Youngest Akins brother forging own path with Blue Devils

Youngest Akins brother forging own path with Blue Devils

BISMARCK — It's not unusual for any size school to deploy numerous athletes from the same family over the years.

The Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin football team is putting a twist on that in 2018.

Jacob Akins is the youngest of three brothers to go through coach Mark Dodd's program, kicking off his junior campaign at home Aug. 24 against Iroquois West. He follows 2013 Blue Devils graduate Zach Akins, as well as 2017 alumnus Dakota Akins.

There was no chance Zach and Jacob could don the blue and white together as athletes, thanks to the age gap. The solution: Have Zach become an assistant under Dodd, which he did prior to Jacob's freshman year.

"It's awesome because he can tell me what I'm doing wrong and right to help me improve me game even more," Jacob said. "He's really straightforward about everything. He tells me the truth even though it might not be what I want to hear."

Zach primarily helps with the Blue Devils' defensive line after holding down the offensive front during his playing days. Dakota took on a fullback role, something emulated by Jacob today.

Jacob recalls being intrigued by the idea of becoming as good as — or even better than — his brothers on the gridiron. By kindergarten, Jacob said, he was hooked on football.

That feeling only grew when he started watching Zach and Dakota play for Bismarck-Henning.

"The number one thing was everyone was so much bigger than I was," Jacob said. "Just how loud the crowd was and how energetic everyone was. It was an amazing thing I wanted to be part of."

Zach spent some time coaching in the local junior high ranks before joining Dodd's staff ahead of the Blue Devils' 2016 season. As a result, big brother was able to catch Dakota's final prep moments in addition to Jacob's first ones.

"It's pretty nice watching them," Zach said. "Especially getting the hands-on experience of teaching them the ropes, not too many people get that experience. I was pretty humbled."

Jacob, also an outside linebacker, is trying to help BHRA better a 7-4 ledger and second-round postseason exit from the previous year. He's also attempting to carry on the Akins legacy in Blue Devils football.

"It's very nerve-wracking because I knew I was part of a big family that was well known in the Bismarck community," Jacob said. "I'm trying to be the best of our family."

Getting to witness two older siblings in the confines of high school football before reaching that realm himself, Jacob has soaked up a variety of pointers.

For starters, he's trying to mold himself more in the form of Dakota when it comes to backfield duties. Jacob describes Dakota as "more aggressive" carrying the ball, something he'd like to become today.

Then there are the non-physical lessons.

"The number one thing is respect," Jacob said. "Respect my coaches and also my teammates."

Though Jacob posted solid statistics as a sophomore — 591 rushing yards and eight touchdowns to go with 37 tackles — Zach feels there's more in store for his brother.

"He's only gotten stronger and faster and has more size to him, which is always good for football," Zach said. "I think the sky's the limit for him."

This begs the question: Which Akins kid is having the best prep career?

Zach deflects, saying all three have had their moments in the spotlight. Jacob has a different viewpoint.

"My brothers won't like to hear this, but yeah, I think I have a chance to (be the best)," Jacob said. "I can't just live in the shadow of my brothers."



Aug. 24 vs. Iroquois West 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Momence 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 at HASAAP 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 vs. Georgetown-Ridge Farm 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 vs. Westville 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Villa Grove/Heritage 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 vs. Oakwood 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Salt Fork 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 vs. Seneca 7 p.m.

Sections (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports