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DSU travels 1,000 miles play Eastern Oregon

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Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson State junior wide receiver Josh Borm makes a leaping catch over Rocky Mountain sophomore defensive back Jorden Upton during a Frontier Conference game on Oct. 26 at the Biesiot Activities Center. Borm scored a touchdown on the play.2 / 2

It has been an interesting week of preparation for the Dickinson State football team.

There was snow, key players out with injuries, players switching positions and a 20-plus hour road trip to La Grande, Ore.

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The Blue Hawks traveled more than 1,000 miles to play Eastern Oregon University at 1 p.m. today. The team left Thursday morning instead of their usual Friday travel day which made practicing at home shorter and unconventional.

“It’s definitely going to limit our preparation, because on Thursday’s we usually go one’s versus one’s and we started that right away (Tuesday) this week, trying to cram it in,” sophomore wide receiver Wyatt Mirich said. “We’ll still get work in Thursday and be in our playbooks on the bus, I think we’ll be prepared.”

The team stopped in Billings, Mont., on Thursday to practice and Friday went through its normal walkthrough routines in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Although the team had to alter their schedules and improvise with the long trip, head coach Hank Biesiot said the team’s attitude was good this week and practice at home was strong.

“I don’t know if this would be like a London trip for the NFL guys leaving a day early,” Biesiot said. “Normally this time of year we knock minutes off of practice, recharge the legs a little bit and recharge the mind a little bit, just shorten things up. I think it’s been a pretty bouncy, good week of practice and I think it translates.”

Besides the changeups in travel and practice, Biesiot had to make some lineup changes and make do with injuries, especially with JT Keith. The junior receiver — who did not travel with the team to La Grande — separated his shoulder last Saturday at home against Rocky Mountain College and his return to the field is unknown. However, Keith made the most of his time not playing by helping coach the other receivers and gave them pointers in practice.

“I never knew I had so much to teach,” Keith said, laughing. “Unfortunately I can’t play, which is terrible, but I am pretty passionate about spreading knowledge and these guys are great listeners. I love to tell them whatever piece of information I think can give them and they take it in the best way.”

Freshman receiver Dalton Reid added: “JT going down is definitely a disappointment, with him being our leading receiver. But we got some younger guys who can step up and he’s here to help coach us.”

Last week before Rocky Mountain, Biesiot also made some changes at the running back position and added senior Kyle Watson to the depth chart. Besides the team already being thin at running back, starting senior Myren Moore was also dismissed from the team earlier this week after a public fight with teammate Austin Root.

Watson, a four-year linebacker for the Blue Hawks (1-7), played running back in high school and knows the position fairly well, but still had to get some reps in to learn the offense and how it’s run.

“Ever since I got here I’ve been at linebacker but I played running back in high school, so it’s just catching on again the plays,” Watson said. “But everyone’s been a big help with me getting it down.”

Today’s matchup against Eastern Oregon (3-5) is the second all-time meeting between the teams, the first coming last season when the Mountaineers won 14-0 in Dickinson. Eastern Oregon has been inconsistent all season, losing hard like its 70-23 game against Southern Oregon or winning big like last week against Montana Tech 45-30.

The Mountaineers’ rollercoaster season made it tough to predict their performance, but one thing for sure is their run game poses a threat. Senior Chris McGinnis-Parker rushed for 202 yards on 23 carries against Montana Tech and was the first running back in three years for the Mountaineers to rush over 200 yards.

The team’s 6-foot-5, 257-pound junior quarterback, Dominique Blackman has found consistency over the season. For as tall as he is, Blackman is a mobile quarterback and can run the ball efficiently if he pleased.

This season, the Blue Hawks are averaging 16 points per game, but also giving up 41.8 points per game. On both sides of the ball, DSU has its work cut out. On offense, DSU will face some defensive schemes it’s never seen before and need to learn to make in-game adjustments, while the defense has a tall order in trying to contain the massive quarterback and run game.

“Their quarterback is a big kid, he’s maybe as big as any two defensive backs that we got traveling so somebody is going to have to hold on and pursue,” Biesiot said. “We can’t give them a play over the top. (Blackman’s) going to get some plays running and hit some seams on you, but you got to try and not give up the big play you got to make them run plays to get their scores.”

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.