Jacks, NDSU battle for Marker
Kickoff is slated for 3:07 p.m. at the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D. The game is part of the league's television package, with coverage starting at 3 p.m. Central Time on FOX Sports North and Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The contest will be joined in progress - approximately 4 p.m. - on FOX College Sports Central and will be shown on a taped-delayed basis at 3 p.m. Sunday on FOX Sports Midwest.
SDSU will attempt to keep its hopes alive for a ninth consecutive winning season, entering the game with a 4-5 overall record and 4-3 mark in the MVFC.
North Dakota State remains in the hunt for a possible at-large FCS playoff berth, coming into Saturday's game with a 6-3 overall record and 3-3 league mark. The Bison, who end a three-game homestand, defeated Southern Illinois, 20-6, on Nov. 6.
THE SERIES: Saturday's matchup marks the 97th time South Dakota State and North Dakota State have met on the gridiron, dating back to an 85-0 Bison win in Fargo in 1903. NDSU leads the overall series by a 51-40-5 count.
The two schools were both charter members of the North Central Conference, meeting every year from 1919 through 1942 until play was interrupted by World War II. The series resumed in 1946 and the two squads have met every year since as the schools made the move to Division I competition together in 2004.
The Dakota Marker was introduced to coincide with the move to the Football Championship Subdivision ranks in 2004. SDSU won the inaugural matchup, 24-21, at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium. The Jackrabbits have won the last three meetings and own a 4-2 advantage in Dakota Marker games, including a 28-13 victory at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium in 2009. SDSU's last four-game winning streak against the Bison came from 1947-50.
THE DAKOTA MARKER: Red quartzite monuments that define the border between South Dakota and North Dakota now signify a football rivalry between the two states.
The Dakota Marker, a replica of the 7-foot by 10-inch square stone monuments planted in the early 1890s following the division of Dakota Territory into separate states, is the name of a traveling trophy that SDSU and North Dakota State began competing for during the 2004 season.
The original idea for the trophy came from the Blue Key Honor Society at NDSU. The student associations at both schools share dual ownership of the trophy.
The Dakota Marker stands about three feet tall with the letters "SD" on one side and "ND"on the other side, just like its 720 namesakes that dot the 366-mile border. The trophy stands about three feet high and weighs 78 pounds. The black granite base used to display the trophy weighs another 181 pounds.
Following are the scores for the six previous Dakota Marker games:
• 2004: SDSU 24, NDSU 21 (at Brookings)
• 2005: NDSU 41, SDSU 17 (at Fargo)
• 2006: NDSU 41, SDSU 28 (at Fargo)
• 2007: SDSU 29, NDSU 24 (at Brookings)
• 2008: SDSU 25, NDSU 24 (at Fargo)
• 2009: SDSU 28, NDSU 13 (at Brookings)
MEDIA COVERAGE: Besides the regional television broadcast, audio and video coverage of Saturday's game is scheduled to be available via subscription service at GoJacks.com, the official website of SDSU athletics. Monthly subscriptions for the Jackrabbit Extra, which includes live audio and video streaming of select games are available for $11.95 per month or $99.95 for an entire year of coverage. An audio-only subscription also is available for $4.95 per month, with programming consisting only of live radio broadcasts.
Local radio coverage Saturday begins on flagship station WNAX 570 AM at 1:30 p.m. Central Time, with an expanded pre-game show. Steve Imming returns to call the play-by-play, with Tyler Merriam providing color commentary. The game also can be heard on the following Jackrabbit Sports Network stations, starting at 2:30 p.m. CT:
• Belle Fourche: KBFS 1450 AM • Brookings: KJJQ 910 AM
• Mobridge: KOLY 1300 AM • Pierre: KGFX 1060 AM
• Rapid City: KRKI 99.5 FM • Watertown: KWAT 950 AM
JACKRABBIT INSIDER: Throughout the 2010 football season, head coach John Stiegelmeier will be a guest on the "Jackrabbit Insider," a weekly behind-the-scenes look at South Dakota State University athletics.
