Former Montana Quarterback To Start for SD Mines
Kevin Thompson is the top returning rusher for SD Mines after running for 400 yards last season.
Kevin Thompson is the top returning rusher for SD Mines after running for 400 yards last season.

Monday, September 1, 2014

RAPID CITY, SD – Trent McKinney, who was the starting quarterback for most of the 2012 season at the University of Montana, will start at quarterback Saturday when South Dakota Mines opens its 2014 football season at home against Colorado Mines.

The game will be the first for the Hardrockers as a member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

McKinney (6-0, 185, Jr., Mililani, HI) started the first eight games of the 2012 season for the Grizzlies, throwing for 1,350 yards and eight touchdowns.  He also rushed for 399 yards and seven scores.

He is one of three experienced QBs on the SD Mines roster joining Evan Sanders (6-5, 220, Jr., Canby, OR) and Ben Broeker (6-5, 230, So., Lacey, WA – North Thurston), who combined to throw for 2,456 yards and 30 touchdowns last season.

Sanders completed 143 of 241 passes for 1,625 yards and 16 touchdowns, while Broeker threw for 831 yards and 14 touchdowns, completing 64 of 108 passes.

McKinney will lead a relatively experienced offense which returns 10 starters off a team that posted its first winning season (6-4) since 2010 in coach Stacy Collins’ second-year at the helm.

Among the returnees on the offensive line are left tackle Josh Hastreiter (6-5, 285, Sr., Lincoln, NE – Nevada Omaha), left guard Sam Cowan (6-5, 308, Sr., Ashland, OR), center Dominik Taliulu (5-11, 281, Sr., Tehachapi, CA), right guard Jordan Christenson (6-4, 300, Sr., Tucson, AZ – Pima CC), right tackle Reece Buckles (6-3, 289, Sr., Santa Ana, CA – El Modera) and tight end Cameron Luna (6-3, 225, Jr., Temecula, CA – Great Oaks).

That group helped the Hardrockers average 38.6 points and 426.8 yards per game.

Also returning on offense is running back Kevin Thompson (5-6, 190, So., Bad Kissingen, Germany – Lakewood, WA Lakes HS) who rushed for 400 yards and five touchdowns and wide receiver Tim Crenshaw (6-0, 185, Sr., Antioch, CA) who caught 19 passes for 205 yards and three touchdowns.

Newcomers include wide receiver Rashad Ridley (5-6, 148, Jr., Los Angeles, CA – Southwest) and tight end Elijah Balavitch (6-4, 256, Jr., Orange, CA – Corona Centennial). 

Ridley had 45 catches for 344 yards last season at Southwestern College.  Balavitch had two receptions for 31 yards, both for touchdowns at Fullerton.

On defense, among the returning players are five of last year’s top eight tacklers led by  linebacker Lucas Riebe (5-11, 238, Jr., Wellington, FL) and defensive back John Tyler (5-8, 185, Jr., Tampa, FL – Wharton).

Riebe led the team with 76 tackles, including 5 ½ for losses.  Tyler had 74 stops and two interceptions and a 99-yard fumble return.

Also back on defense are cornerbacks Josh Thomas (5-8, 165, Jr., Missouri City, TX – Hightower) and Traevon Beddard (5-11, 185, Sr., Victorville, CA), linebacker Jacob Hepp (6-0, 227, Sr., Buffalo, WY) and defensive lineman Christian Chavez (6-1, 281, So., Henderson, NV – Coronado).

Thomas was credited with 49 tackles, while Beddard led the team in interceptions with four for 133 yards.  He also had 23 tackles in six games.

Hepp had 47 tackles and Chavez had 38 including 5 ½ for losses.

An addition to the defense is DB Maalik McClain (5-10, 175, Jr., Los Angeles, CA – LA Southwest).

