Golddigger FB team encountered tough schedule

Lead-Deadwood’s Mekieh Hon runs with the ball during a football game last season. Hon and the Golddiggers finished 3-6. Pioneer file photo

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LEAD — Lead-Deadwood head football coach Tom Tieszen said the Golddiggers handled well a difficult schedule that ended with a 3-6 record.

“I thought we stepped up to the challenge,” Tieszen said. “We played hard; we didn’t quit on games. I don’t think our record really showed how truly talented this year’s team was.”

Going into this season, Tieszen pointed to team unity as a strong suit. He said members supported and built up one another.

Tieszen said Lead-Deadwood has done well as far as being the best in-season team it can be. 

“Now, we need to take that to the off-season,” he said. “Do some of those small things that can yield big results out of the season.”

Tieszen said it is noticeable when teams do those little things, such as weight-room work in the off-season. He added Golddiggers’ players got to see it this year and are beginning to understand it.

Lead-Deadwood defeated Bennett County to open the campaign. Losses to Upton-Sundance (44-8) and Mobridge-Pollock (42-7) followed.

A 62-55 win over Hot Springs and 45-0 homecoming victory over Pine Ridge improved the Golddiggers’ record to 3-2.

Lead-Deadwood fell to Chamberlain (32-20), Woonsocket-Wessington Springs-Sanborn Central (20-0), and Custer (62-41) to close the regular season.

The Golddiggers entered the class 11B playoffs as the number 15 seed. A 60-7 loss to second-seeded Winner ended Lead-Deadwood’s season.

“We started emphasizing different players, trying to give different players the ball, and emphasize different players’ strengths,” Tieszen said in describing the team’s evolution this season. “I think we did a good job of that.”

Tieszen said the Golddiggers played hard each week regardless of the score. 

“It was a season full of a lot of on-field highlights,” Tieszen said. He added Jordy Stulken turned in big plays each game, and Rob Lester enjoyed a great season that included a defensive touchdown.

Younger players including Mekieh Hon, Gage Mau, and TK Rainey took the next step, according to Tieszen. Rocke Rainey stepped in and filled very significant roles by season’s end, the coach added.

“We had a lot of guys show a lot of improvement,” Tieszen said. 

He added Max Johnson’s understanding of the game continually grew, and he passed for more yards than any Tieszen quarterback ever has.

Jack Hallock emerged as a starter on both sides of the ball, and others took the next step, according to Tieszen.

Pablo Munoz-Fraga, Dylan Schumacher, Stulken, Johnson, and Lester represented the senior class.

“They were exactly what I expect from seniors,” Tieszen said. “I think they had good role models from seniors before them of what it takes to be a leader, and they continued that on.”

Tieszen sees a lot of potential in the program’s future. 

He said the returning players have seen the team is on the edge of accomplishing great things.

Goals for Tieszen do not necessarily focus on wins and losses. “I just want us to perform the best we can in every game,” he said.

Tieszen said the team has consistently done that in-season and on the field. He added it is time to bring that into the off-season.

Lead-Deadwood lost only three players to injury this season, with two occurring in the regular-season finale. Tieszen said the team sustained no concussions this season, which he attributed to staff members teaching the proper way to play the game and tackle.

Tieszen thanked the coaching staff for the many hours they spent away from their families to help the team improve.

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