When Minot State University kicker/punter Aaron LaDeaux scurried 11 yards for a first down Saturday against the University of Mary, it almost looked like a skill player was carrying the ball.
The freshman hasn't taken a snap at wideout this season, but participates in receiver drills during practices. LaDeaux's speed was apparent on successful fake punts against Mary and the University of Sioux Falls (S.D.).
Minot State University freshman Aaron LaDeaux prepares to strike a kickoff during the Beavers’ Aug. 30 game against Minnesota State-Mankato at Herb Parker Stadium.
"After running punts, it definitely makes me feel a lot more amped up (and) ready to go," said LaDeaux, a 6-foot-3, 190-pounder from Port Orchard, Wash. "My legs feel a lot better. Just a little more juiced, I guess."
MSU coach Paul Rudolph said LaDeaux may eventually see time at receiver, but is happy with him as the team's starting punter and kicker for now. LaDeaux drilled a 49-yard field goal on his first career attempt and is 2-of-3 this season, with the only miss coming on a blocked kick during the Mary game. He averages 36 yards per punt.
"We're a little nervous about playing him too much at wideout," Rudolph said. "Knowledge-wise he's probably not ready to play there yet, but also he's our punter and kicker. He's pretty valuable right now."
LaDeaux has split the uprights from 55 yards in practice, and credits his kicking ability to playing soccer growing up. He lived in England until age seven before moving to Washington.
"That's all I did there," he said. "Play soccer, play soccer."
LaDeaux quit soccer cold turkey in seventh grade when he decided to play football. He couldn't make an extra point at first, he said, but kicking came naturally to him beginning in eighth grade.
But he'd rather be more than a kicker at MSU.
"I'm practicing all the wide receiver stuff, getting to know it all," he said. "I'll be ready whenever they need me. If someone goes down, I'd be more than ready to hop right in at receiver and play there too."
The Beavers (1-4) play at Northern State University (2-3) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Aberdeen, S.D.
Beavers return to regional rankings
The MSU women's soccer team is in striking distance to qualify for the NCAA regional tournament.
The Beavers (6-3-1 overall, 4-3 Northern Sun) are ranked No. 7 in the Central Region poll and the top six teams make the tournament at the end of the season.
That number can shrink to as few as four at-large teams if there are upsets in the NSIC and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association conference tournaments. The winners of those events receive automatic bids into the region tournament.
"I've told our team, the top six get in," MSU coach Jason Spain said. "If a random team wins a conference tournament, that kills you. So we gotta be at four."
Spain said there are six criteria, similar to college basketball's Ratings Percentage Index, plus coaches' votes that make up the rankings. MSU is in good standing due to it's 2-0-1 nonconference record, as nonconference matches affect each of the six categories.
"Right now, I feel pretty good because we're seventh but we have tiebreakers on (number) six (Winona State)," Spain said. "It should be nip and tuck, but our tough nonconference schedule is really working out."
MSU has eight matches remaining, including an Oct. 20 matchup with Bemidji State, the region's No. 9 team.
Spain admitted he doesn't understand the intricacies of the rankings. He just knows the Beavers want to find their way into the top six by season's end.
"All I know is we keep winning, we're in," Spain said.
U-Mary women's basketball coach resigns
University of Mary women's basketball coach Fred Fridley resigned on Monday, according to a press release issued by the university.
Fridley accepted a position with Sanford Health to be the director of public affairs for Bismarck and central and western North Dakota.
He had a 170-91 record in his nine seasons, leading the Marauders through a successful transition from the NAIA to NCAA Division II.
"Leaving is never easy, especially when you have created the bonds I've been able to establish over the years at U-Mary," Fridley said in the press release. "I greatly appreciate the community support for the Marauders women's basketball program. However, this tremendous opportunity to be the director of public affairs for Sanford Heath in central and western North Dakota was one I couldn't pass up."
MSU coach Sheila Green Gerding said Fridley ran his program the right way.
"I had a lot of respect for Fred," Green Gerding said. "I think he was a great coach and was always extremely professional with everything he did and always got the best out of his kids."
In 2011-12, Fridley led the Marauders to a 19-10 season and their first NCAA tournament berth.
"He definitely went out on top," Green Gerding said. "He had a great year last year and he left the cupboard full this year. I think the University of Mary is in a good situation that way."
Rick Neumann, a Mary assistant for all nine of Fridley's seasons, will serve as the acting head coach.