DSU faces old rival in Jamestown
Homecoming is a time for celebration, reminiscing and tradition.
For the Dickinson State football team, it's also an opportunity for redemption.
The Blue Hawks host rival University of Jamestown at 1 p.m. in hopes of impressing their alumni with the team's first win of the season.
"Homecoming is big for everyone and we got a lot of people counting on us whether it's family, teammates or the school," senior left tackle Ryan Payne said. "But being a senior, it's my last homecoming so it'd be nice to get a win for this one."
The Blue Hawks are coming off a disastrous 66-21 loss to Southern Oregon University, a team who took complete advantage of any mistake they committed. DSU scored its first touchdown in the first on a reversal play by quarterback Kaler Ray, running back Jesse Carney and wide receiver Wyatt Mirich, closing SOU's lead to 14-7. But the Raiders opened up in the second quarter with 28 unanswered points and left the Blue Hawks in the dust unable to recover.
"They're a very explosive team and they've had bursts like that against everybody this year," head coach Hank Biesiot said. "We were in a position at that time to make a run at it ... We couldn't maintain possession and couldn't get a three-and-out at crucial stages ... We mismanaged the clock a little bit in there too."
The beat down is the farthest thing from the team's mind, since they disposed of the film before they even watched it.
"We burned the film right after the game," Biesiot said. "We didn't look at it this week."
Instead, DSU has been focused solely on Jamestown and its plan of attack. The Jimmies are a familiar foe dating back to the days of the Dakota Athletic Conference and will be a foe for the years to come as DSU will join the North Star Athletic Association in 2014-15 season.
Last year, the Jimmies and gave the Blue Hawks some trouble in last season's game. DSU won 8-7 in the fleeting seconds of the fourth quarter on a 6-yard touchdown pass and two-point conversion by then-quarterback and current safety Matt Harkless.
To keep the Jimmies from spoiling DSU's homecoming, having balanced offense is a must. Last year, Jamestown limited DSU on both passing and rushing yards, and was more successful at the latter. With the team's passing game struggling and the run game more of a focus, the Blue Hawks have been working on pass completion and trying to utilize more receivers.
"We have to have some balance we got to get some guys involved in the passing game and get it mixed around, get some rhythm get some field position so we can throw it when we want to throw it and not because we are in long-yardage situations," Biesiot said. "We have to be able to run the ball better than we did last year against them or it's going to be a long day for us."
Just because the Jimmies' stymied the run game last year doesn't mean they'll be as predictable this year.
"I guess you never know until you're actually in the game situation and know exactly what's going to happen," sophomore quarterback Thad Lane said. "Jamestown is an old rival and in the past it's been a power-packed run game. Last year it was 8-7, obviously there wasn't a lot of scoring so maybe we can change that this year."
Ray added: "We just need to play the Blue Hawk football that we can. Play four, full quarters and execute to the best of our ability and just play football like we know we can."
The Blue Hawks had a successful week of practice, especially on the offense. According to Payne, his offensive line finished the week strong and in high spirits. Instead of focusing on what to expect from Jamestown, Payne said the offense worked more on its individual game and what it can do to shine for today's game.
"We're just worried about our game and going out this week and focus on our game," Payne said. "If we do our jobs, then we'll put ourselves in a position to be successful."
For any college or high school, homecoming is one of the most important games of the season. For DSU, it's about a storied tradition which hopes to honor and extend gratitude to its alumni.
"Homecoming is always real fun," Lane said. "There's a lot more people, a lot more people from out of town people who support this football program a lot and have been around for a long time. It's a definitely a game that we always want to show alumni that we're still here, we're still working hard and doing things the right way."