Harrisburg and Brandon Valley meet in a rematch for the 11AAA State Championship

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’ll be a rematch of last year’s 11AAA State Championship this weekend as top-seeded Harrisburg and second-seeded Brandon Valley cross paths in the DakotaDome.

Brandon Valley earned a 35-14 win over Harrisburg in last year’s state championship. That loss fueled Harrisburg to make it right back to this year’s title game with an undefeated 11-0 record.

“We kind of stuck that in the back of our mind and all off season, it was kind of what we were working for was getting back to the dome,” Harrisburg quarterback Jacob Knuth said. “It’s a great feeling to have that accomplished.”

Harrisburg is in their second consecutive 11AAA state championship, while the Lynx will appear in their fifth state title game in the past six seasons.

“It’s a privilege and it’s a fun expectation that we try to set for our program and for our players. We try to make sure they get the experience. We feel great when we get that,” Brandon Valley interim head coach Matt Christensen said.

“This is where we wanted to be and living up to those expectations is something that is very hard to do,” Harrisburg head coach Brandon White said. “Going in at 10-0 to the semifinals, law of averages, I’m a math guy and sometimes it makes you a little nervous too much, but our kids approached every single week and practice in the right mind set.”

The Tigers own the top scoring offense in 11AAA as they are posting more than 40 points per game. Much of that success can be credited to Minnesota commit and quarterback Jacob Knuth who has thrown for more than 2,300 yards, while finding the end zone 38 times.

“He’s just a leader of poise and composure and the kids look to him. He’s a competitor and he flat out just wants to win for his teammates and we’re very blessed to have him,” White said.

“We’ve just got to focus and quit making mental mistakes. That’s kind of been our one thing,” Knuth said. “The physical mistakes are going to happen, but mentally, that can’t happen and we’ve just got to be better, pre-snap and post-snap.”

Brandon Valley owns the top scoring defense in 11AAA as they’re allowing less than 15 points per contest. Some of that success can be credited to playing for head coach Chad Garrow who has been sidelined this season due to a cancer diagnosis.

Brandon Valley Head Coach Chad Garrow

“We want to make coach Garrow proud with the way we play and the way we handle ourselves. Before the O’Gorman game, he gave us a note and so that got the emotions going pretty high and it made us hungry,” Brandon Valley linebacker Ryan Doll said.

“You think you’re going to get a note for this week’s game,” Grant Sweeter asked.

“I hope so! I firmly believed that it helped us a lot,” Doll said.

“Chad Garrow’s message is, handle the difficult times in games and in life with maturity and togetherness and resiliency,” Christensen said. “I want to see them succeed with dignity and overcome their struggles.”

There is a lot on the line come Saturday’s championship contest, but that doesn’t change how the players will play the game of football.

“Just go out and have fun and play the game of football. Don’t think too much about the game itself and just go out there and play loose, play free and play fast,” Knuth said.

The Tigers and Lynx will meet Saturday in the DakotaDome. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m.

Make sure to follow @KELOSports, @KELOBower and @KELOSweeter on Twitter for in game updates.

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