The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology football program is leaving the NAIA on a high note. In their final season at that level, the Hardrockers cracked the NAIA's top 25 for the first time since 1985, climbing as high as No. 12 in the Oct. 18 poll. The team finished the year 7-3 overall and 6-2 in the Dakota Athletic Conference.
Head coach Dan Kratzer, who is entering his seventh season, says that has given his program some momentum as it continues the transition toward NCAA Division II status.
Q. You finished No. 20 in the nation last season. Has that helped in your recruiting efforts?
A. We were excited about finishing in the top 20 in the nation last year, and have been able to use that as a positive recruiting tool. Obviously, we want to stay at that level. That’s one of our long-term goals, to continue to be ranked in the top 20 in the nation. As we go into NCAA Division II it’s going to be much more difficult. But our strategies are to continue to improve, to recruit better football players, to recruit [more]talented athletes that are more committed, and to continue to improve this football program.
Q. Your record has improved steadily over the last five years. Can you improve on last year’s 7-3 finish?
A. We plan on continuing to do that. After going 7-3 last year, it’s going to be a little bit more difficult because we’re stepping up to the NCAA Division II schedule and our competition level is going to be a little bit tougher. But that is definitely the plan. We want to be better than we were last year, if it be 8-2, 9-1 or 10-0, obviously we’re going to continue to move in that direction. If we finish another season at 7-3, because of where we in the NCAA Division II process, it would be a great accomplishment for us this year.
Q. What are your thoughts on playing the University of Sioux Falls this season?
A. We’re very anxious to upgrade our schedule with this move to NCAA Division II and playing the University of Sioux Falls is going to be one of those games that we’re really looking forward to. We’re hoping to be able to establish a rivalry, similar to what we have with Black Hills State. It’s been a long time since we’ve played the University of Sioux Falls in football. I think the community is excited about it. I think the state is excited about it. And I know our players are very excited about it.
Midco Sports Network will televise two South Dakota School of Mines & Technology road games this fall. The Hardrockers first appearance will be on Oct. 22, when they visit the University of Sioux Falls. You'll also be able to see the Nov. 12 rivalry game at Black Hills State.
- Oct. 22: SD Tech vs. USF, 6 p.m.
- Nov. 12: SD Tech vs. Black Hills St. (Battle for Homestake Trophy)
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