By Doug Drowley
Special to the Seattle Times
It’s an old adage to describe old-style football: Three yards and a cloud of dust.
On today’s artificial turf fields, the dust is absent of course. But the philosophy looks to be working for the Roosevelt Rough Riders.
Roosevelt appears to have assembled a squad ready to play smash mouth in the Mountain Division of the Metro League. It’s a tough division, what with Eastside Catholic and O’Dea also residing there.
But don’t count these Rough Riders out of the mix immediately.
Roosevelt showed off some of that power running attack Saturday at Memorial Stadium in its season opener. The Rough Riders closed out the four-game set in the WIAA’s Emerald City Kickoff Classic with a 49-22 victory over Benson Tech from Portland.
“We’re not going to change our style of football,” Roosevelt coach Matt Mueting-Nelson said. “We come from Kingco 4A, where we play a big team every week. We have experience playing against guys bigger than us, more experienced than us.”
Ryan Gleeson and Jordan Forst lead a bevy of hard-running backs for Roosevelt. The seniors carried the lion’s share of the load against the Techmen, scoring five touchdowns and rushing for 292 yards combined on 24 carries.
But the run game will rely heavily on their men up front.
“It’s definitely our linemen,” Forst said. “We’re just cutting off blocks.”
“We’ll take 3 yards on every play,” said Gleeson, who had 186 yards on eight carries. “But every once in a while, we’re going to pop one.”
Against the Techmen, for instance, Gleeson broke one off for a 73-yard scoring run midway through the third quarter. That made the score 35-6, and made two late scores by Benson moot.
The Rough Riders understand the holes aren’t likely to be as large the rest of the season, once they get fully into the newly aligned Metro Mountain. But they are confident they can be successful in their new league.
“Of course,” Forst said. “They (the Roosevelt linemen) are the biggest, meanest guys around. They make the blocks and I’ll score touchdowns for them.”
Mueting-Nelson also knows his team will clean things up a little. Yes, the Rough Riders ran for 414 of their 462 total yards. But Roosevelt also had 133 penalty yards, and were flagged 18 times.
“The first game is always sloppy,” he said. “We just have so much to improve on. We don’t have 35 to 50 guys every year that have played in a ton of youth programs. Every day really counts for us.”