Sioux Falls, SD
The defending AA State Champions will look quite different when they take the field for the 1st time on August 24th against Aberdeen Central. 10 starters on defense and seven on offense are gone from last years title team, but that doesn't mean they're not optimistic.
"This is the fun part. You get to put together a team. You try to get guys in the right spot and try to get them to improve from last year and you try to get them to fit the pegs that you need," Roosevelt Head Coach Kim Nelson said.
"We have a lot of young guys, so we have to regroup, but we have a lot of talent so we're excited," Roosevelt Senior John Wessel said.
The Riders will look to replace nearly all of their skill players from a season ago. Mikal Smith returns in the backfield, and Sophomore Taryn Smith is expected to take the reigns under center. Without much experience, and only 11 days until kickoff, time is of the essence.
"We don't have enough time. We need another two weeks or so before we play but everybody is in the same boat, so we're not going to be at our best early in the season, but nobody else will be either," Nelson said.
What the Riders lack in experience though, they've tried to make up for in effort. An intensive off-season program is something senior defensive end John Wessel hopes will help make the transtion that much smoother.
"That's the difference. The time you put in in the offseason. That's where championships are won. People know what they're doing then and it makes it easier," Wessel said.
And even though the names in the programs will be different, the Cardinal and Gold is still the same, and so is the pressure that comes with it.
"We're still the state champs until somebody knocks us off and we need to play like it and it gives us a chance to try and understand how the bar has to be to get there and we know what we're shooting for now," Nelson said.