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

Raiders hit the road for the first of two critical district match ups


As district play enters its second week, the Sidney Red Raiders will spend another week on the road, this time to meet the Gering Bulldogs.

Gering, which lost to the Raiders 44-24 last season, will have more than revenge on its mind when it hosts the Raiders at 7 p.m. After falling to Scottsbluff last week 42-12, the Bulldogs (2-5, 0-1) can't afford to lose another district game. Especially to a team that hasn't lost. The Raiders (4-3, 1-0) opened their district season with a 52-42 thriller at Alliance last Friday.

While the Raiders are duking it out with Gering, Scottsbluff (5-2, 1-0) will be hosting Alliance (3-4, 0-1) in District B8's other matchup. Sidney will entertain Scottsbluff at Weymouth Field next week to conclude the regular season. Despite how important next week's contest with Scottsbluff COULD be, there is no doubt about the importance of this week's game.

"We're not good enough to look past anybody," said Sidney Head Coach Todd Ekart. "(Gering) has a lot of talent over there. We have to stay focused on what is right in front of us.

"Last year we were the team that was struggling and they were sitting pretty good when we beat them. We know that can happen," Ekart concluded.

What's in front of the Raiders is a Bulldog team with some talented athletes. Under center the Bulldogs send out three-year starter Dillon DeMott. Though DeMott missed three games after going down in the opener against Holdrege, he will make his fourth consecutive start on Friday. DeMott has completed 30 of 65 passes in 2013 for 231 yards.

The Dogs back up is sophomore Austin Hoffman who filled in admirably during DeMott's recovery. In a 23-20 loss to Lexington, Hoffman completed 16 passes on 25 attempts for 262 yards and three touchdowns. He has not been as effective running the ball, however, with just two yards on 13 carries.

DeMott will likely spend more time handing off the ball to running back Gage Smith than throwing down field. The senior is on the verge of a 1,000-yard season. He's already amassed 972 yards on 188 carries in seven games for a 5.17 yards-per carry average. He is clearly their go-to back as he is given the ball on 74 percent of teams carries. As a team the Bulldogs have 1,318 yards on thee ground. DeMott is second on the team in rushing yards with 115 in four games.

"They do some spread stuff with three wide receivers and often run Smith out of that," Ekart said. "Last year we had a tough time stopping him on sweeps. He did a good job of getting to the outside on us."

The leading receivers for Gering are seniors Justin Brester (26-336) and Ryan Schwartzkopf (19-268). Smith has not been used as a target out of the backfield with just one reception for one yard on the season.

When the Raiders have the ball junior running back Chance Anglin will be poised to become the second Sidney player to rush past the 1,000-yard mark this season. He needs just 21 yards to join Logan Lewis. Lewis has so far gained 1,189 yards. No doubt quarterback Lane Harvey will feed the pair often, as he has throughout the season.

In the 2012 contest, Harvey was able to complete a couple of long passes totaling 70 yards and a touchdown against the Bulldog defense. On the receiving end of both bombs was Lucas Rosenbaum.

"If we struggle running we'll be happy to roll Lane out and throw the ball," Ekart said.

But the Raiders were even more effective on the ground. Lewis ran for 257 yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns. His longest scamper was for 76 yards. Anglin added another 62 yards on just 11 carries.

"They run a 4-4 a lot like what we saw from Alliance," said Ekart of the Bulldogs defense. "But they'll bring guys in to make it look something more like a 6-2."

As is often the case, the Raiders opponents bring additional players up to the line in an effort to stop Lewis and Anglin. Sidney has been effective, at times, by throwing the ball to back defenses off.

Despite giving up 42 point at Alliance last week, the Raiders defense came through when it mattered most. There were some big plays in the fourth quarter. The front of Dylan Haas, Cody Frerichs, Tucker Wintholz and Jake Heeren helped put a stop to the bleeding late in the contest. Heeren is an especially effective pass rusher. The return of offensive and defensive lineman Jake Sager can only help.


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