Keegan Van Egdom lost the ball, which was bad enough for Sioux Falls Christian. Worse was the fact that Van Egdom didn’t bounce up from the turf.
The Chargers’ star wingback tried to sit up but the pain from a twisted right knee made him turn face down on the turf. He sat back up but took a couple minutes to rise to his feet. He walked off the field, but gingerly.
“I didn’t hear anything, so that was a good sign,” Van Egdom said. “But it hurt a lot, so I didn’t know what it was.”
While Tri-Valley was trying to break through the Chargers’ defense to score the first points of the game, Van Egdom was trying to get back into the game. He got his leg stretched out and then got up and started running along the sideline. Hardly ten minutes after he couldn’t sit up, Van Egdom was about to come back in the game.
“I knew he was going to get up,” Sioux Falls Christian head coach Jake Pettengill said. “He’s a tough kid.”
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And when he did, it looked like nothing bad had ever happened. He ran for 39 yards on three plays on the next drive and scored the Chargers’ first touchdown, setting the tone for another game where Sioux Falls Christian’s power-run game beat an opponent into submission with Van Egdom leading the way, as he scored both touchdowns in the Chargers’ 16-8 win on Thursday night at Bob Young Field.
The Chargers and Mustangs ended the first half tied 8-8, but it was only due to Sioux Falls Christian’s mistakes. The Chargers gave away one possession on Van Egdom’s fumble and another when quarterback Sawyer Prins slipped away from a sack and heaved an ill-advised pass over the middle of the field, right into the arms of Logan Larsen.
Combine that with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that extended a Tri-Valley drive in the fourth quarter, and it was certainly not a mistake-free night for Pettengill’s squad.
“The last two weeks, we’ve played games that we haven’t been able to keep our kids in for a full game,” Pettengill said, referring to the wide margin of the Chargers’ victories over Vermillion and Elk Point-Jefferson. “So it’s been hard to focus our kids when you don’t always get to play four quarters. And so we put ourself in a little bit of a bind, when maybe you have a little bit of a letdown in between.”
Van Egdom’s eight-yard touchdown run with 23 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Chargers the edge they needed, though. Tri-Valley put together a long drive of its own towards the end of the game and fourth and eight with just about two and a half minutes left, but Sioux Falls Christian forced an incompletion and got a first down on the next drive to ice the game away.
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Coming into the night, the Chargers’ spot in the Class 11A playoffs was not quite secured — some craziness across the state could have left them out — but Thursday’s win ensures a postseason berth and gives Sioux Falls Christian a strong chance for a No. 4 seed, which would give the Chargers home field advantage.
Regardless of seeding, simply making the playoffs is a huge step for the program.
“It has never happened in the history of our school,” Pettengill said. “It came in a tight game. Our kids battled and came out on top and I’m really proud of them.”