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Game of the Week: Three items to watch between Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan and Mount Vernon/Plankinton

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Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan's Brady Hawkins (5) dives towards the pylon while being tackled by Mount Vernon/Plankinton's Tre Jones (10) during a Class 11B semifinal game last season in Bridgewater.

When/Where: 8 p.m. today in Mitchell. The game was scheduled to be played in Mount Vernon, but flooding conditions moved it to Joe Quintal Field. Corsica-Stickney and Hanson was also moved to Joe Quintal Field and will play at 6 p.m.

Coaches: Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan’s Jeff Van Leur; Mount Vernon/Plankinton’s Brent Olson.

Forecast: The temperature will be 65 degrees at kickoff and west winds at 3 mph.

Last year: Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan 41, Mount Vernon/Plankinton 6 in the Class 11B semifinals.

Records: Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan is 3-0 and No. 1 in Class 11B; Mount Vernon/Plankinton is 2-0 and No. 3 in Class 11B.

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Here are three items to watch for in tonight’s Daily Republic Game of the Week between Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan and Mount Vernon/Plankinton:

Class 11B showdown

Class 11B pundits will have an eye on this one.

It’s a top-five matchup and the winner will likely take a leap in seed point standings in Class 11B. But rankings and seed points aside, both coaches care more about where their teams rank against a formidable foe.

Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan, which has finished as state runner-up in Class 11B the past two seasons, is off to a 3-0 start. But BEE’s three opponents this season are 2-7.

“You are always looking to play good teams and Mount Vernon/Plankinton is one of those teams on our schedule that’s always has a good program and they are always competitive,” BEE coach Jeff Van Leur said. “So we are always looking forward to playing those kind of teams.”

The teams have two common opponents this season. The Seahawks defeated Wagner (49-0) and Elk Point-Jefferson (48-7). The Titans, meanwhile, knocked off the Red Raiders (16-0) and the Huskies (20-14). MVP’s opponents are 1-5.

“Tremendous test with those guys,” MVP coach Brent Olson said about facing BEE. “Great coaching staff, great athletes, team and players that play the right way. So a great measuring stick and it really lets you know where you are in the state.”

Keys to the game

The Titans have given up just 14 points through the first two games, but they will be in for a tough task today. The Seahawks put up 46 points per game and hang their hat on running the ball.

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“It’s a tough matchup with them,” Olson said. “Whenever you are playing a coach Van Leur team you have to get the run stopped, or they are going to stuff it right up the middle and it’s going to be a long day for you.”

On the other side, Van Leur said maximizing opportunities will be key against the Titans.

“Field position is going to be a big one for us and then keeping our penalties down,” Van Leur said. “We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot and take away the drive killers. We just can’t do that. That will be two big things for us.”

Players to watch

Two Class 11B all-staters -- BEE’s Brady Hawkins and MVP’s Jesse Hastings -- will headline this battle. Hawkins has committed to play baseball at South Dakota State University. Hastings has committed to play football at North Dakota State University.

Hawkins, an all-state quarterback, powers the offensive attack and is also the team’s middle linebacker. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Hawkins is a dynamic rusher and he can also hurt teams through the air.

“If you had a draft -- him and (Chamberlain lineman) Nash Hutmacher -- would probably have split votes for the coaches on who they would take in the first pick out of 11B,” Olson said. “He’s that kind of athlete.”

Seniors Jonah Hofer and Grant Andrews pair up with Hawkins to form a tough trio of running backs for BEE.

Hastings is a bruising running back that’s rushed for 294 yards and four touchdowns through two games. The 6-foot, 230-pound Hastings is also complemented in the backfield by Hunter Pranger, who rushed for 129 yards earlier this season against Elk Point-Jefferson.

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“They have two very talented backs in the backfield,” Van Leur said. “They just do a great job of running the football for them. Those two guys first of all can do a lot of things once they get into the second level.”

Freshman quarterback Reed Rus was moved into the starting role after senior Matt Koch was forced to miss the season with an injury. Rylee Deinert also sees action in the backfield and has 148 rushing yards this season.

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