When Erik Iverson took over the head coaching position for the Rapid City Central football team in 2017, he was looking to bring in a dynamic new offense to a team that essentially needed a jump start.
Heading into his third season at the helm, some of the pieces are there as the Cobblers start the season with a plethora of experience, as well as a running back that only looks to get better in senior Jeremy Weidmann.
It also helps to get a signature win in your first couple of seasons, upsetting then No. 2 Sioux Falls Roosevelt 19-18 last season..
If there is one word that can sum up coach Iverson’s thoughts with the season opener Friday night, it is optimism.
“On paper we have a lot of people returning,” he said. “I always tell the kids that every year is like having a new child and you have to parent them differently. We have a lot of people coming back, so we are pretty optimistic as far as what we can put in for offense and defense already. They have been here awhile and have got a lot of experience from last year. I guess to make long answer short, we are pretty optimistic.”
That optimism is only bolstered by a returning Weidmann, who is kicking off his senior year after spending the offseason putting on some extra weight.
But more important than his play on the field, Iverson credits Weidmann’s ability to take charge and be a leader on and off the field.
“Everybody sees what he does on Friday might, but that is just a little portion of what he actually brings to the table,” he said. “He is by far the leader of our team; he has been working real hard this offseason and has gained about 15 pounds. It doesn’t seem to have any negative effect on his speed and he is hoping to come out with a big bang this year even more so than last year. As far as the leadership you can’t replace a Weidmann. He has been getting after the guys in the offseason and making sure they are coming to workouts and doing the things they are supposed to be doing. He makes my job easy.”
Weidmann filled the stat sheet on the offensive end in every aspect in 2018, running the ball for 1,215 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also had four receiving touchdowns, threw a touchdown and returned a kickoff for a score.
“He has gotten a little bigger,” Iverson said. “He isn’t the tallest of guys, but he never comes off hurt. He has taken some real big shots and he isn’t afraid to run inside or outside. He is pretty fearless, actually. He is wanting to pack a little more of a punch, and he worked really hard this offseason to get there. So it is exciting.”
In addition to Weidmann returning, the Cobblers will also be returning 21 seniors, and some players that carry some experience and leadership traits.
A trio of seniors, including tight end Rob Weber and lineman Ethan Byrd return on the offensive end, while Aaron Iverson returns in a dual role.
Iverson is the leader on the defensive end at linebacker, while Byrd will lead the team’s offensive line. Coach Iverson believes the team is in a much better position than last year with so many experienced players returning.
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“We have something like nine guys coming back on offense, so we should be able to do more than we did last year and surprise some people,” he added.
On top of so many experienced players returning, that optimism is also reinforced by the big win over Roosevelt last season.
Although the Cobblers had a bit of a shaky start and trailed 18-0 at the half, they reeled off 19 straight in the last two quarters to pick up the big upset win.
Iverson said it was special for a few different reasons.
“For me it was a little extra special because the coach on the other side was my head coach in high school,” he said. “Not only that, they were the number two team in the state at the time and as far as what it did for the program, I can attribute at least five guys who didn’t play last year and should’ve played and that win convinced them that we know what we are doing. So they’re coming back and they are really going to help. I think it was a game changer in a lot of ways. We go into every game thinking we can win, but nobody expected us to. It was just the right combination of a lot of different things happening that night.”
With that signature win, Central can look towards topping that this season. Iverson feels as though the team is making big strides toward getting where it wants to be and getting to where he wanted the team to be at this point.
He stressed that it starts with playing their brand of football.
“We know that we aren’t going to be the biggest or strongest, but we generally have some speed so we try to utilize that and make the game shorter,” he said. “We want to have longer drives so our defense isn’t on the field as much. It is kind of a grind it out sort of offense. We started to do that a little bit and as we go there are more and more things we can add to it.
We feel like we have our offense down to a point where we can start adding things and being more multi-faceted. I am pleased with where we are at right now and we have enough variations to keep the other teams off balance and I’m optimistic that it is going to be a good year.”
With the offseason coming to an end, Iverson and the Central players are just looking to get back on the field as soon as possible.
They won’t have to wait long as the Cobblers kick off the season at home Friday when they host Harrisburg.
“We are just getting ready to go,” Iverson said. “The offseason seems like it is taking forever to get to this point. I know the seniors on this group are chomping at the bit to officially get started.”