SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — 43 high school football games have streamed as the KELOLAND.com Game of the Week, over the past three years, but for the first time in that stretch, we’ll be headed to Brandon!
The undefeated Lynx will play host to undefeated Harrisburg, with the winner claiming first place in 11AAA.
Brandon Valley and Harrisburg are each 8-0 this season. While they both may be unbeaten, it hasn’t come without their fair share of tests. The Lynx have won six games within two scores, while the Tigers have won three games with that margin.
“We’re going to be able to fall back on those as we make a playoff run here and hopefully that’s enough to get us over the hump in tight games, if they come to be,” Harrisburg head coach Brandon White said.
“You know, confidence comes from demonstrated ability and when you’ve done it, you can do it again,” Brandon Valley interim head coach Matt Christensen said.
Harrisburg owns the state’s top scoring offense as they are posting more than 44 points per game.
“They’ve got a phenomenal quarterback and running back tandem, a gigantic offensive line, receivers all over with speed, size and a combination of that,” Christensen said.
“Having a signal caller back there that bails you out of a lot of stuff and then having multiple weapons from sideline to sideline and then be able to run in the A gaps, B gaps and C gaps is big,” White said. “It’s tough to defend, but we’re going to have to keep using all three phases of the passing game, screen game and run game to continue to win football games.”
That stellar Tiger offense will be tested on Thursday as they’ll meet Brandon Valley’s top scoring defense, which is allowing less than 12 points per game to their opponents.
“Their fast and physical. They don’t give up big plays. We chart explosive plays and they don’t have a long list of them a lot of times. They’re well coached and they’re going to be ready to play,” White said.
“They fly around and our defensive backs are ball hawks as well. They play together. They’ll sacrifice a stat for a fit or do a job that they understand won’t get them recognized by everything or everyone, but they understand that they’ll help their teammate get the job done,” Christensen said.
After playing everyone else in 11AAA, the Lynx and Tigers are set to battle in the regular season finale and the winner will finish the season unbeaten… and earn the top-seed in the playoffs.
“Our kids are looking forward to that. We’ve never been able to beat Brandon Valley. There’s been a long stretch where we haven’t been able to beat the Sioux Falls schools either, but the tables have turned,” White said. “It’s our turn to come out firing and try to get Brandon Valley this last regular season game. It’s a stress free game, but yeah we want to win and be the number one seed, without a doubt.”
“It’s all about experiences for the players and they’ve been looking forward, not ahead, but they’ve been looking forward to this. We never look ahead. It’s just not our programs way,” Christensen said. “We’re excited about the challenge and I hope everybody else is and hopefully we can pack the stadium.”
Thursday’s game will stream on KELOLAND.com and kick-off is set for 7:00 p.m.
With so much on the line, both teams expect a packed house in Brandon, and the crowd noise is something both teams are preparing for.
“Sometimes we’ll bring the music out or a boom box and crank up the music a little bit and try to put some distraction in the air, just for the sense of kids focusing a little more and there will be times where we’ll actually go silent for a while and try use use communication non-verbally,” White said.
“A great sound system and we use that to our full advantage. We’ll turn it up a little bit and see if we can kind of mimic that crowd noise and it just helps our communications in games and it just helps us prepare and feel relaxed,” Brandon Valley senior Brady Koupal said.
“We’ve been excited for all of our games year round, but this one in particularly, because everyone is going to be watching. The anticipation is on, it’s for the number one seed and just for our rivalry, last year in the dome, it’s going to be one, one to get excited about,” Tucker said.