Riders linebacker tough, no matter what you call him

07/15/02 Bismarck Tribune

The only thing harder than stopping Bismarck Roughriders linebacker Danielle Rollins Kendell is, apparently, getting his name right.

People have messed it up in a dizzying number of permutations. They misspell any or all of his three names. They mix up the order. They stick in hyphens. Rollins Kendell's name is wrong on the list of NIFL all-stars. It's wrong on the rosters the Roughriders hand out at games. It's even wrong on the back of his jersey -- and wrong in different ways in each place.

"I get no respect," he said, laughing.

But his play certainly does. Rollins Kendell was chosen by the coaches as the Pacific West Division's top linebacker and has been one of the main reasons a Bismarck defense that has endured its share of struggles has stiffened of late.

Rollins Kendell will have to play a key role again if the Roughriders are to beat the Omaha Beef in tonight's Pacific Conference semfinal at the Bismarck Civic Center.

Rollins Kendell tops Bismarck with 114 tackles and is among the league leaders in that category as well as in fumble recoveries (3) and tackles for loss (16), a category otherwise dominated by defensive linemen.

From the start of the season it was apparent that Rollins Kendell had what it takes to be a special player, and coach Collins Sanders has frequently said that he is one of the Roughriders' with the most potential to move up the football food chain.

"Danielle has what it takes," Sanders said. "He's got that combination of speed and strength."

Rollins Kendell had an outstanding college career at Arkansas-Monticello, a Division II school. As a senior he was a finalist for the Harlan Hill Trophy, the Division II player of the year award, and was one of just two defensive players on that list. He ended up leading all Division II schools with an average of 13.7 tackles per game his final year, recording as many as 27 stops in a game.

But Rollins Kendell figured his playing career ended with his college eligibility. He was working toward finishing up his degree when his fiancee, Lisa, pointed him toward the NIFL. Rollins Kendell figured he could continue his education in Bismarck while still giving football one more shot.

Though Rollins Kendell showed big-play capability right away, he said that the indoor game took some getting used to.

"Hoo, that first game I thought I was on the freeway," he said. "Everything was moving so much faster. It was a big adjustment."

Bismarck's defense has taken some heat this year and for good reason: Despite an 11-3 record, the Roughriders finished dead last in total yards allowed (265.9) and passing yards allowed (208.3) and 17th out of 21 teams in points surrendered.

But despite those numbers, the front four has been solid all year, and the defense as a whole has distinguished itself in four of the last five games.

The Roughriders held Rapid City scoreless in the fourth quarter of a 66-58 road win, came up with a terrific goal line stand in a 67-52 win over Billings, then shackled the potent Outlaws' offense in a 48-20 division-clinching win. Finally Bismarck came up with a couple key turnovers and defensive stops in a 37-34 win over Wyoming when the offense was without its three top players.

"We're really starting to come together as a unit," Rollins Kendell said. "... We've got a lot of confidence now."

And Rollins Kendell is confident that improved play will carry over into tonight's game with Omaha.

"We've got to come right out and take over the game," Rollins Kendell said. "We need to let them know we mean business and hit them right in the mouth."


  © 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