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Biggest game of the year for South Dakota School of Mines also falls on the biggest day of the year as the Black Hills State Yellow Jackets takes on the Hardrockers this week to cap off ‘M’ Days on Dunham Field at O’Harra Stadium
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- The biggest game of the year for South Dakota School of Mines also falls on the biggest day of the year as the Black Hills State Yellow Jackets takes on the Hardrockers this week to cap off ‘M’ Days on Dunham Field at O’Harra Stadium.
The Yellow Jackets come into the game after an impressive win over the Dickinson State Blue Hawks last week, 28-20, while the Hardrockers suffered their second straight loss, falling to Minot State, 30-0, in North Dakota.
Much like last week, Mines will be pitted against one of the Dakota Athletic Conference’s better defensive squads.
“I think (the Yellow Jackets) have one of the better defenses in the conference, but that’s not to say that there aren’t several good ones (in the conference), because there are,” said Hardrocker head coach Dan Kratzer.
BHSU basically has a quality player at each defensive position (D line, linebackers and defensive backs). Kratzer said Justin Thorpe, a defensive end from Forbes, N.D., is a quality player as is Luke Neily, a senior defensive end from Rapid City for the Yellow Jackets.
“I think that (Neily) is one of the best defensive ends that they have,” Kratzer said.
The line backing core also holds some good athletes that could cause problems for South Dakota Mines --- in specific Nathan Batteen (Rapid City) and Brandon Santi (Pueblo, Colo.).
“They are both very good football players and are both juniors,” Kratzer added.
In the secondary, senior Craig Tschetter (Spearfish) is always one to be weary of. Tschetter is very good at reading plays and has quite a few picks during his time with the Yellow Jackets.
Overall, Kratzer said his young offensive team will have to toe the line in order to compete with BHSU’s experience.
“They are a good blend. They have a little experience and some freshmen,” he said of BH. “They put a lot of pressure on you. We are going to have to step up with our young players to be able to handle their front seven.”
Offensively, the Hardrockers will have to have a much more productive day than they did last week.
“We need to establish our running game and be able to blend our passing game in with it. You just can’t rely on one thing because they will come after you,” Kratzer said.
Getting the air game going will be a major key if Mines is to have a successful day.
“If we can establish a little bit of consistence in the passing game then we have a chance to win this football game,” Kratzer said. “If we have to rely on one or the other (running game or passing game) then we will be in trouble.”
Against the Beavers, SDM’s running game was very ineffective as the team tallied just 13 total yards in the game. The passing game was also a bit of a non-factor as the Rockers had just 64 yard which netted them 77 yards of total offense.
“BH’s defense is probably every bit as good as Minot’s and we didn’t get anything established against Minot,” Kratzer said. “We will have to play a much better game this week.” SDSMT freshman quarterback Jason Beilstein (Lodi, Calif.) has been doing a fine job as signal caller of the offense and has found several different targets to throw to such as Lukas Munsell (junior from Mills Wyo.). Munsell leads the Hardrockers with 20 catches for over 200 yards and a touchdown. Beilstein has also thrown touchdowns to Travis Hardee (freshman from Phoenix Ariz.), Kyle Krajewski (sophomore from OshKosh, Neb.) and Nick Kirkham (freshman from Scotts Valley, Calif.).
Looking at Black Hills State’s offense, they don’t pack quite the punch as they did during their 2005 campaign, but that’s not to say they still aren’t dangerous.
“They don’t have all the weapons they did,” Kratzer said.
The Jackets have a couple of very good running backs in Mike Vomhof and Clayton Byran. Vomhof (senior from Gillette, Wyo.) fits the description more of a lineman than a running back. He is 6-foot-3-inches and 245 pounds.
“He’s a load and is just a tough guy to bring down,” Kratzer said.
Bryan is also a nice compliment, as a 5-11, 210 pound senior. The Yellow Jackets also will rely on Kyle Gerik, their No. 1 receiver. Gerik, a senior from Labarge, Wyo., has great hands to go along with great speed. He is a game-breaker that Mines will have to keep in check.
The best way to do that is to pester BH quarterback Erik Osbourne all day.
“Our key is to get pressure on Osborne and not let him have an opportunity to be effective as a passing quarterback,” Kratzer said. “We need to make them grind it out. Defensively we are a little bit better against the run than we have been in the past.”
The Hardrockers defense is thriving around the play of the defensive line as well as the linebackers. Seniors Mike Mule (defensive end) and Jake Hahn (linebacker) have both had stellar performances the last two games. Against Minot, Hahn (from Hay Springs, Neb.) recorded 23 total tackles while Mule (from Billings, Mont.) had an impressive eight-tackle game a week before that in Dickinson.
Saturday will mark the 119th meeting between the rival schools. The Hardrockers have 57 wins to the Yellow Jackets 50. They have tied 11 times. The first meeting dates back to 1895.
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