Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

Game of the Week: Three items to watch between Wagner and Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central

When/Where: 7 p.m. today in Wessington Springs.

Coaches: Wagner’s Jason Knebel; Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central’s Jason Kolousek.

Forecast: 81 degrees at kickoff, with southeast winds at 4 mph.

Records: Season opener for both teams.

Here are three items to watch for in tonight’s Daily Republic Game of the Week between Wagner and Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central:

Season opener

Expect the unexpected in tonight’s season opener.

The two programs are not familiar with each other as last season’s opener was the first meeting between the programs as 11-man foes. Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central won last season’s contest, 36-8.

“It’s kind of hard to say what they might do,” WWSSC coach Jason Kolousek said. “So we use a little bit of maybe what they did last year, but it’s going to be preparing for the unknown. Obviously, we are anticipating a little bit what they might do, but that’s difficult to do. So we have just been preparing for a lot of different scenarios that might come up.”

The teams began practice on Aug. 6 and treated the first week like a fall camp, but ramped things up this week in preparation for today.

“We took last week just to worry about ourselves,” Wagner coach Jason Knebel said. “With us having a such a short time period to get yourself ready, we just kind of felt that it was best that last week we just worried about ourselves and get our offense and defense installed.”

Limiting mistakes

The turnover battle and limiting mistakes are always key, but perhaps even more so in a season opener when the anticipation is sky high.

“Big thing is kind of overcoming the mistakes,” Knebel said. “With it being both our first games, I think that’s kind of going to be the key thing.”

Kolousek’s echoed Knebel’s thoughts and added winning the battle at the line of scrimmage will be important.  

“The line has to play well and you have to eliminate mistakes,” Kolousek said. “There’s going to be mistakes game one. Probably more so than any other time. We want to try to eliminate the pre-snap mistakes and the mental mistakes as much as we can. We know they are going to be there and we just have to work on that.”

New personnel

With a new season comes new personnel.

The Blackhawks graduated all-state quarterback Trent Kingsbury and all-state running back John Witte.

Junior Landon Wolter is slated to start at the quarterback spot, while also replacing Kingsbury at strong safety.

“He’s worked hard all summer and those are big shoes to fill,” Kolousek said. “Trent was a good leader for us, but Landon has those qualities in him.”

The Blackhawks will use a running back by committee to replace Witte and his 3,317 career rushing yards and 50 touchdowns. Kolousek said the three backs expected to see the most carries are Trey Ulmer, Alex Wormstadt and Seth Tebay.

“Between those guys hopefully we can fill some of that void and pick up some of those tough yards that we will need that John got for us last year,” Kolousek said.

For the Red Raiders, sophomore Jaden Peters will get the nod at quarterback after starting the final three games last season.

“He actually did pretty well last year for us,” Knebel said. “He’s had a really good fall camp and he throws the ball really well.”

Knebel also expects big things from Tony Bruguier at running back and linebacker this season.

“He started midway through last year and he did a really good job last year coming in and he’s really doing an exceptional job during the fall camp here,” Knebel said.