Grismer, Brinkman deliver on Riders' line

Consistency on the offensive line is a must for any successful football team.

But while you won't find stability on any stat sheet, that is exactly what linemen Jamie Grismer and Grant Brinkman have delivered that to the Bismarck Roughriders this season.

"If it's not getting done on the offensive line, it's not going to get done. Our line has been getting it done," said Bismarck head coach Collins Sanders. "We give a lot of praise to the offensive line because they're out there working as hard as -- if not harder than -- anybody out there."

Grismer and Brinkman are the guards for the Roughriders, and the bookends of the Bismarck offensive line have given the improved Roughrider offense almost all the protection it needs.

"We linemen take a lot of pride in what we've done because we know the core of any good offense is going to be the line," Brinkman said. "If the line's doing well, the rest of the offense is going to be that much better."

The addition of quarterback Danny Ragsdale has bolstered the offensive attack -- doubling the team's output in points and yards per game.

But the current signal-caller is more mobile than the Riders' previous three quarterbacks -- Kirk Anderson, David Bertucci and Jason Baliko -- causing a little more work for the offensive line.

Not that the linemen aren't up to the task.

"It really lengthens the time of your blocks because you don't know how long he's going to be up back there," Grismer said. "You have to hold your blocks longer, and that makes you a better lineman."

This is Grismer's third year of indoor football, after playing with the Detroit Fury of the Arena Football League last year and the Bismarck Blaze in 2000. Sanders said Grismer's not a vocal leader for Bismarck, but the lineman definitely sets an example with his play.

"He's a quiet leader that just goes out and does a great job," Sanders said. "We're fortunate to have him because I think he's got a great shot at moving up to the next level next year."

Grismer said that he leaves the vocal leadership role up to the quarterbacks -- and Ragsdale is a prime example of an outspoken leader in the huddle.

"I've never been a big rah-rah guy because that's just not my style," Grismer said. "(Ragsdale) brings that to this team. He's a quarterback that's a great leader that goes in there and takes charge. It's a lot more fun to play for that kind of quarterback."

This is Brinkman's first season playing the indoor game. The rookie lineman said being able to see an experienced lineman like Grismer at work on a daily basis has helped Brinkman's adjustment to the indoor game.

"I've learned a lot about this game just by watching (Grismer)," Brinkman said. "I think I've improved a lot and I get a lot more comfortable out there every game."

Grismer said that Brinkman has been improving each week, and has been eager to do what it takes to learn the ins and outs of the indoor game.

"He's a big kid that's a great athlete and he just keeps getting better and better every game," Grismer said. "He's caught on quick and he does a lot of good things out there."

Bismarck goes up against the Billings Outlaws at 7:35 p.m. today at the Bismarck Civic Center.

The teams last met June 8, where the Roughriders won 67-52 -- and the offensive line played a key role as Bismarck racked up four rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Three of those were by A.J. Street.

The Roughriders have taken two of three meetings against the Outlaws this season, and Grismer said that the contests are beginning to get the feeling of a rivalry.

"It's almost like a rivalry game because they're a team we want to beat more than anybody," Grismer said. "We feel like we're the better team and we want to go out and prove something. We know we can beat them because we've beaten them before.

"It's just a matter of beating them again," he added.

If the Roughriders beat the Outlaws again, Bismarck would clinch first place in the Pacific West Division.

A Billings win would all but clinch the division title for the Outlaws, as Billings finishes the season against 1-10 LaCrosse. Bismarck finishes against 2-10 Wyoming.

If the teams finish tied at 10-4, the Roughriders will have the tiebreaker advantage due to better divisional record, regardless of the outcome of tonight's game.

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