EYE on sports

There are no objections to the No. 1 ranking that the NDSU Bison football team has been given heading into this season.Posted August 15, 2013

By Sheldon Christenson

There are no objections to the No. 1 ranking that the NDSU Bison football team has been given heading into this season. The Bison are coming off their second straight Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) national title and return more starters than anybody else.  Youngstown and  Indiana State own the last two wins over NDSU. Outside of the Missouri Valley Football Conference, NDSU is 14-0 including 8-0 in the FCS playoffs.  But their opening game on 30 Aug will be a good test as they play Kansas State, a Big 12 team.  Last year Kansas State went 11-2.

I checked their roster and out of about 79 players there are 13 players who are from ND.  The only player from our area is Landon Lechler from Beach.  His is listed as an offensive lineman and 6’7” and 284 pounds.

UND’s opening game is 29 Aug against Valparaiso at Grand Forks.  I checked their roster and out of about 95 players there are 13 players who are from ND.  The only player from our area is Dustin Iverson, a graduate of Grant County high school.  His is listed as a full back and 6’2” and 225 pounds.

The 2013 Dickinson State University Football schedule has been released.  2013 marks the Blue Hawk’s second season in the Frontier Conference.  DSU will host six home games this season including the season opener against MSU Northern on Thursday, August 29 at 6:30 PM at the Henry Biesiot Activities Center.  The Blue Hawks are picked to finish last in the Frontier coming off a 2-9 season that included a 1-9 record in conference play.

The Little League World Series starts on Aug. 15.  A great event and I’ll be parked in front of the TV for most of the games.

Looking Back:

This is from an article in the Bismarck Tribune dated Feb. 13, 2002 by Lou Babiarz.  I just extracted parts of it as it was quite lengthy.

“Hettinger’s Sarah Howe suffered what should have been a career-ending injury last fall when she completely tore her ACL in basketball. One problem: She wasn’t ready for her career to end.

Howe was supposed to be one of four returning starters for the Hettinger volleyball team, which had made it to the Class B state tournament for the first time ever last year, finishing third.

She wanted another chance. Surgery on her knee would have put her out for at least six months, so she simply decided to put off the surgery.

“I’m going to UND next year, but I’ll just be playing intramurals,” Howe explained. “This was my last shot. This was it. If it would have been any other year, I probably would have had surgery.”

So, instead, Howe went through a couple of months of rehab, rejoined the team around New Year’s Day and the rest is history.

The decision turned out to be a good one, as Hettinger’s comeback has been nearly dramatic as Howe’s.  After stumbling to a disappointing 7-5 start, the Black Devils have gone a 29-match tear.

They’ll put that winning streak on the line this afternoon, when they clash with defending champion and top-ranked Mayville-Portland-Clifford-Galesburg.

The 5-foot-6 inch outside hitter has provided another weapon for an attack that was already multi-dimensional: Hettinger has four hitters – Tiffany Vliem, Alisha Pagel, Megan Beattie and Jessica Molbert – with at least 100 kills.

“We don’t have one stud that if you stop her, then we’ll get beat,” explained Hettinger coach Kevin Morast. “We make you defend the whole net.”  Which makes it hard to figure how the Black Devils got off to such a slow start.

“That’s my fault,” Morast said with a laugh. “I couldn’t decide where to play everyone.”

A little tinkering with the rotation helped get Hettinger back on track, as did the return of Howe to the lineup. It also took a bit of time for the hitters to adjust to sophomore setter Shayna Doerr, who was joining veteran setter Rachel Willoughby in the 6-2 offense. Ever since, it’s been smooth sailing.

The Black Devils were so unaccustomed to going to state that one player said that receiving her laminated tournament pass was enough – she didn’t actually have to play.

Hard as it may be to believe for a team that has won 29 in a row, the Black Devils find themselves in the underdog position again this year.  May-Port-CG is not only the top-ranked team in the state, but the Patriots also knocked off Hettinger in the semi’s en route to last year’s title.

And after overcoming their slow start, the Black Devils have already shown they can handle adversity and the pressures of having to repeat last year’s success.

“Last year it was all unexpected and exciting, because (winning a regional title) had never been done before,” Vliem said. “We expected to go to state this year and my expectation is to take a championship.”

Note:  May-Port-CG went on to win the state tournament.

See you at the games.