Travis Bruner was an 18-year-old shortstop when the Velva American Legion team won the 2005 Class B state championship and Bruner was named the tournament's most valuable player.
Starting today in LaMoure, the coach will try to lead Velva on a similar run and earn the program its first title since that win against Thompson seven years ago.
Velva earned a state tournament berth with an 11-5 win against Cando Sunday in the Section 5 championship game.
Velva shortstop Ty Bruner throws to first in a game at Surrey earlier this month.
Velva (28-6) plays Section 7 champion Washburn (30-4) at 4 p.m. It's the first game of what Velva hopes is a long run, one that could force the team to play five or six games in a five-day period.
To counteract the long tournament and the rule that limits pitchers to 12 innings over a three-day period, Velva has a rotation that may go five-deep with Jon Mack, Ryan Kuntz, Drew Effertz, Brad Dean and Derek Fahy.
"It's an advantage (having so many pitchers) because the tournament is a long stretch," Bruner said." No matter how good your pitcher is, they'll get tired."
This is Velva's fourth consecutive trip to state and while many on the team played on the 2008 Babe Ruth state championship team, none have won a legion state title.
"The first couple of years you make it to state you're just happy to be there," said shortstop Ty Bruner, Travis Bruner's brother. "It's always exciting to get there. These last couple years now we're getting comfortable with it. I'm just hoping everybody's comfort level can get us through and not get us rattled."
A year ago, Velva was bounced by host Bottineau, a team Velva eliminated in that season's Section 5 tournament.
"It was kind of a letdown for us," center fielder Chandler Mack said. "We're over that and we're moving on to better things."
Velva was familiar with each of its opponents for the Section 5 tournament, a luxury the team won't have this week.
Velva played against defending-champion Casselton, Grafton and LaMoure this season but didn't face any of the other teams in the field. Many of Velva's players played against Washburn High in the spring, when the Velva-Drake Aggies defeated the Washburn-Wilton-Center Stanton Cardinals.
"It's kind of a deal when you get to the state tournament and you expect that the team you're going to be playing is a solid, good team," Travis Bruner said.
Unlike the Section 5 tournament, when Velva commuted daily to Bottineau, the team will be staying about ten minutes from LaMoure in Verona for the duration of the state tournament.
Washburn enters its third consecutive state tournament, having defeated Hazen last week for the Section 7 championship.
Washburn coach Kip Erickson said the preparation that goes into playing Velva will be similar to any team they've played this season.
"You hope that will be enough," Erickson said.
Said Washburn shortstop Brett Shreiner: "We know Velva's a good team. We know what they have. We know they have good hitters. We know they have good pitchers but we need to go out and play our game."
The Velva-Washburn winner will play the winner of Wahpeton vs. Casselton at 5 p.m. Thursday. The losers of each game will meet at noon.