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Blue Hawks, Warriors both 2-0 ahead of conference matchup

After Saturday, just one team in the North Star conference will remain undefeated. Both the Waldorf University and Dickinson State football teams are 2-0 against conference opponents, but one will drop to 2-1 following their matchup on Saturday, Oct.

Dickinson State senior Mitch Mehrer tackles Warriors quarterback Hilton Joseph on Oct. 14, 2017, at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson State senior Mitch Mehrer tackles Warriors quarterback Hilton Joseph on Oct. 14, 2017, at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

After Saturday, just one team in the North Star conference will remain undefeated.

Both the Waldorf University and Dickinson State football teams are 2-0 against conference opponents, but one will drop to 2-1 following their matchup on Saturday, Oct. 6, at 1 p.m. CT.

The Blue Hawks were unbeaten in the NSAA last season and are hoping to repeat the feat.

"This is probably one of the biggest games of the season," sophomore linebacker Aaric Spring said. "We got to be extra locked in. We got to have a good bus ride down there and perform as good as we can. We got to outplay them."

The Warriors are fast and athletic, especially on offense. Like last week's opponent, Dakota State, Waldorf puts up points, win or loss. In their recent back-to-back wins they scored 55 and 50 points, bringing their average to 34.8 points per game.

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Receivers Don Jones, Ryan Martinez and Samuel Huntley are the backbone of the Warriors offense, accounting for 896 of the teams 1,333 receiving yards and 13 of 18 touchdowns in the air.

"They have three guys that can really stretch the field. You look and they're all pretty equal in catches and are all pretty equal in touchdowns," Dickinson State head coach Pete Stanton said. "They try to get those guys in the vertical pass game. They do a really good job there."

Throwing to the trio is returning junior quarterback Hilton Joseph. While he's 76-for-147 with pass completions, just 51 percent, he's the Warriors third-leading rusher with 220 yards on the ground.

"His like another wide receiver at quarterback, the way he can take off and run with it," Stanton said. "So, obviously he's a concern everytime he touches the ball."

Like the Blue Hawks (4-1, 2-0 NSAA), the Warriors (2-3, 2-0 NSAA) run a run-pass-option offense, and Joseph does a good job making the call, so while the linebackers will key in on him, they have to be ready for anything.

"He's a very diverse player. He's a really good athlete," Spring said. "Our goal is we want him to stay in the pocket. We don't really want him getting out."

Despite a capable offense, Waldorf also gives up points, perhaps due to a youthful secondary. Looking at a two-deep roster of their backfield, the Warriors have seven freshmen and a junior.

Still, Stanton doesn't expect his offense to roll out big play after big play.

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"I think we need to get some first downs and not worry about trying to score. You score some big points in a few games and people think you're going to score that all the time, and I think we have to worry about the next play and doing a good job up front, controlling the tempo and moving the sticks. We don't have to score on a 70-yard play. Yeah, that would be nice, but we're not concerned about that."

To control the pace, junior quarterback Hayden Gibson needs to be comfortable in the pocket, a job that goes partly to sophomore Center Drew Heiser.

"Coach says every week the more aggressive team is going to win," Heiser said. "So upfront, that's kind of our goal, is to be the more aggressive group and deliver the first punch basically."

During a chilly week that officially introduced fall, the Blue Hawks also worked on cleaning up their game, as they committed nine penalties for 82 yards.

"There was a few things there that we can work on on some of our offensive stretch plays," Stanton said. "The big thing is, you don't want to have a penalty at any time, but you don't want to have them in the red zone. We had a couple of those things happen (last week). ... Those are the key things, not having those mistakes or those penalties there."

Waldorf University quarterback Hilton Joseph looks for an open receiver in action against Dickinson State last season on Oct. 14, at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Waldorf University quarterback Hilton Joseph looks for an open receiver in action against Dickinson State last season on Oct. 14, at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

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