After nearly a decade, Ryan’s Mustangs riding a successful pathThere are tons of on-field comparisons between the Dickinson State and Morningside football teams. There are even similarities between the team’s head coaches.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
There are tons of on-field comparisons between the Dickinson State and Morningside football teams.
There are even similarities between the team’s head coaches.
When Hank Biesiot took over at DSU 35 seasons ago, he steadily built the Blue Hawks into a perennial conference championship contender.
In nine seasons at the helm of the Mustangs, head coach Steve Ryan has taken a team that had been unsuccessful for nearly two decades and turned them into an NAIA powerhouse.
“A lot of it starts with the school,” Ryan said. “The school has been committed to being successful. You just need a lot of people to support you and help you with that. We set a clear vision of what we wanted to accomplish and who we wanted to be and we did that.”
The coaches and their teams meet for the first time in the first round of the NAIA playoffs at noon today at Elwood Olsen Stadium in Sioux City, Iowa.
Like Biesiot at DSU, it didn’t take Ryan too long to turn things around at Morningside.
Since it has moved to the NAIA, Morningside’s football program has been outstanding. In 2002, Ryan’s first season, the Mustangs had a 5-5 record. That snapped a streak of 15 consecutive losing seasons dating back to the school’s NCAA Division II days when it was a member of the powerful North Central Conference.
By 2005, Morningside won its first Great Plains Athletic Conference title, was ranked as high as No. 3 in the NAIA coaches’ poll and reached the national semifinals.
In nine seasons, Ryan has a 75-27 record — a winning percentage of .735. Coincidentally, in Biesiot’s first nine years, he was a 57-24 — a .704 win percentage.
Biesiot said he has been pleased to see Morningside’s turnaround the past decade.
“Their past history has impressed me,” Biesiot said. “In the last five or six years, they’ve probably been in the top four of the NAIA.”
The Mustangs have a 29-5 record the past three seasons. Four of those losses came against two-time defending champion University of Sioux Falls (S.D.). The other was against Lindenwood (Mo.) the 2008 national quarterfinals.
The similarities between the coaches don’t end on the field either.
Much like Biesiot, Ryan is masterful at his use of downplay in phrasing. He chooses his words very carefully when speaking about one of his ultimate goals: bringing a national title to Morningside.
“There’s a lot of things that have got to go well for you to win that national championship,” Ryan said. “I don’t know if we’ve necessarily made that the focal point of our program.”
DSU senior DT Forster expected to return today
Seth Forster has received an extension to his senior season.
With a brace on his right knee, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior defensive tackle will be back on the field today. Though he isn’t likely in the starting lineup against Morningside.
Forster tore calf muscles in his right leg and slightly tore the Anterior Cruciate Ligament in his knee on Oct. 16 against Black Hills State.
His season was supposed to be over, but when a doctor said his knee wouldn’t require surgery and that he could play on it, Forster hit the field again.
“It was touch and go. Nobody really knew what was going to happen with my injury, not even myself, my doctors or the trainers,” Forster said. “But, I just worked on it every day.”
Forster had 22 tackles in seven games and had just got his only two sacks of the season against Mayville State the week before his injury.
Forster said while his knee isn’t perfect, it’s good enough to play on.
“It’s not 100 percent, but it’s almost there,” Forster said. “I’ve been running on it lately and doing a lot of rehab, so it’s been feeling good.”
DSU is 5-14 all-time in the postseason. It’s last postseason victory was against Montana Tech on Nov. 20, 2004. It has lost four straight to Carroll College since then and has never made it past the quarterfinals. … Morningside is 16-2 at home the past three seasons. It’s last loss at Elwood Olsen Stadium was on Nov. 14, 2009, against eventual national champion Sioux Falls. … Morningside kicker C.J. Gradoville is the Great Plains Athletic Conference’s all-time leading scorer with 390 career points. He is 37 of 42 on extra-point attempts this season and 19 of 25 on field goals. … It has been four seasons since a team returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Morningside and six since the Mustangs have allowed a punt return for a score.