Following Brandon-Evansville’s 34-8 win over Verndale in the Section 4, 9-man semifinal game, public address announcer Trent Hintermeister belted into the microphone, “There will be no school on Friday!”
Classes are canceled because the Chargers (9-1) are playing their biggest game of the season so far. At 12:30 p.m. in the Fargodome, they will take on the top-ranked team in the state with their season on the line.
The Hancock Owls have a flawless 10-0 record. One of those wins came in Brandon on Oct. 16 in the final game of the regular season. Senior running back Marshall Riedel ran for a 17-yard touchdown in the first quarter, but it was the only time B-E found the end zone against a Hancock defense that allows just 11.5 points per game.
The Owls beat the Chargers 16-6 to clinch the top seed in the section. Preston Rohloff had two touchdown passes, including a 49-yard strike to Luke Joos. Hancock ran 65 plays for 341 yards.
“Their speed makes them a challenge. They use it to their advantage well,” head coach Tim Pattrin said. “We need to be able to get off our blocks quickly and do our jobs. We also need to be able to tackle in space.”
Last Friday was the first time in school history the Chargers had beaten the Verndale Pirates. Since the two schools have been united, Brandon-Evansville has never made it to the state tournament. In 1973, Brandon was the 9-man runner up in its only tournament appearance.
“Going to state would be huge for this community,” Pattrin said. “It’s been great to see most people in the community get behind us thus far. Moving on will bring it to another level.”
One of the biggest adjustments both teams will have to make is playing on the turf.
“We have a veteran group that played in the Fargodome two years ago,” Pattrin said. “They know what the environment is. There’s an awe-factor when you walk into that thing, but it should be a little less this time. The guys know it’s just a field. We are going to show up, play our game and let the chips fall where they may.”
For as good as Hancock is this season, it’s not a regular occurrence for the Owls to be in the section championship game. Their only trip to the state tournament was in 1990. After ending B-E’s season in the first round of the playoffs last year, Hancock fell to Verndale 36-29 in the semifinal.
Hancock beat Bertha-Hewitt in the semifinal game. After trailing 40-0 at halftime, the Bears (5-5) outscored the Owls 32-7 in the second half to make for a 47-32 final.
Hancock has proven to be the best team in the section through 10 games, but the Chargers are confident they can be there with a chance to win on Friday if they take care of business.
"We need to block, tackle and take care of the football," Pattrin said. "We do those fundamental things, and we will be in good shape."