The half-hour television show which features interviews with Jackrabbit coaches and student-athletes, airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on Sioux Falls-based KTTW FOX 7. The show is also broadcast on FOX Sports North at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and on FOX College Sports Central at 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays. Online, the show can be viewed at GoJacks.com.
SLOW STARTS: South Dakota State's 0-4 start to the 2010 campaign marked the first time since 1969 the Jackrabbits had gone winless through their first four games.
After starting both the 2006 and 2007 seasons with 0-3 records, SDSU rebounded to contend for conference titles. The 2006 squad reeled off seven consecutive victories after an 0-3 start to set up a showdown with North Dakota State for the Great West Football Conference championship - a game the Bison eventually won 41-28 at the Fargodome.
In 2007, the Jackrabbits won six of their final seven games, including their final five contests, to claim the GWFC title. SDSU defeated previously unbeaten North Dakota State, 29-24, in the season finale to win their first league title in football in 44 years.
SLOW STARTS, PART II: The Jackrabbits put an end to their first-quarter scoring struggles as they scored a touchdown on their opening drive of the Oct. 23 game against Youngstown State for their first points in the opening quarter this season.
Through the first nine games, SDSU has been outscored 107-71 in the first half, including a 49-13 margin in the first quarter.
The Jackrabbits hold a 118-94 scoring advantage in the second half of games.
HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE: The South Dakota State University football team has enjoyed a home-field advantage at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium since making the move to the Football Championship Subdivision level.
Since joining the FCS ranks at the start of the 2004 season, the Jackrabbits have posted a 28-8 mark at CAS, including a 10-2 record in Missouri Valley Football Conference games.
Lights were installed at CAS prior to the 2001 season and SDSU has turned in a 21-6 record in home night games.
Overall, SDSU has compiled a 161-99 record in 49 seasons at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
CAPTAINS: Leading the Jackrabbit football team on the field and in the locker room are four senior captains:
• Cole Brodie, defensive back, Dacula, Ga.;
• Conrad Kjerstad, defensive back, Wall;
• Ryan McKnight, offensive lineman, Sioux Falls;
• Kyle Minett, running back, Ruthton, Minn.
RABBITS RANKED: For the fourth year in a row, South Dakota State appeared in the preseason national rankings for the Football Championship Subdivision, checking in at No. 9 in the Sports Network/Fathead.com media poll and 10th in the FCS Coaches' poll.
Following back-to-back losses to start the season, the Jackrabbits fell out of the top 25, but remain among the teams receiving votes in the Sports Network poll.
The Jackrabbits began the 2009 season ranked 22nd in the Sports Network poll and 23rd in the preseason poll conducted by the Football Championship Subdivision coaches. SDSU climbed to as high as ninth in the national rankings before finishing the season 11th in both the media and coaches' polls.
In 2008, SDSU opened the season 19th in the Sports Network poll and 20th in the coaches' poll. When opening the 2007 season, the rankings were reversed as SDSU was 19th in the coaches' poll and 20th in the Sports Network rankings.
VERSUS RANKED OPPONENTS: Playing a ranked opponent is nothing new for the Jackrabbit football team, which has taken on some of the nation's elite Football Championship Subdivision programs since moving up from Division I at the start of the 2004 season.
In its first six-plus seasons at the FCS level, SDSU has played 33 games against ranked FCS opponents and compiled an 11-22 overall record.
WORKING OVERTIME: Since overtime rules were implemented in college football in 1996, the Jackrabbits have played five overtime games. SDSU won its first-ever overtime contest, a 30-27, double-overtime decision on Hobo Day against Nebraska-Omaha, but has lost its last four extended games.
Following is a history of SDSU's overtime games:
• Oct. 17, 1998 vs. Nebraska-Omaha W, 30-27 2 OT [Hobo Day]
• Oct. 19, 2002, at Augustana (S.D.) L, 33-39 3 OT
• Nov. 13, 2004, at Southern Utah L, 17-23 2 OT
• Aug. 30, 2007, at Western Illinois L, 26-39 4 OT
• Oct. 4, 2008, vs. McNeese State (La.) L, 44-46 3 OT [Hobo Day]
SCOUTING NORTH DAKOTA STATE: The 2010 season has been one of resurgence for the North Dakota State football team.
