WASHINGTON (6-1) vs. RAPID CITY STEVENS (2-5)
WHEN/WHERE: 5 p.m. Friday at Howard Wood Field
ONLINE: Live stream at ArgusLeader.com
COACHES: Washington — Chad Stadem (third year with Warriors; 83-43); RC Stevens — Scott Hagen (third year with Raiders; 99-70)
SEASON TO DATE: No team in ‘11AAA’ is as hot as the Warriors, who have won five straight and reached first in the sportswriter’s poll for the first time this season. Washington has outscored its last three opponents — winless RC Central, ‘11AA’ top-ranked Pierre and 1-6 Watertown — by a margin of 156 to 14. The Raiders, meanwhile, have struggled overall with a 2-5 record but have had particular difficulty against Sioux Falls metro squads. RCS losses to Lincoln, Brandon Valley, Roosevelt and O’Gorman — all four ranked squads — have been lopsided.
BIG PLAYS ABOUND: In seven games, the Warriors stood in their own way once: In a mistake-laden 21-10 loss to Lincoln in the second week of the season. Outside of that blip, they’ve scored at least 31 points in every game and exceeded 40 points in four of the past five weeks (the outlier being a 39-23 over No. 4 O’Gorman). Washington has done it with relentless blocking up front, a versatile rushing attack that includes Chayden Fitzsimmons, Josh Thomas and quarterback Jack Schelhaas, and an opportunistic passing attack led by the senior signal-caller and a bevy of receiving targets. Washington’s emphatic wins also have allowed the team to rest starters and give way to backups in the third quarter.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Next week’s showdown with Roosevelt looms for the Warriors, who are simply too deep and talented for Stevens to put up much of a fight against. Last Friday, the Raiders struggled with O’Gorman’s speed in a 47-7 loss at home. This Friday, the Raiders likely struggle with Washington’s speed and superior size. It’s hard not to imagine Washington reserves making their entrance before the third quarter runs out.