Three tips: what New Rockford-Sheyenne football must do to beat North Prairie

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – Although the New Rockford-Sheyenne Rockets (5-3) could not come out of their Oct. 8 matchup against the Nelson County Chargers (8-0) with a first-round bye, they were still able to come out of the dust with a postseason matchup at home. This battle will take place against the North Prairie Cougars (5-3) on Oct. 16. There is a significant caveat, however. What is it, you might ask? The Rockets are facing off against a team that beat them, 16-6, to open the regular season on Aug. 20. 

The question, at this point, is simple – what should the Rockets emphasize to make sure they come out of this game with a win? Let’s investigate. 

1. Run, run and, you guessed it, run 

Although the Nelson County game was anything but a track meet, the Rockets’ five-game winning streak prior to the match qualified as one. During the stretch, the Rockets averaged 339 rushing yards per game. Additionally, the Rockets compiled 350 rushing yards or more in three of their five wins (366 vs. North Star, 472 @ Benson County and 415 @ TGU). 

Running the ball is New Rockford-Sheyenne’s bread and butter, and who would blame them – with Kaden Jensen at the helm, the Rockets have been able to run the ball at will. Their regular-season opener and regular-season finale matchup against North Prairie and Nelson County, respectively, might not have illustrated it, but the Rockets are formidable in that department. Stick to your strengths, right? In New Rockford-Sheyenne’s case, right. 

2. Give Connor Knatterud an opportunity to shine

The Rockets will lean on Jensen to get the job done. However, the Rockets will additionally need to utilize their youth to step up when Jensen needs assistance. Connor Knatterud can be that young spark that gifts the Rockets with an additional flavor of life. Although the sophomore is only 5’6”, the utility player has been a force. During the Rockets’ five-game winning streak, Knatterud collected eight total touchdowns (six rushing touchdowns, one defensive touchdown and one kickoff return touchdown). 

Knatterud might not be the top option for the Rockets, but he might be the most versatile. Should New Rockford-Sheyenne look to keep the defense guessing, Knatterud might be the remedy. He has shown it in more ways than one. 

3. Ride the hot hand 

New Rockford-Sheyenne might have lost some momentum, but not all of it. Even though the Rockets could not close out the regular season with a win against the Chargers, they still stuck to their game plan in running the ball. So, in terms of the rushing game, there is still momentum. There is also the defense, who collectively held the high-scoring Chargers to only 16 points. So, for the Rockets, there is still some momentum on their side. It is best for New Rockford-Sheyenne to stick to their guns during the postseason or regular season. 

Final thoughts: 

On paper, this game could go by quickly. After all, both teams will want to establish the run early and often. Both teams have shown the capability to prolong drives and maintain clock possession. Look for a similar style of play during this matchup, even if the weather is crisper than during their first matchup earlier in the season. The Rockets, however, will come through with one more deep drive. This will give the Rockets enough of a cushion to come up with the victory. 

Prediction: 26-18 New Rockford-Sheyenne