It’s the one home game of the year that the Orediggers play from the visitors’ side of the field.
On April 22, more than 200 fans braved the snowy stands and the chilly weather to watch the Colorado School of Mines football team’s annual spring game. Thanks to a unique scoring system, the defense won 53-24 over the offense during the team’s intrasquad scrimmage.
“We wanted to see … plays being made on both sides of the ball, and we definitely saw that,” interim head coach Pete Sterbick said. “ … We had so many young guys in there, they’re just trying to gel and get together, which is really what spring is all about.”
The offense received points for touchdowns, plays that went 20 yards or more, fourth-down conversions and more. Meanwhile, the defense received points for a three-and-out sequence, fourth-down stops, turnovers, etc.
Both the offense and defense started with their first- and second-string players in the first half, and third- and fourth-string players took over in the second half.
The defense had a 23-21 lead at the midpoint and scored massive points off second-half turnovers. Overall, the defense forced four turnovers during the game, including two interceptions by cornerback Caleb Frink.
“I actually woke up this morning … and told (my roommates), ‘I have a feeling, I’m getting (an interception) today,’” Frink said. “I couldn’t ask for a better day.”
Frink, a redshirt freshman with four years of eligibility left, believed he and his fellow defenders were clicking throughout the game — from the linemen to the safeties, from the starters to the fourth-string players.
“We got after it,” he continued. “We play our brand of football, and when we do that (score) is the result.”
Sterbick said standout performances for the game included wide receiver Flynn Schiele, running back Braelon Tate, cornerback Mikee Barker, defensive end Christian Peluse and linebacker JJ Lee. Most are redshirt freshmen or redshirt sophomores who could be impact players for the Orediggers in 2023, Sterbick commented.
Schiele, who has three years of eligibility remaining, was in the 2022 rotation after senior wide receiver Josh Johnston. With Johnston graduated, Schiele is hoping to follow in his footsteps and do great things for the Orediggers this fall.
“The spring season … is a time to move up the depth chart for the guys, and I think I was able to do that,” Schiele continued. “I’m excited for this team. The game of football is so much fun, and I love it.”
The countdown to Aug. 31
For the Mines football team and its fans, the Aug. 31 home opener against Grand Valley State couldn’t come soon enough. But, the Orediggers have plenty to do in the offseason, Sterbick detailed.
The players’ offseason training program kicks off in June. Sterbick explained how strength coach Trevor Florendo “is the best in the country” and will have the Orediggers “dialed in” with eight weeks of lifting, running and other training routines.
Schiele was looking forward to hitting the weight room and conditioning over the summer, saying he wanted to get a lot stronger.
Frink had similar goals, saying the entire team has the same mentality.
“It all starts with Grand Valley. We have to focus up and get ready for them,” Frink said.
For the coaches, Sterbick said they’ll be juggling staffing changes, one-on-one meetings with players, recruiting efforts for the Class of 2024, hosting various football camps, and more. And, somewhere in there, they try to “decompress and take time with our families,” Sterbick added.
While much has changed for the Orediggers since the 2022 season ended, their goals haven't, Sterbick said. They want to repeat as conference champions, return to the NCAA Division II National Championship game, and win the program's first national title.
As Sterbick said, “The mission hasn’t changed.”