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Blue Hawks prepare for second meeting with Vikings

Dickinson State offensive lineman Devin Schwanz (42) runs through plays during practice on Thursday at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

Just over a month ago, the Dickinson State football team traveled to Valley City State, and although the Blue Hawks won 30-21, they admit the game was not their best.

The North Star Athletic Association matchup was a close one. Both teams accumulated 389 yards of offense, and the Blue Hawks earned 19 first downs, just one more than the 18 earned by the Vikings.

Saturday, the Blue Hawks have a chance to show how they've improved and earn another win against the conference rival at home. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Biesiot Activities Center.

In order to prepare for the matchup, Dickinson State is preparing for the Vikings' best.

"We've really repped it in practice a lot, the different things that we could see," junior offensive lineman Devin Schwanz said. "Every rep is always the worst case scenario, so we're just trying to prepare ourselves and get better at what we do. We try not to worry about what they're doing. As long as we're good at what we do, we should be fine."

Both teams have changed since their last meeting. The Hawks (4-1, 3-0 NSAA) suffered their first lost the week after playing the Vikings (2-3, 1-2 NSAA), and have since improved every week, finally showing they can play a more consistent and complete game.

"They've been like us at times but a little more up and down," head coach Pete Stanton said. "They're more solid in the quarterback spot. ... You see what they do. They scored a lot of points against Waldorf (University, Iowa). They had the one game they didn't score a lot against Hastings (College, Neb.) but they had a lot of points against Jamestown so offensively they've found their groove."

Following their last meeting against Valley City State, Stanton said his team tackled poorly in the second half, an issue he doesn't hope to repeat Saturday.

"I think this last weekend we did a much better job there," he said. "In Mayville we did a much better job there. One thing we've done defensively is get some hands on the ball too. We've had a lot of takeaways in the last few games. ... Any time your turnover margin is pretty good, you've got a chance to be pretty successful."

Two Vikings could prove perilous for the Blue Hawks: Jalen Pfeifer and Nicholas McBeain.

Freshman quarterback Pfeifer made his college debut against Dickinson State on Sept. 2 and now has four games and a win under his belt. This season, the Rolette native has completed 75 of his 121 pass attempts for a completion percentage of 61 percent.

McBeain, a senior linebacker, had four solo tackles and 16 assisted tackles in the season opener against Dickinson State, numbers he has yet to replicate this season.

"He's a guy we definitely have to be aware of," Stanton said. "He makes a lot of plays that keep him inside. He's a good player. They have a very good front. A very physical front that really does a lot of good things. That helps him, frees him up to make a lot of plays."

Schwanz said the worst case scenario for an offensive line is seeing a lot of movement.

"We're thinking they're going to bring so many people at one time or bring a blitz here," he said.

But while they're gearing up for that situation, the Blue Hawks are always hoping for the best.

"We just handle everything that we see," Schwanz said. "If it's just like practice, then we should be good. We'll just go out there and do what we do."