Published 6:59 p.m. CT November 8, 2020
Brandon Valley runs back Tate Johnson crosses the goal line for one of his five touchdown runs against Sioux Falls Lincoln on Friday November 6th. The Lynx won 55-28 to advance to the Class 11AAA title game. (Photo: Josh Jurgens / For the Argus Leader)
Brandon Valley faced O’Gorman as the state's top-ranked Class 11AAA team last year. They were strong favorites to defend their state championship after winning it in 2018, but O’Gorman caused a stir and sent the Lynx off-season with unfinished deals.
Brandon Valley was clearly against Lincoln in Friday's semi-final game last week and was hungry to get back to the title game. The Patriots had no answer to the heavy ground attack in the Brandon Valley. The Lynx starters scored eight touchdowns on their first eight possessions and tied for a 55-28.
EXPERIENCE ABOUT HARRISBURG
Throughout the night in Brandon on Friday, the public address spokesperson gave updates to the state's other 11AAA semi-final game at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls between Roosevelt and Harrisburg.
The tigers continued through the night, and the continued updates on the PA raised eyebrows as the night wore on.
But if there has ever been a will for staying focused during a game, the Lynx should get a nod. After defeating Lincoln, Tate Johnson spoke to a group of reporters who gathered at the 40-yard line near the Lynx Bank.
“I didn't hear it. Is it a blowout?” Johnson said when asked if he knew what happened to Harrisburg at Howard Wood Field on the verge of a big surprise. "I didn't really listen just because I was focusing on our game."
After Johnson finished, head coach Chad Garrow met with reporters. After a few seconds of questions, the announcer slammed again and informed the fans who were still in the stands that Roosevelt would be waiting for a decisive field goal within seconds.
Garrow was in mid-sentence as the Brandon Valley crowd cheered. Moments later, everyone in the area realized that Roosevelt had missed the field goal when the public address spokesman made his final announcement.
But Garrow continued his interviews, seemingly unimpressed by the cheers or the announcement.
"Not really. I didn't hear anything," Garrow said when asked if he understood what was going on in Sioux Falls while speaking to the media. "It wasn't until I went inside that someone told me that Roosevelt ended up missing a kick and losing."
The Lynx scored 5-5 touchdowns in the first half, including four from Tate Johnson, in the semi-final against Lincoln to build a 35-14 lead at halftime. Johnson finished the race with five quick touchdowns, including a 69-yard scamper who only scored one game between 48 and 21 after Lincoln cut it to 20 points early in the third quarter. Quarterback Joe Kolbeck finished with a rousing touchdown and threw for three more.
Brandon Valley QB # 6 Joe Kolbeck pounces on a TD during the Lynx game against the Patriots on Friday night. The Lynx won 55-28 against the championship on Saturday. (Photo: Josh Jurgens / For the Argus Leader)
Brandon Valley defeated Lincoln at the start of the season 41:21 on October 2nd.
"Our kids did a great job," said Garrow. "The hard thing was that the last time we played them we hit them pretty decently. So they hope the kids don't come out and be flat."
SET A DEFENDING SOUND EARLY
Although the Brandon Valley assault against Lincoln was powerful, it was an early defensive effort that helped the Lynx set the tone. Lincoln scored on the game's opening run when Tommy Thompson hit a wide-open Ty Schafer who ran 48 yards in the middle of the field. And wide open is an understatement. Schäfer entered the end zone without a Lynx defender around him.
"We just had some mental glitches on that first ride in our high school," said Garrow. "I knew they would adjust it, and our offense started immediately and hit them."
But the Lynx made some adjustments after that ride that put them on their heels. Lincoln's next two holdings were three and three, and the Lynx built a 21-7 lead after Johnson ran for a 58-yard run just three games after Lincoln's jump-off.
LINCOLN'S LAST GASP
After Johnson scored a 35-14 goal at 1:47 at halftime, Lincoln took the lead from 26. It looked like the Patriots were stuck deep enough to deal with the 21-point deficit in the first Satisfied at halftime.
But Lincoln put together a ride in the waning seconds that could have kept her in the game. Thompson was hit hard halfway through the ride, and an unnecessary roughness call assisted the ride, ultimately causing the Patriots to play within the five-yard line in less than 30 seconds.
The Patriots had two cracks in the end zone from the one-yard line, but the Brandon Valley defense held. Lincoln wasted a few precious seconds and eventually called for a 10-second time-out to play in half after a false start put the ball back on six. A game later, Thompson threw Schäfer into the corner of the end zone, but the senior couldn't catch it.
A game later, Jackson intercepted Hilton Thompson in the end zone and the half ended when Lincoln showed up blank.
FATE IN THE DOME
For the first time since 2003, the two schools that play for the title in the state's largest class are not from Sioux Falls. With Harrisburg defeating Roosevelt and Brandon Valley dominating Lincoln, the Class 11AAA championship game has become a showdown in the suburbs of Sioux Falls.
Brandon Valley defeated Harrisburg 63:27 on October 16 in another efficient offensive result. Similar to the semi-final win over Lincoln, the Brandon Valley starters scored nine touchdowns in nine possessions against the Tigers to end the regular season.
Harrisburg has one of the best quarterbacks in the state in Jacob Knuth. With such windy conditions at Howard Wood Field on Friday night, his ability to throw the ball against Roosevelt was impressive. Playing in the dome could prove to be a benefit for Harrisburg as Knuth doesn't have to deal with the elements.
But Garrow said he was confident that Kolbeck would also be the focus. The Lynx only threw it four times in Friday's win over Lincoln, but with Johnson being so successful on the spot, Brandon Valley didn't have to throw.
"It's an advantage for us how Joe threw the ball," said Garrow. "Down there (in the Dakota Dome) we can mix it up and throw her off balance."
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