The Hill City Rangers must be feeling pretty confident and ready to take on other teams they are facing this season with two wins under their belt. They first knocked off Newell 60-7, and on Sept. 1 they beat Edgemont 46-8. Both times the team came out strong and looked like a championship-winning football team rather than a team of 10 freshman and sophomores that take up a lot of starting positions. Twelve of the players this year have played on the Varsity team before. There are 23 guys on the team this year; eight returning starters are on the team this year.
Head coach Chad Ronish said there is a lot of experience on the team though.
A big difference this year from previous years is there is a more improved defense. The players are able to get stops and get the offense back out on the field.
Ronish said the team has really worked hard on improving the defense over the last couple of years.
“Over the summer I think we worked on it and I think our defense is better than what it has been,” Ronish said.
He is surprised at how quick the offensive line has come together. Every one of them is a first-year starter.
The performance from running backs is what the coaches expected because Ronish said they are all really talented.
“We just have to figure out how to get them out in open space,” Ronish said.
On Sept. 8 the Rangers play at home against Wall and then they play against Lyman on Sept. 15 at home for their Homecoming game.
“They’re two of the tougher teams we are going to face all season,” Ronish said.
He said it is usually hard to tell how their season is going to go because small schools change so much year to year. There could be some really talented group of guys on a team that could change the entire dynamic of the region.
According to Ronish, Wall will be a big test for the team.
“I’m feeling good. I’m where I hoped we would be,” Ronish said.
He said the players are learning what they need to do on the offensive line and the backs are developing well.
“I’m excited about the Wall game and Lyman is going to be a big home game for us,” Ronish said.
If the team comes out well from those two games Ronish said they are set up to have a pretty solid season.The rivalry with Philip is supposed to be ignited this year again too.
He said their goal as a team is to be competitive every weekend.
“I think we’re doing that. That’s the key,” Ronish said. “The wins either happen or they don’t.”
This year the football team was able to purchase a gauntlet sled with the help of a grant as well as assistance from the school district and Rushmore Forest Products.
“We use it every week and we are giving those running backs a lot of really quality reps running against some resistance that way,” Ronish said.
He said that has been huge for the team this year.
Although the team is just getting started, things are already looking up. There will also be a lot of potential to do well again next year if this year doesn’t reap the results everyone wants, as there are only three seniors on the team.