ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Four-spot drop means change in DSU's perspective

Pete Stanton prides himself and his team on scheduling a tough non-conference schedule. The Blue Hawks' three true non-conference games this year -- the other two are Jamestown and Valley City State -- were the Frontier Conference's Montana Weste...

Senior quarterback Kaler Ray throws to freshman running back Jed Fike Oct. 29 against Black Hills State in Spearfish, S.D. (Samuel Evers / The Dickinson Press)
Senior quarterback Kaler Ray throws to freshman running back Jed Fike Oct. 29 against Black Hills State in Spearfish, S.D. (Samuel Evers / The Dickinson Press)

Pete Stanton prides himself and his team on scheduling a tough non-conference schedule.

The Blue Hawks' three true non-conference games this year - the other two are Jamestown and Valley City State - were the Frontier Conference's Montana Western, the Great Plains Athletic Conference's Northwestern College (Iowa), and last week's opponent, NCAA Division II Black Hills State.

In the team's 33-20 loss on Saturday against the Yellow Jackets in Spearfish, S.D., fair or not, that tough non-conference schedule may have bit the Blue Hawks.

Entering the game, DSU was No. 12 in the NAIA and three more wins away from a real shot at its first home playoff game in more than a decade. The Blue Hawks have since fallen four spots to No. 16 and, in the NAIA's 16-team playoff bracket, find themselves on the brink of postseason consideration.

Had DSU scheduled, say, Trinity Bible College, which three NSAA teams beat by a combined 42 points, instead of Black Hills State, perhaps things would be different, Stanton said.

ADVERTISEMENT

But the NAIA coaches' poll, which relies on a representative from each conference who won't necessarily know the difference between tiny Trinity Bible and a solid Division II team in Black Hills State, is a seemingly imperfect system.

"I wish I had an answer to that," Stanton said. "That's the disappointing thing about it, is you go and try to play someone who's a good team, but somebody across the country doesn't see that the same way. They just see it as a loss and don't see it as playing a pretty good Division II team."

Now, instead of dreaming of another go-around at the Biesiot Activities Center - which at this point is a virtual impossibility - DSU, with it's lowest ranking since Sept. 19, is fighting for its playoff life.

The ever-optimistic Kaler Ray, who showed some disappointment in the drop, said the only thing to do now is move on to Mayville State.

"I guess ... of course we didn't want to drop at all. We didn't want to lose at all, either. It's one of those things that's out of our hands," said the quarterback. "We just have to play with what we got. Win the next two and see where we end up, then go play wherever we land in the playoffs, hopefully."

Coming for the Comets

Last year, in preparation for Dickinson State's conference showdown against Mayville State, Stanton and his staff watched parts of four different game films on the Comets.

During the game, on both offense and defense, he saw something completely different. According to Stanton, that's just the type of team they are.

ADVERTISEMENT

"One thing with them is they give you a different look. It seems like they give every team a different look. We're working on a little bit of everything," Stanton said. "That's what they're known for."

The Comets, who the Blue Hawks will take on in Mayville this Saturday at noon Mountain Time, have had an up and down season, but most recently picked up their best win of the season against the previously-ranked Dakota State, which gave DSU trouble in the first half of their matchup a few weeks ago.

The Comets enter the game at 4-4 and 2-2 in the NSAA.

"We really respect them. They've earned everyone's respect in the conference," said Ray, who threw for two touchdowns and rushed for 70 yards in DSU's 40-2 win over Mayville State last year. "It's going to be a dogfight for sure, but we're not making it bigger than it needs to be. Every week we're trying to go 1-0, I've probably said that every single (week), but that's really what it is."

The DSU defense will be going up against a formidable offense - a quarterback in Andrew Blake who leads the second-best passing attack in the NSAA, two featured running backs over 200 pounds, and four different wide receivers 6-foot-4 or taller.

Defensively, they're middle of the NSAA pack in terms of their 27.5 points allowed per game but are strides ahead of last year's 37.6 points allowed against conference opponents, noted Stanton.

"They've been very improved and opportunistic on defense. They're as good as anyone we've seen in the conference," Stanton said. "Mayville is a tough place to play. It's a totally different environment than here and we know we're going to have our hands full.

Injury report

ADVERTISEMENT

For the fifth straight week, running back Tray Boone is officially questionable; his last game was Oct. 1 against Valley City State. Stanton again called him day-by-day, but expects Boone to be ready to go at some point soon.

A few more offensive contributors join the injury list this week. Wide receiver Austin Brown, who was injured against Black Hills State and sat out for the second half, is also a question mark a day before game day. He was in a walking boot Thursday but doesn't appear to have serious ailments.

"Nothing to worry about as far as ligaments or as far as a bone (injury)," Stanton said. "He just has some soft tissue in there that got pulled. We're just seeing how it's going day to day."

Wide receiver and punt returner Dylan Skabo is also a question mark after getting banged up in Spearfish on Saturday. Between him and Brown, Stanton said Skabo is the one more likely to play tomorrow.

Related Topics: MAYVILLE STATEBLUE HAWKS
What To Read Next
Brantley III sets second all-time record in shot put, Wrzesinski breaks school and North Star record in 60 meter hurdles
Entering the game the Midgets and Blue Jays were tied in the WDA standings, and owing to a clutch performance Dickinson came away with a crowd pleasing win.
Engwitch and Speelmon take home belt buckles in victory at memorial home tourney
Before a packed crowd at home, Dickinson State dominated the Comets going 45% from the floor, grabbing 48 boards and double-digits in assists