Senior fullbacks Stieg, Shypkowski paving the way for MidgetsDickinson High head coach Dennis Morris has a much easier job with seniors Jacob Shypkowski and Alec Stieg in the backfield.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
Dickinson High head coach Dennis Morris has a much easier job with seniors Jacob Shypkowski and Alec Stieg in the backfield.
The fullbacks supply a solid punch through the tackles when the Midgets’ jet-sweep isn’t in full effect.
“A fullback in our offense is kind of a thankless position, because we try to hit the edge so much and then sneak one back in the middle when we get over pursued,” Morris said. “It’s almost like an offensive lineman that carries the ball for us. Both of those guys do a tremendous job and are two guys we are really going to miss next year.”
With the postseason rapidly approaching, Dickinson hosts Class 3A, West Region opponent and No. 4-ranked Minot High at 7 p.m. today at the Badlands Activities Center.
“It’s a huge game for us,” Morris said. “Winning this game is an automatic playoff berth as far as we’re concerned. It doesn’t put us in a pinch to where we have to beat Mandan.”
A win could nearly seal the Midgets’ playoffs dreams, but battling hard could mean just as much.
“That’s a good team right there,” Stieg said. “If we can put up a good fight and get a W, that would do wonders for our confidence.”
The senior season for Stieg (6-foot-2, 195 pound) and Shypkowski (5-7, 165) has been one of ups and downs. However, Stieg believes the Midgets have responded well in every situation.
“I think we’ve reacted well to every game that we came up short in or didn’t play very well in,” said Stieg, who has 12 carries for 105 yards and one touchdown this season. “We bounced back against Jamestown and Williston. I think the guys need to know the season isn’t over yet and we’ve got three pretty critical games left.”
Shypkowski has 30 carries for 101 yards on the season and spends a majority of his time in the offensive backfield. He said it’s great to know Stieg is waiting on the sidelines.
“It gives us a break, so we can go hard every single play,” Shypkowski said. “That’s the main thing, so we have fresh legs every time.”
“He’s back there most of the time on the offensive plays and I’m just kind of a cushion for him,” Stieg added. “If he ever needs a breather or takes a shot, I’m there for him. He knows I’m there for him and I know he’s there for me.”
Stieg and Shypkowski each work at the West River Community Center. Stieg is a lifeguard and Skypkowski is a fitness attendant. The two were able to train together during the offseason in preparation for the start of the season.
“Every once in a while, we called each other up and went to the Community Center,” Shypkowski said. “It brought us closer as friends.”
Morris said the biggest attribute the fullbacks bring to the table is a level of toughness. The third-year head coach wants the younger players to see that level of toughness in practice and in games.
“They are both tough kids,” Morris said. “They are both physically and mentally tough. They’re guys that are going to sacrifice their bodies for the game and that’s something we try to teach our younger guys. Being tough on the field is probably their biggest contribution for us.”
The Midgets have six players with more than 10 carries and Michael Cherwinski leads the charge with 57 carries for 491 yards and five touchdowns.
The junior tailback said having two fullbacks capable of running the ball makes the team better.
“It helps us balance out, since we are able to do more stuff with more people,” Cherwinski said. “We have more depth in the roster, so it helps a lot.”
Stieg’s and Shypkowski’s toughness felt isn’t only felt on the offensive side of the ball, but on defense as well. Stieg plays inside linebacker and Shypkowski is on the kickoff team.
“We moved Stieg from outside linebacker to inside linebacker this year because we thought he was big and physical enough,” Morris said. “He’s really settling into that spot well.
“He (Shypkowski) plays that linebacker position when we need him and he’s a tremendous player on our kickoff squad. I don’t care how big you are or how tough you are. You don’t want to be in Shypkowski’s way.”