South Dakota to host Missouri Western Saturday

South Dakota to host Missouri Western Saturday South Dakota (0-0) opens their season with the Coyote Sports Hall of Fame Game on Saturday night against Missouri Western State College (1-0) at 7 p.m. in the DakotaDome. On Saturday, seven people will be inducted into the Coyote Sports Hall of Fame at a noon luncheon. The inductees will also be honored during halftime of the Coyotes' game with Missouri Western.

South Dakota owns a 1-0 series lead over Missouri Western. In 2000, the Coyotes defeated the Griffons, 17-13, at St. Joseph, MO.

The Coyotes have won nine of the last 10 season openers, including two in a row while John Austin has been head coach at South Dakota. With Austin at the helm, South Dakota is 2-1 in season openers. The Coyotes have won six straight home season openers, dating back to the 1991 season.

It is said that teams committed to work in the weight room in the winter can see big results in the fall football season. If that holds merit, things look very positive for the South Dakota football team, who have had a very good preseason camp. As Austin eyes this fall, he does so with some caution but a lot of enthusiasm. A year ago, South Dakota won their season opener but lost five in a row and finished 2-8, 1-7 in the NCC (ninth).

"This is a very tradition-rich school in football. We are focused on recapturing that success. It will take hard work and extraordinary effort but we believe in what this team is capable of doing," said Austin.

After winning its 2001 home season opener vs. Winona State (44-21), who later qualified for the NCAA Division II playoffs, the Coyotes quickly hit a roadblock as South Dakota lost five straight games, including three by a total of eight points. South Dakota broke the losing streak with a 31-19 win over Northern Colorado on Dakota Day at the Dome. Then, the Coyotes lost their last three games of the season.

In 2002, the Coyotes need to develop consistent efforts on both offense and defense, something that wasn't the case in 2001. A year ago, South Dakota was outscored 261 to 165, including being outrushed (1,593 to 1,016) and outpassed (2,113-1857). Two teams broke off 90-yard scoring plays. On the other hand, the Coyotes moved the ball at times. They had 600 all-purpose yards in their season opener vs. Winona State and followed with 538 all-purpose yards in a 14-10 loss to Minnesota-Duluth.

In addition, the Coyotes had 10 offensive plays of 40-plus yards. USD also had four defensive touchdowns including interception returns of 89 and 88 yards, which represent the two longest plays in school history.

They also scored a special team touchdown (84-yard kickoff return). Under the direction of new offensive coordinator Bill Bleil, the Coyotes will use a similar multiple set offense but with a few new touches to both the running game and passing attack. The good news is that six of 11 starters return on offense while the Coyotes have eight of 11 returning starters on defense.

Overall, the Coyotes return 14 starters and lose nine. The Coyotes also will have 30 returning letterwinners while losing 13 to graduation. The Coyotes need to improve the rushing attack, which produced just an average gain of 2.9 yards per attempt.

At wide receiver, the Coyotes return Chris Mikkelsen, who had an outstanding freshman season with 36 catches for a freshman school record of 640 yards. Several newcomers will help Mikkelsen. The offensive line returns four starters, including team captains Neil Ryan and Jimmy Terwilliger.

Defensively, the Coyotes should be strong with the return of eight starters, including team captains Korey Ebel and Justin Martinson. Ebel, a second team all-NCC selection, has started 32 straight games at inside linebacker. On the defensive line, nose tackle Bill Gassen and tackle Aaron Dietrich, who had 21 tackles for loss in 2001, lead a strong group. In the secondary, strong safety Scott Lilland, free safety Martinson, along with cornerbacks Derrick Jelks and Marquis Lewis return.

The captains for the 2002 season will include: Korey Ebel, a 6-3 240-pound senior linebacker from Hartley, IA; Justin Martinson, a 5-11, 190 pound senior defensive back from Inwood, IA; Jimmy Terwilliger, a 6-3, 287-pound senior offensive lineman from Guthrie Center, IA; Neil Ryan, a 6-4, 293-pound senior offensive lineman from Cedar Rapids, IA; and Ryan Justice, a 6-2, 210-pound quarterback senior from Ankeny, IA. Justice and Ebel are both serving their second year as captains for the South Dakota football team.

