Kardoes shines as QB, leader

Jackelyn Severin

Jackelyn Severin

Off the field, Jackrabbit quarterback Andy Kardoes is a soft-spoken horticulture major who has a predilection for video games. On the field, this 6-foot-3-inch senior turns on his competitive side, showing South Dakota State University fans, teammates and coaches that he has what it takes to be a great leader.

“I had no idea how hard [being a student athlete] was going to be,” Kardoes said.

Along with the rest of his teammates, he must divide his time between watching film, studying and four-and-a-half hours of practice every day.

“You learn to make use of your time,” he said.

During the season, Kardoes is forced to cut out one of his favorite activities – video games.

“It’s been tough, but worth it,” he said.

That sacrifice has paid off in particular instances, like when the Jacks beat University of California-Davis during the Oct. 28 game.

Kardoes said he would never forget throwing the winning touchdown pass to his best friend and roommate, wide receiver Dusty Snyders.

“Hobo Day of my senior year will be something I will remember for the rest of my life,” said Kardoes.

He also said he will never forget coming back against California Polytechnic University, when the Jacks trailed by 22 points in the fourth quarter.

“That was unbelievable.”

Even though Kardoes has catalogued sprains and back injuries. He played through all of the pain and managed to miss only three games last season.

“It’s frustrating when your body doesn’t let you do what you want it to do,” he said.

The Jackrabbit football team is glad to have him back and in good health.

“He is an unbelievable leader,” said Head Football Coach John Stiegelmeier. “He leads with his effort and his words.”

Micah Johnson, senior wide receiver, agrees.

“In the huddles, he makes sure we know that we can do it. It’s a good feeling when your quarterback believes in you.”

Now that he is a senior, Kardoes believes he has grown up a lot from when he first started to play for the Jacks.

“Coach Stiegelmeier expects the seniors to be the leaders of the team,” he said.

As a leader, Kardoes tries to assist his team as much as possible. He tries to keep the play moving and keep his teammates motivated, even when they get down on themselves.

“I think if you mess up, you should keep going, because the next one is an opportunity to make it better,” he said.

In his previous seasons, Kardoes dealt with seniors who got down on their teammates.

“When that happens, things just start to crumble,” he said.

Crumbling is something the Jacks cannot afford to do, especially with the tough competition they now face.

“With Division I, we have to play to our best every week,” said Kardoes.

Stiegelmeier has seen Kardoes embrace the transition to Division I with ease.

“The schools we play now, like Montana and Georgia Southern, are great competition. They really test you. A great athlete like Andy rises up to those tests,” he said.

Of course, Kardoes, like any athlete, is not perfect. As a quarterback, he has to juggle many responsibilities, which opens the door for a few slip-ups.

“Sometimes in practice, I’ll get up under the wrong guy, like a guard, and put my hands on his butt. He’ll be like, ‘what are you doin’,” said Kardoes, with a laugh.

Both Snyders and Johnson have known Kardoes since they were freshman living in the dorms.

“We weren’t too mature. And we definitely had our fun,” Snyders said.

Johnson said Kardoes is a fairly quiet and laid-back guy when he is off the field. Snyders agreed, except for when it comes to video games.

“He is extremely competitive,” said Snyders. “I think he has broken five or six PlayStation controllers because he can’t stand losing.”

Kardoes carries that must-win attitude to the field. Through his career at SDSU, he has overcome many obstacles and brought the varsity football team through some remarkable victories. His coaches and teammates have watched him mature into a quarterback who understands his role as a leader on the field, and a friend off the field.