After finishing the 2009 season with a 3-8 record, including a 2-7 mark in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, the Bison have already doubled their win total this season with a 6-3 record. Ranked 20th in the FCS Coaches' poll and 24th in the Sports Network/Fathead.com media poll this week, North Dakota State remains in contention for an at-large berth in the upcoming Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
The Bison feature the best scoring defense in the MVFC, allowing an average of 17.3 points per game. NDSU also ranks second in turnover margin, forcing 21 takeaways - 12 fumbles and nine interceptions - in nine games.
Linebacker Preston Evans leads the team in tackles with 71, followed by Chad Willson with 56 and Brandon Jemison with 54.
Coulter Boyer, the reigning MVFC Defensive Player of the Week, leads the squad with nine tackles for loss, including eight sacks, and has both forced and recovered three fumbles. Also on the defensive line, Matthew Gratzek has added four sacks and five tackles for loss. As a team, the Bison have recorded 22 sacks and 53 tackles for loss.
In the secondary, Daniel Eaves has a team-high three interceptions, including one he returned 53 yards for a touchdown.
The NDSU offense has been paced by D.J. McNorton, who is 58 yards away from eclipsing the 1,000 mark for the season. Besides racking up 942 rushing yards, McNorton has scored seven rushing touchdowns and is the third-leading receiver on the team with 16 catches for 282 yards and two scores.
Warren Holloway leads the Bison with 28 catches for 485 yards and four touchdowns.
Jose Mohler has started the last three games at quarterback. For the season, Mohler has completed 59.4 percent of his passes (76-of-128) for 994 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions.
The Bison rank at or near the top in a number of special teams categories, including leading the league in both net punting (38.8) and kickoff coverage (44.6). John Prelvitz ranks second in the MVFC with an average of 43.5 yards per punt, notching 12 punts of 50-plus yards and landing 16 of his 42 attempts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
Ryan Jastram has made 10-of-16 field goal attempts with a long of 47.
In the return game, freshman Ryan Smith is averaging a league-best 13.1 yards per punt return and 20.4 yards per kickoff return. Justin Howard is tops on the team in kick return average 27.1 yards with a long of 58.
LAST MEETING: Kyle Minett rushed 34 times for 164 yards and two touchdowns, and the Jackrabbit defense held North Dakota State off the board in the second half as 14th-ranked South Dakota State claimed the Dakota Marker for the third consecutive season with a 28-13 victory on Oct. 17, 2009, at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
SDSU improved to 5-1 overall and maintained a share of the Missouri Valley Football Conference at 4-0. The Bison dropped to 1-6 overall, 0-4 in league play.
Early on, the game appeared as though it would be a shootout as both teams scored on their opening drives.
NDSU took the opening kickoff and marched 62 yards on seven plays, capping the drive with a 22-yard touchdown on a screen pass from Nick Mertens to D.J. McNorton. It marked the first time the Jackrabbit defense allowed a first-quarter touchdown during the 2009 season.
The Jackrabbits came right back with a seven-play, 57-yard scoring drive. Redshirt freshmen Thomas O'Brien and Aaron Rollin hooked for catches of nine and 36 yards, the latter of the two plays giving SDSU first-and-goal. One play later, Minett plunged in from a yard out to extend his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown to 11.
After SDSU was stopped short on a fourth-and-1 play deep in Bison territory on its next possession, the Jackrabbit defense shifted the momentum in SDSU's favor. On the first play of the drive, Derek Domino intercepted a Mertens pass and ran it back 16 yards for a touchdown.
The Jackrabbits made it 21-14 early in the second quarter on a 22-yard touchdown run by Tyler Duffy to finish off a seven-play, 62-yard drive.
The Bison cut the margin to one possession on their final drive of the first half, putting together a nine-play, 89-yard touchdown drive that ended when Mertens found Gary Williams from 20 yards out with 59 seconds remaining. However, backup kicker John Obarski, who was playing in place of an injured Shawn Bibeau, missed the extra point to put the score at 21-13 heading into halftime.
The second half turned into a defensive struggle until the Jackrabbits were able to re-establish the running game. Minett ended the scoring early in the fourth quarter with a 20-yard touchdown run.
