for yourself, it’ll always end bad,” Haskins said, “but if you play for others and through others, there’s no way you can lose.”

Purchase a Photo

Browse By Category

Browse By Month

More in Football