Winner looks for revenge against Mobridge-PollockIf it wasn’t for Mobridge-Pollock, the Winner High School football team would be riding a 22-game win streak right now.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
If it wasn’t for Mobridge-Pollock, the Winner High School football team would be riding a 22-game win streak right now.
The Warriors went 12-0 last season en route to the Class 11B state championship and opened the current season with back-to-back wins.
In Week 3, Winner lost to Mobridge-Pollock 26-10. The Warriors had five turnovers in the game, which was their first loss at home since the season opener in 2008.
After rattling off seven wins to close out the regular season and first two rounds of the playoffs, the Warriors get their shot at redemption.
At 6 p.m. Saturday in Winner, the Warriors and Mobridge-Pollock play in a state semifinal game. The winning team gets its ticket to the state championship game, which is being played next Friday.
“It’s the one loss we’ve had in two years, and not very often do you have a chance to see that same team again,” said Winner coach Dan Aaker, whose team is 9-1. “That’s motivation enough going into this game. But if you can’t get excited for a semifinal football game, then there’s not much you can get excited for.”
This is the Warriors’ third straight trip to the state semifinals.
In 2008, they lost to Dell Rapids 34-6 in the Class 11A state championship game.
Last season, the Warriors beat Tri-Valley on a Hail Mary pass in the Class 11B championship game. It was Winner’s first state football championship in 20 years.
All 10 seniors on Winner’s current roster were a part of both teams that played for state titles — a major advantage for Winner.
“One thing that’s nice from my standpoint is our guys know what it’s like to be in the big-game atmosphere,” Aaker said. “We’ve been here before and we’ve talked about trusting each other and not panicking if we get down.”
Mobridge-Pollock’s main advantage going into the game is its already defeated Winner on its home field.
On Sept. 10, Winner quarterback J.D. Farley was intercepted four times. The Warriors didn’t score a touchdown until the fourth quarter when they already trailed by 18.
Mobridge-Pollock is 9-1 and hasn’t lost to a South Dakota team this season. Its only loss came against Linton, N.D., in its season opener.
“(Mobridge-Pollock) will come in here confident because they beat us here,” Aaker said. “But it’s still nice to make someone come to your field and beat you in the playoffs. It’s such a fun environment, because this is such a football town.”
Besides having good ball control, Aaker said maintaining Mobridge-Pollock’s speed and big plays is crucial. Aaker said Mobridge-Pollock has “the biggest line we’ve seen all year” and watching how his team handles it will be interesting.