3 most important words of the week: Utah, Utah, Utah

05/21/03 Loyal Dog

Flashback:  Week 6 of the season, all who thought they knew football believed that the Utah Warriors would walk in to Rapid City and keep their undefeated season going.  The win streak that they had when they arrived lasted 2 hours and 55 minutes.  Danny Ragsdale and company, nor any Utah fans for that matter, could figure out what happened.  I tell you what happened, you just got beat Ragsdale.  Since their defeat at the hands of the Red Dogs April 19th, the Warriors have not tasted defeat since.  But then again, look at their opponents.  They beat the Billings Outlaws twice to start the year, and played the Houma Bayou Bucks, who were at the time also 2-0, a game which they easily won.  Next came the loss to the Red Dogs, and they took it out on poor Sioux Falls who was at that time having quarterback issues.  Sioux Falls seems to have worked those out a bit since, replacing Ryan Johnson with former Rapid City star “Slim 7” Casey Veenhof.  In the Warriors next game they traveled to play the Austin Rockers of the Atlantic South, and to date it is one of the highest scoring affairs with Utah having won 91-70.  Rumor has it that the Warriors had no locker room for halftime, that they had to sit on hay bales outside, and they all had to share a single port-a-potty.  That’s a rough way to treat a visiting team, as Austin found out.  In their most recent game, Utah beat the Bismarck Roughriders 63-53 this past weekend, a tough win on the road for them.  Utah has had all 3 of their bye weeks, and now must play out the remainder of the season straight through.  These are just a few things about the Utah Warriors to catch a few of those who don’t know up to speed.  I am a Rapid City Red Dogs fan, the Loyal Dog, so now we are going to talk about Rapid City. 

Our season started very nice with a win over the Wyoming Cavalry 81-60.  Then came a very low scoring, late come-from-behind victory against the Sioux Falls Storm.  Then Rapid City faltered the next two weeks, first on the road in Sioux City, the place with the famous three or four yard end zones with the curved sides.  I’m not making excuses here, just saying it is difficult for every team in the league to get a win their, even the home team who were shut out a few weeks ago at the hands of the Lincoln Capitals.  Ah yes, which brings us to game four.  Lincoln came here with a 0-2 record, and walked out with a 20 point win.  I can’t say exactly what happened here, except to say we could have played better defense, obviously.  At 2-2 Rapid City went on the road, and found a hard fought victory over the Bismarck Roughriders.  Game 6 was the most important game of the season at that point for the Red Dogs, and they responded to all of the criticism around the league by beating the Warriors by the margin of a pair of Aaron Turner field goals.  After Utah we played Wyoming in Casper, and don’t even get me started on that one.  I saw the broadcast on TV, and I was very displeased with the sportsmanship of the Cavalry players and the biased nature of the refereeing in that game.  Since that game, the Cavs have dropped three straight, and are without quarterback Matt Strand now due to a concussion that left him unconscious  for nearly four minutes.  After loosing to Wyoming, the Red Dogs had a much needed bye, their first, and we were the last team to get their first bye.  This gave us a week to heal and rest, and time for other teams to catch up to us in games played.  But as we found out, resting is never easy.

The Red Dogs had ownership problems since the beginning of the season, and they all came full circle over the next two weeks of the franchise.  Since it would be irrelevant for me to discuss all of those points, let me just point out a few things.  I believe my players and coaches when they say they weren't being paid.  However former owner Bruce Bailey issued a press statement saying the opposite.  He stated that the Red Dogs had been paid, and that all that was owed to them was payment for their next game.  So why would a team walk out of practice then?  To make a stand, that’s why.  I must say that prior to this event unfolding that I was very disappointed in our local media for their coverage of Rapid City’s only sports team.  We have no hockey, no basketball, nor any professional baseball team.  I was beginning to think that they didn’t care.  However, when the team walked out of practice they were noticed, and their story was aired on the news several night in a row.  It was this story that a particular Sturgis couple saw, and they responded by coming to the rescue of every fan in the league.  I myself am a big fanatic of this league, I love my Dogs but I love this game as well.  This game can not exist the way it is without all of the teams in the league.  There are other fans just like me across the nation, and they all supported us through our time of strife.  Enter Dr. George Jenter.  Dr. Jenter saw the story on the news, and he got in touch with Coach Magic, who was almost the entire Red Dogs front office with help from his staff, and they had a meeting that would eventually become the proudest moment in franchise history.  Just this past Friday Dr. Jenter bought the Rapid City Red Dogs and saved our season and our dreams at becoming the 2003 NIFL Champions.  The Red Dogs responded by winning a pair of back to back games versus a non-divisional opponent, the La Crosse Night Train.  This pair of wins put the Red Dogs at 6-3 on the season, second in the division behind the Utah Warriors.  This weeks game is now the most important game of the season, as is every game after this, for if we win we are a half game behind Utah in the West, and if we lose, well that just won’t happen.  So get ready Mr. Ragsdale and company.  Get ready Utah fans, for this will be a different game than the one you witnessed in the pre-season.  This one counts, we will be bringing our A game.  We will be bringing the pain.  And if all goes well, we will be bringing me.  You just don’t stand a chance if I am there.  I promise you Utah fans, I will be louder than 10,000 screaming Warrior fans.  I have never seen my team lose on the road when I have attended an away game, and it won’t happen this week either, whether I’m there or not.  At least if I’m not you have a fighting chance, so go ahead and fight.  I dare you.

A final thought:  Dr. George Jenter, from many fans in Rapid City, as well as around the league, thank you from the bottoms of our hearts.  You are our hero. 

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