MINNEAPOLIS — For the kind of calamity BOLD plans to see on Saturday, the Warriors’ coaches are thinking of hunting over football.
“The analogy we used is you can’t shoot at the flock of geese,” said BOLD head coach Derek Flann. “You got to pick the one goose.”
Facing Browerville/Eagle Valley in the Class A state semifinals at 9 a.m. at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Warriors are prepping for the run-heavy T-formation.
Popularized by Elk River’s recent run of success, the T-formation puts three running backs at arm’s length in the backfield and relies heavily on deception with fake handoffs, all running backs looking like they’re carrying the ball and linemen pulling away from the ball to fool the defense.
“Our reads have to be singular,” Flann continued. “We can’t watch the flock travel one way, get going that way and then the one back comes back across. We got to focus on the one we gotta hunt and each guy has his keys.”
Averaging 283.5 rushing yards per game, Browerville/Eagle Valley is led by Mason Gode, who has 161 carries for 1,124 yards and 21 touchdowns this fall. Behind him is Austin Carr (69-669-12), Landon Gode (86-487-3) and Carter Meiners (64-226-5).
“This week, if we make one bad read, they can score easily,” said BOLD senior linebacker Andrew Sheehan. “Compare that to Deer River last week where if you made a wrong read, you still have time to go back to it. With (the Tigers), they’re so fast and up to the line quick. We have to be able to make the right read right away.”
Complicating matters is a Tigers’ line that matches up well with BOLD’s size. On the Browerville/Eagle Valley line: left tackle Levi Line (6-foot-1, 225), Ian Gould (6-1, 191), Trey Lancaster (6-0, 240), Noah Schnettler (6-3, 207) and Frank Couchey (6-0, 207).
“Their offensive line is good sized for Class A,” Flann said. “They do what they do very well and you can see on the film they’ve consistently improved how they do things. The key is to control the line of scrimmage.”
With so much mystery around the offense, it’s been hard for the BOLD coaches to really show the T-formation in practice.
“We were talking as a coaching staff: This isn’t an offense we can simulate,” Flann said. “We can’t show this in practice this week.”
So it’s been more of mental practice than taking reps on the practice field. The coaches are trying to teach some of the concepts and show the keys each player has to focus on. Outside of practice, film study has been more important than ever. The team also leans on previous experience against the T-formation. In the regular season, the Warriors faced a T-formation team in Sauk Centre.
“We definitely have to pay a little more attention just for the fact that it’s just misdirection so you don’t really know what’s happening,” said senior linebacker Anthony Maher. “You just need to have your assignments. We read the sheets (the coaches) give us every day, watch film at home, then watch it as a team during the team meal.”
Aside from the defensive effort, the hope is the offense can jump on Browerville/Eagle Valley early and force the Tigers to play from behind, something the T-formation isn’t built for. Browerville/Eagle Valley has thrown for only 223 yards this fall and had four straight games with zero passing yards. Last week in the state quarterfinals against Deer River, Warriors quarterback Jordan Sagedahl threw for more yards (229) than the Tigers have all year.
“Our emphasis this week is not that we can blow them out but get some early stops and put them in positions that their offense isn’t built for,” Flann said. “Their offense is built to control the game, play from ahead, run the clock out and try to pound you.”
With the study and the on-field success, the BOLD players are confident heading into the comfy confines of U.S. Bank Stadium.
“We have a good, strong defensive front and our linebackers are smart and can make the right reads,” Sheehan said. “I think we’ll out-physical them. They’re a physical tea but we can do it.”
Maher added, “We’re pretty sore but we’ll always push through. We’ll just play physical and push through it.”
State Class A semifinals
(Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis)
BOLD (12-0) vs. Browerville/Eagle Valley (10-1), 9 a.m.
Ada-Borup (10-1) vs. Blooming Prairie (11-0), 11:30 a.m.