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Chargers bank on experience

With returning starters at seven of the nine positions on both sides of the ball, the Brandon-Evansville football team hopes it has the experience to compete for a conference title this season.

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Brandon-Evansville head coach Tim Pattrin talks to his team after practice on Tuesday morning in Brandon. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

With returning starters at seven of the nine positions on both sides of the ball, the Brandon-Evansville football team hopes it has the experience to compete for a conference title this season.

Those returning starters have given them the goal to finish near the top of the strong Pheasant Conference and earn a home game for the section playoffs.
“Like we all said, we’ve got a lot of guys coming back, and a lot of those other teams lost a few players,” said Jon Thoennes, a senior captain on the team. “We should be able to give some fighting competition.”
The Brandon-Evansville football team started out hot in 2013 by winning its first three games. But the strength of the Pheasant Conference caught up to the Chargers as they lost the final five games of the regular season.
The 3-5 season record set up a road section playoff game against Underwood, the eventual Section 4 champions, that Brandon-Evansville lost 48-14.
“We’ve got a tough conference,” senior captain Will Schroeder said. “We’re going to have to play our ‘A’ game to win it, but I think we’ve got it.”
With most of the returning seniors getting varsity playing time since they were sophomores, head coach Tim Pattrin said familiarity with the team’s systems is another positive for the team. The veteran players will have the opportunity to spend more time reacting to action on the field instead of thinking about plays.
“These guys have been through the ringer,” Pattrin said. “A lot of them have started since they were sophomores, so it’s their third year. Especially if it’s their third year in the system we’ve been running.”
The Chargers have some work to do if they want to win in a conference that has some of the state’s top teams in nine-man football. Underwood and Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (CGB) have both made appearances in the nine-man state championship game over the past two seasons. Underwood lost to Grand Meadow 28-6 in the state title game in 2013, and in 2012, CGB defeated Grand Meadow for the nine-man state championship.
The Chargers hope their returning starters will give them a competitive advantage this season.
“We’ve got a lot more depth coming back and a lot more experience,” senior captain Christian McGaffey said. “A lot of boys hit the weight room this year, and like they said in the line we have a lot more returning starters than other teams.”
The Chargers said the most experience on the team lies with the offensive and defensive lines. The only starter on the line not returning in 2014 is now graduated Brad Challis, who played offensive guard and defensive tackle.
“We’ve got returning starters on the line for pretty much the entire thing,” Pattrin said. “We’re replacing one guard spot.”
That should provide a boost for the Chargers’ running-based offense. James Huisman, a senior captain who rushed for 867 yards last season, is looking forward to running behind the experienced lineman.
“More blocks means more yards,” Huisman said.
Senior Tom Bosek is the returning starting quarterback from 2013. The Chargers hope they have the receiving depth to develop a passing game to open up the rushing attack.
“With the quarterback, Tom can throw the ball,” Pattrin said. “It’s a matter of finding some guys that can catch it. We’ve got some guys emerging that can catch the ball.”
The Brandon-Evansville players have talked early about the opportunity to compete in the conference and make a run in the section playoffs. With the district format coming to the Minnesota State High School League in 2015, this is the last year Brandon-Evansville will have the opportunity to play in the Pheasant Conference.
“The guys, I know they want to win conference,” Pattrin said. “Their big thing right now is that it’s the last year of the conference and we’ve never won one. They are really shooting for that conference title.”
The Chargers will begin the season on the road at 7 p.m. on Friday, August 29 versus Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in Fergus Falls.

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