Dixie State opens fall camp with new field, high hopes for 2017

Dixie State University Football Camp, St. George, UT, Aug. 7, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Dixie State football kicked off the 2017 campaign Monday as the Trailblazers opened fall camp at Legend Solar Stadium.

After matching a program-best 13 all-conference awards and setting program records in single-season rushing yards (2,396) and rushing touchdowns (24) in 2016, Dixie State looks to build on last season’s 6-5 finish (6-4 RMAC) and the first winning season in its 11-year NCAA Division II era.

Dixie State returns 19 starters from the 2016 squad, including nine on offense and 10 on defense. Four starters from the offensive line return in 2016, led by preseason All-RMAC honoree Tim Ah Hee. The Trailblazers also return the 2016 statistical leaders in passing/total offense (sophomore quarterback Josh Thompson), scoring (junior wide receiver Orlando Wallace), and tackles (senior safety Colton Olson).

Olson (70 tackles) highlights seven returners in the secondary, while senior linebacker Shiloh Pritchard (55 tackles, 3.0 sacks) will anchor the returning linebackers in 2017. Junior defensive lineman Remington Kelly (37 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) represents the lone returning starter on the defensive line.

Dixie State University Football Camp, St. George, UT, Aug. 7, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Senior punter Corey Stens (40.0 yards per punt) and junior kicker Anthony Reyes (5 for 8 on field goals) lead the returners from the special teams unit.

Head coach Shay McClure begins his second season as head coach, and will once again team up with Reilly Murphy (offensive coordinator) and Shawn Howe (defensive coordinator) on the DSU sideline. The coaching staff returns five assistants from the 2016 team, while Willie Mack Garza (defensive backs) and Anthony Weeden (wide receivers) join the staff for the 2017 campaign.

Dixie State was picked to finish fourth in the 2017 RMAC Preseason Coaches Poll and landed two players on the preseason All-RMAC team (Ah Hee/senior defensive back Tyneil Cooper).

The Trailblazers open the season with consecutive RMAC road games, beginning with its season-opener at New Mexico Highlands on Thursday, Aug. 31. Then on Saturday, Sept. 9, Dixie State will travel east to play at South Dakota Mines.

DSU will return home to play four of five games, starting with the home opener vs. Black Hills State on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m., followed by a matchup against former Great Northwest Athletic Conference rival Central Washington on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 6 p.m.

Following a road date at Western State Colorado on Saturday, Sept. 30, the Trailblazers return to Legend Solar Stadium for a pair of league games vs. Chadron State on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 1 p.m., and Colorado Mesa on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 6 p.m. Dixie State then heads back to the Centennial State to face Colorado Mines on Saturday, Oct. 21.

Dixie State University Football Camp, St. George, UT, Aug. 7, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Dixie State will return to Legend Solar Stadium for Homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 28, when the Trailblazers welcome in Adams State for a 1 p.m. kickoff, and will close out the 2017 home slate a week later with a “Senior Day” showdown vs. Colorado State-Pueblo on Saturday, Nov. 4 at 1 p.m. DSU then closes its 2017 regular season on the road at Fort Lewis on Saturday, Nov. 11.

Season ticket packages start at just $42 for general admission seating, while reserved season tickets are $60. Single game tickets range in price from $7 for general admission to $10 for reserved seating. To purchase tickets, stop by the DSU Avenna Center Ticket Office during its summer business hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or call 435-652-7800. Season and single game tickets are also available for purchase online at www.dsutix.com.

Dixie State also announced that the second renovation phase of the Legend Solar Stadium complex will begin later this month. The overall renovation project is part of the $10 million donation the university received from Legend Solar in the spring of 2016 – the largest single donation in the institution’s history.

Dixie State University Football Camp, St. George, UT, Aug. 7, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

The second phase includes the construction of an east grandstand that will feature 5,000 seats, along with additional infrastructure amenities, including locker rooms, restrooms and concession stands, among other facility enhancements.

With the impending start to construction, DSU Athletic officials noted that the Legend Solar Stadium complex will remain closed to all general public access to ensure that all construction safety standards are met. However, the stadium will be open for Dixie State football and men’s and women’s soccer practices, and all home athletic events throughout the 2017 fall competitive season, along with other scheduled activities.

“The investment into improving the stadium has been substantial, but one we know will serve our community for many years to come,” said Dr. Jason Boothe, DSU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. “We appreciate the public’s patience and cooperation while we work to further improve Legend Solar Stadium into the largest outdoor venue in southern Utah. We look forward to re-opening the facility to general public use once it is safe to do so.”

Phase I of the stadium renovation was completed in early July, which included the installation of new state-of-the-art playing and track surfaces. The phase completion was done in time for DSU to host the St. George 4th of July Celebration and Concert and the annual Pioneer Day Celebration this past July 24.

“On behalf of Dixie State University, we extend a sincere thank you to our community for supporting the two recent events hosted at Legend Solar Stadium,” Boothe said. “We are grateful for your support at these events and look forward to many more to come.”

Though the stadium complex will be closed to public use, scheduled events will be allowed provided that the use is approved in advance by DSU Centralized Scheduling. To inquire about scheduling an event at Legend Solar Stadium, call (435) 652-7650. For more information or future updates on the Legend Solar Stadium renovation, visit www.dixiestateathletics.com.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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