SDSU's defense gave up only 51 yards of total offense in the second half, including a mere 15 through the air as the Bison completed 4-of-14 passes in the final 30 minutes.
The Jackrabbits out-gained North Dakota State by a 203-122 margin on the ground behind Minett's season-high 164 yards, and held a 322-252 advantage in total offense. Duffy added 48 yards on nine attempts.
O'Brien finished the night 13-of-21 passing for 119 yards, with Mike Steffen leading the Jackrabbit receivers with four catches for 50 yards.
For NDSU, D.J. McNorton, playing in place of a suspended Pat Paschall, gained 57 yards on 17 carries and added three receptions for 27 yards. Mertens was 15-of-31 passing for 130 yards.
Defensively, the Jackrabbits were led by Domino, who recorded 12 tackles and intercepted two passes from his linebacker position. Chris Johnson added 12 stops.
LAST WEEK: The South Dakota State University football team kept its hopes for a ninth consecutive winning season alive with a convincing 31-10 victory over Missouri State Saturday afternoon at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
The Jackrabbits improved to 4-5 overall and 4-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Missouri State dropped to 4-5 overall and 3-3 in league play.
After holding SDSU to a three-and-out on the opening drive of the game, the Bears scored on their first possession. Stephen Johnston ran for a pair of first downs before the drive stalled and Austin Witmer connected on a 42-yard field goal.
The Jackrabbits found the end zone midway through the first quarter. Cole Brodie set SDSU up at midfield with a 20-yard punt return. Quarterback Thomas O'Brien completed a pair of third-down passes - one to Brandon Hubert for 25 yards and another to backup running back Tyler Duffy, who made an acrobatic catch on the sideline to give SDSU first and goal. Duffy capped the nine play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. A bobbled snap on the extra-point attempt kept the score at 6-3.
SDSU extended its lead to 13-3 early in the second quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run by Kyle Minett, who scored for the fifth consecutive game. The nine-play, 65-yard drive featured a 25-yard reception by Minett that moved the ball into Missouri State territory.
MSU took advantage of a Jackrabbit turnover in the red zone, marching 87 yards on 10 plays to pull to within 13-10 late in the half. Chris Douglas finished off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run.
O'Brien led the Jackrabbits on another scoring drive late in the first half. The sophomore quarterback completed all four passes he attempted for 35 yards on the drive that ended with a career-long 47-yard field goal by Peter Reifenrath with 1:31 remaining.
The Bears appeared on the verge of scoring in the final seconds of the half, but Cody Kirby's pass was tipped by Derek Domino and intercepted at the Jackrabbit 10 by linebacker Michael Lien.
The Jackrabbit defense stood firm in the second half, shutting out a Missouri State offense that came into the game averaging 38.4 points and 459 yards of offense per game. The Bears converted only 4-of-15 third-down attempts and were 0-for-4 on fourth down.
SDSU put the game out of reach midway through the third quarter as O'Brien hooked up with Trevor Tiefenthaler on a 4-yard touchdown pass and then found tight end Alex Beyer for the two-point conversion to make the score 24-10.
Brodie closed out the scoring with a 55-yard interception return for touchdown late in the fourth quarter. It was Brodie's second pick-six of the season and team-leading fourth interception.
O'Brien finished the game 20-of-30 passing for 204 yards. Tyrel Kool led the receiving corps with six catches for 64 yards, while Minett added five receptions for 32 yards. A Walter Payton Award candidate as the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision, Minett churned out his eighth consecutive 100-yard game with 111 yards on 29 carries. Duffy gained 39 yards on 14 carries.
SDSU held a 347-318 advantage in total offense.
For Missouri State, Kirby ended the day 15-of-37 passing for 167 yards and two interceptions. Cadarrius Dotson was the top receiver with four catches for 63 yards. Johnston led the ground game with 65 yards on 13 carries, with Douglas adding 54 yards on eight carries.
Dirk Kool led the Jackrabbit defense with nine tackles, followed by Lien with eight stops and Brian Fischer with seven. Adam Beauchamp posted a game-high 18 tackles for Missouri State, with Antoine Wilkinson adding 12.
