The class 9AA championship game featured two rivals from the same region: the Wolsey-Wessington Warbirds against the Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central (WWSSC) Blackhawks, who lost the title game a season ago to Howard 31-8. In fact, the only loss between these teams was the Oct. 16 game between the two, a 20-6 win for WWSSC.
WWSSC won the opening toss and deferred, giving Wolsey-Wessington the ball to start the proceedings. The WWSSC defense showed up to play, and the Warbirds went three-and-out. WWSSC took the ball at their own 21 after the punt, and used nine plays to get the game's opening score, a nice pass from Tucker Kingsbury to Dillon Moore for the 10-yard score. The conversion run from Landon Ochsner succeeded, and WWSSC led 8-0 with 6:50 left in the first quarter.
Wolsey-Wessington had an answer to that touchdown: Hunter Johnson and Darian Ogunjemilusi. The two combined for 42 rushing yards on the ensuing drive, including the 5-yard touchdown run from Hunter Johnson. The conversion attempt failed, and WWSSC held on to an 8-6 lead after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Wolsey-Wessington continued to be able to move the ball against the Blackhawks' defense, converting a pair of fourth downs on their next drive. They got the ball down to the WWSSC 15 yard line, but a chop block penalty thwarted the drive, giving WWSSC the ball at their own 11.
The Blackhawks again went three-and-out, but when Wolsey-Wessington quarterback Jerret Weber tried to throw for the end zone, it was intercepted by Kingsbury, giving WWSSC the ball at their own 2 yard line. WWSSC was again unable to do anything on offense and punted again.
Two plays later, Weber hit Ogunjemilusi for a 25-yard touchdown strike, then Weber hit Carter Langbehn for the two-point conversion to give Wolsey-Wessington a 14-8 lead with 1:59 left in the first half. WWSSC was driving, but ran out of time, and the first half ended with the same 14-8 score line.
WWSSC took the second half kickoff and moved the ball to the 36 yard line before punting at the 8:48 mark of the 3rd quarter. Wolsey-Wessington took possession after the short kick at their own 43 yard line, and took six plays to traverse the 57 yards, capped by a 30-yard Ogunjemilusi touchdown run to give the Warbirds a 20-8 lead with 6:24 left in the third quarter.
Another surprise onside kick off attempt failed, and WWSSC took the ball at their own 44-yard line. Landon Ochsner responded in a big way, taking a handoff on the following play and running 56 yards for a Blackhawks touchdown. The conversion failed, and Wolsey-Wessington's lead was cut to 20-14.
The big plays weren't done, though. On the first play of the Warbirds' next possession, Hunter Johnson escaped the line and scored on a 70-yard touchdown run. The ensuing conversion succeeded, and Wolsey-Wessington recaptured their two-score advantage, 28-14, with 5:55 left in the third.
It took a little longer for WWSSC to respond this time. But after gaining possession from the kickoff, it took nine plays and 3:45 of game clock to get to the end zone, ending with a 5 yard out pass to John Witte, who displayed great concentration to hang on to the pass for the touchdown. The conversion succeeded, and the Wolsey-Wessington lead was cut to 28-22 at the end of the third quarter, with the Warbirds driving.
The WWSSC defense held this time, and took over the ball at their own 29, and moved the ball to the Wolsey-Wessington 25, before being stopped and turning over the ball on downs at the Warbirds' 29 with 6:32 to play. Wolsey-Wessington faced 4th and 5 from midfield with 2:20 to play. After each team took a time out, Wolsey-Wessington was able to move the chains by the nose of the football on a Johnson run. Johnson then put the nail in the coffin on the next play with a 45-yard touchdown run. Brady Struck tacked on the conversion to make the score 36-22 Wolsey-Wessington with 1:47 to play, then sealed the game by recovering the ensuing onside kick.
Hunter Johnson was named Joe Robbie Most Outstanding Player, with a class 9AA record 303 yards rushing on 31 carries, and three toucchodwns, and nine tackles on defense including 1.5 for a loss.
SCORE BY QUARTERS 1 2 3 4-FINAL
WOLSEY-WESSINGTON 6 8 14 8- 36
WOON/WS/SAN CENTRAL 8 0 14 0- 22
RUSHING: W-W: Johnson 31-303-3TD; Ogunjemilusi 13-79-1; Weber 7-25-0; Hamilton 1-(-1)-0. WWSSC: Ochsner 23-121-1TD; Witte 7-17-0; Kingsbury 5-6-0; Moore 1-(-3)-0.
PASSING: W-W: Weber 4-7-78-1TD-1INT; Johnson 0-1-0-0-0; Kemnitz 0-1-0-0-0. WWSSC: Kingsbury 12-19-137-2TD-0INT.
RECEIVING: W-W: Ogunjemilusi 2-48-1TD; Kemnitz 1-19-0; Hamilton 1-11-0. WWSSC: Feiner 5-46-0TD; Moore 3-40-1TD; Witte 2-37-1TD; Feistner 1-7-0; Ochsner 1-7-0.