Raiders ready, eager to begin season: Richardton-Taylor-Hebron enters with plethora of returners
The Richardton-Taylor-Hebron football team had a welcoming return to 9-man.
RTH head coach Travis Olson said the team is still reaping the benefits of playing 11-man. In Olson’s mind, three of the Raiders’ opponents — Hazen, Killdeer and Heart River — at Class 1A, Region 4 were three of the top teams in the state.
“It definitely didn’t hurt anything and we looked back on those two years in 11-man and some people might have thought we weren’t a real good football team, but you take a look at the region that year,” said Olson, who is in his 16th season as the Raiders head coach. “Killdeer, Hazen and Heart River beat each other and then one of them goes on to win a state championship. You are playing three teams that were probably three of the best teams in the state. We were playing some very high caliber high school football. It didn’t hurt us, but we feel that we belong in 9-man football a little bit more.”
Not only did the Raiders equal its win total from the previous two seasons, but they averaged 35.6 points per game and allowed 19.7. RTH opened the season with a 1-1 record, but responded with a five-game win streak. Grant County-Flasher ended the Raiders win streak with a 20-6 victory.
Despite the goals of reaching the playoffs again, Olson said the Raiders can’t look too far into the future.
“We want to win a game a week,” Olson said with laugh. “The goal is that we are playing the biggest game of the week every week. We want to come out, play the best football we can and hopefully come out with a W. If we get into the playoffs, we want to be a more seasoned and veteran team. Then anything can happen.”
The Raiders have a wealth of returners including their main running backs — senior Jaden Schmidt and junior Denver Colgrove.
During the 2013 regular season, RTH rushed for 2,980 yards. Schmidt and Colgrove combined for 1,938 yards and 25 touchdowns. Colgrove will not only spend time at running back but at fullback as well, after Lane Aune — who ended his high school career with the 9-man West Team at the Shrine Bowl — graduated. RTH lineman Logan Lacher also played in the Shrine Bowl as the 9-man West Team defeated the 9-man East Team 48-14.
“They will pretty much be our go-to guys,” Olson said. “We are going to rotate (fullbacks). It just depends on what set we are in. Denver is definitely someone that we will look at there. We got a couple sophomores too that we are going to look at, if Denver is running back or Jaden is split to the outside.”
The one position up for grabs is quarterback, as two-year starter Lane Voltz graduated. The two players vying for the position is senior Jacob Kuntz and sophomore Brendan Butterfield. The players responsible for catching passes from either quarterback are senior tight end Spencer Floberg and senior wide receiver Cory Rebel.
Olson is pleased with how all the players have entered the season — focused, physically fit and ready to go.
“The older kids came in pretty well prepared,” Olson said. “I was really pleased. Some of them went to three camps this summer, then a lot of basketball too. They kept active and kept their minds on the game.
“It means that they are capable of dedicating themselves over the summer to the program, it sets your mind at ease that they are going to dedicate themselves during the season. For them to make commitments like that, we are real pleased.”
The Raiders open the season traveling to Mott-Regent at 7 p.m. Aug. 26 and then turn around to host Shiloh Christian on Aug. 30.
Though Olson doesn’t like the idea of playing a pair of games in a four-day span, he said it’s probably the best opinion early on in the season.
“I don’t know if there’s a better way to do it,” he said. “Do I love it? No, but it’s better to play too early then to have a Tuesday game in the middle of the season? I think it is, because your kids are healthier at the beginning of the year. Instead of piling on a Friday-Tuesday-Friday schedule in the middle of the season, I’d rather do it this way.”
Head coach: Travis Olson (16th season)
Last season: 7-3 (lost in the first round of the playoffs to Divide County 34-20)
Returning starters: Jaden Schmidt, Sr., RB, LB; Denver Colgrove, Jr., RB/FB/LB; Cory Rebel, Sr., WR/DB; Spencer Floberg, Sr., TE/DL; Jacob Kuntz, Sr., QB/DB.
Returning letterwinners: Brendan Butterfield, QB/DB.
Losses: Lane Voltz, QB/DB; Lane Aune, FB/LB; Logan Lacher, OL/DL.