SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Roosevelt reached the 11AAA semifinals for the third straight year in 2020, but failed to advance to the state championship, following a narrow loss to Harrisburg.
The Rough Rider football team was the number one seed 11AAA playoffs last season, however a semifinal loss to Harrisburg ended their season shy of a state title game appearance.
“It’s actually been three years in a row that I thought we had a really good football team and come up short in the semis and so we’re trying to figure out a way to knock that door down and take that next step,” Roosevelt head coach Kim Nelson said. “Our seniors are all pretty together on the fact that this is going to be different and we’re going to build for the season and be ready to play our best football at the end.”
Roosevelt is now preparing for a new season, but the Rough Riders numbers will be down, following the addition of the new Jefferson High School.
“We knew it was coming. We just weren’t sure how many and who. I’m happy with the fact that almost all of our seniors stayed here and they had the option to go,” Nelson said. “That just tells me that they wanted to finish their career here and I’m happy about that.”
Roosevelt boasted one of the state’s largest rosters a year ago with more than 100 kids. This year, however, they’ll have to make some changes as they are down to 70 players.
“It’s kind of a big change for us now. We’re used to playing very few guys both ways and now we’re going to have, not necessarily guys playing full time both ways, but guys that are able to play both sides of the ball if something happens,” Nelson said.
Standout quarterback, Taylen Ashley, was one of the players to make the switch to Jefferson. However, Roosevelt has two sophomores who are battling for the new position in Jackson Brouwer and Elijah Else.
“They’re just sophomores, they just need repetition and so I’m expecting both of them to get better during the season,” Nelson said. “We haven’t picked a starter yet, but we will pretty soon. It’ll be a different guy there, but a good athlete.”
Despite the change in numbers, coach Nelson and the Rough Riders will rely on their 24 seniors.
“Our seniors are our biggest class right now and it’s a good senior class and so I think we’ll come out of the gate pretty strong, I hope. Obviously we still have some big questions to answer, but we’ve got time and it’s early.”
Roosevelt will open the season on Saturday, August 28 in the Dakota Bowl against O’Gorman. Kick-off is set for 7:30 and you can stream the game on KELOLAND.com.