“I was interested in this position because I liked the Christian environment that Dordt offered. I knew this school was a place where you could recruit high academic and high character players,” said Youngblood.
Coach Youngblood isn’t the only new face on the coaching staff. Gabe Eliserio was hired earlier this year to replace Bill Bauer as defensive coordinator. While this is Eliserio’s first position as coordinator, he isn’t unfamiliar with Dordt. In his first stint on Dordt’s coaching staff, he was a Graduate Assistant, and the two positions aren’t entirely different.
“Much of the direction and philosophy of the football program are the same. However, the main differences between the two positions are the styles & schemes of the offense and defense,” said Eliserio. “One nice difference now is the older players on the team. My first time here, the oldest guys we had here were 19, maybe 20 years old. That makes a difference in competition.”
Before Eliserio came to Dordt the first time around, he acquired a master’s degree in education and sports administration from East Central University (Oklahoma) and a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Sterling College. Before becoming defensive coordinator, he spent two years coaching defensive secondary and special teams at Sterling College.
This year’s team is led by four captains; Jordan Huisman and Owen Reinalda representing the offensive side, and Seth Vande Voort and John Leutchens for the defense. All four of the players are upperclassmen with multiple years of experience under their belt. This experience will be valuable, especially when playing in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC). As usual, the GPAC will boast multiple teams in the national Top-25.
Regular season competition began on September 1 with a road trip to Waldorf. After a hard fought game, the Defenders ended on the low side, losing 43-7. This past week was the home opener for the team against Hastings. A strong defensive showing by Dordt kept them running the whole game, but a late touchdown pulled Hastings away to a 20-7 victory. This weekend they take a road trip to Fremont, Nebraska to take on Midland Lutheran, and back to Nebraska to play Concordia. Dordt’s next home game is against Briar Cliff on September 29.
Justin Pastoor, Staff Writer