THE FIRST ‘KEY TO THE CITY’ GAME IS SET

THOMAS ELNESS

tkelness12@ole.augie.edu

 

On Saturday afternoon the Augustana Vikings and the University of Sioux Falls (USF) Cougars football teams will square off in a battle for top squad in Sioux Falls.

Separated by two city blocks, the schools have been natural rivals for years. However, the two  have not played each other in football since 1986, when Augustana defeated then Sioux Falls College 20-0.

The 26-year period has some of the Augustana football players especially excited to hit the field with the Cougars on Saturday.

Senior wider receiver Ben Parsley is one of those anxious Vikings.

“I’ve been waiting to play USF since I came here,” Parsley said.  “There has always been talk about the two teams in the city and how they compare and we’ll finally get to see.  I think it will be a huge rivalry in the future with being so close and also the attitudes of the students from each side when we have played them in basketball in years past.  I imagine it’ll get pretty wild.”

Parsley has hauled in seven touchdowns this year and is averaging 11.7 yards per catch.

Senior quarterback Josh Hanson said, “I’m excited to get the rivalry going this year. I think it will be a great rivalry for the two schools, the conference and the city of Sioux Falls.”

Hanson completed 14 of 17 pass attempts in Saturday’s game against Upper Iowa, for 289 yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, he ran for two touchdowns in the 66-20 conference road win.

Augie players are pumped, but how about USF?

“Just throw the practice speeches and pregame speeches out the window, because it’s not going to take a lot to get both teams up for this one,” USF head coach Jed Stugart pointed out.

He explained USF’s mental preparation, “Every week is an important game.  In a game like this, you throw records out the window. There’s a lot of emotion. These are two teams that know each other. There are friends on each team that have played each other. All are little components that make this game special. Augie is coming off a huge win against Upper Iowa.  They looked very good on film; they looked very explosive and they’re playing very well.”

Augustana enters the game with a 3-4 record, while USF is boasting a 6-1 season.

The game is due to be exciting for players, coaches and fans alike.  The in-town rivalry game is on the Saturday of fall break for Augustana College, leaving students wondering if they should stick around for the football game.

The Augieholics have started a Facebook group  and created a video encouraging students to stay.

Hanson also encourages Augie students to stay for what is set to be a very exciting game.

“I hope we can get the student body to stick around for this game.  It’s going to be a great atmosphere to be a part of and it would be great to have a lot of students there,” he said.

Parsley echoed Hanson’s thoughts, “The atmosphere for the game definitely needs to be that of a rivalry.  That isn’t possible without a lot of students at the game.”

Head coach Mike Aldrich said, “We would love to have all the support we can get from our student body, as our team is part of that student body.  This game and a win would be for the whole school, not just the football team.”

“But I understand the opportunity to take advantage of a break from school too.  I just hope and would love if all our students would be at the game, as I know their students will be there.”

The two Sioux Falls schools are in the same conference for the first time this season.

Augustana joined the NSIC in 2008 after the disbanding of the North Central Conference in 2008.  USF joined the NSIC for the 2012-2013 season after leaving the Great Plains Athletic Conference.

Augustana and University of Sioux Falls will face off at 1 p.m. on Oct. 20 at Augustana’s Kirkeby-Over Stadium.