The 9A championship game featured a team with plenty of dome experience (Howard) against a
team that fell just short of the dome last year, and making their first dome appearance
(Wolsey-Wessington). It also featured two electric backs. Howard's Luke Loudenburg had 50
rushing touchdowns on the season entering this game, while Wolsey-Wessington's Lorenzo
Williams had skills both rushing and passing the ball.
With that backdrop, it was an inauspicious start for the Warbirds. They received the opening
kickoff, but Darian Ogunjemusi fumbled with Howard recovering at the Warbirds' 39. On the
game's second play from scrimmage, Loudenburg showed off his breakaway speed, scoring on a
39-yard touchdown run. The 2 point conversion was good, and Howard had a quick 8-0 lead 53
seconds into the contest.
The Tigers then attempted an onside kickoff, which Wolsey-Wessington covered, but the
Warbirds went three-and-out on their opening possession. Howard scored again four plays later
when quarterback Jordan Genzlinger hit Gunner Gilbertson on a drag route for the 12-yard
touchdown pass. This time the conversion failed, and Howard held a 14-0 lead with 8:14 left
in the first quarter.
Wolsey-Wessington finally found some success on their next possession. On 3rd and 9 from
their own 41 yard line, Williams found a hole in Howard's defense and took it all 59 yards to
the end zone for the Warbirds' first score. Two separate penalties pushed their conversion
attempt back to the 13-yard line, but that didn't faze Wolsey-Wessington, who put 2 more
points up on a nice pass, making the score 14-8 with 6:38 left in the first.
Howard wasn't quite done spinning their side of the scoring ledger, though. After another
quick drive, Genzlinger found Gilbertson in the end zone for the second time of the game,
this time a 9 yard touchdown pass. The ensuing conversion failed, and Howard held a 20-8 lead
at the end of the first quarter.
The defenses settled down in the second quarter, even though Wolsey-Wessington came back
early on with Williams scoring his second touchdown on an 18 yard run at 11:54 of the second
quarter. That conversion failed, and Howard led 20-14.
The teams largely traded punts, including a 64 yard beauty of a punt from Gilbertson that
pinned Wolsey-Wessington at their own 4-yard line. Howard did have a scoring chance late in
the half, though. They had driven the ball to the Wolsey-Wessington 22 yard line, but the
Warbirds' defense locked in and earned a turnover on downs. On the first half's final play,
Williams had a lot of time to throw, but couldn't find anyone open and ended up taking a
short gain as the half ended with Howard leading 20-14.
Howard took the kickoff in the second half, and on 4th and 3, the fourth consecutive handoff
to Loudenburg was sniffed out by Williams, who stopped him for a 3 yard loss, giving Wolsey-
Wessington the ball at the Howard 44-yard line. Wolsey-Wessington couldn't do a lot with the
ball, either. On their fourth play, Jerret Weber fumbled on a plunge, and Howard's Thad
Henkel recovered at their own 31.
Howard started spreading the ball around, with Loudenburg finding little room to run, and
drove the ball to the Warbirds' 25-yard line, before the drive stalled and Wolsey-Wessington
took over on downs. Wolsey-Wessington went three-and-out, and then Ogunjenilusi unleashed a
56 yard punt, which Loudenburg picked up at his own 10, and proceeded to return it 43 yards
to the Wolsey-Wessington 33 yard line. The 3rd quarter ended without another score, but on
the first play of the fourth, Loudenburg scampered 9 yards for his second touchdown of the
game. The conversion failed, and Howard extended their lead to 26-14 with 11:55 to play.
But the Warbirds weren't done yet. They took the ball at midfield, used three different
backs, then Williams finished the 4-play scoring drive with an 18-yard touchdown run. After a
false start penalty, the conversion failed, and Howard's lead was cut to 26-20 with 10:35 to
After a spearing penalty gave Howard a first down at the Wolsey-Wessington 40, Genzlinger
fumbled a 2nd down snap, which was recovered by Williams, giving the Warbirds the ball at
their own 40 with just under 10 minutes left. After driving the ball to the Howard 31 yard
line, the Warbirds faced 4th and 2, and called their first timeout with 6:57 to play.
Williams took the ball on a read-option action and got 8 yards, making it 1st and 10 from the
Howard 23. Wolsey-Wessington ended up with 4th and 1, but Howard's defense made the stand,
stopping Hunter Johnson for no gain, giving Howard the ball with 4:21 to play.
Howard was unable to move the ball much on their possession and punted. On their first play,
Williams had very good protection, but ended up overthrowing his receiver and the pass was
intercepted by Gilbertson. Howard took over at the Wolsey-Wessington 29 yard line with 1:32
to play. Loudenburg scored his third touchdown on the next play. The conversion attempt
failed, and Howard had a 32-20 lead with 1:25 to play. Howard held on for the remaining time
and claimed their third state football championship. Loudenburg claimed the Joe Robbie Most
Outstanding Player with 227 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.
SCORE BY QUARTERS 1 2 3 4-FINAL
WOLSEY-WESSINGTON 8 6 6 0- 20
HOWARD 20 0 6 6- 32
RUSHING: WOLSEY-WESSINGTON: Williams 28-242-3TD; Johnson 9-35-0TD; Ogunjemilusi 1-13-0TD;
Weber 1-1-0TD. HOWARD: Loudenburg 29-227-3TD; Gilbertson 7-58-0TD; Kuhle 9-57-0TD;
PASSING: WOLSEY-WESSINGTON: Williams 1-7-18-0TD-2INT. HOWARD: Genzlinger 4-6-27-2TD-0INT;
RECEIVING: WOLSEY-WESSINGTON: Ogunjemilusi 1-18-0TD. HOWARD: Gilbertson 2-21-2TD; Loudenburg