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Blue Hawk defense will be vital against Presentation

Dickinson State defensive lineman Josh Kaiwi (97) has six tackles over three games this season. (Courtesy photo by Eric Olheiser)

The Dickinson State football team has only lost one game this season and it hopes to keep it that way.

The Blue Hawks are coming off a 52-7 win over Mayville State where both the offense and defense played had perhaps their best showings of the season. This week, the defense will have to work even harder as Dickinson State hosts Presentation College (S.D.) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

"Defensively, we've been working a lot," head coach Pete Stanton said. "(The Saints) do a great job with their short passing game and their screen game, their (run-pass option) things. They present a challenge. They're very good offensively and distributing the ball out and moving the football."

All eyes will be on Saints wide receiver Logan Weisser. The senior has 444 receiving yards over four games this season, more than Dickinson State's top two receivers, senior Seth Ewoniuk (231 yards) and freshman Tyger Frye (198 yards), combined.

"He's very good," Stanton said. "He gave us fits last year. He had four touchdowns and several catches last year. He's great in space and he's really good with leverage. He's a handful."

Last season against the Blue Hawks, Weisser had 12 receptions for 157 yards.

The Saints (2-2, 1-1 NSAA) are averaging 395 offensive yards a game this season. Last year they recorded 458 against Dickinson, 329 of which came through the air from quarterback Austin Eggl. Eggl, who returns this year as a senior, threw five touchdowns against the Blue Hawks (3-1, 2-0 NSAA), but Dickinson prevailed with a 55-36 win.

Week to week, Stanton says his team needs to put more pressure on the quarterback, which will ring especially true against Eggl.

"What we're trying to do is get in a proper alignment," senior defensive lineman Josh Kaiwi said. "If we just do our job we'll get to him real quick. That's all we have to work on right there."

Kaiwi has six tackles and half a sack over three games. Linemates junior Mitch Mehrer and senior Sifa Vea have played alongside each other all four games this season, with Kaiwi joining after the opening game. Mehrer has played for the Blue Hawks since graduating from Dickinson High, but Kaiwi and Vea joined their junior year as transfers from California schools. Still, the three have developed a chemistry.

"It's been there," Kaiwi said. "Just coming together. First day of camp brought us a little bit closer but we've been real close together for a long time."

As always, despite a win last week, there is more work to be done. Stanton wants to see his team play more consistently and complete drives and on the defensive side of things, shut down teams on third-and-long.

"We need to do a good job of getting them off the field because if we let these guys run 90 plays like they've been running, we're in trouble," Stanton said.

The Blue Hawks hope to carry their momentum against Mayville State into this weekend and Kaiwi said their success on the line could be pinned down to pursuit of the football.

"We just had to run to the ball, that's all we had to do," he said. "Just run to the ball. If we run to the ball against this team we'll get them three-and-out."