Press Top 10 Sports Stories of 2009: Déjà vu all over againDSU’s 2009 season eerily similar to 2008 campaign
It was déjà vu all over again for the 2009 Dickinson State football team. A slow start followed by commanding performances during the Dakota Athletic Conference season and then a playoff exit at the hands of Carroll College and a 7-4 record.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
It was déjà vu all over again for the 2009 Dickinson State football team.
A slow start followed by commanding performances during the Dakota Athletic Conference season and then a playoff exit at the hands of Carroll College and a 7-4 record.
Sounds a lot like the 2008 season, doesn’t it?
For the second consecutive year, the Blue Hawks won the DAC championship — sharing the honors with Minot State after they were upset at the hands of Black Hills State in their regular-season finale — after beginning the season with a pair of losses and ended it in Helena, Mont., losing to Carroll in the first round of the NAIA playoffs.
The hard-fought and somewhat ironically similar season that helped the Blue Hawks win another DAC title is The Dickinson Press’ No. 7 Sports Story of 2009.
To DSU head coach Hank Biesiot, it was a season filled with gutsy performances and impressive victories while playing its home games on a new turf in front of Blue Hawk fans on lawn chairs at the ever-progressing Badlands Activities Center.
“The team hung in there and showed a lot of guts and determination all year long,” Biesiot said. “We had a lot of close ball games and won ’em — which was the difference — when we had to.”
The Blue Hawks won seven straight DAC games before Black Hills State upset them 23-13 at the DAC Bowl in the Fargodome.
The loss snapped a 15-game conference win streak that spanned three seasons. Still, DSU was awarded its sixth conference championship and sixth playoff appearance of the decade.
Two weeks later, Carroll dismantled the Blue Hawks 59-7. It was the worst loss in Biesiot’s coaching career and tied a school record for most points allowed in a game. More so, it was a blow to a stalwart defense that had been the team’s backbone all season.
Nevertheless, the year was successful in many ways.
After starting with losses to Rocky Mountain College on the road and eventual NCAA Division III national champion Wisconsin-Whitewater in the BAC opener, the Blue Hawks bounced back with resounding conference wins over Jamestown College (19-7), Valley City State (27-3) and Mayville State (48-0).
They then defeated Black Hills State 13-9 on the road by holding the Yellow Jackets to a four-and-out near the goal line with just seconds remaining.
The next week brought a 29-20 comeback victory over South Dakota Mines at home and was followed by a 35-14 win at Dakota State.
Then came the biggest win of the year — a 28-13 defeat of rival Minot State keyed by a stout defensive effort and big plays from quarterback Cody Holland and the veteran receiving corps on a seasonably warm Halloween afternoon.
“They knew they could do it,” Biesiot said. “They certainly weren’t intimidated, especially defensively. Our backs were in the shadow of our own goalposts a couple times. We hit some big plays, long plays, when we need them also.”
DSU’s defense was exceptional against DAC opponents, allowing just 285 yards and 12 points a game while Holland steadily improved throughout the season to lead the offense.
The junior college transfer threw for 1,705 yards and 19 touchdowns, fifth and fourth, respectively, on DSU’s all-time single-season passing charts.
“I thought he showed a lot of growth,” Biesiot said.
After the season, DSU posted a school-record 12 first-team all-DAC selections and tied a school record with 15 total all-conference performers. Biesiot was also named DAC Coach of the Year for the second straight season and fourth time this decade.
So, what is the next step for the Blue Hawks?
The BAC will be completed by the spring, but the team will still be under construction when fall practice resumes in August.
Many defensive players are expected to return, as well as Holland and a solid group of experienced offensive linemen. Still, the Blue Hawks have several gaps to fill at receiver and running back.
That doesn’t mean Biesiot is dropping his hopes of winning a third straight conference title.
“You never know,” he said.