As the lights flash on the field this season, Dixie State University flashes back to the Saturday nights of 2012.
DSU finished the season with a 3-8 overall record. Although the 2012 season prevailed over the previous year when the Red Storm finished 1-10, they still have a few things to catch up on this year.
“When we faced adversity, we dropped our heads and lost our discipline,” said Robert Metz, a sophomore business major from Tucson, Ariz. “We need to fight the whole game, (and) we need to be better tacklers and eliminate the yards after contact.”
Metz said the team will have to stay disciplined as a defense as well as let the offense put points on the board.
“We’re going to face plenty of adversity, but if we keep fighting, we’ll have a chance to win every game we play,” Metz said.
The injury of All-American tight end Joe Don Duncan was a setback for DSU last season. He came out as a leader on the team scoring a total of 58 points in the 2011 season with 949 recieving yards.
Duncan is now healthy and ready to lead the Storm again.
“I’m glad to be back with the team,” said Duncan, a senior communication major from Corona, Calif. “It feels good to be out on the field. My expectation for myself this year is to just do whatever I can to help our team win.”
DSU has recruited a few more players who have transferred from other colleges. This group includes junior quarterback Hayden Gavett.
Gavett transferred from Santa Ana Junior College. There he threw 13 touchdowns and passed for more than 1,400 yards in nine games. Gavett also rushed for more than 400 yards and four touchdowns.
With last year’s backup quarterback Kaleo Nawahine quitting his football career, will Gavett give the starting senior quarterback Griff Robles a run for his money?
“Based off of what I’ve seen, Griff has made strides since last spring,” Metz said. “He seems to have total control of the offense.”
Last year, Robles completed a total of 169 passing completions, 450 rushing yards and 16 touchdown passes. He also rushed for five touchdowns and had a 111.0 pass efficiency rating.
“We have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball,” Metz said. “Now all we have to do is buy into what the coaches are teaching us and come together as a team.”
But DSU needs to establish a system that will give it more wins and fewer turnovers before finding any chance of success.
“We have a lot of newcomers on the defense that I think will make a big impact, and our defensive coordinator, Coach [Derek] Campbell, will do a great job putting them in the best spots to make plays,” Duncan said.
With the beginning of the season soon approaching, DSU is beginning to prepare for its first game against Idaho State University.
“All we are worried about right now is being prepared for Idaho State,” Duncan said. “Our togetherness as a team right now is better than ever since I have been here, and I think that will help us as the season progresses.”
This is the first time some of the new players on this team have played a Division I school.
“We are excited to play Idaho State,” Metz said. “They’re a very talented team…We are going to have to fire on all cylinders if we want to have a chance of winning.”
DSU is coming into this season with full force and is determined to give nothing less than its best.
“Expectations are high for this team,” Metz said. “Anything short of a GNAC championship would be a disappointment to this group.”
The Red Storm will play ISU at 3 p.m. on Sept. 7 at Holt Arena in Pocatello, Idaho.