MINETT ON PAYTON LIST: South Dakota State University running back Kyle Minett remains one of 20 players on the official watch list for the 2010 Walter Payton Award, which is awarded to the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
A native of Ruthton, Minn., Minett is currently ranked second among active FCS backs with 4,202 career rushing yards - a total that also ranks second on the SDSU career charts. In addition, Minett stands second in career rushing touchdowns among active FCS players with 45, second in total touchdowns with 52 and fourth in total points with 316 (52 TDs, 2 two-point conversions).
A two-time second-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection, Minett became the first player in SDSU football history to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons, reaching the milestone Oct. 30 at Indiana State. After tallying 1,289 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2008 and 1,304 yards and 16 TDs last season, Minett enters Saturday's matchup against North Dakota State with 1,133 yards and 10 touchdowns so far in 2010. He currently ranks ninth in FCS rushing this season with an average of 125.9 yards per game.
In addition, Minett has 107 career receptions for 912 yards and seven scores.
Minett, who was named to the Associated Press All-America Third Team in 2009, is the first SDSU football player to be nominated for the Walter Payton Award, which is sponsored by Fathead.com and presented by The Sports Network. The Walter Payton Award watch list will again be updated on Oct. 25, with ballots sent to a panel of approximately 200 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries after the regular season on Nov. 22. Three finalists will be announced on Dec. 1 and invited to The Sports Network/Fathead FCS Awards Presentation Jan. 6 - the night before the FCS national championship game - in Frisco, Texas.
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: Three seniors on the South Dakota State University football team were named to 2010 preseason All-America teams.
Center Ryan McKnight was named to the first team of preseason All-America squads selected by The Sports Network and College Sporting News. The 6-foot-1, 295-pound senior from Sioux Falls, was a first-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection in 2009 after starting all 12 games for the Jackrabbits' playoff-qualifying squad and was an integral part of an offense that averaged 27.8 points and 341.2 yards of offense per game.
Linebacker Derek Domino earned second-team recognition on the CSN squad. A native of Spring Lake Park, Minn., Domino also earned first-team all-MVFC recognition in 2009 after leading the squad with 100 tackles and sharing the team lead with five interceptions. Domino returned two of his interceptions for touchdowns.
Running back Kyle Minett was tabbed as a third-team selection by both The Sports Network and College Sporting News. In 2009, Minett was named to the Associated Press All-America Third Team.
OH, DOMINO: Senior linebacker Derek Domino has picked up where he left off a season ago, when he emerged as the team's top tackler.
A native of Spring Lake Park, Minn., Domino has tallied a team-high 80 tackles so far this season, including a career-high 16 stops Sept. 25 at Nebraska. Domino had his string of five consecutive games with double digits for tackles, dating back to the 2009 season, end in the Oct. 9 game against Western Illinois, when he notched seven stops. In 2009, Domino led the team with 100 tackles as he registered 12 tackles in a game three times, including SDSU's playoff game at Montana.
In addition, Domino upped his career interception total to nine in the game at Nebraska. Last season, Domino shared the team lead with five interceptions, including one he returned for a 22-yard touchdown at Minnesota. He also picked off two passes Oct. 17 against North Dakota State, returning his first interception of the game 16 yards for a touchdown.
During the 2008 campaign, Domino returned an interception 82 yards for a touchdown in the Hobo Day game against McNeese State (La.). His three career interception returns for touchdowns are tied for the most among all active FCS players.
BRODIE BREAKS AWAY: Senior captain Cole Brodie has been a top performer both defensively and on special teams for the Jackrabbits this season.
A cornerback from Dacula, Ga., Brodie leads the team with four interceptions, two of which he has returned for touchdowns. His first touchdown was an 87-yarder - the second longest in school history - with his other return touchdown covering 55 yards late in the fourth quarter against Missouri State on Nov. 6.
Brodie was named Missouri Valley Football Conference Special Teams Player of the Week after tallying 136 return yards in an Oct. 9 victory over nationally ranked Western Illinois. For the season, Brodie is averaging 21.9 yards per kickoff return and 12.0 yards per punt return.
