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Stiegelmeier continues to live his dream as SDSU football coach

John Stiegelmeier has the nicest office on the campus of South Dakota State University. His office in the Dykhouse Student-Athlete Center overlooks the newly finished Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium and the 20-year head coach doesn't take it for granted...

John Stiegelmeier has the nicest office on the campus of South Dakota State University.

His office in the Dykhouse Student-Athlete Center overlooks the newly finished Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium and the 20-year head coach doesn't take it for granted.

Stiegelmeier opened his remarks at Wednesday's Mitchell Quarterback Club meeting stating how "blessed" he is and that he's "still living his dream."

The Jackrabbits (1-2) have made the FCS playoffs four years in a row and are currently ranked No. 18 in the nation. Since making the jump to Division I in 2004, SDSU has become the dominant football school in the state of South Dakota and has become the school players in South Dakota dream about playing for.

Both Kanin Nelson, a former Mitchell Kernel, and Wes Genant, a former Parkston Trojan, stated that playing for the Jackrabbits, like their head coach, was a dream come true to compete for SDSU.

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"It's tremendously important," Stiegelmeier said about local players wanting to play for the Jackrabbits. "We want every kid growing up wanting to be a Jackrabbit. It happened in Nebraska, not overnight, but as they built the program and we want to do the same thing here."

The Jackrabbits are one of only five FCS programs to reach the postseason each of the past four seasons and the team has won first-round contests in 2012, 2013 and 2014 but has failed to make the semifinals. Along with building SDSU into a FCS powerhouse, Stiegelmeier and SDSU have felt the rise of yearly expectations and pressure along with the success.

"It isn't just to make the playoffs, it's to go deep in the playoffs and ideally go to Frisco, Texas," Stiegelmeier said. "It's to compete for the prize and we know we're a good enough team to do that. We just have to make the plays to do that."

SDSU is enjoying its bye week this week before opening Missouri Valley Football Conference play against Western Illinois in Brookings. After losing to Cal Poly 38-31, Stiegelmeier said the Jackrabbits are focused on slowing down opposing offenses so the team isn't competing in shootouts week after week.

"We need to play better defense, because I know when you play better defense, it affects the whole football team," Stiegelmeier said. "When your offense knows they don't have to score every time because the defense can do their part and the special teams can do their part, I think that's the biggest deal."

One player the SDSU defense will count on is senior defensive tackle Shayne Gottlob, a Salem native. Gottlob is overcoming a knee injury and suffered a hand injury against Cal Poly, but finished the game with three tackles and a forced fumble. Stiegelmeier said his 6-foot-5 senior captain will be counted on more as he recovers from his injuries.

"Shayne is a great football player," Stiegelmeier said. "He's been voted a captain, so he's a great leader. He caused a fumble in the last game so there's no doubt when he's totally healthy he will help our defense."

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