Specialty team returnees include place-kicker Devon Jones (6-2, 150, Sr., Tempe, AZ – Marcos De Niza), who made 42 of 44 extra points and 10 of 13 field goals and punter John Keating (6-1, 222, Jr., Tucson, AZ – Sabino) who averaged 39.4 yards on 44 boots, including a long of 61.

Coaching Staff Has Familiarity with GNAC

While South Dakota Mines is new to the GNAC, its coaching staff is familiar with the conference.

Head coach Stacy Collins previously served as an assistant at both Central Washington and Western Oregon under Blaine Bennett, who joined the SD Mines staff as an assistant last spring before taking an assistant high school position at Eagle, Idaho.

Three other Mines coaches have GNAC experience as assistants – offensive coordinator Zach Tinker at Western Washington, offensive line coach Ken Ackerman at Humboldt State and defensive line coach George Booker at Western Washington.

The Hardrockers, who will play two seasons in the GNAC before joining the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in 2016, will play a six-game GNAC schedule, opening their conference slate Oct. 4 at Humboldt State.

SOUTH DAKOTA MINES Hardrockers (GNAC Projected Finish: #7)
Head Coach:  Stacy Collins, Western Oregon ‘98 (8-13, 2 years)
Assistants:   Zach Tinker, asst. head coach, offensive coordinator, QBs & RBs; Jarod Dodson, defensive coordinator & DBs; Ken Ackerman, offensive line; Gino Polastri, linebackers; Lonnie Messick, outside linebackers; George Booker, defensive line; Greg Hodgin, special teams; Marcus Mayo, tight ends; Zeke Prado, asst. defensive backs; Rob Erwin wide receivers; Ryan McFadden, running backs.
2013 Record: 6-4    Conference: Independent
Returning Letter Winners: Off – 22 Def – 16  Specialty – 4   Lost - 10
Returning Starters: Off – 10  Def – 8 Kickers - 3
Basic Offense: Spread/Multiple
Basic Defense: 3-4
Stadium (Capacity): O’Harra Stadium  (4,000)

TOP RETURNEES: Rushing –   Kevin Thompson (RB, 5-6, 190, So., 93-400, 5 TDs); Ben Broeker (QB, 6-5, 230, So., 70-260, 6 TDs). Passing – Evan Sanders (6-5, 220, Jr., 143-241-7, 1625, 16 TDs); Ben Broeker (64-108-6, 831, 14 TDs). Receiving –Tim Crenshaw (WR, 6-0, 185, Sr., 19-205, 3 TDs); Xavier Matthews (WR, 6-2, 180, Jr., 17-289, 2 TDs); Patrick Berke (WR, 6-1, 205, Jr., 13-314, 5 TDs).  Kick Scoring – Devon Jones (K, 6-2, 150, Sr., 10-13 FG 42-44 PAT). Defense – Lucas Riebe (LB, 5-11, 238, Jr., 24-52-76, TFL 5 ½ - 17); John Tyler (DB, 5-8, 185, Jr., 45-29-74); Josh Thomas (CB, 5-8, 165, Jr., 37-12-49); Jacob Hepp (LB, 6-0, 227, Sr., 21-26-47); Christian Chavez (DL. 6-1, 281, So., 8-30-38, TFL 5 ½-18).  All-Stars – None

KEY LOSSES:  De’Andre Bolden (RB, 97-604); Chris Sawdey (RB, 63-346); Derek Graves (WR, 48-565, 10 TDs); Cody Vollmar (WR, 32-388, 1 TD); Pat Shaw (LB, 44 tackles, 2-74 interc.); Andrew Anthony (OL); Kayhan Karatakeli (LB, 66 tackles)

KEY TRANSFERS: Trent McKinney (QB, 6-0, 185, Jr., Mililani, HI - Montana); Elijah Balavitch (TE, 6-4, 256, Jr., Orange, CA - Fullerton College); Rashad Ridley (WR, 5-6, 148, Jr., San Diego, CA - Southwestern College); Maalik McClain (DB, 5-10, 175, Jr., Los Angeles, CA - LA Southwest College).