REIFENRATH RETURNS: Senior kicker Peter Reifenrath was honored as the Missouri Valley Football Conference Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts in the Jackrabbits' 30-20 Hobo Day victory over Youngstown State (Ohio) on Oct. 23.
A senior from Decorah, Iowa, Reifenrath was 3-for-4 on field goals and made all three extra-point attempts as the Jackrabbits won their third consecutive league game. His first made field goal of the day was a then-career-best 43-yarder, followed by field goals of 42 and 25 yards.
Reifenrath upped his career field goal total to 31 in the Missouri State game with a career-long 47-yarder late in the first half. Reifenrath is 6-of-8 on field goal attempts this season and has passed Adam Vinatieri (27 field goals from 1991-94) for third place on the SDSU career charts. Brett Gorden is second with 35 field goals from 1995-98.
Reifenrath made his season debut in the Oct. 16 game at Southern Illinois and responded by making all five kicks he attempted. A Decorah, Iowa native, he entered the game in the second quarter in place of Kyle Harris, who missed a 33-yard field goal attempt on the Jackrabbits’ opening possession of the game. Reifenrath made all four point-after attempts and added a 35-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter.
In 2008, Reifenrath earned second-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors after making 16-of-22 field goal attempts. He shared placekicking duties with Harris last season, going 9-of-12 with a long of 34.
PRIDDY PUNTING: Jackrabbit punter Dean Priddy put together a strong performance in the opening game of the season at Delaware. A senior from Eden Prairie, Minn., Priddy punted four times for an average of 55 yards, with a net punting average of 53.2 yards. His punts traveled 44, 72, 53 and 51 yards, with the 72-yarder a career long that pinned Delaware inside its own 5-yard line late in the first half.
For his efforts, Priddy received co-Punter of the Week recognition from College Football Performance Awards, sharing the honor with Mike Hammonds of Chattanooga (Tenn.).
In 40 attempts this season, Priddy ranks 15th among FCS punters with an average of 41.5 yards per punt and has landed 17 attempts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. Combined with outstanding coverage downfield, Priddy’s punting has shut down the opposing return game as his net punting average is 38.63 yards — fifth in the FCS ranks — with the opponents tallying a mere 55 yards on 17 returns (3.2-yard average) with a long return of 12 yards.
O’BRIEN UNDER CENTER: Sophomore quarterback crossed the 3,000-yard mark for his career in the Nov. 6 victory versus Missouri State. In 15 career starts, O’Brien has compiled an 8-7 record, including a perfect 7-0 mark in starts in which he has not thrown an interception.
O’Brien started six games during the 2009 season, including the Jackrabbits’ FCS playoff game at Montana, and compiled a 4-2 record.
With 1,754 passing yards this season, O’Brien is 378 yards away from entering the Jackrabbits’ single-season top 10.
PASS PROTECTION: Despite fielding a young lineup on the offensive line, the Jackrabbits have held their own when it comes to protecting the quarterback.
Through the first nine games, SDSU has allowed only four sacks all season in nearly 300 pass attempts. The Jackrabbits did not allowed a sack in 11 consecutive halves before allowing a sack in the third quarter at Indiana State on Oct. 30, a streak that covered more than 150 pass attempts.
KOOL CATCHING ON: Sophomore Tyrel Kool has made a seamless transition to wide receiver during the 2010 season.
A converted running back, Kool caught a game-high nine passes for 107 yards in a
losing effort in the season opener at Delaware, including a leaping 44-yard reception in the fourth quarter. He became the first Jackrabbit receiver this season to total double figures in receptions, hauling in 10 for 113 yards with his first career touchdown Oct. 2 at Northern Iowa.
Kool has moved into a tie with Brian Janecek (2004) for 10th place on the single-season receptions chart with a team-high 52 receptions and 571 receiving yards, heading into Saturday’s game.
The Yankton native third on the team in rushing in 2009 with 96 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He also caught one pass for seven yards during his freshman season.
