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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Chadron State will face the University of Mary in the Marauders’ NCAA Division II debu

Two football teams that are approaching the season with cautious optimism will collide Saturday afternoon when the Chadron State Eagles are the guests of the University of Mary in Bismarck. Kickoff will be at 1 p.m. CDT.

With all but a handful of starters returning from a year ago, the Eagles figure to be improved while Mary is venturing into new territory. After being an NAIA power for years, the Marauders have joined the Northern Sun Conference and will be playing their first NCAA Division II game.

Both teams will be relying heavily on veterans. The Eagles have more returning starters; but Mary has more seniors, particularly on offense. The Marauders also have added several junior college transfers while the Eagles have none this fall.

“We’re really looking forward to opening the season,” CSC Head Coach Bill O’Boyle told the Eagles Booster Club on Monday. “We’ve had a long camp and the kids are anxious to get going. We’ve had a good camp with almost no injuries and a lot of enthusiasm.”

O’Boyle said from what he and his assistants can determine by watching films of last year and scoping out the Marauders from afar, Mary is at least as talented as most of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference teams.

“They’re big and well-coached,” O’Boyle said. “We think defense is their strength, but they’ve got all juniors and seniors on offense. They’re big, bigger than we are. We hope we’re a little faster in places.”

The Marauders’ head coach is Myron Schulz, who has a 62-14 record after seven years at the helm. He was an assistant eight years before he took over the head job. Prior to last year when Mary was beginning the transition to NCAA II and was not eligible for the postseason, the Marauders had gone to the NAIA playoffs seven years in a row.

Mary was 7-2 last year, losing only to Minot State 14-10 and Black Hills State 8-6.

Schulz is quoted as saying, “We have a very talented team. We are going into a higher level of play and this year is going to be a proving ground for us.”

All five of Mary’s starters in the offensive line are seniors. So are tailback Justin Fleck and wide receiver Rod Samuel. Fleck is expected to share playing time with Bayland Rippenkroeger, a transfer from American River College in Sacramento, where he had four consecutive 100-yard games rushing last fall before he was injured. Both Fleck and Rippenkroeger are about 5-10, 190.

Junior Blair Sandy, who became a starter late last year, will open at quarterback although transfer Jesse Kozak, once a CSC recruit, is also in the picture, it is believed.

The defensive bellwether is expected to be safety Jai Shaun White, a 6-0, 210-pound Las Vegas native who ran 40 yards in 4.42 seconds and demonstrated a 38-inch vertical jump for a Green Bay Packers’ scout last spring. He reportedly spent 75 percent of the off-season on football-related activities.

The only CSC offensive player starting for the first time Saturday will be center Chance Galey, who is believed to be the Eagles’ first starter from Crawford since Bill Bruer, who also was a basketball star, in the early 1940s. At 6-2, 250, Galey is the smallest of the Eagles’ starters in the offensive line, but is aggressive and has good technique, O’Boyle said.

The coach noted that in telephone conversations with Schulz he knows Mary is concerned about tailback Danny Woodhead, who has rushed for more than 3,600 yards the past two seasons.

“Like everybody else, they’ll be trying to stop Danny. We’ll have to throw the ball,” O’Boyle noted.

Last week it was announced that Joe McLain, a sophomore from Chadron, will start at quarterback with strong-armed senior Tyler Hidrogo on deck if the Eagles need to give special emphasis to the passing game.

Defensively, Coordinator Todd Auer plans to use numerous lineups. Five sophomores and a redshirt freshman are on the probable starting lineup.

Auer believes the latter player, defensive tackle Josh Knouse of Gering, will be a standout. “He’s the best we’ve had in a while at running the line of scrimmage. I’m excited to see what he can do.”

Also making their first start on defense will be sophomores Byron Korf at the other tackle spot, Eric Roth at outside linebacker, Zach Wheeler at inside linebacker and junior Beau Wendling of Rock Springs, Wyo., at cornerback.

Auer said of all the defensive players, Wendling has probably had the best preseason camp.

Mary’s probable starters:

Mary Offense

Wide receivers—Matt Wall, 5-10, 175, Jr., and Rodney Samuel, 6-0, 180, Sr.

Tight ends—Mandel Robinson, 6-1, 226, Jr. and Kyle Taylor, 6-2, 260, Sr.

Tackles—David Ukestad, 6-6, 285, Sr., and Abe Storms, 6-4, 290, Sr.

Guards—Tyson Roe, 6-2, 260, Sr., and Tom Goodwin, 6-3, 280, Sr.

Center—Daniel Hanson, 6-2, 275, Jr.

Quarterback—Blair Sandy, 6-1, 190, Jr.

Tailback—Bayland Rippenkroeger, 5-10, 180, Jr.-Justin Fleck, 5-10, 190, Sr.

Placekicker—Rhett Thibodeaux, 5-9, 170, Fr.

Mary Defense

Ends—Pierre Atkinson, 6-0, 245, So., and Jesse Laber, 6-1, 230, Sr.

Tackles—Keith McCleary, 6-1, 270, Jr., and Kelly McCleary, 6-2, 260, Sr.-Nathan Todd, 6-1, 285, Fr.

Outside linebackers—Shawn Melland, 6-4, 215, So., and Clint Schilke, 6-3, 235, Sr.

Inside linebackers—Brandon Lewis, 5-11, 205, Jr., and Brian Finnigan, 5-11, 230, Sr.

Cornerbacks—James Miles, 5-11, 180, Jr., and Nick Wagner, 6-0, 175, Jr.

Safetys—Jai Shaun White, 6-0, 195, Sr., and Tyler Ashton, 5-11, 175, Jr.

Punter—Saul Helgeson, 6-0, 180, Jr.

The Eagles are members of NCAA Division II and
the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference

Chadron State College   1-800-CHADRON


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