Golddiggers bringing experience to football field

Lead-Deadwood’s Jordey Stulken runs with the ball during a game during the 2018 football season, in Deadwood. Pioneer file photo

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LEAD —  Lead-Deadwood’s varsity football team is hanging its hat on returning experience during a season that started Aug. 23 at Bennett County.

Tom Tieszen starts his fifth season as Goldiggers’ head coach and he said its great to have veterans on the team.

“We graduated three great seniors, but we had eight guys on each side of the ball that started for us,” Tieszen said. “That’s a nice thing to have back there.”

The Golddiggers fell 46-0 to Mt. Vernon/Plankinton in a class 11B second-round playoff game to finish 7-3 for the 2018 campaign.

Dylan Janke, CJ Murray, and Zak Mau graduated from that squad.

Key returning players for this season include seniors Jordy Stulken (running back-wide receiver-defensive back), Pablo Munoz Fraga (wide receiver-defensive back-kicker), Max Johnson (quarterback-defensive back), and Rob Lester (lineman); plus juniors Gage Mau (lineman), Mekieh Hon (wide receiver-defensive back), Clifford Hanel (running back-linebacker), and Dawson Janke (running back-linebacker).

Other players on the 36-member roster as of press time include senior Dylan Schumacher (lineman); plus juniors Domenic Lucero (offensive lineman-linebacker), Cody Rakow (running back-linebacker), T.K. Rainey (wide receiver-defensive back), Jacob Harris (wide receiver-defensive back), Tyler Rohn (lineman), Joey Burrows (lineman), and Jack Hallock (offensive lineman-linebacker).

Sophomores feature David Morris (wide receiver-defensive back), Rocke Rainey (quarterback-wide receiver-defensive back), Stryder Greenfield (wide receiver-defensive back), Jaggar Smith (lineman), Eli Heisinger (lineman), Tristen Fierbach (wide receiver-defensive back), Kayden Austin (wide receiver-defensive back), Phillip Sneesby (lineman), and Todd Locke (lineman).

Eleven ninth-graders round out the roster. They are Miles Crippin (running back-linebacker), Tyler Huber (wide receiver-defensive back), Brody Neill (lineman), Crew Rainey (running back-linebacker), Ryan Rantapaa (quarterback-running back-linebacker), Jacob Smith (offensive lineman-linebacker), Steven Hogg (lineman), Justice Scherer (wide receiver-defensive back), Brayden Derby (lineman), Tyler Williams (wide receiver-defensive back), and Ethan VanTassel (offensive lineman-defensive back).

Tieszen agreed returning experience is one of the Golddiggers’ strong suits for this season. He said the roster number means the team enjoys depth.

“One thing that we always stress is preparing to the best of our ability, and performing to the best of our ability,” Tieszen said. 

He added that applies to the classroom as well as the playing field.

Lead-Deadwood’s schedule is more difficult than it has been in the recent past, according to Tieszen. 

He said that gives the team a chance to play at a higher level.

The Golddiggers have four home games this season. Upton-Sundance visits on Aug. 30, followed by Mobridge-Pollock (Sept. 7), Pine Ridge (Sept. 20), and Custer (Oct. 11).

Tieszen cited Hot Springs and Todd County as Black Hills Conference Crazy Horse division favorites. 

The Golddiggers won the Black Hills Conference Crazy Horse division in 2018.

“We really understand what we’re trying to do,” Tieszen said. “They remember everything from last year.”

Tieszen defined success as all players performing at their optimal levels. 

Official practice sessions began Aug. 12. Players worked on basics like formations, fundamentals, and expanding football ability.

He said the Golddiggers enjoyed great leadership last season, and Lester returns as one of those captains. Dawson Janke, Hanel, and Stulken are providing leadership, according to Tieszen.

Tieszen would like for Lead-Deadwood to improve at adapting during games. He said the team periodically struggled with that aspect last season.

Lead-Deadwood opens its 2019 season Friday at Bennett County

Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. in Martin.

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