Red Dogs take 0-1 record to Casper, Wyo.
03/21/02 Rapid City Journal
The Rapid City Red Dogs hope to post their first win of the 2002 National Indoor Football League season tonight, but the team has to take to the road again in search of a "W."
Rapid City takes on Western Division rival Wyoming tonight at Casper, Wyo. The game is the season opener for the Cavalry.
Wyoming returns seven players from last year's team, which played Sioux Falls in the Western Conference finals and lost to the Storm. Beyond that, Red Dog coach Dan Maciejczak knows little about the Cavalry.
"They have a lot of new personnel," said Maciejczak. "But everything should be basically the same, just different players."
Cavalry running backs Anthony Simmons and Aldwin Lance and lineman Ted Aden are back on offense. Returning on defense are linemen Fou Mamea and Marlin Glaspy, linebacker Larry Wilson and defensive back Nkrumah Hatten.
Another defensive stopper, lineman Bear Barley, is back after a year away from the Casper-based franchise.
The Cavalry also have some faces familiar to the Red Dogs and Black Hills area fans.
Former Red Dogs Thaddeus Varriance and Solomon Witherspoon are playing for Wyoming. Troy Lowry, a defensive lineman from Black Hills State, and Chadron State quarterback Matt Strand are among several area college players on the Cavalry roster.
Strand, who threw for 2,406 yards, 19 TDs and eight interceptions while leading Chadron State into the NCAA Division II playoffs, is expected to start at quarterback for Wyoming tonight.
The Red Dogs (0-1) dropped a last-second 42-39 decision to the Billings Outlaws in their season opener last Friday at the Billings Metra. Outlaw quarterback Albert Higgs threw a game-winning TD pass to Jason Quinn with 1:56 left in the game.
Despite the loss, Maciejczak was pleased with his team's performance, especially since two-year starter Terrance Bryant was a last-minute scratch from the Rapid City lineup as he had to return to Corvallis, Ore., after his girlfriend was involved in a serious car accident.
"This is my third year here," said Maciejczak, noting that his team hadn't practiced on a regular NIFL field prior to taking on Billings, "and this was our best production in the first game.
"We have stuff we can work on and fix, but we have a lot of guys back and they're leaders."
Maciejczak said Bryant will be out against Wyoming, but he expects the Oregon State product back for the team's home opener against the Sioux Falls Storm on March 30.
Former University of Texas-El Paso quarterback John Caronelli was signed this week to backup starter Casey Veenhof.
Maciejczak also added two coaches to his staff. Eric Rice, who played for the Red Dogs last season, was named defensive coordinator last week and Mike Esposito joined the team as the offensive and defensive line and special teams coach.