Odd end to year for DSU, CarrollEarlier this week, as the Dickinson State football team was preparing for its regular weight lifting session, offensive line coach Ryan Gatch said something which has stuck with the Blue Hawks as they head into today’s season finale against No. 22-ranked Carroll College at noon today in Helena, Mont.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Earlier this week, as the Dickinson State football team was preparing for its regular weight lifting session, offensive line coach Ryan Gatch said something which has stuck with the Blue Hawks as they head into today’s season finale against No. 22-ranked Carroll College at noon today in Helena, Mont.
“He said, ‘I don’t know about you guys but no matter what, we’re going out throwing haymakers,’” DSU senior defensive tackle Matt Seibert said. “That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go out throwing haymakers and if we come out on top, we come out on top.”
The Blue Hawks and Saints would both relish in a victory to end seasons that didn’t go at all as planned.
DSU is 2-8 overall and will have its second consecutive losing season for the first time in the 37-year career of head coach Hank Biesiot. It’s only the fourth time a Biesiot-coached team finished below. 500.
Carroll has a 6-4 record and is looking at finishing, at-best, third in the Frontier Conference. It means they will miss the NAIA playoffs and won’t win the league for the first time since 1999, the first in the 14-year career of head coach Mike Van Diest.
Van Diest said though DSU and Carroll may have differing records and be on opposite sides of the conference standings, the teams are both ending seasons in a way which neither is accustomed.
“Everybody goes through some things that you don’t expect but they’re part of the game and everybody goes through it, as far as injuries and ups and downs,” Van Diest said. “It’s how you work through it. Sometimes, in the past, we’ve had the ball bounce our way at times and we worked through adversity. This year, we didn’t work through it at times. Coaches as well as players. It’s not just one phase or the other.”
Van Diest was speaking about his Saints, but the same words could easily be used to describe the Blue Hawks.
Injuries put a team already challenged at some positions and young at key defensive spots in even more of a bind.
Entering the season without a true and tested running back was the backbreaker.
DSU will finish without a 1,000-yard running back for seventh consecutive season and, because of a midseason injury to senior starter Dave Velasquez, won’t have a quarterback cross the 1,000-yard mark either.
Velasquez is eyeing a return today after the past five games with a severely sprained left ankle.
A lack of offensive punch, combined with a young defense facing perhaps the most talented conference in NAIA football gave the Blue Hawks a crash course in the Frontier. They’ve been outscored, on average, 33-10 this season.
That hasn’t led to a disheartened locker room though. Spirits were high at practice this week, Biesiot said, and players say they’d like to go out on a high note for their coach.
“We’ve taken our fair share of beatings this year and last year,” Velasquez said. “It’ll be nice to get one for Hank one time and for the seniors too.”
Weather conditions could make the game extremely interesting.
Helena was experiencing blizzard-like conditions Friday as winter storm Brutus dropped more than a foot of snow on the city. Today’s forecast calls for more snowfall and temperatures in the low teens.
Biesiot said a week of practice in good conditions won’t hinder the Blue Hawks today.
“They’re having fun playing. They’re not just going through the motions,” Biesiot said. We’re just glad for the good week of practice weather. You can play in just about any types of conditions, but practicing in it, you don’t always get everybody’s intention or enthusiasm when you have strange weather.”