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

By Stephen McKay
Sports Writer 

Raiders set for home opener

 

Larry Brown / For The Sun-Telegraph

Jake Heeren plows ahead in the game at Adams Central last week. The Raiders play their first home game against Hastings at 7 p.m. on Friday.

For Sidney Red Raiders' fans, their long wait for home football is nearly over.

After beginning the season with two lopsided wins on the road, the Raiders return home in an attempt to go 3-0 for the third consecutive season. Sidney will meet the Hastings Tigers (1-1) on Friday at Weymouth Field at 7 p.m.

Adding to the opening day festivities, the Sidney Teammates Mentoring Program and Security First Bank and Insurance will be hosting a tailgate barbecue at 5:30 p.m. The barbecue will take place in the south parking lot of Sidney High School. Proceeds from the event will benefit the local Sidney Teammates chapter.

After opening up with a 41-7 win at Chadron and a 45-30 conquest at Adams Central, the Raiders again look to have a strong hand to play against the Tigers. Hastings has split its first two games with a pair of Sidney's district rivals. Hastings toppled Gering 25-15 on the road and were stymied by the Scottsbluff Bearcats, 41-0, in Hastings.

Last week the Bearcats ran 43 times against the Tigers defense while passing the ball on just three occasions. The Tigers surrendered 288 yards on the ground while all three Scottsbluff passes were complete for 133 yards.

Additionally, Scottsbluff scored on its first seven possessions - five times on the ground and twice through the air. With a talented backfield of their own, expect the Raiders to attempt a similar path to victory.

"We're going to continue to do what we do best," said Raiders head coach Chris Koozer.

What Sidney does best is run the ball. In the Raiders win over Adams Central, junior running back Alex Linneman led the rushing attack with 112 yards while Jake Heeren, Derek Robb and Hunter Secrest all exceeded 80. Linneman also topped 100 yards at Chadron on just five carries. In two games the Raiders have run for 660 yards.

Besides its talented backfield, the Sidney offensive line has been a large contributor to the Raiders offensive success. The Sidney line includes guards Patraic Hays and Dalton Schilz. The tackles are Jake Olsen and Dominic Beyer, while Cody Hofrock is at center. On the defensive line, expect Hays and Beyer to hold down the interior with Heeren and Tyler Wintholz at the ends.

While Hastings managed just 108 total yards against Scottsbluff, it has several quality athletes capable of making a big play.

"Football is a week-to-week thing and scores can be very deceiving," Koozer said. "We expect them to be a phenomenal opponent and we're going to have to play them that way. Their quarterback is a very good athlete and last week was more a credit to Scottsbluff than anything."

The Hastings quarterback is Vinny Schmidt. Despite his talent, he was unable to move the ball consistently as the line struggled to hold off the Bearcats defenders. He did, however, manage to complete nine passes in 13 attempts for 82 yards. He ended up with -18 yards rushing on 15 attempts. That was due, in part, to being sacked five times.

The leading rusher for Hastings last week was Michael Collicott, who finished with a modest 20 yards on five carries. In all, the Tigers rushing attack accounted for 26 yards on 26 carries. The receiving yardage leader for Hastings was Bryant Menke with one 20-yard reception. Sam Reimer and Josh Dycus each caught a pair of passes for a total of 15 and 19 yards respectively.

While Sidney has shown strength in its running game, quarterback Brady Radcliffe has also been solid throwing the ball. Against Chadron, the Sidney signal caller connected on seven of 15 attempts for 83 yards. Radcliffe completed 6-of-11 for 75 yards last week. Wintholz hauled in two passes at Adams Central for 40 yards. Robb pulled in another for 22 yards.

After two weeks on the road, Koozer will be making his debut on the Weymouth Field sidelines.

"It's going to be nice to be at home and have five of the next seven here," Koozer said. "I've heard it's a really fun atmosphere here and we're all looking forward to that."

 

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