COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A new coach, a new nickname, a new attitude and a new conference — big things are happening for Dixie State football.
The Dixie State football team started a new chapter on Monday, beginning its tenure as a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC). The RMAC began its season with Media Day.
The RMAC comprises of 16 universities, 11 of which compete in football. Dixie State currently competes in the football only and is currently considering a complete transfer to the RMAC vs. a limited transfer. The Trailblazers are picked to finish ninth in the coaches preseason poll.
The conference is one of the top conferences in NCAA Division II football. Colorado State-Pueblo won the NCAA Division II championship in 2014 and has reigned atop the conference since 2011. CSPU is again picked as a preseason favorite this year.
Colorado-Mesa is picked to finish second behind the Thunderwolves. The Maveriks, out of Grand Junction, have played Dixie State in a home-and-home series the last two years. One thing that Dixie State has lacked since the switch to Division II is the formation of a naturally-formed rival school. At the junior college level, Dixie had spirited rivalries with both Ricks College and Snow College.
Blazers rookie head coach Shay McClure believes that Colorado-Mesa could grow into that role as a rival.
“Mesa is geographically close to us, they go after the same kids we recruit, and they are a very good football team,” he said.
Predicted to finish third through eighth are Colorado School of Mines, Western State University (Gunnison, Colo.), Chadron State University (Neb.), Fort Lewis University (Durango, Colo.), Adams State University (Alamosa, Colo.) and New Mexico Highlands out of Las Vegas, N.M.
DSU follows New Mexico Highlands. They are followed by two teams located in South Dakota, Black Hills University and South Dakota School of Mines. SDSM joins Dixie State as the other newcomer to the conference this year.
“The move (to the RMAC) will be good for Dixie State,” said McClure. “Before this year, we were playing several teams twice each year in the GNAC (Great Northwest Athletic Conference). That alone weakened the conference’s rating with the NCAA when it came to selecting teams for the tournament.”
Also lacking during the DSU Division II era are winning seasons. As a perennial contender in the junior college ranks, the Trailblazers hope to climb back to that status with new head coach McClure.
“From day one, the new coaching staff has tried to ingrain into us a winning culture,” said defensive back Colton Olsen. “There is a lot of energy and excitement for this coming year.”
The Trailblazers open with their first two games at home at night. They will play a rare Thursday night game to open the season against New Mexico Highlands at 6 p.m. Sept. 1. They will host South Dakota School of Mines at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10. The remaining three home games will be Saturday afternoon games.
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