SD football teams prefer run game over the air attack“Use the run to open up the pass” is a common phrase often heard in football. It may be more than a coincidence that the majority of teams playing in the South Dakota state championship games this week also go by that mantra.
By: Aaron Saunders, The Daily Republic
“Use the run to open up the pass” is a common phrase often heard in football.
It may be more than a coincidence that the majority of teams playing in the South Dakota state championship games this week also go by that mantra.
“I think the running game has to be strong here because the weather is an issue,” Colome head coach Kevin Keiser said. “In the playoffs here, you never know what you are going to get.”
The Cowboys are led by Terrance Kinzer, who has 1,420 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground this year and will face Harding County in the Class 9B championship game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Vermillion.
Winner head coach Dan Aaker, whose team has combined to run for a total of 3,492 yards this season, agreed with Keiser and said running the ball is essential to having success because of the weather.
“When the wind blows, it takes away your passing game; that’s just South Dakota weather,” he said.
While weather is a major factor in why these teams run the ball, a philosophical difference also plays a part.
There are many coaches, including Howard head coach Pat Ruml, who simply believe that in order to win football games, teams have to be able to run the ball well.
“There are a lot of state champions that have come out of the Cornbelt Confernce, and they are run teams a majority of the time,” said Ruml, whose team will be taking on Deubrook in the 9AA title game at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. “That’s not to say that it hasn’t been done. There are teams that can pass, but I think nine times out of 10 most of your coaches would say that it’s more important to run.”
However, for some coaches it’s not the weather and it is not a philosophical difference; it is just a preference or a trend.
In this era of professional football, the National Football League is seemingly becoming more and more a pass-first league and has taken guys like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers from being football greats to being football gods. The pass-first mentality has had a trickle-down effect on college football and high school football.
“That’s one of the difficulties sometimes here in South Dakota; you are not always blessed with the greatest of athletes,” Ruml said. “You might not have a quarterback that can get it out there or a wide receiver, who has good hands, but with the run game, you know what you have.”
There are teams across the state like championship contenders Harding County and Sioux Falls Washington, which are both equally adept at passing and running.
Lenny Schroeder, head coach of two-time defending state champion Canistota, which has rushed for a total of 53 touchdowns this year and recorded 2,854 yards on the ground, said that it is easier to defend pass-oriented offenses at the high school level.
“With passing teams, you only have to defend half the field because a majority of the quarterbacks can’t survey the field,” he said. “With the run game, we have to defend the whole field.”