By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- The South Dakota School of Mines football team is looking to regroup from a disappointing outing last Saturday where the Hardrockers were shutout by their long-time collegian rivals Black Hills State. The Yellow Jackets hung a 47-0 defeat on SDM in a rare “M” Days matchup.
The loss also marked the second week in a row that SDM failed to score any points. With all that behind them, the Hardrockers are determined to have a better showing as they make their third trip to North Dakota in four weeks to square off this time with the Jamestown College Jimmies Saturday afternoon in a Dakota Athletic Conference contest.
The Jimmies will be celebrating homecoming themselves this week and boast of a 4-1 overall record and are tied for first in the DAC with a 2-0 mark.
“They are a real consistent football team,” said Hardrocker head coach Dan Kratzer of Jamestown. “They play well on offense. They are balanced and they have a well rounded defense. They have a lot of good experienced players.”
The roster is almost exclusively made up of upperclassmen. In fact at all the starting positions, 12 are seniors, 11 are juniors and three are sophomores. That is a drastic difference when looking at SDM’s lineup as the Hardrockers roster five total seniors, a handful of juniors and sophomores while having a whopping 30 freshmen.
“We are just going to continue to work and try and improve,” Kratzer said. “That’s the key for a young football team --- to just keep working and plugging away and try to continue to improve.
“For us to be competitive with anybody we have to score and move the football. We haven’t done that the last two weeks. That will be the point of emphasis. We have to do better on offense.”
But with approximately 60 players on the roster, depth at all the positions is lacking, especially with injuries such a big part of the game. A bonus for Mines this week is that they will be getting back a bunch of key players that were out last week that factored into the disheartening defeat.
“We are getting better every week in practice, we just haven’t carried it over into a game yet,” Kratzer added.
Despite the 1-5 record, there are some positives for the young Rocker group. Sophomore cornerback Chad Westendorf had an outstanding game against BHSU, coming up with two interceptions to go along with his five solo tackles.
“The defense has had an opportunity to play quite a bit of football,” Kratzer said. “There are more bright spots on the defensive side of the ball right now than the offensive side.
“We still don’t have any depth on defense --- that is a detriment to us. From an experience standpoint, Jake Hahn, Mike Mule and James MacCormack (all seniors) are the keys to playing sound defense.”
Looking at the Jimmies, they have a number of standout players. Kratzer felt that on defense, junior corners Jake Stoltz and Danny White were quite the playmakers. The Jimmies are currently rated first in the DAC for total defense as well as first in stopping the pass and the run.
“They don’t make a lot of mistakes,” Kratzer added. On offense, quarterback Tanner Kelting (junior) is a playmaker and running back Eric Dirk puts forth great effort as well. Dirk is currently second in the conference with 371 total yards and two touchdowns.
Kratzer said for the Hardrockers to be competitive, they will have to get more production out of their offense and limit their mistakes. He added that his teams need to play more the way they did when they faced Haskell University earlier in the season --- a game they won, 21-19.
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