Red Dogs host Storm for home opener

03/30/02 Rapid City Journal

RAPID CITY - These are the kind of games that make a player's mouth water. Your archrival is coming to town, the same team that knocked you from the playoffs last season. Motivation is definitely not a problem.

That's the very thing Rapid City Red Dogs head coach Dan Maciejczak has used for motivation for his club as it readies for the Sioux Falls Storm's visit to the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center tonight.

"The biggest thing is they knocked us out of the playoffs last year," said Maciejczak, who will make his home debut as head coach of the Red Dogs after playing for the Rapid City franchise the last two seasons. "That was a big recruiting tool for getting guys back this year. Everyone has been talking about this game, and it's our first home game."

The night before last season's playoff encounter, a few of the Red Dogs players provided the Storm with a little added motivation by meeting the Sioux Falls bus as it pulled into its hotel parking lot and barking a few words at the Storm. It won't happen again, Maciejczak said.

"No, it won't," he said. "Guaranteed."

The Red Dogs will have their hands full with a Sioux Falls team that has been dominant in its first two games: a 48-20 drubbing of Bismarck on the road to open the season and a 51-31 defeat of Billings last weekend at home.

The Storm has gotten it done with a stinging defense that has 10 interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Sioux Falls opponents have averaged only 148.0 yards of total offense. Philip Wilson has six interceptions in just two games to lead the way.

Former University of Sioux Falls All-American running back David Ruter has five TDs in two games for the Storm. He's rushed 16 times for 62 yards and has six catches for 90 yards. Quarterback Ryan Aulenbacher has thrown for more than 200 yards in each of Sioux Falls' wins.

"They're sitting on top of the world," said Maciejczak. "They're 2-0, and they've beaten two good football teams."

The Red Dogs (1-1) got their first win of the season last week, a thrilling 50-49 overtime defeat of the Wyoming Cavalry in Casper. Rapid City came back from an early 14-0 deficit to knock off Wyoming.

"We were down, but the guys didn't fold," said Maciejczak. "They kept fighting back."

Casey Veenhof, who is 43 of 66 passing with seven interceptions and six TDs through two games, will again be holding the reins of the Red Dog offense. Terrance Bryant, who is back in Oregon attending to family problems, will miss his third straight game.

"His reads are great, and his hard work is going toward getting rid of the picks and stuff like that," Maciejczak said of Veenhof. "He didn't take many snaps at quarterback last year, but by playing receiver, he knows our system well."

Tom Skoog has rushed 16 times for 50 yards and four rushing scores. Third-year receiver Ryan Speed, a Sturgis native and Black Hills State graduate, has 13 catches for 183 yards and four TDs.

Game notes

Kickoff for the Red Dog-Storm game is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ... Storm receiver and kick returner Chris Gomarko is a question mark this week after being knocked out of last week's game with Billings and hauled off the field on a backboard. ... Red Dog receiver Freddy Maseman, who has 10 catches for 122 yards, is questionable this week with an ankle sprain. ... Storm defensive back Bobby Perkins, who had 20 interceptions over two seasons, has zero picks so far this year. ... Rapid City has given up three kickoff returns for touchdowns this season. Sioux Falls has a plus-10 turnover differential this season. ... Last year, the Red Dogs defeated the Storm 25-21 and 44-42 during the regular season before Sioux Falls prevailed 40-25 in the opening round of the playoffs.


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