INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Hank Biesiot and Kevin Donley are ready for a weekend coaching rumble that will span more 2,200 miles.
The two longtime, gray-haired coaches have each won 256 career games. If either, or both, gets No. 257 Saturday, they will earn a new title: NAIA career wins leader.
Round 1 takes place Saturday afternoon when Biesiot's Dickinson State Blue Hawks travel to Southern Oregon.
Round 2 begins three hours later, when Donley and St. Francis (Ind.) host Concordia (Mich.) on Homecoming Weekend.
Let the banter begin.
"We're similar enough to still be coaching and we're both past (age) 40," Biesiot said this week. "Maybe he's a little more involved with 21st Century football, while I'm still kind of stuck in the middle of the 20th Century. He's more of a man for all seasons."
Or all kinds of victories.
Biesiot and Donley have cut through vastly different paths to reach the same spot at exactly the same time— on the brink of breaking Frosty Westering's career record.
Biesiot prefers old-school smashmouth football and never had to travel outside North Dakota to find a job. He's been a fixture on the Blue Hawks sideline for the past four decades, the last 37 years as the head coach. He coached the school's baseball team for a quarter-century, from 1976-2001, and still serves as an associate professor in the school's health and physical education department where he has taught classes ranging archery to sports psychology. His two sons both graduated from Dickinson State.
Yet after making 14 NAIA playoff appearances and being inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame, Biesiot remains as down-to-earth as he was the day he took the head coaching job in 1976.
"I'm just happy it still pays the rent," he said. "I think what those guys (Westering and Donley) have in common, what makes them remarkable is their enthusiasm and love for the game of football."
Donley, in contrast, got his start at Anderson University, his alma mater, in 1978. He was the youngest head coach in the nation at 26.
Since then, Donley has led Georgetown (Ky.) to the 1991 national championship, tried his hand at NCAA Division II school California (Pa.) and turned a new football program at St. Francis into a perennial powerhouse over the last 15 years.
Two weeks ago, Donley had a chance to become the clear-cut record holder, but the distracted Cougars wound up losing 15-14 to St. Ambrose.
So after last week's bye, Biesiot forged a three-way tie atop the victory list, Donley decided to get his team's attention the best way he knows.
"I've not been real pleasant to be around this week," he said, joking. "We've pushed them awfully hard."