ETHAN, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota High School Activities Association made the decision in July to move forward with a 2020 sports season. Much like the rest of the state, the Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan football team was ready to return to the gridiron.
“We were all excited! We were texting each other once we heard we were going to have it (a football season). We were extremely excited about that and we will keep things going and hopefully we can get through it okay and were excited about each and every day we can play football,” Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan Head Coach Jeff VanLeur said.
The Seahawks are coming off of a perfect 12-0 season, in which Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan claimed the class 11 ‘B’ state title.
“It rejuvenates you. Coming off of two seasons that left a bad taste in our mouth, it was nice to come off with a good taste. It rejuvenated them. Monday after the championship game, they were back in the weight room getting after it. It gave us a new spark and new life and it carried us through this COVID thing and into the season,” VanLeur said.
Like every team in the state, the Seahawks will not only be battling their opponents, but they’ll also be fighting against COVID-19.
“Wear a mask in busses when we travel, everyone is going to wear a mask and that type of thing. Anytime we are in close contact, not so much on the football field, but film sessions and that kind of stuff, we are masking it up. We’re checking temperatures coming into practice and telling our kids if they are running a fever, we’re taking them back. If they don’t feel good, then don’t come,” VanLeur said.
This year’s Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan team returns a total of fourteen starters from last year’s state championship team, which means the style of play will look quite similar.
“Same old Seahawk football as it seems to be working for us and what we do. Our kids know the system when they come into it. We like to throw the football and then go from there. We have been very comfortable throwing the football the past few seasons, so it’s going to be that type of season again,” VanLeur said.
The Seahawk defense allowed less than nine points per game last year and will look to continue their defensive dominance in 2020.
“That’s the one thing we always stressed and we hang our hats on our defense. The defense gets the offense into a flow and we believe that defense wins championships and whatever we can do, we do to win games. We hang our hats on defense and hopefully this year we can be solid defensively,” Jeff VanLeur said.
Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan will begin their title defense on Friday as they travel to Wagner. Kick-off is set for 7:00.