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DWU offense starts slow, but wins spring scrimmage

When Dakota Wesleyan's spring football game ended on Thursday, head coach Ross Cimpl was probably happy his team has four months before its season opener.

Dakota Wesleyan grey's Mitch Johnson (24) is tackled by Dakota Wesleyan black's Kaleb Haas (54), left, and Cody Bonte (31) during the spring game on Thursday at the DWU practice field. (Matt Gade/Republic)
Dakota Wesleyan grey's Mitch Johnson (24) is tackled by Dakota Wesleyan black's Kaleb Haas (54), left, and Cody Bonte (31) during the spring game on Thursday at the DWU practice field. (Matt Gade/Republic)

When Dakota Wesleyan's spring football game ended on Thursday, head coach Ross Cimpl was probably happy his team has four months before its season opener.

"Obviously, things weren't perfect on either side, but we had positives that we can be happy about," Cimpl said. "But we also have things we need to focus on from now until (our first game) August 26th."

On the first play of the scrimmage, the offense had a botched snap that turned into a loss of yardage. The offense had a few more miscues as the practice continued, such as dropped passes, sacks allowed and runs for a loss.

"I think the thing what happened was we were nervous a little bit," Cimpl said. "We had a game-like atmosphere, so our guys were amped up. We didn't necessarily want to start that way, but it's something that we can take away from the game."

But the offense found a way to bounce back, winning the scrimmage 24-22.

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On offense, points were awarded for touchdowns, field goals and plays of 20-plus yards, while the defense earned points for a defensive touchdown, a turnover, a three-and-out or a sack.

"Having guys that already understand the system puts us 10 paces ahead of last year, and that was evident today," second-year offensive coordinator Zach Parks said. "We got to add some new things and try a couple other things that will make us more versatile in the fall."

While the offense struggled to find its footing in the first few series, the defense thrived, particularly the defensive line making plays in the backfield.

Starting defensive lineman and Colome native Cohl Ratermann said a dominant front could be a sign of things to come in the 2016 season.

"When we're going into a game healthy, there's no defensive line better than us," Ratermann said. "I'm completely confident in our line. I think we have one of the top defenses in the GPAC, so it's hard not to feel confident going into a game."

When the offense responded, it was given a spark from third-year quarterback Dillon Turner. Turner threw a touchdown pass and an interception in the scrimmage, and also picked up several first downs with his legs off read-option plays.

"Dillon is a guy that always takes charge," Parks said. "He makes me look a lot smarter than I really am. He makes plays that just aren't on the call sheet. Watching him run around with this practice being live to contact and him running over a couple guys was really fun to watch."

The Tigers will have several months off before returning to fall camp in early August. Cimpl said he hopes his team returns energized.

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"We're going to find out what we really want as a team from now until August," he said. "I think we have a mature group, and we had a couple recruits here to see what the expectations are for this team. We have guys that are accountable, and hopefully they'll be ready to go come August."

Related Topics: DAKOTA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY
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