BISMARCK, N.D. -- A capsule look at the upcoming Dakota Athletic Conference football season. Capsules are in order of last year's finish, with last year's records in parentheses.
< ^University of Mary (9-2, 8-1 DAC-10)=
The Marauders defense, which was tops in the DAC-10 in 2002 in allowing fewer than 15 points and just 275 yards per game, returns several key players but loses all-conference defensive back Josh Smith, linebacker Noah Krob and lineman Tanner Schweitzer. Quarterback Tim Garcia and receiver Jake Pfau return to lead an offense that averaged nearly 29 points per game last season, third in the DAC-10. Garcia, who was all-conference last year, threw for 2,629 yards, 29 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. Pfau had 32 catches for 554 yards and 8 TDs. ^Dickinson State (9-2, 8-1)=
Dickinson State finished second in scoring in the league last year with an average of nearly 37 points per game, but the Blue Hawks must replace quarterback Nick Walker, the league co-most valuable player, as well as NAIA All-American lineman Dennis Morris. Receiver and return specialist Adam Eckert returns, as does kicker Jeremy Fagerland, who set a school single-season record last year by making 50 of 54 PATs. The Blue Hawks lose all-conference strong safety Grant Haugland but return several key defensive players, including all-conference linebacker Coly Rush. ^Minot State (9-2, 8-1)=
The Beavers led the DAC-10 last season in average total yards (464), passing yards (299) and scoring (38.5) per game, but lose quarterback Kenny Smith, the league's co-MVP, and all-conference running back Darrik Trudell, who led the league with 14 rushing touchdowns. All-American wide receiver Harry Mills (67 catches for 1,490 yards and 15 TDs) returns. The Beavers look to improve their defense, which finished in the middle of the pack and next to last in passing yards allowed in the 10-team DAC-10. ^Valley City State (7-3, 6-3)=
All-American wide receiver Steve Battle, the DAC-10's most valuable senior a year ago with a co-league-high 15 touchdown receptions, is gone, but quarterback Mark Fabian (2,117 yards and 24 TDs passing, 401 yards and 2 TDs rushing) returns. Wide receiver Kyle Kuznia, who averaged 21 yards per catch, also is back. The Vikings lost three other all-conference players in addition to Battle: offensive lineman Garrit Irey, defensive lineman Jon Kleinke and linebacker Josh Komarek. ^Jamestown (5-5, 5-4)=
The Jimmies defense, which finished second in the league last season by allowing just 294 yards per game, loses four all-conference performers: linebacker John Fleener, linemen Travis Holding Eagle and Brian Eichhorn, and defensive back Jay Lies. D.J. Fritel, one of the anchors of the defense, returns. Quarterback Tanner Gleave is gone, but tailback Emmanual Cannady and fullback Jake Wateland return to a team that finished tops in the DAC-10 last year in rushing (274 yards per game). ^Si Tanka-Huron (3-7, 3-6)=
The Screaming Eagles, who were co-DAC-10 champions three years ago and third-best in the conference in 2001, finished near the bottom of the league last season in total offense and defense. All-conference defensive back Quentin Robinson returns, as does defensive line stalwart Kyle Wilson. All-conference tight end James Farrell is gone from a team that managed just 156 yards per game through the air last season. ^Black Hills State (2-8, 2-7)=
The Yellowjackets return the fewest starters in the league this season (8) and lose the most (14). Black Hills must improve a running game that finished last in 2002 with just 76 yards per game and beef up a defense that finished next to last in rushing, passing and total yards allowed. That could be difficult with the loss of all-conference linebackers Jeff Kelly and Rob Sales. Kirk McLaughlin, the team's leading receiver, also is gone, but quarterback Josh Gerik and running backs Scott Muir and Scott Anderson return. ^South Dakota Tech (2-8, 2-7)=
The Hardrockers ranked next to last in total offense and last in total defense in 2002, but return the most starters (18) and lose the fewest (4) in the DAC-10 this season. Among the key returnees are quarterback Mitch Olson and running back Tyler Farella. Last season, Tech gave up twice as many yards on the ground per game (240) than it managed (119). ^Mayville State (3-7, 2-7)=
Linebackers Terrance Howard and B.J. Marsett return to a defense that finished first against the pass and third overall last year. But the Comets must improve on offense, where they finished seventh overall in total yards (319 per game) and next to last in scoring (17 ppg). Wide receiver Curtis Shaw (64 receptions for 808 yards and 9 TDs) returns, as does fullback Charlie Gerszewski (4 TDs). ^Dakota State (1-9, 1-8)=
Coach Gene Wockenfuss heads into his second season hoping to improve a Trojans offense that averaged just 232 total yards and 10 points per game in 2002, worst in the league. He'll have to do it without all-conference running back Jesse Zwetzig. Quarterback Tom Nielsen and wide receiver Tommy Hofer return. Safety Joe Hoffman returns to a defense that led the DAC-10 against the pass last season, allowing just 147 yards through the air per game. ^------=
End advance for weekend editions, Aug. 30-31.
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