It has been a long and winding road for the 9-0 DSU football team during the coronavirus pandemic, but their destination can now be seen in the distance after Selections Sunday for the 2020 NAIA tournament. Next stop, Orange City, Iowa.
This past Sunday, April 11, the Blue Hawks football team came together at the Henry Biesiot Activity Center to hear the announcement of their first-round matchup, which will be Northwestern College's Raiders, whom they recently picked up a 14-6 victory over in a first-round playoff game. Northwestern College is a private Christian institution in Orange City.
Coach Pete Stanton is excited to have the Blue Hawks playing again and is looking forward to seeing a familiar team on the field.
“Northwestern is a team that we are familiar with; this will actually be our fourth time playing them in five years. We played a nonconference in ‘16 and ‘17, we played them in the playoffs down in Orange City in 2018, and this will be the fourth time,” Coach Stanton said. “We're excited to know who we are playing, and knowing we've got the opponent out ahead of us. Our guys are really excited after a long layup to get going and play.”
Stanton finds no reason to change up practice but will have a video prepared to work on a more detailed game plan against the Raiders.
“Every year is a different year, and we know they are going to be a really good team. They have an outstanding quarterback and receiving core, but having that familiarity will help our guys,” Stanton said. “It shouldn't change anything.”
The Blue Hawks will be away for the opening round and will meet the Raiders on their Iowa field. Long travel is not a concern for Stanton — the team is more than comfortable with traveling.
“That shouldn’t bother us at all … We'll leave Thursday afternoon after practice and go part way through and go the rest of the way the next day,” Stanton said. “We are used to doing that and our guys travel well, and we will be looking forward to the challenge.”
The Blue Hawks will play the Raider on April 17 to determine how long the road ahead will be to complete their 2020 season.