Roosevelt has made it to the season finale undefeated. Now they can officially get ready for Washington.
Those two teams have been the class of 11AAA football all season, but the Rough Riders needed to get past Rapid City Central in the penultimate game of the regular season first. They did so Friday night in front of a sparse crowd at windy Howard Wood Field, securing a 54-28 win over the Cobblers.
Roosevelt led 34-0 at halftime, rushed for 240 yards and threw for 252. Their starting defense was on point, and the Riders didn’t make too many glaring mistakes. In other words, there wasn’t much for Roosevelt coach Kim Nelson to complain about.
Torren Devericks threw for 209 yards and four touchdowns, and Nathan Varns scored four times – three through the air and once on the ground. Varns caught five passes for 143 yards, and dropped an easy ball in the end zone that could’ve given him a fourth scoring catch.
“They basically filled up the box and made us throw the ball and I love to throw the ball,” said Nelson, whose team moves to 8-0. “Torren played well and our receivers did a good job blocking for each other. I felt like when we had to run it we did, so overall pretty happy.”
The Riders took the wind to start the game, and that decision immediately paid off. The Cobblers couldn’t get going on offense, and they were unable to get off a decent punt into the fierce wind.
That allowed Roosevelt to score on first quarter drives of three, three and two plays.
“Whenever we can take the wind we will,” Nelson said. “It’s just such a game-changer when you can make them punt into the wind. When we had it at our back we got some good field position, got some scores to get a lead and that made it tough for them to come back.”
Tyson Jahn ran for 148 yards and two scores for the Riders, while Austin Johnson caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. Backup quarterback Brady Dannenbring threw a touchdown pass to Jhett Vaughn, but the Rider reserves on defense had a tough time with the Cobblers offense.
Central quarterback Kailleb Walton-Blanden was 0-for-10 passing in the first half, thanks in part to not getting much help from his receivers, but the junior signal-caller made big plays in the second half, finishing with 183 yards and two touchdowns rushing and completing 7-of-10 throws for 131 yards and two scores in the second half. Xander Knudtson and Jordan Ladson each had touchdown catches.
“I was impressed with him,” Nelson said of the Cobbler quarterback. “He’s a real good player and they do some good stuff on offense to take advantage of his skills.”
Those late scores actually cut a 40-0 lead to 47-28, and Nelson sent his offensive starter back in to put the game away, with Varn going 25 yards for a score on an end around.
So now the Riders prepare for the Warriors in a battle of unbeatens. The result won’t impact the path through the playoffs for either, but that doesn’t mean it’s meaningless.
“It’s a huge game for bragging rights but that’s about it,” said Nelson, who coached Rapid City Central and Washington earlier in his career. “It’s for pride but we have a lot of pride, so we’re gonna play hard and try to win. But no matter what happens we’ll be ready for the playoffs.”
Follow Matt Zimmer on Twitter at @ArgusMattZ .