High school football: Bobcats ready for another challenge against Spearfish

Brookings running back Will Conrad runs the ball during a 33-0 loss to Watertown on Aug. 25. The Bobcats will look for their first victory at Spearfish at 7 p.m. Central time on Friday. (Chris Schad/Brookings Register)

BROOKINGS — The Brookings Bobcats will look for their first win of the season when they travel to Spearfish on Friday night, but their biggest challenge has been trying to improve with each game this season.

The Bobcats’ improvement has yet to show up on the scoreboard but head coach Brady Clark has identified some marginal progress that has come throughout the season.

“For me as a coach, I’d say our biggest positive is that you’re seeing a team out on the field that’s not going to quit,” Clark said. “We’re not seeing negative body language or seeing guys give up. You know that the effort is there and that’s a really important factor for us because that’s not a program we identify as. We’re going to keep fighting to the very end and I’ve been proud of those guys.”

One of the areas that Clark mentioned was his special teams unit, which produced Will Conrad’s 90-yard kickoff return that was the Bobcats’ first touchdown of the season. With sophomore Bergen Tetzlaff also coming up with an interception on defense in last week’s loss to Huron, both are players who have started to step up as the season has progressed.

“They’re getting a lot more time this year than they have before,” Clark said. “What we’re seeing with those guys is that they’re coming to practice every day and setting such a good example.


What: Week 4 — Brookings Bobcats (0-3) at Spearfish Spartans (2-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Lyle Hare Stadium in Spearfish

Clark also noted that Tetzlaff and Clark are coming into their own as leaders, which is helping to set the tone for a young team.

“You’re seeing a different kind of energy from them,” Clark said. “That’s important to not only have on the sidelines but out on the field and now they’re seeing the hard work they’re putting in is paying off on the field. Do they still have work to do? Absolutely. We all do. But it’s been really nice to see them slowly come into their own with what they’re capable of.”

That progress will be tested this week against a high-powered Spearfish offense. The Spartans, who are ranked No. 5 in the latest Class 11AA media poll, enter Friday’s game with a 2-1 record and are averaging just over 41 points per game including last week’s 47-20 victory over Douglas, where they scored all of their points in the first half.

“They like to throw the ball and take their deep shots,” Clark said of the Spartans. “They have some athletic guys and defensively, they fly around and get to the football. They’re coming in with a lot of energy, a lot of confidence and their mindset, being 2-1, maybe that’s a little different than ours…so we’re just preparing as we would any other game and in all three phases of the game, go out and give it our best.”

To do that, Clark believes the next step for his team is for all 11 players to get on the same page and increase their communication to slow the Spartans down. To do that, Clark believes it will require another step in the maturation of his leaders.

“I’ll challenge our leaders and upperclassmen who are the ones out on the field and making sure they’re holding guys accountable and being the guys that are communicating those things,” Clark said. “Part of being a leader is not only having to do your job but encouraging, empowering and taking care of the guys around you.”

Clark went on to say that the Bobcats will look to better identify things on the field but he also believes that Friday’s game is another opportunity for Brookings to take a step forward.

“I really look forward to seeing how ou guys are going to respond to that challenge on Friday night,” Clark said. “I believe they will step up.”