SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Sioux Falls Roosevelt Rough Riders will host Watertown on Thursday, Oct. 29, in the quarterfinal round of the 11AAA playoffs.
Sioux Falls Roosevelt completed a perfect 7-0 season following a 44-7 win over cross town rival Sioux Falls Washington.
“Last week was good. I thought defensively we played really well. To get the ball right away and score was a good sign for our offense and we got turnovers on defense. That really helped us out,” Roosevelt coach Kim Nelson said.
The Rough Riders are scoring more than 42 points per game this season, which is the best scoring offense in class 11AAA.
“I think the offensive line is always where it starts. If you look at the success of any offense, such as Brandon Valley who has a really good offense because their offensive line is good and I like to think that we’re gonna have a good offense too and our offensive line is going to be the reason for it,” Nelson said.
Along with a talented offensive line, the Rough Riders boast one of the state’s top quarterbacks in Taylen Ashley, who is a dual threat with both his arm and his legs.
“I think he’s a very good player and a very smart decision maker and I really like the way he plays for us when he really supports his teammates,” Nelson said. “He’s not out there asking us what his stats are or can we throw the ball more, he just wants us to win, and that’s the kind of quarterback that you need is the guy that doesn’t worry about himself. He’s a distributor, a team player and Taylen has certainly been that for us all year.”
Watertown and Roosevelt met less than two weeks ago in Watertown. The Rough Riders earned a 55-14 win over the Arrows, despite the success of Watertown quarterback Kale Stevenson.
“The last time we played them, their quarterback Stevenson kind of went wild on us. We didn’t contain him very well and a lot of it was scramble plays, when they call a pass and we cover it well and then he just takes off,” Nelson said. “We need to be more disciplined in our rush lanes and make sure that we don’t run past the quarterback too far and stay at his level.”
The Rough Riders found success on the ground via running backs Joe Turay and Tyree Nave. The second time around, coach Nelson wants to try and do the same thing.
“We ran the ball really well up there and if we can do that again and keep the ball away from them and maybe score some points with our special teams or set up some touchdowns with our special teams and defense, then will have a shot,” Nelson said. “Every time you play somebody for the second time, you expect them to change some things and I certainly expect them to do some things that we haven’t seen yet.”
Thursday’s playoff contest will feature a fun match-up to watch. One of the state’s best wide receivers, Watertown’s Dawson Schmidt, will go head-to-head with Roosevelt’s defensive back Tucker Large.
Very few receivers have found success against Large this season, but very few defensive backs have found a way to slow down Schmidt.
“Their receivers are all pretty good, but the one guy they try to go to a lot, we put Tucker Large on him, and that’s kind of an even-Steven battle there. They are both pretty good athletes,” Nelson said. “We like that match up a little bit, but we can always give Tucker some help if we need to on the outside.”
The two teams will meet in the quarterfinals of the playoffs, with the winner heading to the semi-finals.
“The only thing that changes is that we talk to them about it’s a one game season, we still want to try to improve every day. We want to practice hard every day and try every chance that we get and that’s been our mantra all year. Sometimes it works but sometimes it’s hard to get them going,” Nelson said. “It’s not very hard to motivate around playoff time because you know if you lose you’re done and if you win you can play again.”
The top seeded Rough Riders will host eighth seeded Watertown on Thursday at Howard Wood Field. Kick-off is set for 6:00 p.m. and you can watch the game on KELOLAND.com as part of our high school football coverage.