CHADRON, Neb. — August 23. 2017 — The first two weeks of practice were good ones for his team, Chadron State College football coach Jay Long told those attending the Eagles Booster Club’s Kickoff Cookout on Monday night.
He said there were no significant injuries, a vast majority of the players reported in good physical condition and have continued to make progress in building their stamina, the seniors have provided excellent leadership and he believes the team chemistry is strong.
“The seniors have done a great job of showing the younger players what it means to be an Eagle,” Long said.
The scrimmages have been enthusiastic and competitive, and also relatively mistake-free.
The Eagles will open the season on Saturday, Sept. 2 against Fort Lewis College at Durango, Colorado.
About the only veteran who hasn’t practiced is quarterback TD Stein, who came to fall camp wearing a medical boot on his right leg because of an injury sustained during the summer. While he’s been wearing the boot less, Stein has still receiving treatments and is not expected to be ready for the season-opener.
Long said that means redshirt freshman Dalton Holst of Gillette, Wyoming, will be the probable starting quarterback in the opener.
Holst led the Campbell County Camels to an 11-1 record in 2015 while completing 208 of 316 passes for 3,190 yards and 34 touchdowns. He threw just five interceptions that season. He’s 6-foot-3, 185 pounds is known for his arm strength and quick delivery.
Long added that senior Matt Vinson, who has taken over at quarterback each of the past two years after Stein was injured, also has done well during the preseason and gives the Eagles excellent depth at the position.
Holst won’t be the only newcomer in the starting lineup. Offensively, sophomore Jared Maciejczak and junior Adam Fuselier are expected to start on the right side of the line and sophomores Jackson Dickerson and Stevann Brown are the probable starters at wide receiver.
All the likely starters on defense have been there before, but not always at the same time because injuries have sidelined several of them periodically. For instance, end Tyler Kiess and safety Ryan Wood had been starters at least two years, but were sidelined most of last season and received medical hardships.
Another safety, Trevon Mosley, also missed about half of last season, but has returned this fall.
Sophomore DeAndre Barthwell started at cornerback late in the season as true freshman in 2015, but missed last season to overcome an academic hurdle.
The Eagles also will have a new punter this year since four-year starter Zach Smith of Gering graduated after earning all-conference first-team honors and All-America honorable mention last fall. The anticipated replacement is Zach Kozlik, a transfer from Southwest Community College at Chula Vista, California.
Special teams coordinator Craig Jersild said Kozlik has a strong leg and is working on the placement of his kicks and becoming more consistent.
Kozlik is among at least five newcomers who are expected to help the team Eagles immediately. The others include two more transfers from California junior colleges, linebacker Matt Mazas and offensive lineman Nathan Baca, along with cornerback Chris Harris, a transfer from Montana State at Bozeman, and defensive back Dylan Marsh, a true freshman from Poudre High in Fort Collins, Colorado.
While Mazas and Baca attended different jucos, they were high school teammates at Palmdale, California. Harris, who is 6-2, 190, made nine tackles while playing in five games for Montana State last season. Marsh was initially a walk-on fall, but was impressive from the start of fall camp and has earned some scholarship help, Long said.