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Dixie State has tall order against No. 14 Wildcats

Dixie State has tall order against No. 14 Wildcats

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ST. GEORGE -- Going up against the No. 14 ranked Division II team in the country Saturday does not exactly serve what Dixie State College football needs right now.

The Red Storm (0-3) is trying to put together four consecutive quarters of quality effort, something that has evaded them so far this season. Their opponent, Central Washington University, does not play the role of prey for Great Northwest Athletic Conference teams. CWU is 14-0 against conference foes the last two seasons, and 5-0 against Dixie all-time.

Thought the Wildcats' record is 1-2 this season, they received the No. 14 ranking on Tuesday in the D-II poll because of their strength of schedule. Their single win came against the Red Storm on Sept. 4, a 24-14 outcome at St. George. However, the Wildcats have not been playing patsies this season.

Central Washington is coming off a 35-32 loss to Division I FCS Eastern Washington and its other loss came at the hands of Minnesota-Duluth 35-10. Minnesota-Duluth happens to be the No. 2 ranked D-II team in the country. Wildcats' head coach Blaine Bennett said he is not concerned with the losses.

"You are always disappointed when you lose," Bennett said. "I think we have a good football team. We are better than our 1-2 record, which is probably why we are ranked 14th in the country."

The Sept. 4 game in St. George between the Red Storm and Wildcats was the best outing Dixie has produced this season. It was Dixie's true freshman Cody Stevenson's first collegiate start and he went 21 of 42 for 187 yards and threw two touchdowns. Perhaps the most impressive part of Stevenson's game was his second half numbers. He connected on 14 of 25 passes in the final half netting 132 yards.

The Wildcats' coach said the young Red Storm quarterback has shown the ability to progress.

"In that first game, they (Dixie) threw a lot of screens and the quarterback did a good job of getting the ball out early," said Bennett, who is familiar with quarterback guidance. One of his students has 49 NFL starts under his belt and leads the Denver Broncos.

"I was the quarterback coach at Purdue University when Kyle Orton came out," Bennett said. "We started Kyle in the fourth game of the season as a true freshman. I have been involved in developing a true freshman. It takes a long time for freshman to come along, but every single week they get better and better. I think that will be true with the freshman at Dixie State. This will be a tough road for him this week, but they will try to get him some help."

Dixie is 0-2 in Ellensburg, Wash, and the games have not been close. The Wildcats' have outscored Dixie 86-20 in the ‘08 and ‘07 contests, and then there is the daunting road record. The Red Storm has lost 11 straight road contests.

An upset win by the Red Storm would send the program into stratum. It would shed that unsightly road record, and the confidence gained would be huge.

Central Washington just does not fit the Red Storm's need though. And Coach Bennett believes he has the appropriate recipe that young signal-callers submit too.

"Our defensive line is a very good group," Bennett said. "In my opinion, probably the best front line in Division II."

He said the Red Storm offensive game plan will need to do something it did not do in the first game, be versatile.

"They are going to have to put some sort of a balanced attack so they aren't throwing the ball all of the time," Bennett said.

The Red Storm will try to earn what would be a huge victory in Washington today at 2 p.m. Dixie State College games are radio broadcast on 91.3FM local.

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