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Dickinson State defensive line tries to make opposing quarterbacks' lives miserable

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Matthew Perez (93), Aaron Faletoi (90) and Presley Piliati (99) are three contributors for a stacked Dickinson State defensive line. (File Image / The Dickinson Press)

The anchor of Dickinson State’s defense is up front, and the defense as a whole relies upon the defensive line to create disruption for opposing offenses.

They have done exactly that early in the season as the defense has created 26.5 tackles for loss in only three games.

The group is led by senior Presley Piliati, from Alaska, who missed the second game of the year versus Mayville State, but he believes that all the hard work the unit has put in is paying off.

“Our D line has a lot of speed, strength and we have a lot of chemistry,” Piliati said. “We study all week and wake up every day at 7 a.m. to get on the field. I think we have a really good D line.”

While several upperclassmen contribute heavily, there have been an abundance of underclassmen and freshmen who have made an impact boding well for the present and the future of the Blue Hawks line.

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Even Henke, from New Salem, and Aaron Faletoi, also from Alaska, both have recorded one sack, while Faletoi has a team high five tackles for loss.

Fellow freshman and Dickinson High product, Peyton Hanson, has added 1.5 tackles for loss in his first couple of college games.

“The coaching is very different from high school,” Faletoi said. “I have learned a bunch of different things and it is cool.”

Matthew Perez is another senior with Piliati who has played making three tackles so far this year.

Krew Mathern, also a Dickinson High alumnus, believes not only in his defensive line, but the entire defense.

“We have proved a lot at the beginning of the season. We all feel comfortable with the playbook and we know what we are doing with our gaps and assignments. It is a team thing more than a D line thing though,” the sophomore who has three tackles for loss said. “When we mess up, the linebackers are behind us. We have each other’s backs and it is a team thing.”

Being from Alaska, Piliati and Faletoi are a long way from home, but both had connections to Dickinson State so that is how they ended up donning the Blue and White.

Piliati played at junior college in California with several other players who ended up at Dickinson State, while Faletoi had a high school coach who played for the Hawks in the past.

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The 260 pound lineman said he played running back in high school and on the line for parts of his prep career, but now he is adjusting to have what he hopes is a stellar career taking down opposing quarterbacks.

Since it is cold in both places, the lone difference between their home state of Alaska and North Dakota, Piliati said, is that there is no wind at all.

Mathern leads the defensive front with ten tackles, but with there being so many freshman playing, him, Piliati and others hope to help them continue their early success.

“I try my best to help out my young D linemen who are stepping up,” Piliati said. “I hope I did something for them. I would like to be a great influence for these guys.”

Faletoi agrees saying that he looks up to the older players.

"It is good to keep them tight, because of the experiences that they can share,” he said.

Despite the success, the group is going to keep working to get better every day.

They know that football especially in the year of the coronavirus can be taken away from them, so when they step on that field, they are all business.

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“We have a lot of talent, but we have a lot to work on still,” Mathern said. “We are working every day, and the strides we have made from the beginning of the year have been impressive. We have a lot of depth and I think we are going to have a great finish to the year.”

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