The two teams competing for the class 11B crown in Vermillion have had some history in the Dakota Dome. These teams met here for both the 2012 and 2009 class 11B championships, Winner getting the better of Tri-Valley both times. Those two were both defensive, low-scoring contests, but this one was a bit different.
For the 2015 edition, we had a Tri-Valley squad that was 4-4 in the regular season, though three opponents were in a higher class. Facing them, the Winner Warriors had shut out eight opponents coming in to the dome, and had not allowed a single point against them since Sept. 25.
Winner won the toss and deferred, giving Tri-Valley the first crack with the ball. The Mustangs started from their own 48, and were able to move the ball to the Winner 25 yard line with a series of gains on power runs. The drive stalled there, and Winner took over on downs.
It took the Warriors three plays to find the end zone on a 36-yard touchdown run by Windsor Barry to open the scoring. Jonas Brill's extra point gave Winner a 7-0 lead with 6:31 left in the first quarter.
The score remained unchanged the rest of the quarter, but Winner had the ball at the Tri-Valley 10 yard line as the second quarter started, and on the second play of the quarter, quarterback Drew DeMers found Riley Frazier open in the end zone for the 8-yard touchdown strike. That gave Winner a 14-0 lead about a minute into the second.
On the Mustangs' next possession, they had a 30-yard pass to Will Steinke nullified by an ineligible player downfield penalty. Tri-Valley went three-and-out from there and punted. DeMers found Frazier wide open downfield on 3rd and 7. The play gained 43 yards to get to Tri-Valley's 35. Winner got to the Tri-Valley 12, and the Mustangs stopped Winner there. Brill was able to kick a 29-yard field goal, and Winner led 17-0 with 4:45 before halftime.
Winner got the ball back a few plays later when Noah Jewett fumbled a hand off, which was recovered by Wyatt Ewing at the Winner 40. A DeMers pass to a wide open Isaac Naasz set up another Barry touchdown run to give the Winner Warriors a 24-0 halftime lead.
Even though Winner got runs of 29 and 18 yards on the opening drive of the second half, the Tri-Valley defense turned it up a notch and stopped the Warriors at the Tri-Valley 31. The woes for the Mustangs were compounded by a center screen on 2nd and 14 that was intercepted by Jordan Turgeon and run back 24 yards to the end zone for another Winner touchdown. The extra point gave the Warriors a commanding 31-0 lead with 9:33 left in the third quarter.
Tri-Valley got on the board on the ensuing possession. After a horse collar tackle was called on Winner, which put the ball on the Winner 38, Brenton Hanisch broke free on the right sideline and scored the Mustangs' first touchdown of the day. The extra point kick was blocked, and Winner led 31-6 with 8:25 left in the third. Winner came back three plays later when DeMers found Barry on a nice pass that resulted in a 67-yard touchdown to put Winner up 38-6 at the end of the end of the third quarter.
Frazier scored on a 7-yard touchdown run on the second play of the fourth quarter, giving Winner a 45-6 lead, and enacting a running clock the rest of the way. Winner cruised to a 45-6 win and their sixth state football championship. Windsor was named Joe Robbie Most Outstanding Player, with 11 carries for 80 yards rushing and two rushing touchdowns, along with a 67-yard touchdown reception.
SCORE BY QUARTERS 1 2 3 4-FINAL
TRI-VALLEY 0 0 6 0- 6
WINNER 7 17 14 7- 45
RUSHING: TRI-VALLEY: Hanisch 14-85-1TD; Prather 7-27-0; Klinnert 4-13-0; Freeman 3-(-5)-0; Jewett 5-(-8)-0. WINNER: Frazier 12-106-0TD; Barry 11-80-2TD; Brozik 7-54-1; Kuil 6-37-0; Calhoon 1-15-0; Smither 3-14-0; Biggins 2-9-0; Lapsley 2-(-3)-0.
PASSING: TRI-VALLEY: Jewett 2-4-27-0TD-1INT. WINNER: DeMers 8-10-198-2TD-0INT.
RECEIVING: TRI-VALLEY: Freeman 2-27-0TD. WINNER: Barry 1-67-1TD; Frazier 2-56-1; Naasz 1-36-0; Brozik 3-24-0; Kuil 1-15-0.