2013 South Dakota state football championships: 11AA: Gray leads Pierre to first-ever football title

Pierre and Watertown are both teams that recently have been able to come up with some

pretty good football teams. Problem is, owing to the difference in school sizes in South

Dakota's largest class, advancing to the Dakota Dome to play for a title was very

difficult. This season, the largest eight schools created class 11AAA, leaving the

others in class 11AA, and the Governors and Arrows were now allowed to play for a

championship again on a more level playing field.

The Pierre Governors entered the title game with a 9-1 record, and were never really

challenged in the playoffs. Watertown was 7-3, but also breezed through the first two

rounds of playoffs. Both teams were supremely confident in their players, and Pierre

opened the proceedings with the ball at their own 31, and took 11 plays to march down

the field on Watertown's defense, scoring when quarterback Alex Gray found Austin

Christopherson in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown. Garret Pochop's conversion kick

was good, and Pierre led 7-0 with 8:37 left in the first quarter.

Watertown then took the ball, but Pierre was prepared for Shay Bratland's running

prowess. After three plays and a holding penalty, the Arrows punted. Pierre took the

ball 49 yards in six plays to put another touchdown on the scoreboard, this time a 2

yard run by Ethan Case. The extra point was blocked by Mitch Koehn, and Pierre led 13-0

with 5:16 in the opening quarter.

Pochop is one of the best kickers in the state, and doesn't deliver many returnable

kicks. He made that mistake on the ensuing kickoff, and Bratland took the kick 95 yards

to give Watertown their first points of the game, making the score 13-7.

Alas for the Arrows, Pierre wasn't done. Gray hit Christopherson deep for the third

time, this time resulting in a 49 yard touchdown. Pochop's kick made the score 20-7 at

the end of the first quarter.

Watertown managed to put together a decent drive, but that stalled at the Pierre 41-yard

line. Trevor Jutting's punt was downed at the Pierre 3-yard line. The Governors were

finally stopped for the first time in the game, and punted. Watertown had no answers

either offensively or defensively, and went three-and-out. Pierre then took seven plays

to score after Gray again hit Christopherson to give Pierre first-and-goal, then Gray

ran the ball in from there, giving Pierre a 27-7 with 1:12 left before halftime.

After Watertown took the ball at their own 20, Christopherson stepped in front of Logan

Gabriel's receiver, and returned the interception for another touchdown, and Pierre led

34-7 at the halftime break.

Watertown took the ball to open the second half and drove the ball all the way to the

Pierre 10-yard line with the help of two pass interference penalties against Pierre,

using 16 plays and the first seven and a half minutes of the third quarter. But

Watertown came up empty on the drive when their fourth down pass to the end zone fell

incomplete. Pierre ended up going three-and-out and punted back to the Arrows. Ricky

Hannasch brought the ball back to the Pierre 37 to try again.

That try was unsuccessful as well, and the Arrows turned the ball over on downs, and

Pierre still held a 34-7 lead heading to the fourth quarter.

Neither team moved the ball much in the final 12 minutes, but Pierre was content to run

out the clock from there to claim their first-ever state football championship. Gray was

awared the Joe Robbie Most Outstanding Player honors, for his 251 yards passing, 2

passing touchdowns, and 18 carries for 44 yards and a rushing touchdown.

SCORE BY QUARTERS     1     2     3     4-FINAL
WATERTOWN                    7     0     0     0- 7
PIERRE                             20    14     0     0-34

RUSHING: WATERTOWN: Bratland 20-91-0TD; Foley 3-16-0; Wirtjes 3-7-0; Gabriel 10-(-20)-0.

PIERRE: Gray 18-44-1TD; Case 5-28-1; Jerome 4-10-0; Pochop 1-2-0; Christopherson 1-2-0.

PASSING: WATERTOWN: Gabriel 5-16-39-0TD-1INT. PIERRE: Gray 15-23-251-2TD-0INT.

RECEIVING: WATERTOWN: St. Sauver 2-20-0TD; Gravatt 1-9-0; Poppen 1-7-0; Decker 1-3-0.

PIERRE: Chirstopherson 5-149-2TD; Pochop 6-51-0; Reinke 3-31-0; Green 1-20-0.

Filed Under Football | Varsity Sports