O’Gorman and Brandon Valley both earned semi final wins last Friday, to punch their ticket to the 11AAA state title game. These two teams met earlier in the season in the Dakota Bowl where the Lynx earned a 40-16 win over the Knights.
“”We learned from our mistakes and early in the year we had injuries that we were dealing with at that time. We had starters on the sideline and a lot of turnovers in that game. Obviously, we’re a better team now than we were six, seven weeks ago, but the same is true of Brandon. They’ve improved as well, so it’ll be a chance for us to find out where we really are,” O’Gorman head coach Jayson Poppinga said.
“It won’t change a lot, we’ll put in a wrinkle here and there, we’ll put in a wrinkle defensively, just like they do and they will too. At this point of the year, you kind of know you who are and what you do best and you kind of hang your hat on that,” Brandon Valley head coach Chad Garrow said.
The two teams will meet in the state title game for the first time since 1990. This year’s game will be determined by who wins the turnover battle.
“We’ve got to win the turnover battle or at least it has to be 0-0. The games that we’ve won, we’ve been positive in the turnovers and games that we’ve lost, we’ve been negative and that’s the one defining feature,” Poppinga said.
“First off, I think we’re going to have to create turnovers defensively and then offensively, we’re going to have to maintain the ball, keep possession of it and then special teams are very key parts to field position. If we can flip the field position, we’ll be right there,” Brandon Valley quarterback Thomas Scholten said.
For the first time in South Dakota football history, the state football championships will be played in Brookings. While the game will be outdoors, in the cold weather, neither team is too worried about the location.
“It doesn’t really matter, a state championship is a state championship and that’s all that anybodies really going to remember. It’ll be a different atmosphere, it’ll be cold and there won’t be the loudness you would have in the dome to deal with, but ultimately it’s still going to be the same strategy, it’s still going to be great football,” Poppinga said.
“For us, it’s exciting. The kids know it’s real football, it’s going to be played outdoors and I’ve had a little more excitement this year knowing you’re going to be outside. It’s playoff weather right now,” Garrow said.
The Lynx won the 11AAA title last year with a 28-22 win over Sioux Falls Washington, while O’Gorman is looking for their first state title in fourteen years.
“It would be very special, especially because we haven’t won one in like fifteen years. It’d be a great way to end your senior year and end your football season, going out with a title,” O’Gorman senior Tate Wishard said.
The Knights and Lynx will cross paths for the 11AAA state title on Friday in Brookings and kick off is set for 7:00.