Dickinson State Blue Hawks' injuries continue piling up

Dickinson State has so many contingency plans for injuries it's hard to keep track. And DSU might have to use them, as there are plenty of optimistic, but beat up Blue Hawks sitting out of practice this week. No. 21-ranked DSU practiced three day...

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Dickinson State senior safety Awa Poggi, left, and junior linebacker Drew Johnson talk after the Blue Hawks recovered a fumble in a 40-2 win over Mayville State Oct. 31 at the Biesiot Activities Center. Both Poggi and Johnson are dealing with injuries this week. (Press Photo by Colton Pool)

Dickinson State has so many contingency plans for injuries it’s hard to keep track.
And DSU might have to use them, as there are plenty of optimistic, but beat up Blue Hawks sitting out of practice this week.
No. 21-ranked DSU practiced three days this week, all of them without key starters on the defensive end.
The Blue Hawks (8-2, 5-1 North Star Athletic Association) are especially thin at safety as both starters went out with injuries against Dakota (S.D.) State in the Blue Hawks’ 49-30 win Nov. 7 at the Fargodome.
The most noticeable was senior Awa Poggi, who went down with a knee injury and caused the game last weekend to pause before he slowly got up and limped off the field with the help of his teammates.
Poggi said it happened when he went to tackle a ball carrier, but an offensive linemen came and cut blocked him at the knee.
He thought he had broken his leg.
“It bent in, but then the weight from me holding everyone bent it all the way to the ground, and I heard it pop three times,” Poggi said. “I was actually pretty scared because I had it bend like that, but I’ve never heard it pop like that.”
But when he was down on the field, DSU trainers felt it and thought it externally seemed fine. In fact, he wanted to go back into the game with a brace, but coaches held him out as a precaution.
Poggi feel it’s just an MCL strain, as he can put all his weight on the knee, but he struggles to bend it. He got an MRI done Friday and is waiting to hear the doctors’ - then the coaches’ - thoughts.
Safety Robert Nalewaja was also pulled from the game with a shoulder injury. He had his arm in a sling immediately after the game and throughout this week. The junior said his arm was pinned and then dislocated when he was trying to make a tackle.
He said it was first time dislocating a body part.
“That’s why I was freaking out so bad,” Nalewaja said. “I thought it was a lot worse than I think it is, so hopefully it gets better.”
And while it is swollen and tender, he said he is “very optimistic.” Nalewaja is also waiting on MRI results.
Those two, along with junior middle linebacker Drew Johnson, who hurt his hamstring early in the Dakota State game, are waiting
to see if they will even have a chance to play.
Dickinson State head coach Pete Stanton is not so optimistic.
“They’re pretty positive that they’re going to get back, but it’s easier said than done,” Stanton said. “We certainly aren’t going to put them on the field if they’re not ready to go and participate. We just have to wait and see what the doctors say.”
There were quite a few bumps and bruises on both sides of the ball, so coaches held out quite a few players during the week of practice.
One such player is junior defensive end Noey Tauave, who suffered an internally bruised forearm when a Dakota State offensive linemen fell on him.
Though trainers noticed some swelling around the bone, Tauave played later in the game.
“A lot of our teammates were hurting too,” he said. “I feel like if I go out, I’m going to be the missing piece. I know a lot of guys want to play, and this is nothing compared to what they’re going through right now.”
With DSU’s No. 21 rank, the team has to wait until Sunday to see if they make the top 20 and will be eligible for the playoffs to see if the recovery will go toward more football this season.
For Johnson, Poggi and Nalewaja, Stanton said he isn’t so sure they’ll be ready to go by next weekend.
“We’re anticipating that it will be difficult for all three of them to get back in two weeks with the nature of their injuries,” Stanton said. “We’re making plans to get some other guys ready.”
Those plans were already in full effect against Dakota State. Underclassmen cornerbacks Cain Boschee and Matthew VandeBossche both stepped into the safety spots. Redshirt freshman Jay Liggins kept his normal cornerback spot, while junior Robert Sterling - an all-NSAA defensive back a year ago until he was moved to quarterback this year - played more defense in the second half.
“Whatever the coaches decide to do, I’m going to do it to the best of my abilities,” Sterling said. “However it goes, I’m just trying to be a good team player.”
While learning a new position isn’t easy, Sterling may have it the hardest because he knows both the offensive and defensive playbooks.

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