Jimmies set for tough openerEven an old, veteran football coach like Bud Etzold can’t hide his excitement for opening day. After starting practice the earliest in school history, the wait is over for Etzold and the Jimmies, who have a challenging start to their season today at 2010 DAC runner-up South Dakota Mines in Rapid City, S.D.
Even an old, veteran football coach like Bud Etzold can’t hide his excitement for opening day.
After starting practice the earliest in school history, the wait is over for Etzold and the Jimmies, who have a challenging start to their season today at 2010 DAC runner-up South Dakota Mines in Rapid City, S.D.
“It’s like Christmas morning. You might think you know what you’re getting, or you may not have any clue, but the anticipation of finding out what you have is what it’s all about,” Etzold said. “We could come out and play like gang busters, or we could stink the joint out. The truth is probably somewhere in between.
“But the anticipation leading up to that, and then getting onto the field when they turn the scoreboard on, that moment is pretty addictive. It even gets an old geezer like me going pretty good.”
The Jimmies started practice Aug. 7 in preparation for their earliest game ever. In the last three weeks Etzold has seen plenty to be upbeat about.
“With any new season you’re going to have a certain level of optimism, that’s just the nature of sports, but from studying film from the scrimmage, and what we’ve done on a day-to-day basis in practice, I am excited about this team,” said Etzold, who is not one to blow unwarranted smoke. “Saying that and believing that is one thing, for us to go out and play well on Saturdays is another animal all together. But there’s only one way to find out and we’ll start to figure all that out on Saturday.”
Today’s opener certainly is no cupcake.
The Hardrockers went 7-3 last season, and beat the Jimmies 31-7, although that was one of the games Jamestown College was without injured all-conference quarterback Michael Beehler.
The Jimmies will be short-handed again today. Star wide receiver Max Boe will miss the game as he attends the funeral for his grandpa in Fargo, who died unexpectedly last week.
“We preach family here; family as a football team, and the importance of family away from our football team. We support Max 100 percent and join in his sorrow,” Etzold said. “Max is one of the best athletes in North Dakota at any level. He’s a great football player and an All-American kid. If anything, this just gives us another incentive to make something good happen.”
Boe has 21 career touchdown receptions, tied for the most in school history. He’s one of the top players in all of the NAIA, and will be missed. But the Jimmies are deep once again on the outside with the likes of Matt Wilson, Josh Ewalt and Casey Hausauer. All three are accomplished pass catchers.
Who was going to get them the ball was an open competition during fall camp and the winner was Brad Lint.
Lint is a fifth-year senior, although he did not play last season. He was going to be moved to running back a year ago, but a hamstring sidelined him early on and he took the year instead to focus on academics.
Lint played sparingly behind former All-American QB Josh Kittell in 2008. He won the starting job over Tyler Notch and Brady Yrjo, although Etzold is high on his entire quarterbacking group.
“A few years back, we all thought Brad had a chance to be the quarterback of the future,” Etzold said. “It didn’t necessarily play out that way, but he wanted another chance at doing this and he did everything we asked of him both on and off the field. You have to have a certain degree of perseverance in life and he’s certainly shown he has that, and we expect him to do a really good job for us.”
On paper, today’s game features similar teams.
Both feature a lot of offensive firepower, although each is breaking in a new quarterback.
Running back Jamie Dale will again carry the load for the Hardrockers. Dale earned All-American honors last season, but missed the final game-plus with a knee injury.
Mines remains in a similar bind as Jamestown College with their conference future. The school announced last year they were going NCAA Division II, but have yet to find a home, while Black Hills State — seen as Mine’s partner in going D-II — found a new home in the Rocky Mountain Conference, beginning next year.
Back on the field, both teams have to replace star defensive players. The Hardrockers lost five first or second-team All-DAC performers, while the Jimmies no longer have playmaking All-American safety Dustin Erbes, who graduated.
The JC defense has gotten an infusion of speed in the back end, and Drew Baier, Parker Barrett and Andrew Hammond spearhead an imposing front wall.
If there was not already enough to play for, the Jimmies will also get to see former teammate James Vollmer, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a pole-vaulting accident in Jamestown last winter. Vollmer is from Rapid City and continues his rehab there.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing James. Football is a game, and it’s great and we all love it, but there’s also more out there to life. To see James and everything he’s gone through and the attitude he’s taking is inspiring,” Etzold said. “He’ll always be a member of our family. Once a Jimmie, always a Jimmie.”
Notes: Three former Blue Jays are listed on the Jimmies 2-deep roster. Scott Thingstad opens the season as the team’s center. Thingstad also wrestled at JHS. Nate Bivens is a back-up cornerback, while Ryan Benke tries to fill the very accurate left foot of former kicker Nate Nygaard, who made 109 of 110 extra-points in his career, including an NAIA-record 107 straight. ... Matt McLagan, a Minneapolis native, is the Jimmies’ new linebackers coach. He’ll also handle strength conditioning. He played college football at St. Cloud State. ... After today’s game, the Jimmies do not play again until their home-opener Sept. 10 against NCAA Division III Wisconsin-Stout. ... Of the 92 players on the Mines roster, 70 are studying some form of engineering. ... Quarterback Nick Russell, a second-team all-DAC pick last year, is not back with the team. He was a junior last year. Redshirt freshman Ryan McCann is the starter. ... Mines has left the DAC, but their schedule has a major DAC feel — they play Black Hills State twice, Jamestown College, Dakota State, Dickinson State, Minot State and Valley City State once. ... Etzold was unsure if the Jimmies and Hardrockers will continue to play in the future. If JC joins the Frontier Conference, they likely would not.
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at email@example.com