Sioux Falls Christian (1-0) vs. Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan (1-0)
WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m. Friday, FCA Bowl, Bob Young Field
COACHES: SFC – Jake Pettengill (fourth year, 8-17); B-E/A – Jeff VanLeur (36th season)
SEASON TO DATE: Chargers coach Jake Pettengill has doubled his win total in each of the three years he’s been on the job – one in 2012 to two in 2013 to four in 2014 – and he’s on pace, at least, to get to eight in 2015. Sioux Falls Christian opened the season last week with a 36-0 thumping of McCook-Central Montrose on the back of senior running back Keegan Van Egdom’s 135 yards and two touchdowns. On Friday, the Chargers get another Class 11B opponent in Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan, which squeaked out a 13-6 win over Bridgewater in its first-ever 11-man football game last week.
CHANGING CLASS: Seahawks coach Jeff VanLeur is in his 36th season, but it’s the first he’ll have 11 players on the field. Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan made the jump from 9AA, where the team won six state championships, because the school’s enrollment climbed over the 56-person cutoff that separates nine and 11-man football. VanLeur has had to adjust to the less open, more physical nature of the 11-man game, but he’s leaning on his experience to help him out.
“You still have to block and you still have to tackle,” VanLeur told the Mitchell Republic. “It’s still football.”
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Seahawks’ opening win was a convincing debut in 11-man competition, but it also came against a Beresford team that was only returning eight letterwinners. Friday will be a prime opportunity for Sioux Falls Christian to flex its pound-it-out running game against a team still new to that sort of physicality and move to 2-0, a game closer to the first playoff berth in school history.