If Dickinson State head football coach Hank Biesiot can think of one attribute that best characterizes his starting senior offensive tackles, Carl Dynneson and Ry O’Connor, it is their consistency.
“They’re there every day, every practice,” Biesiot said. “The number one thing a football coach looks for is that consistency, that everyday thing, and those guys have been there every day.”
Every day means five years in O’Connor’s case and four in Dynneson’s.
Both players were thrust into action as true freshmen.
The Blue Hawks’ coaching staff was forced to pull Dynneson’s redshirt when starting left tackle Aaron Cook tore ligaments in his knee during the team’s fifth game of the 2009 season. A veteran player, Jess Fuhrman, rotated from right tackle to left tackle and Dynneson took his spot.
He has been there ever since.
“It was kind of nerve-wracking when I came in as a freshman. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” Dynneson said. “It was getting called upon by Coach B to step up to the plate and take on the challenge, I guess.”
O’Connor was called upon immediately, taking the starting left guard spot as a true freshman during the 2008 season.
“My freshman year it was kind of like being baptized by fire I guess,” O’Connor said. “You get tossed in there, you get beat up and you get used to it I guess.”
The next season, he played two games before it was determined he would miss the rest season with mononucleosis. When he began feeling better, O’Connor said he tried practicing later in the season with the intent of playing again. But, the illness prevented it.
O’Connor was later awarded a medical hardship and a redshirt season by the NAIA, but said the year was an experience he has used as a motivational tool ever since.
“That was probably one of the tougher experiences of my football career,” he said. “I tell everybody, you see these young guys sitting out for little stuff and say, you want to get all you can out of it. Because all of a sudden, they tell you you can’t practice and it makes you want it a little more.”
Dynneson and O’Connor were sophomore starters on the offensive line that helped DSU win its third consecutive Dakota Athletic Conference title in 2010 and finished the season 9-2 after a first-round playoff loss at Morningside. As a junior, O’Connor moved to left tackle and has played the last two seasons there. Dynneson said, this season, O’Connor has emerged as a true leader and provides a veteran sensibility the Blue Hawks need.
“(O’Connor) is that old man that comes out and he works hard every day,” Dynneson said with a smile. “I’ve seen Ry come to the sidelines with dislocated fingers. I’ve never seen him wear sleeves until this year. I’ve never seen him wear sleeves or anything over his legs. He’s a tough kid. He’s a great guy to have on the offensive line. He’s a rock.”
O’Connor may present a tougher exterior, but he said Dynneson plays nastier on the field.
“We’re different, but yet we’re the same,” O’Connor said with a laugh. “We both have very much the good ol’ boy kind of, ‘Well let’s just go out there and get it done.’ I’m more laidback. Carl brings that intensity. You can tell that watching Carl on the field. He’s not one to back down from anything. I might turn the other cheek, but Carl, you better not get in his face or Carl will put you down. That’s one of Carl’s biggest strengths. He’s definitely not a quitter. He’ll fight to the very end.”
Though DSU has struggled this season, Biesiot said the play and leadership demonstrated by the two senior tackles has been encouraging.
“About four times in the game last Saturday, Carl just flattened guys,” he said.
Most of all, however, the two have relished in their roles as team leaders and hope the Blue Hawks (6-2) can make a late-season turnaround starting today with their home finale against Eastern Oregon (3-4).
“We’ve had a difficult season,” O’Connor said. “But nobody has given up on us and we’re all working hard and trying to do our best.”