BRANDON, S.D. (KELO) — Brandon Valley won its second 11AAA State Championship in three years last season, and though the Lynx are looking to defend that crown, they have much more to play for this year than just a championship.
Brandon Valley celebrated its second ever 11AAA State Championship last November, after beating Harrisburg in the title game. Not long after however, the team received the tragic news that head coach Chad Garrow had been diagnosed with cancer.
“We got really tough news around Thanksgiving and he’s been battling ever since. We’ve been hoping and praying for him and now we’re going to play for him,” Brandon Valley interim head coach Matt Christensen said. “We’re going to represent him and care for him, and run it the way he would want to run it. He’s always set the bar super high and expectations really high.”
Coach Garrow is the winningest coach in school history, and that success has been led by his team first culture.
“It’s the culture that we have here and we’re thankful that coach Garrow has established that over the decades,” Christensen said. “The culture and expectations is a lot to play for always.”
This season is more than just a football season for the Brandon Valley players as they will be playing for a bigger purpose.
“When we come out on the field, we are doing it for coach Garrow. It’s not just for ourselves, we’re not being selfish now, we have a bigger thing to play for and so that’s really encouraged us and helped us out, I believe,” Brandon Valley senior Kyler Briest said.
“We know that he still cares about us so much and we’re just going to continue to work and fight for him,” Brandon Valley senior Nate Meyers said.
The hope remains that coach Garrow can return to the sideline someday, but until then, interim coach Matt Christensen will lead the team.
“Coach C (Christensen) has just been super awesome and super encouraging throughout this offseason too, just always pushing us and it’s just been such a blessing to have him,” Meyers said. “Although we definitely miss coach Garrow, Coach C has been just awesome.”
Brandon Valley will open the season at Rapid City Stevens on August 27. Kick-off is set for 6:30.
You can hear from the Lynx and several other teams in our South Dakota High School Football Preview Show on Wednesday, August 18 at 6:30 p.m.