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With players scheduled to officially report tomorrow, it has been a pretty productive spring and summer for the football team. Around 70 players stayed in Grand Forks this summer which shows alot of committment by players to the upcoming years team. I hear many of the players continue to improve on strength and conditioning numbers. I have heard of only three players not returning. Eric Ahlstrom(converted tight end to interior line), Preston Stewart(red shirt fullback) probably going to Mary U., and Eric Habbenhorst(walk on fulback) from Montana.

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This article was cut and paste from the Associated Press. Not sure of the original source:


North Dakota coach Dale Lennon won't concede that the North Central Conference football title will be easier to win with the loss of three perennial contenders.

Northern Colorado left the NCC for Division I in 2003 and North Dakota State and South Dakota State followed suit this year.

"What it does is put more emphasis on each game," Lennon said at Monday's media day. "There is no room for error anymore.

"In the past, NDSU, SDSU and UNC would all have their share of wins, which made for a balanced league. You could win the league with two losses. Now you might need to go undefeated."

Last year, the Sioux went undefeated in seven league games and then won three NCAA Division II playoff games before losing 10-3 to Grand Valley State in the national championship game.

The 12-2 season included several big comebacks for narrow wins, as four of their seven conference victories came by a combined total of 12 points.

Lennon said he hopes his team won't duplicate those dramatics. "You never want to be in that kind of position that we were in so often last year. We have to play more consistently than that."

UND will have six league games with Minnesota-Duluth joining the NCC and NDSU and SDSU leaving. Duluth's new head coach is Kyle Schweigert, a Sioux assistant coach for the last 15 years.

With no meeting with longtime rival NDSU and longtime colleague and friend Schweigert on the opposing sideline, "There's no way to deny that it's going to be strange," Lennon said.

Either Lennon or Schweigert has been the UND defensive coordinator for the last 14 years. The Sioux have been best known for their defense during its run as the NCC's most dominant program. The team earned six conference titles in the last 11 years, eight playoff appearances in the last 12 years and two national title game appearances in the last three years.

That tradition of strong defense should continue with former Sioux linebacker Tim Tibesar taking over as the defensive coordinator. UND returns eight of its 11 defensive starters, including All-American linebacker Digger Anderson.

Other all-conference picks back on defense are safety Danny Gagner and linebacker Tyler Dahlen. The fourth first-team all-league player back is placekicker Jeff Glas.

"Defensively, this is as much depth as we've ever had," Lennon said. "We're two deep at every spot and three deep at some positions."

The offense, with only five returning starters, has more question marks. The losses include two all-conference picks receiver and returner Travis Lueck and league offensive lineman MVP Ben Olson and the nation's leading receiver in Willis Stattelman, with 97 catches.

Stattelman, Lueck and Jesse Ahlers combined for 192 receptions, 2,317 yards and 22 touchdowns. Their likely replacements are Caleb Johnson, Dan Grossman and Lee Groeschl, who combined for 54 catches for 634 yards and six touchdowns.

But the offense does return two big weapons in quarterback John Bowenkamp and tailback Adam Roland, a 1,000-yard rusher. As a junior, Bowenkamp set single-season school records for yards (2,841) and completion percentage (64.3 percent) while tying a school record with 23 touchdown passes.

"John is in position to rewrite the school record book if he stays healthy," Lennon said.

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With players scheduled to officially report tomorrow, it has been a pretty productive spring and summer for the football team. Around 70 players stayed in Grand Forks this summer which shows alot of committment by players to the upcoming years team. I hear many of the players continue to improve on strength and conditioning numbers. I have heard of only three players not returning. Eric Ahlstrom(converted tight end to interior line), Preston Stewart(red shirt fullback) probably going to Mary U., and Eric Habbenhorst(walk on fulback) from Montana.

The roster on fightingsioux.com has been updated--except for not yet including the true freshmen--and it looks like Ahlstrom is still on the team. Aside from a few of last year's walk-ons who apparently didn't return, I believe Stewart, Josh Guenther and Jake Turgeon are no longer on the team. I didn't see Brian Loe's name on the roster, either, although he was listed on the Herald's depth chart so who knows whether he's still around or not. They've also finally updated players' weights for the first time in at least two years.

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The roster has again been updated at fightingsioux.com to now include at least most of the newcomers. It looks like all recruits announced last spring have indeed reported. Also, some unannounced recruits/walk-ons include Jared Enger, a 6'2", 285 pound defensive end from Rochester (MN) Community College who was all-district last year; Wade Haugland, a 275 pound all-state offensive lineman from Grand Forks Central; and Wes Porter, a 6'3", 190 pound wide receiver from Arvada, Colorado.

