It's been a year of growth for Bison quarterback Easton Stick

FARGO -- It was almost a year ago when Easton Stick took his first snap as a North Dakota State quarterback. He scored on a 29-yard run at Indiana State and his career was off and running.

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FARGO - It was almost a year ago when Easton Stick took his first snap as a North Dakota State quarterback. He scored on a 29-yard run at Indiana State and his career was off and running.

It hasn't stopped since.

The sophomore is now 13-0 as a starter heading into Saturday's Missouri Valley Football Conference showdown against South Dakota State at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. In a sense, Stick probably has ownership of an unofficial team record: most wins as a starting quarterback to start a career, certainly in the Division I era.

It's not easy. For instance, Brock Jensen - who owns the FCS record for career victories by a starting quarterback - won his first two games as a redshirt freshman in 2010 before the Bison lost 28-16 at home to Western Illinois.

It's been a year of growth for Stick, especially with the mental side of the game. About that Indiana State game?


"I didn't know anything I guess looking back," he said with a smile. "I was just out there playing and running around and following guys. So I've taken a lot of steps forward and I'm looking forward to seeing how much I can grow."

Bison quarterbacks coach Randy Hedberg paid tribute to Stick's ability to audible at the line of scrimmage against Illinois State two weeks ago. It's debatable if that would have happened over the course of his eight straight wins as the quarterback last year in taking over for an injured Carson Wentz.

"I feel so much more comfortable in what we're trying to do and what defenses are trying to do to us," Stick said. "It's something each week that I feel like I learn a little bit more. I'm excited to see where it goes."

His completion percentage of 63 percent is close to what the Bison coaches would like, which is something around 65 percent or better. He's completed 69 of 110 passes for 990 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions.

A shifty runner, and take away the 62 yards in quarterback sacks, he's averaging 4.5 yards per carry including a critical 29-yarder at Iowa that led to the game-winning field goal. Whereas his first few games last year he was more prone to running than passing, that has almost done a 180-degree turn. He looks more comfortable staying in the pocket and surveying his receivers.

"It's experience that you can't gain unless you're playing," Stick said. "You can prepare and do all the things you need to do to prepare but until you play it's different. I think the speed of the game has slowed down tremendously, understanding what I'm seeing and understanding what we're trying to do as well. I've learned a ton."

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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