For the Roosevelt Rough Riders, last season did not end exactly the way they would have hoped. This year, they are being looked at as the clear favorite heading into the season.

It's been a busy offseason for the Riders. Quarterback Taryn Christion and offensive lineman Grant Schmidt have both made college commitments. Christion will head north to South Dakota State, while Schmidt is heading to Ohio State. Head Coach Kim Nelson says he kept in contact with his players while they thought about their decision.

"We talked about it quite a bit. Grant had a lot of interest from coaches all over the country, and Taryn was getting a lot of interest from the MAC and Wyoming and obviously D1 schools around the area. It really was their decisions and their parents."

The Riders will return a plethora of starters, including Christion and Schmidt, on the offensive side of the ball. Nelson says that has made this offseason a little easier.

"It's been really good for us offensively. We've taken some of our offensive players and had them play defense just to add to our depth. We have a lot of good talent offensively that you don't just want sitting around on the sideline when you can use them. It's given us that chance."

Defensively, the Riders have lost all but two starters from last year. Nelson says his defense is being molded.

"It's a work in progress. We have two starters back, Nathan Durfee and Dante Iron Hawk, but we have some really good athletes but they have no experience...I think we have the athletes but need to get the right combination."

When camp opened last week, Nelson took his team to Swan Lake Recreation Center. The team had two days of mandatory camp that focused on team building.

"We've never done it before, but I was a couple other schools that have. We've been looking for a place to do it and we found a right place. It's given us a great chance to be together. We spent 48 hours together focusing on nothing but football...Nobody had a cell phone or electronic device so they had to talk and do things together."

The camp was successful and Nelson says he's hoping it becomes a annual trip.

"I think the people at Swan Lake liked the way we helped out. They have invited us back and we are considering it. It would be great to make it an annual thing."

Roosevelt is being looked at as the top team in the state. Nelson says the team isn't focused on the talk.

"We don't focus on that this time of year. I think we kind of expected it with the players we have back, but nobody is talking about Lincoln and they should be good this year. I know Washington will be better, O'Gorman has a lot back. Everyone in town will be good. We just have three Division 1 players and I do think we are the top team."

Roosevelt opens the season on August 29th against Brandon Valley here on ESPN 99.1.

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