The University of South Dakota will induct seven individuals into the Coyote Sports Hall of Fame during an induction ceremony/luncheon on Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Commons Dining Hall on campus. In addition, USD will recognize Ken Beringer of Vermillion as the 2002 USD Volunteeer of the Year.

After the induction of the Class of 2002, the grand opening of the Henry Heider Memorial Hall of Fame will be held in the main corridor of the DakotaDome. Plaques of every Hall of Fame member will be hung on the wall in the middle of the main concourse.

Hall of Fame inductees are Linda Gdowski-Elbert, Darcy Siebels Cleveringa, Tim Hatchett, Mike Graves, John House, Brad Hodgins and Jack Doyle.

"Obviously, we face a major challenge in Missouri Western who defeated the 18th ranked team in the country (Winona State)," Austin said. "They beat a very good team. With 10 starters back on defense and seven on offense, they will be a very good team for us to face in the season opener. It is a big advantage for them to already have played a game.

"Our attitude has been very good in preseason practice and we have avoided major injuries," he said. "In this season opener, it will be a matter of execution and for us not to beat ourselves. I am pleased the way the players have worked hard this preseason and during the summer."

The South Dakota Coyotes football games will be offered on the Coyote Sports Network, on Teamline and through the Internet. The flagship station is KVHT-FM 106.3, Vermillion/ Yankton.

Kevin Culhane will begin his sixth season as the voice of the Coyotes, both home and away during the 2002 season. Veteran sportscaster Joe Van Goor will provide color commentary while Eric Rawson will serve as sideline reporter.

Mike Daly begins his fifth season as game day analyst. Coyote game day coverage begins one hour prior to kickoff. In addition, Coyote fans can tune to the game live on the Internet at www.usdcoyotes.com or listen free by phone at Teamline. To connect to Teamline call 1-800-846-4700 and enter the team code of 6056.

South Dakota owns a 84-46 (.646) record at the DakotaDome. The Coyotes defeated St. Thomas (MN), 22-6, in the first collegiate game played at the DakotaDome in 1979. USD owned a 130-83-8 mark at Inman Stadium from 1924 to 1979 before moving into the Dome. USD defeated Yankton, 19-0 in the first game played Sept. 27, 1924 at Inman Stadium.

Austin, who is beginning is fourth season, is focused on restoring winning into a tradition-rich Coyote football program. Austin, 45, is resurrecting the Coyote football program by stressing hard work, teamwork and a commitment to excellence on and off the field.

A year ago (2001), the

Coyotes were 2-8, as they lost a number of close games.

Austin has a 14-18 career record at South Dakota, including a 10-16 mark in the NCC. In 2000, South Dakota had an 8-3 record, including 6-3 and a tie for third place in the North Central Conference. In 1999 the Coyotes had a 4-7 record, despite a schedule that would rate with any in Division II.

A highlight was the coach's reshaping and remaking of Jamel White, now with the Cleveland Browns. Seldom-used during his junior season (1998), White had an all-American season in 1999 as he established a new Coyote rushing record with 1,796 yards, scoring 24 touchdowns and had a school-record 2,403 all-purpose yards. Other Coyotes to play for Austin at South Dakota and sign NFL free agent contracts include Josh Stamer (Seattle Seahawks); punter/kicker Filip Filipovic (Dallas Cowboys); and offensive tackle Josh Burr, (Pittsburgh Steelers).

Energetic and competitive, Austin has an enthusiastic passion for football with an absolute commitment to academics. South Dakota's football team earned a 2.94 grade point average this past semester and an overall team GPA of 2.87. Several student-athletes have made dean's lists while at USD. In addition, football team members annually receive academic awards for their work in the classroom. Also, the Coyotes commit to community projects, including helping with the Children's Miracle Network, Muscular Dystrophy as well as Vermillion Pride, a community wide clean-up project.

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