Dickinson State football garners high marks in NSAA and NAIA preseason polls

"We understand past success will have nothing to do with how we prepare or perform this year, but our players are looking forward to the challenge of the 2022 season,” said Pete Stanton, DSU football head coach.

Riley O'Donnell powers through the Dakota State offensive line and levels their running back.
Dickinson Press file photo
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DICKINSON — Dickinson State University’s 2022 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics football season kicks off this September against Black Hill College University at home. Before the games can begin, a tradition as ingrained as the sport itself got football fans salivating when it was announced on Monday, Aug. 1. that the DSU Blue Hawks would be ranked No. 16 in the annual national preseason coaches poll.

The DSU Blue Hawks enter the 2022 football season with some of the highest expectations in years for standout performances projected in both North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) play.

"The two rankings are great for our program to be recognized for their achievement from last year," Pete Stanton, DSU head football coach, said. "We understand past success will have nothing to do with how we prepare or perform this year, but our players are looking forward to the challenge of the 2022 season. They have worked very hard this summer and are ready to get to fall camp in preparation for the season."

Freshman Jayden Heartwell against Mayville in the 2021-22 season on Sept. 18. 2021.
Filed Photo / The Dickinson Press

In the NSAA preseason poll, DSU was unanimously chosen to win the conference — unsurprising as the Blue Hawks have reigned as NSAA champs for seven consecutive seasons and went undefeated in conference play over the last two seasons.

With head coaches barred from voting for their own team, Dickinson State received six first place votes. One first place vote went to Valley City State University (VCSU) who finished last season with a 6-2 conference record and are tied for second with Waldorf University in the preseason poll.


The Blue Hawks and VCSU each gained national attention, receiving votes in the NAIA Football FirstDown PlayBook’s Top 25 preseason poll. Valley City garnered 21 nods to Dickinson State’s 178.

Despite the good news leading to kickoff, DSU did move back one spot in ranking from the postseason Football FirstDown PlayBook Top 25 poll last winter, but will have until Sunday, Nov 13 to make up the difference or even exceed it before the final poll is released.

North Star football teams will play a total of six conference games during the season, with each team receiving a bye in one week. DSU, being the only ranked North Star team in the NAIA’s preseason poll, won the league by two games last season.

Just as the year before, the Blue Hawks will be opening their season with a non-conference matchup against Black Hill State, slated for Thursday, September 1.

League play officially starts on October 1, with three games scheduled – Dickinson State’s conference play begins with an away game against Dakota State University.

Running Back Riley Anderson in a non-conference game against Montana-Western in the 2021-22 season
Filed photo / The Dickinson Press

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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