Jackrabbit football ready for 2016-17


The South Dakota State Jackrabbits football team is set to play their first game in their brand-new Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium on Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. when they host the Drake Bulldogs in their home opener.

Jackrabbit head coach John Stiegelmeier had nothing but good things to say when asked about the new confines.

“If we are committed, and we are, to (winning) a national championship, you need to have facilities to support that,” Stigelmeier said. “We are really excited to move into the stadium.”

 The week before their home opener they will travel to Fort Worth, TX to take on the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. TCU comes into the season ranked 13th in the AP Top 25.

The Jacks normally play a FBS team to start the year instead of FCS. Last year they defeated their FBS opponent in Kansas University 41-38.

SDSU was picked to finish third in the Missouri Valley Football Conference preseason poll. North Dakota State, who is the five-time defending national champions, were picked to finish first while Northern Iowa was picked to finish second. The Jacks finished third last year in the MVFC.

Despite not yet having a clear-cut starting quarterback to date, both senior Zach Lujan and sophomore Taryn Christion appear ready to take the reins of the Jackrabbit offense. Last year Lujan played in nine games and threw for 1,861 yards and 14 touchdowns. Christion threw for 1,286 yards and seven touchdowns last year, while also rushing for 484 yards and five touchdowns.

The Jacks know they will be fine at the wide receiver position as they have two time All-American Jake Wieneke. Wieneke is heading into his junior season, and after just two years he has totaled 2,876 yards receiving and 27 touchdowns. He heads into the 2016 season just six touchdowns away from breaking the career touchdown record. He is also 745 yards away from the career receiving record.

The SDSU defense has many starters returning but has to fill the holes of linebacker T.J. Lally and cornerbacks Je Ryan Butler and Jimmy Forsythe who all graduated last year. Of those returning starters, linebacker Jesse Bobbit, defensive tackle Cole Langer, and defensive backs Nick Mears and Nick Farina will look to carry the team. With all of them being seniors, they will try to do this by leading with their voices and play. Bobbit was second on the team in tackles last year with 97 and also had one interception and a fumble recovery. Langer had a team high 10 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks. Farina was third on the team in total tackles last year with 58 and had one interception for a touchdown.

The Jacks have yet another tough MVFC schedule this year, including a game on the road against NDSU Oct. 15 where they will play for the Dakota Marker. The Bison have won the last eight meetings between the two teams. They will also play at Illinois State Oct. 29, who finished second in the MVFC last year. In their season finale, the Jacks will play Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

They also have some intriguing home games. In the 104th Hobo Day game, the Jacks will take on the Youngstown State Penguins on Oct. 22. In the final home game of the inaugural season of the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, SDSU will face off against rival University of South Dakota in the South Dakota Showdown Series. The Jacks have won the last seven games against the Coyotes and have won 18 of the last 21.

SDSU will kick off their season on Saturday, Sept. 3 against TCU at 7 p.m. and will open up their brand new stadium the following week on Sept. 10 against Drake University.