The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

District play begins as Raiders travel to Alliance

 


Though six games have already been played on the high school gridiron this season, teams in District B8 open a new season, of a sort, Friday night.

For the Sidney Red Raiders, that new season begins in Alliance (3-3) as district play kicks off at 7 p.m. After their date with the Bulldogs, two more district contests will come in the weeks to follow. Sidney will keep to the road to meet the other Bulldogs in Gering on Oct. 18.

Should the Raiders (3-3) take care of business the next two weeks away from home, the meeting at Weymouth Field against Scottsbluff on Fri, Oct. 25, could have playoff implications.

But first things first.

"You can pretty much throw records out the window," Raiders Head Coach Todd Ekart said. "In the past some teams that looked pretty good before district play haven't fared very well afterwards. Other teams that haven't been strong outside the district suddenly show new life."

Sidney is coming off a tough loss at home last week to Lexington. Despite the 27-24 outcome in miserable weather, the Raiders looked like the stronger team - especially in the second half. Though the offense wasn't able to cash in on several fourth-quarter opportunities inside the red zone - Sidney moved the ball consistently.

Defensively, the Raiders were never stronger than they were in last week's second half. After the Minutemen scored a touchdown on its first possession of the third quarter, Sidney shut them completely down afterwards.

"(The loss to Lexington) was pretty rough," said Ekart. "It's been a really good week of practice. We've been really focused.

"We showed them some first half things that didn't work versus second half things that did and we've been working that out," Ekart said.

While the Raiders and Bulldogs have had to endure some unpleasant weather the past two weeks, the Friday night forecast in Alliance is good. Kickoff temperatures are expected to be in the low 50s. A morning rain should stop well before game time. How the Alliance field has recovered from a couple of weeks ago may be a factor. Lexington coach Jeff Rowan reported last week there was about a 20-yard stretch of field that was a "mud hole."

With an injury having sidelined their starting qurterback, the Bulldogs have gone to sophomore back up Baden Shelmadine. One of his favorite receivers is a freshman Brody Brennan.

"They spread the ball around but we'll have to start with their running game," Ekart said.

The main threat out of the backfield for Alliance is running back Cody Robinson. Alliance has used a couple of different fullbacks to block for Robinson and take the ball up the middle.

"They try to establish the run and take their passing game from there," said Alliance Times-Herald Managing Editor John Weare, who has covered several Bulldog games this year. "But last week they actually had more passing yards with only about six completions--but one was for about 70 yards."

The Bulldogs lost their last contest at McCook 24-6 in conditions that were much like what the Raiders endured at Weymouth. Sidney faced McCook the previous week and were stopped 17-6 in what was a tight contest much of the way.

In other common-opponent games, Holdrege defeated Alliance 22-7 at home on Sept. 20. The Raiders blew out Holdrege 44-13 on the road in the season's second game.

Both squads struggled at then second-ranked Aurora. The Huskies took out Alliance 44-13, while the Raiders let a 12-12 halftime tie devolve into a 39-12 defeat. The Bulldogs edged the Lexington Minutemen 13-8 on a sloppy field two weeks ago.

As for how the Raiders will attack the Alliance defense, they will go to what's been successful. Quarterback Lane Harvey will turn to running backs Logan Lewis and Chance Anglin much of the night. The pair have so far combined for nine 100-yard games and more than 1,800 yards rushing. Both are also capable receivers out of the backfield as is Michael Deaver. Downfield Lucas Rosebaum and Nick Conger are targets in the run-first offense.

"They've been traditionally a 3-4 defense now they will go to a 4-4 or at times what amounts to a 6-2 defense," Ekart said. "They'll stack the box just like Lexington did. We're going to have to make the blocks."

 

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