By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
The Vian Wolverines head to Hennessey on Friday in what is starting to look like an annual Thanksgiving reunion and for good reason.
The two teams are facing each other for the third straight season in the Class 2A quarterfinals with each having a win over the other at home.
In 2011, Hennessey beat Vian 18-7 in Hennessey on its way to back-to-back state championships while the Wolverines ended the Eagles’ hopes of a three-peat with a 43-13 win last year in Vian. This season, Vian enters the game at 12-0 and No. 3 in the Associated Press poll while Hennessey is 11-1 and No. 4.
“They’re a great program,” said Vian coach Brandon Tyler. “Just the way the bracket is drawn, if you win your district and they win theirs, the possibility is there that you’re going to meet in the third round. That’s the way the bracket played out and we’ve got to go with what the OSSAA puts out there.”
Having played each other the last two years, Tyler is as familiar with the Eagles as he would be a district opponent.
“We kind of know each other and the personnel,” Tyler said. “It makes for a fun ball game. It says a lot about both programs being in this spot for three years in a row.”
Hennessey, on the other hand, has a motivating factor of having lost the last meeting. Rick Luetjen, in his fifth year at Hennessey, said that his guys are not focusing on the revenge aspect of Friday’s game.
“I know (Vian) put a lot into the game last year because we were the team that knocked them off the year before and they were hoping to win it that year,” Luetjen said. “We as a coaching staff don’t push the revenge mode because if you sell out too hard to it, there are still games to be played if you’re able to win this game. We’re going to treat it just like a regular game and I’m sure they’re doing the same thing.”
Luetjen did say that preparation this week is a little easier because the two schools have faced each other the past two seasons. Sometimes, more is learned by what takes place on the field and not what is seen in the film room.
“The more knowledge you have on a team, the easier it is to prepare for them,” Luetjen said. “One thing you might not know about a program is their physicality and their size and what kind of heart they play with. Now that we’ve played each other two years in a row, going into the third one, our kids know what to expect from their kids and their kids know what to expect from ours.”