COACH STIG: John Stiegelmeier has built the South Dakota State University football team into a consistent winner and a program on the rise in the ranks of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
Overall, Coach Stig has led the Jackrabbits to an 87-65 record (.572 winning percentage). SDSU has posted eight consecutive winning seasons, including the school’s first six campaigns at the FCS (formerly Division I-AA) level. The Jackrabbits have had a winning record in 11 of Stiegelmeier’s 13 years as head coach, including six with seven or more victories. He holds a 6-7 career record against North Dakota State.
The 2009 season proved to be a memorable one as Stiegelmeier led the Jackrabbits to their first FCS playoff appearance and the program’s first postseason appearance in 30 years. The Jackrabbits finished as runner-up in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with a 7-1 record and finished the season 8-4 overall. SDSU led for much of its playoff game at top-seeded Montana, before falling 61-48 to the eventual national runner-up Grizzlies. Nationally ranked for the entire season, including appearing in the top 10 for two weeks, the Jackrabbits finished the 2009 campaign ranked 11th in both the FCS Coaches' and Sports Network media polls.
Stiegelmeier, 53, is the 20th head coach for the Jackrabbits. His tenure of 13-plus years as head coach is the second-longest head coaching stint in school history.
The Selby, S.D., native first became acquainted with the Jackrabbit football program as a student assistant under John Gregory during SDSU’s only other NCAA playoff season in 1979. With the Jackrabbits victory at McNeese State (La.) on Sept. 30, 2006, Stiegelmeier passed Gregory (55-50-3 from 1972-81) for sole possession of second place on the SDSU career wins list.
THE JACKRABBIT JOURNEY: Former South Dakota State University football player Casey Hillman successfully completed “The Jackrabbit Journey,” a walk across South Dakota to raise money and awareness for the Jackrabbit Athletic Endowment.
A Sioux Falls resident, Hillman began his journey through the Rushmore State in Deadwood on Sept. 4. During his journey logged more than 400 miles on foot before ending his journey Sept. 18 by walking into Coughlin-Alumni Stadium and presenting the game ball for the opening kickoff of the Jackrabbit football team’s home opener against Illinois State.
Hillman lettered as a cornerback for the Jackrabbits from 1998-2001. He was a second-team all-North Central Conference selection in 1999, when he led the team with six interceptions.
Donations are still being accepted online through the SDSU Foundation, or by calling (605) 688-6942. Funds should be designated for Athletics/Jackrabbit Club with “The Jackrabbit Journey” included in the comments section.
ACADEMIC SUCCESS: The South Dakota State University football team placed three players on the ESPN Academic All-District VII Team, which was announced last week. The Jackrabbits’ three selections tied with Iowa for the most selections on the 25-player honor squad.
Headlining the list of Jackrabbit selections was senior running Kyle Minett, who was named to the University Division team for the third consecutive year. A senior from Ruthton, Minn., Minett has compiled a 3.67 grade-point average in economics. A two-time first-team ESPN Academic All-America selection, Minett has become the first player in SDSU history to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons, posting 1,022 yards and nine touchdowns through eight games. A candidate for the Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision, Minett has totaled more than 4,000 career yards and has scored 44 career rushing touchdowns.
The Jackrabbits made a sweep at the running back position as fellow senior Tyler Duffy earned a spot on the team with a perfect 4.0 GPA while majoring in electrical engineering. Duffy ranks second on the team with 272 rushing yards and has scored two touchdowns.
Punter Dean Priddy also was a repeat selection to the academic all-district team. Priddy is pursuing a master's degree in mathematics and carries a 3.71 GPA. A four-year starter, Priddy is averaging a career-best 41.8 yards per punt so far this season, tallying seven punts of 50 or more yards. As a team, the Jackrabbits rank fifth among FCS teams in net punting at 38.9 yards per attempt.
All three Jackrabbits will advance to the national ballot for Academic All-America consideration later this month. Selections to the ESPN Academic All-District VII Team are based on votes by members of the College Sports Information Directors of America from South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. Student-athletes must be at least a sophomore in athletic standing, maintain a minimum grade-point average of 3.3 and be a starter or key reserve to be nominated.
NEXT WEEK: The Jackrabbits close out the 2010 season Nov. 20 by hosting the University of North Dakota.
Kickoff for the Military Appreciation Day contest is set for 1 p.m. at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.