The Pillager football team has been there and done that in regards to the Section 6AA championship.
The Huskies (7-2) are playing in their fourth consecutive title game and are looking for their third trip to state during this stretch. However, standing in there way is an Osakis team that has waited almost a year to play this game.
The 2018 Osakis football season ended in the Fargodome with a 30-16 loss to Pillager. Since then, the Silverstreaks have dedicated themselves to getting faster and stronger.
"We've been training hard all season and dedicated a lot of time to the weight room," senior Mason Moore said on Saturday after the semifinal game. "To come out here and beat a West Central team that actually beat Pillager, it feels really good. We know that we can do anything now if we put the work in."
Osakis is looking to make it back to the state tournament for the first time since 2005. They will have to slow down Pillager's offense that is putting up 32.4 points per game, second only to the Silverstreaks’ 36.8 points-per game in the section.
"Pillager wants to get their backs going in the run game, and that sets up their dangerous play action-passing," head coach Bill Infanger said. "We have to be committed to stopping the run and force them to be one dimensional."
The Silverstreaks are tasked with containing running back Tucker Peterson. He's a threat to run and catch the ball that can break free on any given play.
"He is a dynamic back that will be one of, if not the best, backs that we have seen this season. He will certainly be the fastest," Infanger said. "We have to be sound in our run fits, and our defensive backs have to be disciplined and make good reads in the passing game."
Pillager has been consistently good at the Class AA level for some time. They're a team that rarely beats themselves, Infanger said.
“I think they have good coaches, good players, and the right kind of culture in their program," Infanger said. "They are a disciplined team that takes care of the football, controls the clock, and puts points on the board. They play sound defense and special teams along with that and are tough to beat because of it."
Last year's loss has been the motivation for the Silverstreaks this fall. For the 15 seniors on the roster, it's now or never.
"With all the momentum we have right now, it's like a dream to get another crack at Pillager," Moore said on Saturday. "We just know that we have to take it play-by-play. We can't get too ahead of ourselves, and we need to stay focused."
Pillager took an early two-touchdown lead last year. The lead was too much for Osakis to overcome. Now that they've been in that spot before, Infanger believes his guys won't be fazed by the moment.
"We need to play a clean game," he said. "Turnovers and special teams hurt us in this game last year. We also need to tackle well. We can't let their backs get out into the open space with the team speed that they have. Our guys are competitors and knowing that we made it this far last year, they want to take that next step, and I think we will see that effort and focus from them this week in practice, and then see it carry over into Friday's game."