Carroll ‘Clydesdales’: Blue Hawks focus on slowing Saints’ explosive offenseIt’s no secret to Dickinson State head coach Hank Biesiot that Carroll College is one of the best football teams in the NAIA.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
It’s no secret to Dickinson State head coach Hank Biesiot that Carroll College is one of the best football teams in the NAIA.
The defending national champion Saints have been among the association’s elite since winning their first title in 2002.
Not much has changed this season either.
“You better be ready to play this outfit,” Biesiot said.
The No. 3-ranked Saints (4-1) have weapons, including an offensive line that would cause coaches to swoon at most any level.
In senior tailback Chance Demarais, they have the leading rusher in all of college football who runs behind that offensive line, which would fit in just fine at a much higher level of competition.
“It’s like a team of Clydesdale’s,” Biesiot said, comparing the Saints’ offensive front to the famous Budweiser horses. “They pick their feet up and they run just as well as the ones that pull the red wagon.”
Carroll’s starting offensive line comes in at an average size of 6-foot-3½ and 282 pounds.
They pave the road for the 6-foot, 227-pound Demarais, who has rushed for 761 yards and eight touchdowns through five games this season.
“He’s large, he’s fast and he’s angry,” Rocky Mountain College coach Brian Armstrong told the Helena Independent Record. “There’s very few guys that are gonna tackle him one-on-one.”
Carroll head coach Mike Van Diest said Demarais has been a force for much of his career, but was often overshadowed by John Camino and Gabe Le the past two seasons. Van Diest said Demarais’ biggest strength is that he gets better as the game goes on, which is quite an advantage for a player who averages 27 carries a game.
“It seems like good running backs get better as the game wears on,” Van Diest said. “Those guys make coaching a lot easier when you’re on offense.”
Because the Saints average 412 yards and 33 points per game, Biesiot knows the Blue Hawks can’t afford to be patient offensively.
Finding an offensive rhythm is important not only to help slow down the Saints, but keep DSU’s defense off the field.
“We’ve got to move the chains. That’s important,” Biesiot said. “We can’t get in a situation where we’re always in long yardage against them. Their defensive people are capable of applying so much pressure. We have to get some first downs.”
That could prove difficult though.
After all, the Saints are as close to Biesiot’s Kryptonite as a team can get.
In a dozen meetings with Carroll, Biesiot has a 2-10 record. The Blue Hawks (2-3) last beat Carroll in 1995. Interestingly, that was the last time the teams played in the regular season.
If the Saints beat the Blue Hawks on Saturday, it will be the 100th loss of Biesiot’s 36-year career in which he’s amassed 253 victories.
While Van Diest — who has been victorious all five times he’s faced the Blue Hawks — could be on the winning end of finally putting Biesiot into triple digits in the loss column after more than three and a half decades on the sideline, the Carroll coach said he greatly admires DSU’s coach and what he has accomplished in his career.
“I think Hank Biesiot is what’s good about college coaching,” Van Diest said. “We need more guys like him in this game. He’s such a class act.”