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Duplicating a solid effort is the main goal for most coaches in any sport, on any level. 

The South Dakota School of Mines got an A for effort in nearly upsetting the three-time defending Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference champs, Colorado Mesa last week in Grand Junction, Colorado.

But Mesa scored a couple of late touchdowns for the three-point win, leaving the Hardrockers just as hungry heading into their home opener Saturday against Western State Colorado.

Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.

"The effort was awesome. We played well enough to win, and just made enough mistakes to lose," Mines head coach Zach Tinker said Wednesday. "That's the nature of it, and we have work to do to get ready. We've put that game in the rear-view a while ago."

The juice level, as Tinker and the Hardrockers like to call their effort and energy, was strong from the start. He said they played hard and fast, and had the energy he wanted to see from his team, especially in the season opener.

"Our passion for the game and how committed we were to what we were doing was strong," he said. "I think if we can have that kind of energy level, we'll have a chance the rest of the season to have chances in every game we play ... if we play that way."

In the RMAC, that effort is necessary, even against teams that aren't near the top of the standings like Western, which came into Rapid City two years ago and upset the Hardrockers.

"We didn't fare real well the last time we saw Western State at Dunham Field, so we have a lot of work to do to make sure we play better," Tinker said.

Tinker sees an equally hungry Western team that dropped a 45-10 decision to FCS Idaho State in Pocatello, Idaho, in its season opener. The Mountaineers were 1-9 last season.

Tinker said that Western head coach Jas Bains always has a program with the mindset of mental toughness. He also said that defensive coordinator Todd Auer has a defense that is difficult to prepare for.

"He tries to confuse the quarterbacks, tries to confuse pass protections," Tinker said. "It's a good challenge to get ready; it's hard to replicate."

Eagles to get huge road test

It's like the old sports saying: "to be the best, you have to play the best." That is certainly the case in the RMAC, and for Chadron State College, that will be tested front and center on Saturday.

The Eagles, coming off of the fanfare of the new Don Beebe Stadium last week, a nearly three-hour weather delay, and then romping past Black Hills State University 45-8, get to face No. 12 Colorado State-Pueblo in Pueblo, Colorado.

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.

"We're extremely excited about the challenge," CSC head coach Jay Long said. "Pueblo graduated only two kids from last year's team, and they are a Top 10 team in the country. Our guys are excited to go up there and play, and we're excited for the challenge to compete against a great team."

CSU-Pueblo opened with a 56-14 win over Dixie State in its opener.

"Over the years we have taken them to overtime, we've lost to them by a touchdown, and we have been right there with them numerous times," Long said. "We want to go out there and execute our game plan and try to put our kids in position to make plays."

Jackets look to bounce back

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It was a tough way to open the season for Black Hills State, to say the least. After enduring the three-hour weather delay at Chadron State, the Jackets fell behind 35-0 for the second straight year to the Eagles and could never recover.

The slow start, BHSU head coach John Reiners said, was due to poor field position, brought on by bad mental errors.

"We put ourselves in a hole on special teams, and that put us in a hole on offense, and that put us in a hole on defense," he said. "You just can't do that, and then you are playing catch-up the entire time. It gets you out of rhythm, it gets you out of your game. We did that the whole first quarter."

BHSU will get a very good Colorado Mines team in its home opener Saturday at Lyle Hare Stadium (1 p.m.). The Orediggers thumped Adams State 49-7 in their opener.

"It was a tough loss on Saturday; we have to come back," Reiners said. "We definitely have a great opponent coming to our house this Saturday in Colorado Mines."

BHSU, however, feels like it can play with Mines, as it took the Orediggers down to the wire last season in Pueblo, losing 41-33.

"It's a different team, but last year's game gave us some confidence to be able to play with them," Reiners said. "We have to ride that confidence we had last year into this game. We have to learn from our mistakes from the last game (last week), and get back to playing the high level of football that we know we can when we are not making those mental errors."

RMAC Players of the Week

Senior wide receiver Brody Oliver of Colorado School of Mines has been named this week’s Offensive Player of the Week. Oliver tied three records with his five-touchdown performance against Adams State. Oliver’s four touchdown catches in the first quarter alone tied the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II record as he became only the second player in history to catch four in a single quarter; his five total TDs tied the RMAC and school records, and he is only the fourth player in RMAC history to catch five TDs in a game. Oliver caught 10 passes overall for 198 yards in the 49-7 win over Adams State.

Malik Brown a defensive back for New Mexico Highlands was tabbed the Defensive Player of the Week after the Cowboys victory over Fort Lewis, 45-31. Brown had two interceptions, four tackles and a pass breakup. His first interception was deep in Cowboy territory in the third quarter as the Skyhawks looked to cut the NMHU lead to one score. He returned the interception 39 yards and helped set up a touchdown. His second interception came in the fourth quarter in the final two minutes to seal the game for the Cowboys.

Western's Garrett Boyd was selected as the Special Teams Player of the Week. Boyd recorded a career-high 495 punt yards against Idaho State. It's the second most single game punt yards in school history. He averaged 45 yards per punt, with three traveling over 50 yards. He currently leads the RMAC in total punting yards.

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