Pete Stanton named 2020 NSAA Coach of the Year

The Blue Hawks football head coach was named the NSAA Coach of the Year after his team went 9-0 and earned sixth straight NSAA title.

Blue Hawks head coach Pete Stanton coaching his players during a recent home game against Waldorf. (Matthew Curry/The Dickinson Press)

The 2020 football season perfectly described Pete Stanton when it comes to his style of coaching in the eyes of the opposition: highly unprecedented, never before seen. It is this type of coaching that has him regarded as one of the toughest, smartest and most respected coaches in the NAIA and throughout the country.

Dickinson State finished the season with a perfect 9-0 record, at one time being the only team in the nation with the record, being named the sixth team in the program's history to go undefeated in a season and earn its sixth straight NSAA title, a feat no team has ever accomplished.

As a result, Dickinson State had 18 players named to the All-NSAA team, senior wide receiver Jaret Lee was named the NSAA Offensive Most Valuable Player, and Pete Stanton was named the NSAA Coach of the year.

For Stanton, the credit goes to everyone within the program, including his assistant coaches.

"That award is a team award, and it’s an award for what our staff does," Stanton said. "It’s always about the success of the team, and that’s the way that I always consider that."


Stanton went into detail about his coaching staff and what they brought to the table that helped make the 2020 Blue Hawks such a special unit.

"We have a great group of coaches that work together," Stanton said. "Offensively coach Russel McCarvel coordinates our offense, coach Pete Leno has been here a long time with the offensive line and then coach Steven Koch coming in after being a former player here. They’ve all done a great job and you see the stats on how well we did.

"Coach Jason Thier as our defensive coordinator, our defense has been at the top of the conference for several years now. It just prepares our guys very well," Stanton added. "And we have coach Jacob Crawford, who's on the defensive line that’s got a lot of energy out of that group and did a great job with the front guys ... overall we’re fortunate to have the staff that we do."

Despite the massive amount of success, the 2020 season was far from easy for the Dickinson State unit. With each week being in question and the team not knowing if and when the season could be over, Stanton said the team had to rely on each other to get through the hard times.

"We were just really happy to get through (the regular season)," he said. "We didn’t know what was going to happen from day one, and I think we were just hoping to play the first game, and I think to be able to go nine games and have those honors that we had, it’s just great for our team to get recognized for all they did.

"It’s been a lot of sacrifices this year, and not just sacrifices, we won some tough games to be undefeated," Stanton added. "We’re just a really well-rounded team. We didn’t have one area that’s said ‘Hey, there’s this one guy’ — we were a team."

As for the players that received All-NSAA honors, including on the offense, quarterback Drew Boedecker, running back Riley Linder, offensive linemen Blade Miller and Matt Dey, and both senior receivers Tyger Frye and Jaret Lee; and defensive linemen in Presley Piliati and Aaron Faletoi and junior defensive back Javonte Oliphant, Stanton said he is proud of all of his players that made the list.

"I think it’s just a good honor for them and it just rewards their hard work, that part of it. Not just for them but for the team," he said.


However, Stanton did not stop there, giving notice and praise to those on the team who played just as strong throughout the season but did not see their name go on the All-NSAA roster.

"We have some guys that didn’t make All-Conference that we certainly wouldn’t trade with anybody in the conference for some of those guys that did," he said. "To me it’s always about the team and knowing that the No. 1 thing we’re trying to do is win a game and be strong in our program.

"With the honorable mention, we certainly felt that Krew Mathern and Jared Smith, a couple of those guys on defense, were certainly at the top tier of our conference for sure," Stanton added. "And then Derek Tabor, who is our starting tailback, is just a guy that has been in our program and outstanding with his work ethic and leadership and had a great year this year. Conor McCarvel had a good year as well as a receiver ... There’s a lot of guys out there that could have been selected, and it’s great for those guys to get those accolades, but it’s all about the team and our goals."

Despite the regular season coming to a close following the Blue Hawks' 52-34 victory over Presentation College on Nov. 7, the Blue Hawks' season is still in motion as they prepares for the upcoming 2020 NAIA National Tournament, which has been delayed until spring 2021.

Still, Stanton said the team continues to stay on track.

"It’s going to be a week-by-week, month-by-month thing like it’s been the whole time with the pandemic, and our guys are excited," he said. "It’s going to be a new beginning and now we have to be able to adjust, but they’ve done that so well all fall. We’re ready to go and see what the spring brings.

"We just want to play as many football games as we can and we got in and we’re just excited to move on," Stanton added. "We know everything is going to be different. We’re going to go through our winter conditioning and do that and start our spring season when we usually start our spring ball, and that’s just the way that we’re going to attack it and we’re going to just see what happens."

Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
What To Read Next
Get Local