Centers of consistency for HawksIn his career, Hank Biesiot has made some risky decisions as head coach of the Dickinson State football team and has trusted his assistant coaches’ opinions to make others.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
In his career, Hank Biesiot has made some risky decisions as head coach of the Dickinson State football team and has trusted his assistant coaches’ opinions to make others.
One of the oddest moves that ended up working out just fine was the choice four years ago to have then-freshmen centers Doug Staley and Jerome Hoffman begin sharing time snapping the football.
In what has been a major sigh of relief over the past four seasons, center has been one of the most consistent positions on the field for the Blue Hawks.
“I think it’s worked out well,” Biesiot said. “It’s the one position where, if you’re a starting center on a football team, you usually don’t come out. It’s a lot like being a catcher. You don’t come out. To alternate those two is a little different. The last two years, it’s been a 50/50 thing. They’ve done a nice job. We haven’t had any botch ups, exchange-wise, because we’re alternating.”
Typically, Staley and Hoffman will rotate after two series.
“Whether it’s three-and-outs or scoring, whatever,” said Staley, a Sturgis, S.D., native. “It’s definitely a good thing. It keeps us fresh. It keeps us both able to play at the top level we can.”
Staying fresh has also kept both players healthy. Neither Hoffman nor Staley has ever missed a game because of injury issues.
In fact, the only game either has ever missed was on Sept. 29 against Carroll College. Staley didn’t play because he was attending the funeral of a close friend.
“We’ve had times when we were both banged up,” said Hoffman, a Bismarck High School graduate. “Other than that, we’ve both been available for most games.”
Staley, who checks in at 5-foot-11 and 295 pounds, said they’ve also adjusted to not being in the action the entire game.
“A lot of people can’t handle the fact that — most people expect to play the whole game,” Staley said. “It’s definitely a good thing that we rotate. … You hit the fourth quarter and it doesn’t feel like your last little bit of fuel. I feel like I’m walking in from halftime.”
The two have become good friends throughout the years too.
In a sense, they’ve grown up together.
“We’ve always been pushing each other,” said Hoffman, who is undersized for a center at 5-8, 270 pounds. “It’s a pretty unique situation I guess, but we’ve been used to it for four years now.”
And for four years, the Blue Hawks have been little to complain about when it comes to their center position.
With quarterbacks Cody Holland, Dave Velasquez and now Matt Harkless and Thad Lane — filling in for the injured Velasquez — fumbled snaps have been a rarity for the Blue Hawks, though they have happened.
“You’re always looking for consistency,” Biesiot said. “The first guy to touch the ball, that’s a good spot to have that at.”
As the seniors enter the final stretch of their career — the Blue Hawks’ 11-game season reaches its midway point when they visit Jamestown College at noon today — Staley said he’s beginning to get a bittersweet feeling, partly because they don’t know exactly what will happen at center once he and Hoffman are gone.
Redshirt freshman Don Smith, a Dickinson High School graduate, is their backup but hasn’t seen time. Still, Staley and Hoffman said they have faith in him and the rest of the young offensive linemen.
“It’s bittersweet, one of those things where you put everything into it for four years and then it draws to a close, but the good thing is you put everything into it for four years with a kid behind you for two of them,” Staley said. “He had two people to look at, not just one. He had someone to look at every day of the week.”