Murdoch signs, takes over at QB today for Red Dogs

04/07/02 Rapid City Journal
RAPID CITY -- Dan Maciejczak has only been head coach of the Rapid City Red Dogs for about five weeks, but he feels like he's experienced a lifetime of ups and downs during that short time.

The rookie coach has endured a last-second loss followed by an emotional overtime victory and an early season no-show from one of the team's stars. After last week's 52-40 loss to Sioux Falls, he's also watched in frustration as player after player went down with injuries.

"It means I'm losing my hair. It means my heart rate is up about 500 gigawatts," said Maciejczak, whose team will take on the Bismarck Roughriders (1-1) at 3:05 p.m. today at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

"I just got this job and I've already been in an overtime game and I've had five guys go down in one game. I'm pulling out the duct tape and bandaging everything together."

The rookie coach is stressing mostly over the wide receiver position where Maciejczak found himself shuffling a handful of players around after receiver Ryan Speed went down with a knee injury in the first quarter and backup quarterback John Carnevali and lineman Luke Klepper sprained ankles on the same play in the third quarter.

"You know it's bad when two guys go down on the same play," said Maciejczak. "It's stressful because there's nothing you can do."

With Speed sidelined for two weeks after tearing his MCL and Carnevali's ankle leaving him questionable, Maciejczak signed quarterback Jason Murdoch this week. Murdoch, who played for the University of Minnesota, was slated to be head coach at Yakima, Wash., this season before that franchise halted operations just before the season began.

Maciejczak said Murdoch, who played indoor football for the Iowa Barnstormers and Yakima Shockwave, has picked up the Red Dogs' system well enough to start this week against the Roughriders.

"In this league, a veteran quarterback saves you," said Maciejczak. "You've got to make your reads and throw it, because nobody is open for too long."

Murdoch's signing allows Casey Veenhof, who has started at quarterback the last two weeks, to move back to receiver. Freddy Maseman, who was inactive last week with an ankle injury, will suit up this week against the Roughriders.

The Roughriders enter the game sporting one of the NIFL's most punishing running attacks, led by former IFL most valuable offensive player Quentin Cradle and former Red Dog Verna Owens.

Cradle, who played arenafootball2 last season after a stellar season at running back for the Bismarck Blaze in 2000, rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns in a 39-37 defeat of River City last week. Owens totaled 47 rushing yards and two TDs.

Thus Maciejczak fully expects Bismarck, which has passed for only 75 yards in two games, to try and run the ball.

"We're going with a bigger lineup and take a chance that they're still going to try and run it," said Maciejczak. "I don't see why they wouldn't."

Another former Red Dog, cornerback Kyle Sires, returned an interception for a touchdown against River City. The Roughriders also got six sacks - three from defensive lineman Anthony Bonner - against the Renegades.

In other roster moves this week, Maciejczak signed 6-2, 210-pound safety Percy Scott, who played at Illinois State and for two years with the Peoria Pirates, and former Chadron State kicker Aaron Turner, an all-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference performer.

Scott will spell Jason McCleary, who hurt his back when he went headfirst into the boards against Sioux Falls and hasn't fully recovered. Turner will try and shore up a kicking game that has allowed four kickoff returns for touchdowns in three games.

"We're giving up too much and it's a big momentum change when you score and go back out and kick the ball off and they score right away," Maciejczak said. "Aaron is hitting the rafters on kickoffs, so his hang time is about a second longer."

Quarterback Terrance Bryant has not rejoined the team and it appears Maciej-czak's patience is wearing thin with the all-NIFL performer.

"He told me he was taking a bus and he gave me the bus route number, then he doesn't show up," said Maciejczak. "It's too the point now where I really don't care. If he shows up, he's going to have to earn his job back."

Bryant has been back in Corvallis, Ore, the last few weeks helping his girlfriend recover from a serious auto accident.

"He's a great guy, but he needs to decide what he wants to do," Maciejczak continued. "If he wants to stay out there and take care of her, that's fine, but don't hang your teammates out."

Game notes: The Los Angeles Laker girls will perform at today's game.

"The entire organization is very excited about having the Laker girls at our next game," said Red Dogs general manager Jennifer O'Neill in a press release. "We really like being able to bring great entertainment like the Laker girls to the Rapid City area for everyone to enjoy."

The cheerleaders for the NBA world champion Lakers will be available for pictures and autographs before the game. The civic center doors open at 2 p.m.


  © 2001, 2002 National Indoor Football League. NIFL, National Indoor Football League, and the NIFL logo design are registered trademarks of the National Indoor Football League. The team names, logos and uniform designs are registered trademarks of the teams indicated. No portion of this site may be reproduced without the express written permission of the National Indoor Football League The National Indoor Football League take no responsibility for third-party material appearing in any bulletin board or chat sections of this site. All rights reserved.
Privacy & legal information