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Playmaker Eisenbeisz helps fuel Golden Eagles

Aberdeen Central’s Cooper Eisenbeisz, left, tries to make a move past Yankton’s Bode Thurman, right, after Eisenbeisz made a catch during last Friday night’s game at the Brownell Activities Complex. Photo by John Davis taken 10/13/2023

The adage goes “big players make big plays in big games.”

Aberdeen Central’s Cooper Eisenbeisz is a player that makes big plays in big moments for the Golden Eagle football team.

The senior does his best to be mentally prepared every time he steps onto the field.

“Going into each game I really don’t expect anything. I kind of just get out there, and, you know, watching film, I’m prepared,” Eisenbeisz said.

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Eisenbeisz’s mentality has also been noticed by Central head coach Justin Briese and the coaching staff.

“I think a big part of it is his mentality, his approach to it. He really likes to get after it,” Briese said. “He’s got strengths in how he mentally approaches a game to get himself better, and … he wants to showcase that in games. At the same time, he’s physically got some talents and gifts that allow him to do that.”

Eisenbeisz said in addition to watching film, his mindset also comes from a coaching staff that encourages him before each game.

“One of my weightlifting coaches says one phase of winning is preparation. If you’re always prepared, you got to step up,” Eisenbeisz said. “So, watching film just gives me a step up on the competition. I go into games thinking ‘Hey they’re going to do this; they’re going to do that.’ They come out in that, and I know what to do.”

Central coach Justin Briese said that Eisenebeisz’s preparation is noticeable at practice and during games.

“He gets after it in practice. He really works hard to get himself better,” Briese said. “He doesn’t really care who’s across from him on the defensive side, he’s going to go hard.”

Eisenbeisz has become a key weapon for the Golden Eagles from his wide receiver position. Briese said Eisenbeisz is a big part of the offense this season because of his big play capability.

“He’s been huge for us to be able to have a vertical threat, somebody that can go vertical and catch a ball for either a big gain or take it the distance for a touchdown,” Briese said.

Briese also noted that Eisenbeisz has played a major role on special teams.

“He’s been huge also in special teams doing kick returns, punt returns,” Briese said. “Having somebody back there that you can trust to catch the ball and to start the offense out on a good field position is really needed.”

Cooper Eisenbeisz, of the Aberdeen Smittys, throw a pitch during a game against the Harrisburg Tigers this past season at Fossum Field. Photo by John Davis taken 7/16/2023

In addition to football, Eisenbeisz has also participated in basketball and track and field for the Golden Eagles, as well as baseball for the Aberdeen Smittys. However, he would have to say that being on the gridiron is his favorite.

“It’s just fun going out on Friday night, seeing a whole town pretty much there for you to see you compete,” Eisenbeisz said. “And I love to hit people, love to catch the ball, and I love to play with my friends and everything.”

Off the field, Briese said he is quiet and soft spoken.

“He’s a pretty mild-mannered kid,” Briese said. “Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get him to talk a little bit, but once you get him going, he’s a good kid and I think he’s really enjoyed his senior year and how much he’s been able to contribute to the team.”

Eisenbeisz’s contributions include being a leader for the team, which features motivating his teammates in practice and before games.

“Before the game I like to get everyone rowdy in the locker room, get hyped up, songs bumping. I like to get everyone ready and focused in,” Eisenbeisz said. “During practice I lead a squad of three guys. We call ourselves ‘The Goons,’ actually. It’s a wide receiver corp. I just lead those guys at practice. We do our routes and get our stuff done.”

Eisenbeisz has enjoyed his greater role in the offensive game plan this season.

“This season’s probably been a lot more than I could ask, for sure,” Eisenbeisz said. “Coming into the season, I knew we weren’t going to pass the ball much coming back with four of the five offensive linemen. I’m thinking to myself ‘ok we’re probably just going to run the ball,’ but (offensive coach Justin) Fox has opened up a little bit. He’s passed the ball quite a bit more than I thought he would.”

Aberdeen Central’s Cooper Eisenbeisz, right, sprints down the sideline past Watertown’s Jeremiah Schulte (4) and Peyton Buisker (2) on an 81-yard touchdown run during a game earlier this season at the Brownell Activities Complex. Photo by John Davis taken 9/29/2023

Eisenbeisz said the coaching staff expects him to make big plays when the team needs them.

“(Fox) expects me to make plays, and I’ve been making those plays,” Eisenbeisz said. “Hopefully, I continue to make those plays for my team and for my coaches.”

Eisenbeisz will be a key part of the team’s success as the Golden Eagles focus their attention toward the postseason. But first, the Golden Eagles will face a tall task this evening as they travel to Sioux Falls to take on the Lincoln Patriots, who are undefeated and top-ranked in Class 11AAA.

Eisenbeisz said the team will need to set the tone early against the Patriots.

Once the playoffs begin, The Golden Eagles will have their sights set on making a run at the Class 11AA state championship game, something Aberdeen Central has not participated in since a runner-up finish in 2009. Eisenbeisz said the team will need to be focused heading into the postseason.

“I think the defense has to keep playing how they’re playing. They’re getting turnovers; they’re getting us the ball” Eisenbeisz said. “I think the offense needs to be rolling on all facets of the game. Right now, we’re not really doing that. We’re going to work on it in practice. We’re going to go try and make our late season run here.”

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