Mines, BHSU gearing up for the new season
By Jeff Budlong, Journal staff | Saturday, August 08, 2009
RAPID CITY --- It is time for South Dakota School of Mines and Black Hills State University to get to work. The Dakota Athletic Conference schools are preparing to open fall football camp this week with the Hardrockers reporting on Saturday and practicing for the first time Monday, while the Yellow Jackets start on Wednesday. Both programs will discard the idea of easing into practice, instead favoring two-a-days scheduled for the first couple of weeks of both camps.
“We are expecting 88 football players, which is up from last season, and we will add to that number with several people that want to walk-on,” Mines head coach Dan Kratzer said. “We have come a long way because four years ago we had 13 players in our first spring ball.” The Hardrockers, coming off a 5-5 season in 2008, return 55 players with playing experience and lose just two starters from each side of the ball. ��We are excited because we have a lot of players with that year of college football experience now including at positions that are very important for us,” Kratzer said. “We have good experience among the returners and experience in some of our backups, too.” The Hardrockers will be paced by the sophomore duo of quarterback Nick Russell and running back Jamie Dale, who both made significant impacts in the DAC as freshmen a season ago. The defense features experienced leaders in linebacker Tyrell Anderson and safety Tom Lunzman. The Yellow Jackets return 17 players with starting experience as first-year head coach Jay Long prepares to lead BHSU back from a somewhat disappointing 6-4 mark last season. BHSU has key returners at nearly every position on both offense and defense, starting with quarterback Drew Hodgs, who is going into his third season as a starter. Hodgs will benefit from playing behind an offensive line that returns every starter from last season. Corey Wheeler will be one of Hodgs’ main targets as a wide receiver from a group that is lacking in experience outside of the senior from Cheyenne, Wyo. The Yellow Jackets’ biggest question mark coming into the new season may come from an area it wasn’t expecting. Running back Tanner Ehrlich, who ran for over 1,000 years last season, will miss the upcoming season as he takes a redshirt year. “Tanner will focus on his academics,” Long said. “It is something we learned about over the summer, but we are confident in the guys that we have at that position.” Along with returners like Clint Nichols, Mike Jager and Ryan Palmer, the Yellow Jackets also expect to get contributions from freshmen like Rapid City’s Cole Benne. The defense will be led by lineman Wacey Coleman, linebacker Richard Fairhead and cornerback Darrell Neiman. Both coaches are pleased with their team’s offseason work, and believe they are ready to have successful seasons. “We did a lot of high intensity and speed workouts,” Kratzer said. “Things that will complement us well on the field. We could already see some of that during the spring game.” Long enters his first fall camp as the head coach with one big goal. “We need to set the tone the way we have in the past with intensity and effort,“ he said. Both coaches said there is a chance freshmen will get a chance to get on the field early in the season, especially on the line. “Every kid we recruit to this program we hope they can make a contribution right away,” Long said. Mines hosts Montana Tech in its regular-season opener on Aug. 29, while Black Hills State plays at Southwest Minnesota State on Sept. 5 to open its regular season.
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Devereaux Library. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.