Back in action: Dickinson State football practice begins, look to encourage competition among team
On a near picture-perfect Sunday afternoon, 100 energetic college football players clad in blue and white were spread out across the field at the Biesiot Activities Center.
As music blared from the scoreboard speakers, the 2014 season for Dickinson State football had officially started. While some veterans and transfers were able to get acquainted during spring ball, first-year head coach Pete Stanton was excited to have his entire team finally together and practicing on the field.
“We had a great summer with our guys working out,” Stanton said, “and now to actually put it together and get on the field for the first time with all our vets returning, the 50 new guys we have, we are really excited.
“First day everybody is flying around, moving around, and we did a lot of introduction things (today), but we are excited to get back on the field and get the 2014 season started.”
Practice was more about formalities, getting everyone acquainted and on the same page. But it didn’t matter how routine it felt for some of the veterans.
Senior defensive tackle Sam Herauf said he was not immune to first-day butterflies.
“It’s my sixth year, so it’s always exciting and I was surprised because I was nervous today,” he said. “An excited nervous.”
Since Stanton officially took over as head coach for DSU in December, the theme of the preseason has been competition. The Blue Hawks only lost six seniors from last year and have added about 50 new players, so there will be no lack of action as players vie for starting spots.
As important as the competitive atmosphere can be, Stanton said fall practice is also a chance to build team chemistry and camaraderie. This is the first time in Stanton’s 14 seasons at DSU that he can recall an incoming class of recruits and transfers as large as the number of returners.
“We are going to have a lot of repetition and a lot of learning, but a lot of team concept, a lot of team bonding and unity right away with as many new guys as old guys,” Stanton said.
Senior wide receiver JT Keith has embraced the addition of new teammates because of their likemindedness with the veterans.
“Right now, it’s about getting everyone reps, getting everyone the same amount of opportunities, because everyone is here for the same reason — they can play, “ Keith said. “We just want to be able to see because obviously there are a lot of people here now that can make plays on the field, so we just got to give everyone repetitions.”
Each day brings the Blue Hawks one step closer to their season opener against Rocky Mountain College (Mont.) at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, at the Biesiot Activities Center.
“I’m ready to get the intensity back up that is college football,” Keith said with a smile.
MacDonald is a sports reporter for The Press. Tweet her at MegtotheMac.