PILLAGER -- The Pillager Huskies are heading into the Section 6A football championship with the motto that, "You dance with what got you there."
For Pillager, which will face the Bertha-Hewitt Bears at 3 p.m. Friday at the Fargodome, that's the wishbone offense.
"We don't have to worry about the elements so we're going to throw the ball a little more than we normally do," said Huskies head coach Pete Bothun. "But we're going to go in and do what we normally do, which is the good, old-fashioned wishbone."
The wishbone helped Pillager defeat Parkers Prairie 24-14 in the semifinals Saturday. The Huskies gained 162 yards on the ground with five backs carrying the ball. Robert and Steve Bethel, Adam Brown, Jeff Pace and Steve Szczodroski will once again be called on, along with quarterback Lee Roberts, to rush against a solid Bears defense.
"Bertha-Hewitt runs a base-four, but we'll see about five and six down lineman," said Bothun. "They were very worried about our option. There were a lot of down linemen and linebackers. That was new for us. We hadn't seen that all year. They didn't really shut us down but they kept us out of the end zone."
The last time these teams met the Bears beat Pillager 49-6 on Sept. 14. After two more losses the Huskies have rattled off five straight victories for a 7-3 record.
"They are well-coached and well-disciplined," said Bothun about B-H. "They gave us all we could handle in the first meeting.
"We're going there to win. We believe we can win. It's going to take almost a perfect game, mistake-free. The team that is on the plus-side of turnovers will win.
"We have two good defenses and two good offenses going after each other. They have the advantage in the playoff factor in that they have been there before."
Defensively, the Huskies will need to be on their toes. Bertha-Hewitt runs a wing-T offense, bringing backs from all over with a lot of misdirection. Bothun believes the Bears also have one of the best special teams around.
On the bright side, Pillager is healthy
"We're as healthy as we've been," said Bothun. "Adam Brown is back and had another monster game against Parkers Prairie with five sacks, two touchdowns, 10 tackles and a blocked punt. We get Tyrone Farber back, too. We have absolutely no injuries."
One more factor will be confidence. In their Sept. 15 showdown the Huskies lacked the confidence to play against a perennial playoff team. Now they're ready and believe they will make a game of it.
"The reason I think we've changed so much is in the semifinal game we got down 14-0 early," said Bothun. " Teams in the past, we get down early, we'd be done. Now we believe that we can come back."
Pillager might need to come back as the Bears enter the contest with a 9-1 record, losing only to Ottertail Central. In 10 games B-H has outscored its opponents 387-81. In their last four games the Bears allowed only eight points. They are averaging 38.7 points per game.
Pillager has scored 240 points, with 72 coming against Sebeka. Of those 240 points, 194 have come in the last five games where the Huskies have outscored their opponents 194-62.
The winner of Friday's game will host the winner of the Section 8 championship game, between Warren-Alvarado-Oslo and Fertile-Beltrami, in the state quarterfinals Nov. 10.
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