Bite far worse than bark

03/21/03 A loyal Red Dog fan

Twenty-eight yards in width.  Fifty yards long.  What are these dimensions?  Some would answer that they are the dimensions of an indoor football field.  However, if you ask any true Rapid City Red Dogs fan they would have to say that they were all the numbers that Wyoming Cavalry running back Anthony “Showtime” Simmons could produce.  One 50 yard return on a kickoff is the only TD that Simmons got to add to his stats Sunday night as the Red Dogs crushed in the season expectations of their number one rival, the Cavalry.  He was, however, only able to rush less than half the distance from one sideline to the other.  Although he did do plenty of lateral running, only the forward ones mattered, where he was always met by an onslaught of Dogs.  He managed only 11 yards on 6 attempts.  Yes, the Dogs finally found a way to contain the main threat of the Cavalry, with a “Dog Pile”.

Why, as a loyal Red Dogs Fan, do I make such a big deal out of  “Showtime”?  Because from watching him play, and I have seen every game he has played against the Dogs, home or away, he is by far their main threat.  If, as a team, you do not contain him to minimal yards, than you can very easily lose a lead and eventually the whole game.  It has been in the past displayed by the Red Dogs that they knew this,  the won a very close overtime game in Casper and blew them away here in Rapid City last season, but they never contained him as well as they did on Sunday.  Improvements have defiantly been made in the mostly all new  defense of the Red Dogs.  Well done Coach Maciejczak, awesomely well done.

When the final whistle blew the score read Red Dogs 81-60 over the Cavalry.  Yet between the first and last tweet of the officiating crew, so much more had happened.  The most eagerly anticipated return  in the history of  the Red Dogs came right away, as Rapid City won the toss.  After the opening kickoff, he finally stepped onto the field.  Lining up under center, he barked the signal.  The ball was snapped, and the Terrance Bryant show commenced.  After a one year hiatus the former NIFL Most Valuable Player showed us all that he hasn’t missed a step.  More importantly, he sent a loud message to all defenses that he was back.  Terrance went 21-27 for 265 yards through the air with no interceptions and four TD’s.  Oh yeah, did I mention he also rushed for 24 yards and also scored a 6 yard TD of his own on the ground.  He resembled an indoor McNabb as he scrambled for yardage and completions, and made the Cavalry “D” resemble the Cincinnati Bangles in the season opener for both teams.

Although the Dogs won this one, I have to respect the 60 points that Wyoming managed to score.  Perhaps the Rapid City defense was so focused on packaging Simmons into a little ball to save space on the bus ride home for the Cavalry that they didn’t pay close enough attention to the second year QB Matt Strand.  Strand picked the secondary for completions, finishing only 16 of 29 with three interceptions, but managed eight TD’s.  That only goes to show its not how many times you let it fly, but who's hands you put it in.  Had he managed to put those three interceptions in the hands of his receiving squad or even on the ground, we would have had a totally different game.  Strand also finished second in rushing for his team with two attempts for an amazing 21 yards.  That, my friends, is good hustle. 

I expect a totally new game when the Red Dogs take that trip to Casper on the 27th of April, but I don’t figure the total points scored in the game to change unless either team can resolve some issues.  For Rapid City, one issue would be to try to spread the defense around on the offensive threats a little more evenly.  However, that is not always easy with every team being different and composed of multiple threats.  Wyoming would need to work on Matt Strands color blind problem.  Hey Matt, one team is in white, the other is in a darker color.  (Just a little FYI.) 

All in all, after having personally witnessed one of the highest scoring games in many years, I’d have to say it is hard not to be a fan of the NIFL.  Two teams combined for 161 points, 65 of those in the final 15 minutes of play.  For those of you bad at math, that equals 1 point every 13.8 seconds.  It’s a good thing most concession stands close after the third quarter, because no one will probably ever leave their seat after a fourth quarter display like that.  Rapid City outscored the Cavalry 33-32 in that quarter, so it only counted  as a one point difference for the Red Dogs, but against a team with as much potential as Wyoming, you take everything that you can get. 

Next week the Red Dogs play host to the Sioux Falls Storm, and if you live in Rapid City you know how we really dislike a Storm in March.  I look for the Red Dogs to crank up the heat in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center around 5pm next Sunday, right after the Storm comes out of hiding.  My prediction:  we have to use Doppler Radar to see anything this Storm has to offer.  It’ll be another high scoring game I’m sure, but we will probably have to let them score too.  This Storm will blow away to the east, very cold, lonely, and defeated, as Sioux Falls loses 84-56.

A final note:  It just so happens that I’m a Red Dogs fan, if you didn’t know.


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