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You normally don’t hear winless and the Dickinson State football program uttered in the same sentence, but as the 2006 season begins to push forward, that is exactly where the Blue Hawks find themselves, sitting 0-2, dropping games to Northern State University (27-21) and MSU-Northern (22-14)
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY ---- You normally don’t hear winless and the Dickinson State football program uttered in the same sentence, but as the 2006 season begins to push forward, that is exactly where the Blue Hawks find themselves, sitting 0-2, dropping games to Northern State University (27-21) and MSU-Northern (22-14). Next on the schedule for the Hawks is the 1-1 South Dakota School of Mines Hardrockers, who earned their first win of the season this past Saturday, holding off a Haskell University rally to gain their first ‘W’, 21-19.
The Hardrockers take a trip to North Dakota Saturday to face Dickinson State in a non Dakota Athletic Conference matchup during a 7 p.m. game.
“They are odiously better than their record,” said Hardrocker head coach Dan Kratzer of this weekend’s opponent. “They haven’t been 0-2 for quite some time but they played two very good football teams.”
Dickinson did rally back from a 21-0 halftime score against NSU and fell a touchdown shy in the meeting with MSU.
“That’s kind of like stirring up a hornets nest,” Kratzer added of the winless Hawks. “Now we have to go up their and play them.”
With conference play starting next weekend, Dickinson is gearing up to win their fifth-straight DAC championship. The Blue Hawks were picked in preseason as the conference favorite.
“They’re a sound football team. They are sound in special teams and their defense has been a mainstay for them for a lot of years. I think it is again this year,” Kratzer said.
“They have two good inside linebackers (Phillip Russell and Lico Sifuentes) and they have a couple good seniors in the secondary (Jamal Guy and Josh Garcia) that are good football players.”
Working against DSU this season is injuries.
First Steadman Mathis, a senior starting linebacker, was lost for the season with a broken leg and then first string running back, senior Damen Woolsey, had his season come to and end, also with a broken leg.
“On the offensive side of the ball they have sustained a couple of injuries. Their star running back broke his leg last week and that should be some concern to them,” Kratzer said. “But the main factor is that they have depth to replace him and that’s the way they have always been.”
The Hardrockers had a tough time with Dickinson in 2005 getting blanked by the Blue Hawks, 48-0.
“We are just going to have to see if we can step up and play a sound football game and be more competitive with them then we were last year,” the coach said.
With just 60 players on the roster, Mines will need contributions up and down the lineup as well as keeping the injury bug away.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to stay healthy,” Kratzer said.
Kratzer added that it will be key to keep his defensive line in working order.
“If we can keep those guys healthy, we are a much more effective team from a defensive standpoint,” he said. In last Saturday’s game in Rapid City, standout senior linebacker Mike Mule (Billings, Mont.) was sideline for a short spell with cramps as was secondary starter, freshman Pete Guch (Purham, Minn.), also with cramps.
“If you lose a starter on the defensive line and a starter in the secondary, you drop off quite a bit,” Kratzer said.
Another point of emphasis for Saturday’s game will be to get more bang for their buck, so to speak, out of freshman running back John Henderson (Los Angeles, Cali.). Henderson had 25 touches against the Fightin’ Indians (18 carries and seven receptions for 111 total yards) last Saturday. Kratzer said if Henderson can be more productive, it would really open the offense up.
Also look for the young offensive line (mostly freshmen) to continue to gel together and become more solid --- especially against an aggressive defensive Blue Hawk front. Once that happens then the entire offensive scheme will grow. Saturday’s O-line will be Matt Bult (freshman right tackle from Huron), Kayne Ree (freshman right guard from Sheridan, Wyo.), Erik Thompson (senior from Oceano, Calif.), Matt Deardoff (sophomore left guard from Brandon) and Dan Salisbery (freshman left tackle from Milewaulke, Or.).
“You will see them as a young offensive line, develop and get a little bit better each week. The more comfortable they get with what we are doing, the easier it is to add to our offense,” Kratzer said. “Our offense needs to grow in order for it to be very effective. We are getting more confident each week.”
And that offense is in the hands of freshman quarterback Jason Beilstein (Lodi, Colo.). Beilstein impressed at O’Harra Stadium Sept. 9, throwing three touchdown passes and completing 70 percent of his throws (21-30 for 248 yards).
“He had a great game last week. You couldn’t fault him for anything,” Kratzer said. “He made some good judgment calls. He is really gutsy and has a good field presence. When you have a quarterback that understands how to work the game clock and a lot of other things, it’s important and he’s good at that.”
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