Football is back, and the boys of fall are ready to take the field!  On Friday, the two-time defending state champion Washington Warriors will square off against Aberdeen Central at Howard Wood Field in the ESPN 99.1 Game of the Week.

Washington was a perfect 12-0 en route to their second straight title a year ago, while Aberdeen Central was 3-8 in 2012. Washington and Aberdeen Central did not face each other a year ago in the regular season.

In 2013, Washington welcomes a new head coach, and Aberdeen Central looks to be competitive in games after a good offseason.

Chad Stadem takes over for Brian Hermanson as the Warriors new man in charge. Stadem was previously the head coach at Flandreau and Howard, where he won 11B state titles at both schools.

Stadem and the Warriors return no starters on offense and four on defense.
Mike Flakus returns as the Golden Eagles head coach, and welcomes back four offensive starters (QB, RB, and 2 OL), and six starters on defense (2 LB, 2 DL, and 2 DB).

At Washington, Stadem won't have quarterback Jon Hander or wide receiver/defensive back Nate Gerry this fall, but has plenty of other talent. Linebacker Dan Marlette, wide receiver Zac Lupica, defensive lineman Austin Heins and Chris Vroman, and running back Luke Reiter give Stadem plenty of experience and leadership to rely on.

Aberdeen Central's team is more of a team effort, says Flakus. "We don't really have superstars, were a total team effort. There isn't one guy that you're going to say, 'oh my,' while watching this team. "

As Stadem and Flakus have been preparing their squads for Friday's first game, Washington hopes to rely on its defense, while the Golden Eagles look to be a balanced offense and have a disciplined defense.

For Washington, Stadem says having a top defense has been key for their offense in practice to prepare for their season-opener vs. Aberdeen. "Our two quarterbacks have thrown the ball well, there's been nice intensity on the offensive line, and it's been a great experience for our quarterbacks since we have one of the best defenses."

Meanwhile, for Aberdeen Central, Flakus thinks the Golden Eagles will be a 50/50 run and pass mix, while the defense will run the 3-4, and is very disciplined. "Our goal, defensively, is not to give up big plays and make teams drive the ball on us. Offensively, field position is very important and we don't want to turn the ball over."

Both Stadem and Flakus think their teams are ready for the season-opener on Friday, and hope their teams will stick to their game plans.

The Warriors expect to be fast and physical, and then, make adjustments as the season goes along. "Get better each week, play physical, play fast and hang onto the football. Against Aberdeen, we will control about being fast, rather than worry about our execution. Then, as the season progresses, we will correct our mistakes," says Stadem.

While preparing for Washington, Flakus believes there is a bit of an 'unknown' factor,' since the Warriors have hired a new coach. "It's unknown what they're going to do since (Herm) left. Herm was the man, a good coach. They have great athletes, we're a little nervous, and we have to prepare the best we can. Not to turn the ball over, as you and I talked, is the key."

Both Washington and Aberdeen Central will take the field for the first time on Friday night at Howard Wood Field at 7 p.m. The game can be heard right here on ESPN 99.1 radio if you cannot make the game.