SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The annual Dakota Bowl returns on Saturday and for the second straight year, it will be played at McEneaney Field and feature Roosevelt against O’Gorman.
UPDATE: The Dakota Bowl has been moved from Saturday, August 28 to Monday, August 30 at 4:00 p.m. You can still stream the game on KELOLAND.com.
Roosevelt and coach Kim Nelson are preparing for their first game of the season.
“The first game, you never feel like you’re ready and I wish we had another month to prepare, but we don’t. Everybody is in the same boat, but it’s gone pretty well,” Roosevelt head coach Kim Nelson said.
The Rough Riders will face O’Gorman in the Dakota Bowl on Saturday. When the two teams met in the same game last year, Roosevelt earned a 48-0, blowout win.
“I don’t expect to jump out ahead like we did last year. I don’t expect to get the breaks that we got last year. It’s going to be a completely different game and so we need to be ready for four quarters of football,” Nelson said.
Roosevelt has been forced to adjust this offseason as their overall numbers dropped more than 30 players from last year’s roster, due to the addition of the new Jefferson High School.
“It’s been an adjustment for our coaches and our players a little bit, but our players always seem to handle it better than we do,” Nelson said. “We’ve had a really good offseason. Our guys had a great summer in the weight room and at camps and we’re really excited to play a game finally.”
Despite their drop in players, Roosevelt still returns plenty of talent including three returning starters on the offensive line.
“Hopefully it’ll give our quarterback time to throw and it’ll give our running backs room to run. We do have some talented running backs on our team and some pretty good skill guys. We just don’t have experience,” Nelson said. “It’s really nice to have the ability to have some holes, maybe have some room to run. I hope I’m right about that.”
O’Gorman is coming off a quarterfinal exit in the 11AAA playoffs a year ago and they’ll have a tough test to open their 2021 season.
“Coach Nelson and Roosevelt are always a perennial powerhouse in AAA football in South Dakota. They’re always well-coached, great athleticism and you’re still going to see that this year,” O’Gorman head coach Jayson Poppinga said. “They’re size, we don’t match well up front and the good thing about playing great opponents is that they usually expose your weaknesses and expose where you need to work on improving.”
The Knights have been focusing on filling some gaps from last year’s team as they have just three returning starters on offense.
“We’ve got a lot of seniors that have really stepped up this year and have had great fall camps and great summers,” Poppinga said. “We feel confident in the guys that are filling those spots, but obviously, until you get out on the field and play against real competition, it’s a really unknown.”
Unlike their offense, the OG defense returns six starters including a solid core of linebackers and all-state defensive end, David Alpers.
“Our defense is going to have to play well and you know, not give up 48 points like we did last year in the Dakota Bowl, in order for us to be competitive,” Poppinga said. “We don’t know if we can play games that are going to shootout 30-40 wins games for us.”
Both teams will be starting a new man under center. O’Gorman’s Bennett Dannenbring and Roosevelt’s Jackson Brouwer will make their first starts as varsity quarterback.
“Your quarterback, you just want him to feel comfortable and the more comfortable he is back there, the better he is going to perform and I think that’s going to be a true test for both of them,” Poppinga said. “Roosevelt is starting a sophomore and us, a junior who hasn’t been part of our program before this year. I mean, two inexperienced guys, so whichever team kind of settles down first is obviously going to have the advantage.”
The Knights and Rough Riders will cross paths on Saturday night at McEneaney Field. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. and you can stream the game on KELOLAND.com.