SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The semifinal round of the South Dakota high school football playoffs are upon us, with a big game slated for Friday at Howard Wood Field.
#4 Lincoln is back in the semifinals, following a 42-17 win over Brandon Valley. That victory marked the fifth straight win for the Patriots, who feel like they’re playing their best football.
“I think it’s really important, because the kids have to believe it. The thing that we’re talking about is that anything that’s worth doing, first starts with a belief,” Lincoln head coach Jared Fredenburg said. “If you don’t believe we can win that game, you don’t belong here.”
The Patriots will look to reach the state championship with a semifinal win. Lincoln has lost back-to-back years in the semifinals, to the eventual 11AAA state champion.
“Brandon Valley the year before (2020), out there and last year it was Harrisburg out there,” Fredenburg said. “We played well, but you’ve got to beat them sometime, so I don’t get caught up on when you play them.”
Lincoln will meet Jefferson in this year’s semifinals. The two teams last met in the President’s Bowl back on September 10.
“Personnel has changed. I think schemes have changed a little bit for both teams and there’s a little bit more on the line, then there was in week three,” Jefferson head coach Vince Benedetto said. “We’re obviously going to study the film and make changes that we need to make from that game, but at the same time, we’re focusing on the last four games for Lincoln.”
Friday’s semifinal bout will feature two of the top receivers in the state. Jefferson returns SDSU commit, Griffin Wilde who will play after missing two weeks, while Lincoln will look to use vertical threat, Jack Smith.
“Wilde is the best receiver in the state. He’s just really good. He covers ground and he’s got ball skills, but I think I’ve got number two,” Fredenburg said. “Jack Smith, number eleven is pretty special.”
“Jack Smith is an incredible receiver. Their quarterback (Tate Schafer) is making plays and so they’re going to make plays. We can’t let one big play beat us a second time,” Benedetto said. “We’ve got to keep things in front of us and fly around to the football.”
Jefferson is 10-0 on the season, which means they’re looking to change little and continue their brand of football.
“Just take care of our business and don’t let the extra noise of a semifinal game effect how we prepare or effect how we practice or play,” Benedetto said. “Just go out there and have fun.”
A win on Friday would send Jefferson to their first ever state championship, while Lincoln is seeking a return to the title game, for the first time in eight years.
“Just an in town rival like that, it adds a little bit of something. It’s the semifinals and these guys have been dreaming about this since they were little kids,” Fredenburg said.
Lincoln and Jefferson will cross paths on Friday at Howard Wood Field. Kick-off is set for 6 p.m. on KELOLAND.com.
Play-by-play will be provided by KELOLAND.com’s Grant Sweeter.