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Not stopped by snow: DSU football kicks off spring practices

While inches of fresh snow on the ground nurtures doubts that warm weather will ever come, the Dickinson State football team has started its spring practices.

Dickinson State linemen go through drills in the first spring practice at the Biesiot Activities Center on Monday, March 19. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson State linemen go through drills in the first spring practice at the Biesiot Activities Center on Monday, March 19. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

While inches of fresh snow on the ground nurtures doubts that warm weather will ever come, the Dickinson State football team has started its spring practices.

With the temperature hovering right around freezing, more than 80 Blue Hawks took to the cleared half of the field on Monday, March 19 at the Biesiot Activities Center, commencing the countdown to the spring game on Friday, April 13 at 5 p.m.

"You gotta love the cold, the consistency with the cold, but a lot of the stuff is the same" junior defensive back Jay Liggins said of spring ball. "It's the same attitude everyone has, the same goals more or less. Every year we've gotten more competitive, more promising. We always want more from ourselves."

Following winter workouts, the spring season serves as the first look into next season, not including new recruits of course.

"We've had as many guys as we've had in a long time. We had close to 90 guys working out throughout the winter. They had a great eight weeks," DSU football head coach Pete Stanton said. "We couldn't be more pleased with the direction we're at there. Now as we head into spring ball, the goal is here for the next four weeks, get out on the field and see where we're at with everything."

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Last season, the Blue Hawks went undefeated in the North Star Athletic Association conference with a 9-2 overall record, propelling them to their third-straight NAIA playoff appearance.

The team graduated 13 seniors, mostly defensive linemen, a few wide receivers and a special teams returner, key roles that need to be filled.

"The defensive line, we lost a great senior class there. We recruited some younger guys there," Stanton said. "Of course we have some returners back on the defensive line, but we'll still be recruiting some older (junior college and transfer) guys on the D-line."

With the loss of Josh Kaiwi, Una Masaiani, Sifa Vea and Hunter Moore on the line, junior Mitch Mehrer will have to be the new leader.

Stanton is looking at the redshirts to help fill the gaps. Spring practices will serve as a transition period for the redshirts, as they spent last season learning opponents schemes rather than their own.

Referencing the 2017 roster, Liggins and Mehrer will be two of 27 seniors who will lead the squad.

"(I want to) do what the guys before me did, mold the younger guys. Just always work hard, work hard every day. Try to outwork everyone on the team," Liggins said of his senior season. "Being a leader, that trickles down to other guys on the team. Other seniors, even some of the juniors, they all have that same mindset as well. I feel we have a team full of leaders."

Liggins, who is also competing on the track along with a handful of other players, is using spring practices as a way to get back into the football mindset, and adjust to the motions.

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"It's just about getting my feet back under me, learning some of the new things that we have in and doing what we always do: building, being great and having some of the younger guys step up," he said.

The next four weeks are not only about preparing for the fall, but also for the spring game, an offense versus defense spar.

"The objective is not to have a great competitive spring game," Stanton said. "The objective is just to get better as a team every day, stay healthy, install some new things and that's what we're looking at."

Dickinson State football defensive backs run drills on Monday, March 19 at the BAC. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson State football defensive backs run drills on Monday, March 19 at the BAC. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

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