Seahawks looking for third-straight 9AA titleAfter back-to-back state championships, the Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan football team knows teams will be looking to upset them.
By: Kevin Pottebaum, The Daily Republic
After back-to-back state championships, the Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan football team knows teams will be looking to upset them.
The South Dakota Sportswriters Association high school football poll, which was announced Monday, has the Seahawks sitting at the top of the Class 9AA rankings. Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan received eight of nine first-place votes in nine-man football’s biggest class.
“It’s all nice in the paper,” head coach Jeff VanLeur said. “But you still have to get a job done.
“We’ve got a target on our back and it’s a fun place to be.”
Deubrook Area was the only other team to receive a first-place vote in the 9AA poll. Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan received 43 points in the poll, 14 points more than Deubrook Area, which received the second most points.
The Seahawks finished 11-1 last season including a 36-24 win over Kimball/White Lake in the state championship game. The WiLdKats came in fifth place in this season’s opening poll.
One key reason the Seahawks were picked to win another title this season is Jace Connor.
Connor was named the Joe Robbie MVP award for his performance in the state championship game. The quarterback rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown while throwing for 62 yards and a touchdown.
Connor returns for his junior season and VanLeur said Connor will be a leader on the team along with seniors Anthony Huber and Franky Tusha.
“Seniors are the kids you look to be leaders,” VanLeur said. “With Connor coming back, those kinds of kids are the ones you expect to take ownership of the team and get kids to follow them and believe in the team.”
Tusha is the lone returning lineman for the Seahawks and VanLeur said his leadership will be vital for the team to be successful.
“We need to get those new linemen in and get them to take that next step,” VanLeur said. “We need Franky to get some confident in them and if they can play big for us, we’ll be in a good shape.”
Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan begins the season with a game against Freeman at 7 p.m. Friday in Freeman. VanLeur said the team has practiced hard and is ready for its matchup.
“As you practice, you get kind of tired of beating on each other,” he said. “It’s time to see something different and see how we react to an opponent.”