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Battling weather didn't bother DSU, Minot State

Dickinson State and Minot State football players got a crash course in North Dakota weather this week. Temperate weather on Sunday and Monday gave way to hurricane-force winds and blizzard conditions Tuesday and Wednesday before things calmed dow...

Dickinson State and Minot State football players got a crash course in North Dakota weather this week.

Temperate weather on Sunday and Monday gave way to hurricane-force winds and blizzard conditions Tuesday and Wednesday before things calmed down Thursday and Friday.

The Blue Hawks practiced outside both Tuesday and Wednesday, while Minot State had to duck into the MSU Dome for Wednesday's practice after four inches of wet snow blanketed the artificial turf at Herb Parker Stadium.

"We had to change or modify practices some, although we were outside in the breeze," DSU head coach Hank Biesiot said. "We got more done than we thought we would. We cut back time a little bit, because coaches know nobody can hear them in that wind."

Minot State head coach Paul Rudolph said the Beavers practiced in sleet and rain on Tuesday but had no choice but to head indoors Wednesday.

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"They were able to see a handful of things," Rudolph said. "I don't think it was a worthless trip inside, but it ain't perfect either."

The No. 11-ranked Blue Hawks face the Beavers at 12:30 p.m. MDT today at Herb Parker Stadium.

While DSU has several players from California and Nevada who aren't used to the cold weather, Minot State has numerous players from Florida.

With temperatures barely above freezing and with plowed-off snow surrounding the field, Rudolph said several of his southern-born players came to Thursday's practice wearing shorts.

"They must be adapting alright," he said. "We try to tell them they have to be tougher. They're not Florida kids anymore, they're Minot guys."

Biesiot, who goes for career win No. 250 today, said practicing outdoors in nasty weather gives teams an opportunity to see what would happen in certain game-day situations that can't normally be practiced.

"It's nice to see all the funny things that a pass, what a football does when it's in the air," Biesiot said. "Seeing experience in that helps. Even the kids kind of enjoyed being out in slightly different conditions too. It was a slightly difference pace for them."

Biesiot added that ball control was conspicuously great during the Tuesday and Wednesday practices, with very few dropped passes and fumbles.

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"If the weather is bad like that, it makes you a little more focused on ball control and ball security, so you're a little more cautious of getting snaps, getting handoffs," said DSU senior quarterback Cody Holland, who grew up in southern California. "You're always trying to be precise with any throw."

Stopping the Beavers means stopping No. 7

Every player on the Blue Hawks' defense knows they have one man they must stop in order to win today's game.

That player is a senior, he'll be wearing a red jersey with a No. 7 on it, and he's as big of a game-changer as there is in the Dakota Athletic Conference.

Through the air, on the ground and on returns, Minot State senior Johnny Lester has compiled 1,168 yards this season with eight touchdowns (four receiving, two punt returns and two kick returns).

"I think everybody knows where he's at," Rudolph said. "You hear things on the sidelines, they're always hollering where 7 is at or what he's doing. People know where he's at or what he's doing. He's a guy who can hurt you on any play."

Last season in DSU's 28-13 win at the Badlands Activities Center, Lester caught eight passes for 82 yards Two years ago, in DSU's 28-21 win at Herb Parker Stadium on a blistering cold afternoon, Lester had a 74-yard kick return for a touchdown.

With blazing speed and shifty feet, Lester is viewed by opposing coaches as a touchdown threat every time he touches the football.

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"By the time you start thinking you know where he's at, you've still got to have guys who stay at home," Biesiot said.

In Minot State's season-opening loss against Bemidji State, Lester had the Beavers' lone score -- a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown. Earlier this season in a 19-14 win at Jamestown College, he had 13 catches for 166 yards and two touchdowns.

DSU senior cornerback Derion Williams -- also known for explosiveness on returns -- is expected to shadow Lester defensively.

Still, for as solid as Williams has been defensively this season, Biesiot said he'll need some backup.

"There's nobody that can catch him (Lester)," Biesiot said. "That gives you a sense of urgency. We're going to have to have some outstanding special teams play, have the coverage and have people around him to try and corral him."

DSU safety Willis out for season after suffering 2nd concussion in a month

DSU sophomore safety Trevor Willis is done for the season after suffering his second concussion in a month during last Saturday's game at South Dakota Mines.

Willis missed three weeks and played sparingly in the Black Hills State game two weeks ago after being diagnosed with a concussion following a hard hit in the Jamestown College game on Sept. 25.

Despite appearing in just five games this season, Willis had 22 tackles and made a key safety in the Blue Hawks' season-opening victory over Rocky Mountain College.

Willis said he agreed with DSU athletic trainer Tim Kreidt's assessment that he should sit out the remainder of the season.

"I wasn't completely recovered from the first one, and it was enough to daze me pretty good," Willis said.

Willis said he intends to play next season, which would be his final season of football. Willis redshirted his first year at DSU and took a medical redshirt his second season.

He will run into the NAIA's 10-semester eligibility rule next year, though he is on track to graduate following the 2011 football season.

"We're just going to see how it heals up," Willis said. "It should heal up alright."

Related Topics: BLUE HAWKS
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