Riders hope to sink teeth into Beef

07/08/02 Bismarck Tribune

The Bismarck Roughriders got what they wanted for the first round of the NIFL playoffs -- fresh meat.

It's not that the Omaha Beef, whom the Riders will play host to on July 15, present any less of a challenge than their other potential opponents, Lincoln or Billings. It's just the novelty of facing a different team is a bit more appealing than locking up with the Capitols for a third time or the Outlaws for a fifth time.

"If you play a team enough times, you're bound to stub your toe," Bismarck coach Collins Sanders said.

The Beef (9-5) qualified for the playoffs by ripping the Oklahoma Crude 80-12 on Saturday.

The Crude (1-13) was down to just 12 players for the game and the score reportedly could have been much worse if Omaha didn't call off the dogs late in the game.

Like the Roughriders (11-3), Omaha has received a jolt from the return of a quarterback. Troy Travis, who had won the IPFL most valuable player award for the Beef last year, got hurt in the season opener. Since his return Travis is 5-1 as a starter.

The Beef also has a strong running game, led by Clinton Childs.

"He's a physical, tough running ball player," Sanders said. "(Travis and Childs) are the two names you hear a lot about, but I'm sure they have some quality lineman as well."

The defense is led by Dwayne Harris, who according to the NIFL Web site, has been credited with an eye-popping 19 sacks and 41 tackles for loss. Both lead the league.

To put that in perspective, Bismarck's Nikia Parson, who has had a very good year, has 16 and 10, both of which put him among the league leaders.

Aside from Bismarck-Omaha, the other first-round playoff games will be Billings (10-4) at Lincoln (10-4), Louisiana (8-6) at Lake Charles (13-1) and Tennessee (10-4) at Ohio Valley (12-2).

* NOTES: Roughriders offensive lineman Grant Brinkmann broke his hand and is questionable for the Omaha game. His availability will likely depend on whether he has to have surgery. ... The Beef has been much better at home (7-0) than on the road (2-5).

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