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BLUE HAWK GAMEDAY NOTEBOOK: Carroll bouncing back after early losses

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Blue Hawks Dickinson, 58602

Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

Carroll College comes into today's game against Dickinson State already at its loss limit for the season.

The Saints arrive at the Badlands Activities Center for today's 1 p.m. game with a 3-2 overall record. The last time they lost more than two games in a season was 2000.

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There's no overlooking Carroll though.

The Saints are still ranked No. 8 in the NAIA because one of their losses came against Portland State, a NCAA Football Championship Subdivision team in the Big Sky Conference. It was a game Carroll head coach Mike Van Diest was disappointed his team didn't win.

"It was a good test," Van Diest said of the 38-20 defeat. "I'm disappointed we didn't play better in the fourth quarter."

The following week Carroll was shocked on the road by Frontier Conference foe Montana Tech, 37-20. Since then, they've stepped things up defensively and claimed back-to-back wins against Rocky Mountain College and Eastern Oregon.

"We're playing a little better," Van Diest said. "There's times at Portland State and times at Tech that we played very well. We just didn't do it for four quarters."

The Saints are led offensively by dual-threat junior quarterback Dakota Stonehouse and senior running back Chance Demarais, the reigning NAIA Player of the Year.

In Stonehouse, Van Diest said he sees flashes of former Carroll all-American quarterbacks Tyler Emmert and Gary Wagner.

"Those guys threw the ball well, but they kept plays alive with their feet," he said. "I like that. As a defensive coordinator, I know how hard it is for QBs to just stay in the pocket all day."

Stonehouse does the same.

He has thrown for 845 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing for 299 yards and two scores.

Demarais, from Malta, Mont., ranks fourth in the NAIA in rushing with 494 yards and four touchdowns while running behind an offensive line DSU head coach Hank Biesiot calls the best in the Frontier Conference.

Though they seem to have righted the ship as of late, the Saints aren't sleeping on the Blue Hawks, who are 1-3 and whose only win was a 21-20 come-from-behind win over Montana State-Northern two weeks ago at the BAC.

DSU is coming off a 45-7 loss at Southern Oregon.

"I don't think we're going to see the team that was at Southern Oregon," Van Diest said. "I think we're going to see the team (that played) Northern."

Freshman safety Harkless looks to improve in second career start

DSU true freshman Brady Harkless never expected to see this much playing time this early, let alone start at safety against the NAIA's top passing offense.

The Hot Springs, S.D., native's first start came in a 45-7 loss at Southern Oregon in which the Blue Hawks allowed a season-high 334 yards passing.

"It kind of caught me off guard, smacked me in the face a little bit," Harkless said.

Regardless, Harkless played well.

He made 13 tackles -- seven of them solo -- and had returned an interception 28 yards in his first start in place of redshirt freshman Jaylen Sokoloski, who ranks second on the team in tackles but has a broken left index finger.

Harkless, the younger brother of DSU sophomore backup quarterback Matt Harkless, will get the starting nod again today. Sokoloski's doctors have ordered him to sit out another week before returning.

Brady Harkless said he never expected to get so much playing time this early in his career, but is thankful for every minute he gets on the field.

"It's a great learning experience, kind of shows myself where I'm at and what I need to work on," he said.

Staley to miss first game of career, Hoffman takes over at center

For four years, center has been the most consistent position on the field for DSU. Sharing time at the spot, either Doug Staley or Jerome Hoffman has snapped the ball to the quarterback since they were freshmen.

"It's a streak of luck I guess you could say," said Hoffman, a Bismarck High School graduate.

That streak ends today as Staley will miss the game to be at the funeral of a close friend.

"It'll be a lot different dynamic to it, something we're not used to," said Hoffman, who will be shouldering most of the snapping duties.

The 5-foot-8, 270-pound center will, however, share some snaps with redshirt freshman Don Smith, a 5-10, 250-pound Dickinson High School graduate.

"I think the plans are to have a rotation still," Hoffman said.

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