Flandreau at Winner 6:00
Flandreau is considered the top team in Class 11B and has been ever since they beat Tri-Valley on September 14th. Other than that game they haven’t beaten a top-level team, but they’ll have that chance when they go on the road against Winner on Saturday. Flandreau head coach Chad Stadem tells me that his team is healthy and that’s really important this time of year.
“We want to play our style of game that we have been playing all year. Nothing fancy, just hold onto the ball, limit big plays on special teams and defense, and score when we get a chance,” said Stadem.
Flandreau will try to earn their second title in the last three years but Winner Head Coach Dan Aaker has other things in mind.
“We will have to play very good on the line of scrimmage. Limit their big plays and create big plays ourselves. We need to take care of the football and sustain drives on offense and defensively get 11 guys to the football, tackle, and create some turnovers.”
Winner is a team that limits their throws, they’ve only had to attempt 39 passes this year but they’ve connected on 10 tds through the air with Tanner Fritz winging the ball around. Their bread and butter is Ben Connot and Kyle Bertram sharing carries and gaining 8-10 yard chunks of the field behind a strong offensive line. Winner’s toughest test this year came against St. Thomas More where they gave up 31 points but put up 56 of their own. Flandreau just got done beating St. Thomas More 48-12 last week indicating that this Winner Flandreau matchup should be pretty even.
I believe Flandreau is the better team but not by much. Winner does have home field advantage which should even the playing field. This game will come down to time of possession, PATs and turnovers. Flandreau’s Mitchel Foster, Jace Christiansen and Kyle Scofield will generate enough big plays to edge Winner by just a point or two.
Roncalli at Tri-Valley 5:00
Roncalli has a balanced attack on offense but more importantly a balance of great offense and defense. Roncalli has pitched five shutouts on the year and their offense has started to explode with outputs of five touchdowns or more in their last five games.
Head Coach Terry Dosch doesn’t have a deep roster but likes the character of his team,
“I think we have good players who have worked hard and done a good job of coming together as a team. We play hard and believe. We are a small team with only 29 players, so I think we have bonded together well.”
Running back Matt Swallow is one of the few seniors that generates points for this Cavalier team. He’s carried the ball 99 times for 807 yards and 13TDs. Junior backs Lucas Lorenz and Dalton Cox have combined for over 1,000 yards and 10TDs. But it’s the young sophomore quarterback Zach Lundquist that is one of the best talents in the class. He’s way ahead of pace for producing with numbers like 92/162 1,329 yds and 25TDs. This is coming from a team that won a state title with Dan O’Keefe at quarterback without completing a pass in the title game.
Tri-Valley presents a lot of challenges for Roncalli. The Mustangs are big and fast and experienced and well coached. Head Coach Steve Bazata has led this team through a tough schedule and hopes it pays off during the playoffs,
“We are a battle-tested team. We took some lumps in the middle of the season, playing teams like Flandreau, Dell Rapids, Tea Area, and Dakota Valley. We learned from those tough games and have improved greatly throughout the season,” said Bazata.
Logan Koopman leads the rushing attack with 1,119 yards and 13TDs, but credit this offensive line for opening up holes for everyone. Logan Otto and Sam Mader are both capable of big runs and it’s due to their tough and experienced line. Quarterback Brett Page’s numbers won’t WOW you but he has some of the most well-timed executions of the season. He always seems to make a big play when the team needs it. He’s only run for 195 yards and 4TDs and passed for 507 yards and 11TDs but when the team needs a big first down Page finds a way to make it happen.
I could literally flip a coin on this game and make an argument for either team to win. So I’ll take the easy road and pick the home team. Tri-Valley grinds out a 24-21 win and gets another chance at a title.