Flashing back a year ago, Dickinson State appeared to be on its way to a victory against Valley City State.
They were up by two scores early in the fourth quarter, but a special teams mistake and then an interception led to a crushing 1-point loss, it was the Blue Hawks only North Star Athletic Association defeat in 2019.
Today, Dickinson State (2-0) hopes to avenge the loss when Valley City State (2-0) arrives at the Biesiot Activities Center for a 2 p.m. kickoff.
“It is a good reminder that anything can happen in a game and you have to execute and finish the game,” Dickinson State head coach Pete Stanton said. “Last year, we were up two scores in the fourth quarter and we kicked the ball into the back of our shield. Instead of it going out of the back of the end zone, they recovered it for a touchdown, and then they got the ball back and scored with a few minutes left.”
Three of the last four matchups between the teams have been decided by single digits and Stanton expects much of the same on Saturday.
Jalen Pfeifer is a multi year starter at quarterback for the Vikings, and he has thrown for four touchdowns in their 2-0 start with wins over Presentation and Waldorf.
The Vikings are averaging only 232 yards per game and 19 points, but their defense has been stout, giving up only one touchdown so far.
“It is a regional rivalry and when we have beaten them it has gone down to the wire, and when they have got us it has gone down to the end. That is the kind of game you are going to get with Valley City State…” Stanton said. “These are two teams who haven’t lost yet and it takes on an added emphasis.
"Regardless of where we are at or where they are, we think it will be the same kind of battle (as in previous year’s). I know it is easy to say and an easy out, but we take it each week. We know they will be a tough, physical team. To be successful in this game would be big for us, but we know they are thinking the same thing. It is going to be a battle.”
The Blue Hawks hope to use their three-headed monster at running back of Riley Liner, Alec Lovegren and Derek Tabor, in addition to quarterback Drew Boedecker.
Boedecker is completing 69% of his passes in his first season as a starter and he brings more mobility at the position than in the past, with 78 yards rushing through two games.
Stanton said that all the coaches and players have made mistakes in the early portion of the season, but he is content with where Boedecker is at going into the critical matchup with the Vikings.
Backup quarterback Aaron White played sparsely last week, and the expectation is to get him a series or two most weeks.
Playing only nine conference games, a 3-0 record and at least a game up on every other conference foe is on the line.
The hope for Stanton and crew is that they can come out victorious with a lead in the NSAA.
“As I tell our guys all the time, winning is hard. It isn’t easy,” Stanton said. “I don’t care who you step on the field against, you have to go earn it.”
Masks will be required inside the BAC, and the game is sold out due to COVID-19 restrictions.