The Cheyenne-Eagle Butte Braves took on the Winnebago Indians in an All Nation 9A football contest on August 27 in Winnebago, Nebraska.
Not only was this the season opener for both teams, it was the restart of the conference at full strength.
There was a reduced schedule due to COVID in 2020 and a number of teams went dormant, creating a drastic impact on 18 Indian schools located across a three-state region – Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
These schools are divided into two divisions. The 9A schools consist of Cheyenne-Eagle Butte, SD; Flandreau Indian, SD; Little Wound, SD; Pine Ridge, SD; Red Cloud, SD; St. Francis, SD; Standing Rock, ND; Todd County, SD; and Winnebago, NE.
The 9B schools are Crazy Horse, SD; Crow Creek, SD; Lower Brule, SD; Marty, SD; McLaughlin, SD; Oelrichs, SD; Omaha Nation, NE; SD; Takini, SD; Tiospa Zina, SD.
The Braves started the contest on offense, but after three quick running plays they were forced to punt. The Indians got the ball on their own 38-yard line and from there they went on a 15-play drive that consumed over eight minutes of the first quarter to score their first touchdown of the game.
Their big running back Number 28, Antrell Harlan, punched the ball over from the 1-yard line. The Indians’ extra point kick was unsuccessful however, and the score became 6 to 0.
In the subsequent kickoff by the Indians, the ball was touched by a Brave and bounced away. It was recovered by the Indians, which put Winnebago right back on offense on the Brave’s 37-yard line.
Eight plays later that also became the first part of the second quarter, Indians Quarterback Number 1, Zaiden Bernie ran to his right and scored from six yards out to give Winnebago its second touchdown of the afternoon. However, the Braves stiffened up and stopped the Indians’ extra point try by running back Number 28, Harlan, bringing the score to 12 to 0.
Following the kickoff, the Braves started their second possession of the game from their own 26-yard line. In their first play from scrimmage, quarterback Number 10 Ashton Ganje tried a pass that was unsuccessful. The team lined up in “shotgun formation” for their next attempt on offense, but there was an errant snap that was recovered by Winnebago.
With ball on the Braves’ 18-yard line, the Indians managed to get their third touchdown of the game in one play. Running back Number 12, Logan Suarez, scrambled to his right and broke a couple of tackles. On the extra point try, Indians’ quarterback Bernie hit his tight end Number 38, Lucian DeCora, to push the score to 20 to 0.
After the kickoff, the Braves started on their own 35-yard line. Number 41 Teysean Eagle Staff was in “shotgun formation” and was intercepted on the third play from scrimmage, which put the Indians back in business on the Braves’ 26-yard line.
Again, on one play, Winnebago running back Number 28 Harlan ran the ball in to make the score 26 to 0. The Indians also lined up in field-goal formation to try the extra point kick and this time they were successful, adding one more point to their total – 27 to 0.
With starting quarterback Ashton Ganje apparently out of the contest due to injury, Number 41 Teysean Eagle Staff again stepped up to command control of the helm. Unfortunately, as Winnebago pulled away, all the Braves fans knew the young man was going to have to pass to make up ground quickly.
Sadly, the opponents also keyed in on the sophomore’s dilemma and once more intercepted his pass, taking the ball back on the Braves’ 21-yard line. As hard as they tried, the Braves could not stop Indians’ quarterback Bernie from running the ball in for a fifth touchdown of the game on the very next play. With the extra point kick, the score rose to 34 to 0.
With 6:35 minutes left to play in the first half, Winnebago squibbed the ball on the subsequent kickoff and as it bounced and creamed around, it was finally recovered by the Indians Number 51. Fortunately, the Winnebago player was in a prone position with his hand and leg on the sideline as he scrambled to recover the loose ball. Since a player who is out of bounds cannot come back into the field of play to recover the ball, CEB maintained possession. Unfortunately, the Braves’ luck did not hold and they once again gave the ball back to their hosts.
With 2:15 minutes left in the game, the Indians scored their last touchdown and extra point kick of the half. With the score at 41 to 0 and the Mercy Rule invoked as the horn blew to end the first half, the game ended.
With over a seven-hour drive back to Eagle Butte, the Braves had enough time to reflect on their successes in the game: sophomore Teysean Eagle Staff stepped up and junior Zander Bowman made yardage despite being chased like he got the last biscuit at Mr. Bumble’s poorhouse in Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist”.
Scoring by Quarters: C-EB 0 0 = 0