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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL | 11AAA

Harrisburg shuts out Brandon Valley for first-ever 11AAA title

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Harrisburg Trophy

Harrisburg players admire their 11AAA football championship trophy on Saturday, November 13, 2021, at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.

VERMILLION – The Harrisburg Tigers’ drive to get back to the DakotaDome and take care of unfinished business this year (after falling to Brandon Valley in last year’s 11AAA championship) was largely seen as the Jacob Knuth tour.

The 6-foot-4 senior quarterback committed to play for the Minnesota Gophers in the offseason, and when junior running back Gavin Ross emerged as a similarly talented college prospect, it just put that much more focus on the Tiger offense.

That just made it all the easier for Harrisburg’s defense to fly under the radar. But Saturday night at the DakotaDome, the Tiger defense stole the show.

While Ross rushed for 224 yards and Knuth was named MVP for contributing three total touchdowns, the defense dominated, pitching the first championship game shutout in 11AAA’s nine-year history in a convincing 27-0 win.

The Lynx never scored, managed only nine first downs and 54 passing yards, and never came especially close to finding the end zone. They missed a field goal in the first quarter and struggled to move the ball the rest of the game, at least until some garbage time yards in the fourth quarter. Harrisburg never forced a turnover, either.

They simply stopped the Lynx. Over and over.

“I’m so proud of the guys,” said senior edge rusher Ayden Viox, who had eight tackles and a sack. “Early on in the year you heard about how we were young and the defense was our weakness. But the last four or five games our defense has really come together and stepped up big time. Pitching a shutout in the state championship game? You can’t ask for more than that.”

Jack Detert (seven tackles), Levi Danielson and Tyman Long (six tackles each) led the way on Saturday, but there were contributions from all over throughout the season. A secondary spearheaded by Carter Bahrenfuss, Quinn Wessel and Tim Bishop, Cade Larson at linebacker, Christian Heerde and Josh Larsen on the interior.

Defensive coordinator David Dohn pushed the right buttons, especially down the stretch.

The first time these teams played, Brandon scored 27 points. It was a much different story in the Dome.

“Our staff is one of the better staffs at adjusting,” said Tiger coach Brandon White. “When you watch us play a game and then come back and play that team again, they really clamp down and are so detailed on where our guys need to be and how to get there.”

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