Seahawks one step away from Dome: BEE hosts Tigers in 11B semifinals

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Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan's Bodie Burnham (22) bounces out to the sideline while carrying the ball during a Class 11B state playoff game against Lead-Deadwood earlier this season in Bridgewater.

BRIDGEWATER -- It will be a contrast in styles today at Sparky Anderson Field.

Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan (10-0) hosts Mobridge-Pollock (9-0) at 6 p.m. today in the Class 11B semifinals, with the winner facing Winner or Sioux Valley in the state championship on Nov. 13 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.

The Seahawks and Tigers are two of the last three remaining undefeated teams in Class 11B, while they’ve each gone about it in different ways.

“I think we matchup pretty well,” BEE coach Jeff VanLeur said. “They have a little speed there but I think we matchup real well and we’ve got a little size advantage, but on paper, it looks good.”

Once again, the Seahawks rely on their rushing attack to wear down their opponents and they have a strong front on both sides of the ball. BEE has racked up 2,840 rushing yards and 41 rushing touchdowns, while giving up just three rushing scores on defense.


Koby Kayser powers the ground game with 1,120 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. Bodie Burnham adds 881 rushing yards and 11 more touchdowns.

The Tigers, meanwhile, look to air it out. Mobridge-Pollock quarterback Cayden Eisemann has 2,153 passing yards and 35 touchdowns, including a seven-touchdown performance against Miller/Highmore-Harrold this season. Bryston Goehring (717 receiving yards/16 touchdowns) and Braden Goehring (633 receiving yards/12 touchdowns) are Eisemann’s favorite targets. Gavin Reinert adds 474 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground.

But for the Seahawks, it all starts with pressuring Eisemann, who threw for a career-high 382 yards and had three touchdowns last week against St. Thomas More.

“We can’t let him stand back there and just throw the football,” VanLeur said. “We need to get some pressure there and then be disciplined coverage-wise. We have to cover their good receivers and then of course ball control is going to be big. We can’t let them have a bunch of plays on us.”

But Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan’s defense appears up for the challenge. The Seahawks have allowed just five passing touchdowns, while recording 19 interceptions. BEE has pitched three shutouts on defense and has given up just 52 points. They’ve also only given up 709 rushing yards and 813 passing yards. Burnham paces the defensive backfield with five interceptions, while Rylee Schultz (76 tackles/4 interceptions) and Brandon Jansen (53 tackles/4 sacks) anchor the defensive front.

The stingy defense has been BEE’s calling card and it’s continued this season.

“We really stress that to our kids and this time of year we’ve really got to be playing good defense to give ourselves a chance and keep our offense in the game and give us field position,” VanLeur said. “We really rely heavily on defense and the kids like to play it.”

The Seahawks beat the Tigers, 47-6, in the 2018 quarterfinals. They have one common opponent this season in Lead-Deadwood. The Tigers blanked the Golddiggers (50-0) in the regular season, while the Seahawks defeated Lead-Deadwood (53-0) in the playoff opener.


The unfamiliarity adds another layer to the matchup, but one VanLeur enjoys during the preparation.

“It’s a little guessing game going on and a little jigsaw puzzle type of deal going on,” he said. “So yeah, it’s kind of fun.”

But the stage is not unfamiliar to BEE, which is making its fifth consecutive appearance in the state semifinals. The Seahawks — the reigning state champions — have played in four straight Class 11B state championship games.

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