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Big-play safety: LaRoche comes up big for DWU

Dakota Wesleyan's Charlie LaRoche (2) picks off a pass intended for Jamestown's Zeb Taber (30) as DWU's Mitch Johnson (24) is also in coverage during a college football game on Saturday at Joe Quintal Field. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Charlie LaRoche's two-interception game last week boils down to his experience at the safety position.

The senior safety intercepted two passes in the first half last week against the University of Jamestown. The picks helped preserve a scoreless first half for the Jimmies as the Tigers went onto win 49-12.

"Both those drives, they moved it on us and they took it like 60 yards on both of them," LaRoche said. "We needed some energy and at that time, it gave us a spark."

The Jimmies were driving into Tiger territory both times, but LaRoche came away with red-zone interceptions to keep them out of the end zone.

"The first pick that he had, he wasn't even supposed to be over there," DWU coach Ross Cimpl said. "It was just him making a play. I don't think you can put value on just experience and he's got a ton of it."

That experience has paid off for LaRoche, who has five career interceptions and 92 tackles.

"He's started for three years now and guys feel comfortable with him out there," Cimpl said. "They know where he is going to be and they know what he is going to be doing. The communication that he brings to the table is big and he just makes plays."

He made a memorable play last season with a 60-yard pick-six to put the game away in a 52-30 win over Concordia University. LaRoche credits the big-play opportunities to understanding schemes and studying the playbook.

"By knowing the playbook like the back of my hand, I can just go out there and react and play," said LaRoche, who is from Lower Brule and graduated from Lyman High School.

It's also helped the relationship with Cimpl, who works with the DWU defensive backs.

"Me and Cimpl can talk about things that, first-year players can't even see it," LaRoche said. "Scheme-wise, we are just on another level of scheming up offenses and making in-game adjustments."

National game of the Week

Saturday's No. 22 Dakota Wesleyan University (2-1) at No. 7 Doane University (2-0) game is the third installment of the NAIA Football Game of the Week. The Great Plains Athletic Conference game is at 1 p.m. in Crete, Nebraska.

Saturday's Game of the Week was chosen using a Facebook fan vote. Nominees are posted on Tuesday with the winner of the contest revealed Wednesday morning.

The other nominees this week included No. 1. Saint Francis (Indiana) at No. 23 St. Ambrose (Iowa) and No. 16 Benedictine (Kansas) at No. 19 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kansas).

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