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It looks like the Sioux have picked up a potential impact transfer. New to the roster is Anthony Longe, formerly of St. Agnes in the Cities and an ex-Illinois player. Here was his bio when he signed with the Illini in 2002:

Anthony Longe

5-11, 170, DB

St. Paul, Minn./St. Agnes

Coach Ron Rice

High School: SuperPrep All-Midwest team ...Two-time all-conference selection ... Earned first-team all-state honors from the Associated Press and the Pioneer Press ... Named the Tri-Metro Defensive Back of the Year ... Has been a starter since his freshman season ... As a senior, he picked off four passes and knocked down 12 others ... Also rushed for over 700 yards ... Garnered third-team all-Metro accolades by the Star-Tribune ... Earned 11 varsity letters in football, basketball and track at St. Agnes High School ... Was part of the state champion 4x100-meter relay team ... Holds the school record in the triple jump, 4x100 and 4x200 relays ... High school football coach was Ron Rice.

Personal: Full given name is Anthony Olowaseyi Longe ... Born Nov. 4, 1983 in Minneapolis, Minn. ... The son of Tony and Debra Longe ... Cousin, Maurice Hargrow, is a freshman on the University of Minnesota basketball team ... Earned three academic varsity letters.

Turner on Longe: "Anthony was a very versatile athlete who played running back and defensive back in high school. He was a great point guard on the basketball team. Anthony has very good quickness and explosiveness. We look for him to be an outstanding man-to-man cover corner."

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Another NCC article picked up on the AP from yesterday:

New coaches, new team in new-look NCC

By WAYNE ORTMAN Associated Press Writer

The Associated Press - Friday, August 20, 2004


Dale Lennon wants to avoid looking back in the new-look North Central Conference.

A concern for the sixth-year North Dakota football coach is a letdown after last year's 7-0 conference record and runner-up finish in the NCAA Division II national championship.

"Look at the 2002 season," Lennon said, referring to UND's 5-6 record after going 14-1 and winning a national championship in 2001.

"We learned some lessons from the 2002 season. Some of it was our fault and some things just happened. But we cannot be complacent because we think the NCC is going to be one of those where you've got to win every game."

The North Central Conference this year is without South Dakota State and North Dakota State, which have moved to the new Great West Division I-AA football conference.

New to the league are Minnesota-Duluth and three coaches: Ed Meierkort at South Dakota, Kyle Schweigert at Minnesota-Duluth, and Jeff Jamrog at Minnesota State, Mankato.

The reduction from a 10-team conference just a few years ago to seven members this year puts more emphasis on each game, said Augustana coach Jim Heinitz, in his 16th year with the Vikings.

"With a nine-game schedule you could go 7-2 and win the league or tie. Now, you've got to get out of the blocks quick and those early season games are important," he said.

Northern Colorado also left the league to go I-AA and Morningside left when it dropped to Division III.

"The room for error is much less now because you have less teams," UND's Lennon said of the NCC. "You can't afford it if you get knocked off one weekend because all of a sudden you have to hope for someone else to win a ball game and you don't want to be in that situation."

Preseason coaches and media polls picked UND as the team to beat this year, with Nebraska-Omaha second in both predictions.

Nebraska-Omaha has 17 starters back from last year's 8-3 team, including quarterback Brian Masek, who passed for 24 touchdowns. The Mavericks had the top offense in the NCC last year and were third-best in defense, led by all-NCC linebackers Taiwo Onatulo and Kenny Onatulo, who both return.

North Dakota returns eight starters on defense and five starters on offense.

Last season's 12-2 record for North Dakota included several big comebacks for narrow wins and two overtime games. Four of the seven conference victories were by a combined 12 points.

"One of the things we're talking about is our consistency, coming out where we don't have a poor start and we're down 28-3, or the other side where we're ahead and the other team comes back," Lennon said.

"We hope there's a little bit of maturity the team has acquired from last year."

Schweigert, a 15-year UND assistant, brings some of the Sioux philosophy to his new job as Minnesota-Duluth coach: be strong defensively, control the ball on offense and avoid turnovers.

"Right now we're not a very consistent team," Schweigert said of the team's practices. "We make some good plays and then we get into lulls and we're trying to work through those low spots in practice."

"That will be part of our team maturing and getting to know each other."

The Bulldogs, 6-2 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference last season, will play five games before their first NCC game.

"We want to do well in the conference but those nonconference games are important for us as how the team develops because there's nothing better than game situations," said Schweigert.

Meierkort has no won-loss goals after moving to the University of South Dakota from Wisconsin-Stout.

"Our goal is to be a better football team than we were a year ago. What that equates to in won-loss we'll see," he said.

The running game is getting special attention in fall camp.

"I'm a firm believer that if you can run and defend the run then you can be in the upper echelon of teams," said Meierkort. "That's a big area of concern for us and a lot of our contact time is to what we call the inside run period. It's been spirited and we've gotten a lot better."

At Augustana, only six seniors are expected to start for a team that has 70 freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores on the roster.

"We're a young team and yet I think we have some talent. We expect to be improved as the year goes on," Heinitz said.

Among the goals after last year's 1-6 record: learning how to finish strong. Augustana's first three conference losses last year - by 10, 4 and 4 points - were decided late in the game and could just as easily have gone the other way, he said.

"Other than North Dakota State, which stuck it to us (42-10 loss), and Northern Colorado (41-0 loss), there wasn't a game we didn't have an opportunity to win," Heinitz said. "We just need to be a better fourth-quarter team."

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