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Position by position: A closer look at all 22 Dickinson State starters on offense and defense

OFFENSE Quarterback Kaler Ray: A 6-foot-4 senior who has the ability to make plays with his feet. After a 2015 season defined by injury, Ray begins the year in sole possession of the starting job. Running Back Tray Boone: The most exciting offens...

Dickinson State senior wide receiver Austin Brown hauls in a pass during a practice last season at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Press File Photo)
Dickinson State senior wide receiver Austin Brown hauls in a pass during a practice last season at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Press File Photo)

OFFENSE

Quarterback

 

Kaler Ray: A 6-foot-4 senior who has the ability to make plays with his feet. After a 2015 season defined by injury, Ray begins the year in sole possession of the starting job.

 

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Running Back

 

Tray Boone: The most exciting offensive player on the team, and perhaps the conference. The Los Angeles native averaged an outstanding 138 yards per game on the ground last season. Because of a minor leg injury, Boone is not listed as the starter against Montana Western. He will be fine to play, though, according to head coach Pete Stanton. Jed Fike, a redshirt freshman from Harrison, Mont., will start in his place.

 

Offensive Line

 

Jeff Fisher, guard: Only a sophomore, Fisher returns this season as the most experienced lineman on the team. He was an all-conference pick last season.

 

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Deon Paulson, guard: The senior slides right into a starting spot after transferring from the University of Mary. "Great player, great all-around guy. A great leader on the field, too," Stanton said of Paulson. "We're really happy to have him."

 

Morgan Bishop, center: The freshman will be thrown into the fire right away. One of five players from Miles City, Mont., on the roster, his first collegiate game will be in his hometown.

 

Kordell Cummins, tackle: Along with Fisher, one of two linemen who saw significant playing time for the Blue Hawks last season. "Kordell is one of those guys who has stepped up," said offensive line coach Ryan Payne. "He's had a great camp."

 

Devin Schwanz, tackle: As a freshman last season, Schwanz saw action in only two games but had an offseason worthy of a starting spot. "He has a whole new mindset to him," said Payne. "He's showed intensity and aggression."

 

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Wide Receivers

 

Austin Brown: Brown led the Blue Hawks in both receptions (27) and yards (393) last season. The senior also caught four touchdowns, tied for the team lead. "He's our outside guy," Stanton said. "He's really taken off as far as his leadership."

 

Dalton Reid: Reid, alongside Brown, will be another reliable target on the outside. The senior finished behind Brown last year with 23 catches and 328 receiving yards.

 

Jamion Lindsey: The senior bounced back from an injury in the spring to have a solid training camp. He will look to build on the 256 receiving yards he had last season, which was his first year with the Blue Hawks.

 

Tight End

 

Jordan Walker: As a redshirt freshman, Walker appeared in only four games, making one catch for 33 yards. At 6-foot-3, he will be bring help to the offensive line.

 

DEFENSE

 

Defensive line

 

Noey Tauave: A reigning first-team all-conference member and a preseason pick to get back there again. The senior is also a team captain.

 

Mitch Mehrer: The Dickinson native will have a chance to keep trending upward after a freshman season last year that included nine tackles and one sack.

 

Frank Ah Kiong: The senior earned a spot on the frontline after a great showing in training camp. "His hustle is there," Stanton said. "He's taken off for us."

 

Linebackers

 

Colby Wartman, outside linebacker: The senior has been a consistent force on the defense since joining the Blue Hawks in 2013. He has 8½ sacks and an interception over the course of his career.

 

Drew Johnson, inside linebacker: One of the Blue Hawks best players on defense. A team captain and an all-conference first-team member last season, he totaled 66 tackles and 1½ sacks. Like Wartman, this will be his fourth and final year at DSU.

 

Tino Mafi, inside linebacker: The junior comes by way of Chabot College in California. Saturday will be his first game with DSU.

 

Thomas Sease, outside linebacker: The junior parlayed a 57-tackle season last year into a 12th place finish this spring in the decathlon at the NAIA outdoor national track and field championships. He brings speed and playmaking ability to the linebacker corps.

 

Secondary

 

Rob Sterling, cornerback: After an unpredictable season last year spent between quarterback and cornerback, the senior is back where he's most comfortable. "Rob is back in a rhythm this year," Stanton said. "He's been able to take a lot of reps at cornerback."

 

Jay Liggins, cornerback: The sophomore will flank Sterling on the other side of the field. As a freshman, Liggins made the all-conference team and compiled an impressive season: 52 tackles and two interceptions.

 

Cain Boschee, safety: Also a sophomore, the 6-foot-3 safety picked off five passes last season, returning two of them for touchdowns. Boschee, who played in all 11 games for the Blue Hawks last season, also broke up five passes.

 

Rob Nalewaja, safety: Another one of the Blue Hawks who can boast all-conference honors from last season and preseason all-conference honors this season. The senior's six interceptions led the team in 2015.

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