ESPN 99.1 Game of the Week: Washington vs. Brandon Valley
Last year, Washington and Brandon Valley met in the state championship. They both had a number of seniors graduate, and both the Warriors and Lynx have had to replace and reload this season.
Washington hired a new head coach (Chad Stadem), and replaced standouts Nate Gerry and Jon Hander. Meanwhile, Brandon Valley returned head coach Chad Garrow, but like the Warriors, are young. The Lynx graduated seniors Chase Marso, Matt Vandeberg, Adam Guthmiller, Tony Tripp, and Luke Hyronimus.
Regardless of the Warriors and Lynx's youth, both teams have solid leadership in the coaching ranks that have helped steer their programs in the right directions. Garrow at Brandon Valley is 66-23 all-time as the Lynx head coach, and he has enjoyed coaching a younger team this year. "We have a new group of guys. It's fun to see those who weren't leaders last year become leaders this year." At Washington, Coach Stadem is familiar with the winning tradition of the Warriors after winning two 11B titles of his own while coaching at Flandreau and Howard.
As the new man in charge at a bigger school, Stadem has seen Washington experience some growing pains, but the team's development over the first four games has shown him the Warriors are growing in the right direction. "We're developing as a team, and after a few losses, we're realizing we cannot win every game. We've had losses that could have been wins, but they've motivated us to work harder and play better football."
As Stadem and Garrow prepare for their team's rematch from last November, both schools will have to do a better job of securing the football in order to win on Friday night. Washington struggled holding onto the ball in their loss to O'Gorman two weeks ago in the Dakota Bowl, but Stadem thinks his team has learned from their mistakes. "We're learning about our character. We're 2-2, and could have been 3-1, but the loss helped us mature and learn from mistakes. After the O'Gorman loss, it woke us up to play better football."
The same can be said for the Lynx. Last week, Brookings created three early turnovers and took a 7-0 lead against Brandon Valley, but Garrow's squad fought back, and won 16-7. Garrow says his team relishes when the heat is on his team. "Our players feel good when games get tight." However, while the Lynx have been fortunate enough to come back and win close games against Yankton and Brookings, Garrow knows that ball security will take pressure off the offense and defense. "We have to quit trying to make big plays. We have to take what the defense gives us and let them create turnovers."
As the Warriors and Lynx focus on ball security, there are other keys that can't be overlooked as the two teams prepare for each other tomorrow night. For Washington, this week's game is also the team's homecoming game. Stadem says to beat the Lynx, the Warriors will have to, "Limit turnovers, focus, and play fast on offense and defense."
On the other sideline, with Garrow wearing the headset, he says that the Warriors are trying to find their way on offense just like the Lynx, and that they need to focus on special teams and defense on Friday. "We have to win special teams and secure the ball as both parlay into field position."
The Warriors and the Lynx will square off at 6 p.m. at Howard Wood Field tomorrow night. If you cannot make it out to the game, listen right here on ESPN 99.1 with Jeff Thurn and Jerry Palleschi.