In Pierce, game day starts a lot earlier than the opening kickoff.

Its coach, Mark Brahmer, stresses that games are won Monday through Thursday. The work you put in during practice is what translates when the lights come on every Friday. It’s work that doesn’t just apply to the gridiron.

“The people that are doing well, they’re on point all the time,” he said. “They’re there. They’re on time, they work to their potential, they work to get along with the people that are on their team or in their business or at the factory and they get the job done and that’s the same thing as a football player, so that’s what we emphasize to our guys.”

As such, Brahmer also stresses the importance of the coaches being held to that same standard, to be what they want to see from their players.

“We’ve got to be held accountable, and we’ve got to model exactly what we expect out of our young men,” Brahmer said “Hopefully, throughout my career, I’ve been able to do that for guys and hopefully this year I’ve been able to do it for our guys.”

Many of this year’s “guys” are seniors who have made the state championship game every season. They came up short in 2019 and 2021 and won it all in 2020, on their home field against Adams Central. On Tuesday, they’ll take on Aurora for the title.

This group ranges from multi-Super Six and Elite 8 players like Abram Scholting and Ben Brahmer — Mark’s son — to physical enforcers like Dawson Raabe, Tristen Kuehler and Luke Endorf and athletic perimeter players like Addison Croghan and Jayden Coulter.

Brahmer credits the classes that came before these seniors that set an example for how things are done, especially those who, when the current seniors were eighth graders, overcame an 0-2 start to advance to the state semifinals.

“They were able to see that as eighth graders and the grades above them as they got into senior high,” Brahmer said. “Those guys were good role models for them in terms of how we do business and so they’ve learned from them and they’ve been able to take the baton and be able to get us back to this point.”

This is a group that Brahmer and his staff has been watching grow for upwards of a decade. Not just in football, but in basketball and baseball among others.

“When we had practices in basketball when they were third graders,” he said. “we were getting into three-point stances and working a little football at the end of practice, too.”

If you take the main entrance to get to the football field, you’ll see a photo with all the current seniors captioned “Unfinished Business,” a message that’s reverberated throughout the team since the end of last season, in which they finished as state runners-up.

Nick Saban often says not to waste a failure. Through this message, Brahmer said he feels his team is utilizing that failure as something to build off of.

“Last year we went down and, although we played hard, we made some mistakes and we failed on the big stage,” Brahmer said of last year’s title game. “I hope that motivates our guys, and I think it has provided motivation throughout the season.”

It shows in their undefeated record, with all 12 games being won by no fewer than 10 points.

To Brahmer, record doesn’t reflect the mantra as much as mentality.

“Hopefully this is motivation, but in the end, you can’t hope. You’ve gotta do. You’ve got to have strong will.

“That doesn’t always guarantee you’re going to win or you’re going to be successful, but you’ve got to be very determined, very strong-willed and we’ve got to go down there and play as hard as we can, do everything in our power individually and collectively to try to get a victory over a good football team. In the end, hopefully we’ll have gold around our necks.”

Getting that gold will come against one of the better 11-man teams in the entire state over the past few years.

The Huskies won the C1 state title in 2018, then finished as runners-up in Class B each of the last two years. They enter this matchup undefeated, and present no weaknesses in Brahmer’s eyes.

“There’s a reason why they’ve had success over a long period of time,” Brahmer said. “To beat a team like that, you’re going to have to play really well, but to be able to have a chance at it, you’ve got to practice really well, and so our guys know that if you don’t practice and prepare as hard as you can, you don’t give yourself a chance on game day so we’ve got to do a good job of preparing for the test because it’s a big one.”

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