The Sioux Falls Washington Warriors and Sioux Falls O'Gorman Knights were a little different in getting to the Dakota Dome to square off for the class 11AAA championship. Washington had an early hiccup in their loss to Sioux Falls Lincoln, then reeled off eight straight wins in their first return to the championship game since 2012, whereas O'Gorman's last trip to the dome was in 2010 and resulted in a 33-7 loss to Washington.
So as this year's edition of the class 11AAA state championship game started, it was Washington taking the ball after O'Gorman deferred. Despite a facemask penalty that gave the Warriors a first down, the O'Gorman defense stood tall, quickly stopping the Washington offense. O'Gorman was then able to pick up chunks of yardage on their opening possession and moved the ball to the Washington 5-yard line, where the drive stalled. A false start penalty moved the ball back to 10, and Kristian Jakowicz hit the 27-yard field goal to open the scoring, giving O'Gorman the 3-0 lead with 5:56 left in the first quarter.
The Knights snuffed out the running of Washington, and the Warriors went three-and-out. O'Gorman then moved the ball to the Washington 2-yard line when the first quarter ended. On the first play of the second quarter, running back Dodi Makwinja scored on a straight dive play. The extra point was good, and O'Gorman now led 10-0.
Washington then started with the ball at their own 21. Since the running game wasn't working all that well, the Warriors took to the air, chipping away at the Knights' defense. They took 18 plays and converted six third downs on this drive, ending with an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jack Schelhaas to Ty Smith for the Warriors' first touchdown. The extra point closed the O'Gorman lead to 10-7 with 4:52 left in the first half.
The Knights' offense wasn't out of tricks yet. A good mix of plays moved the ball to midfield. Then a reverse option handoff to Jack Peery resulted in a 50-yard touchdown run for Peery after splitting the first two defenders and turning on the after burners from there to carry a 17-7 lead into halftime.
On the first play of the second half, the snap sailed over O'Gorman quarterback Luke Fritsch's head, and Washington recovered at the O'Gorman 5-yard line. On the second play from there, running back Chayden Fitzsimmons ran behind the left side of the line and scored on the 5-yard touchdown run to make the game 17-14 O'Gorman with 11:17 left in the third quarter.
After O'Gorman moved the ball to midfield, the Washington defense stopped Makwinja on a 4th and 1 to take over on downs. Schelhaas then went back to work on the Knights' secondary, and moved the ball to the O'Gorman 22-yard line, before Fitzsimmons fumbled, and the Knights recovered with 6:40 to play in the third quarter. O'Gorman steadily moved the ball down the field, taking 10 plays and 3:40 to re-visit the end zone on a 3-yard keeper by O'Gorman quarterback Luke Fritsch. The extra point made the lead 24-14 for the Knights with 3:00 left in the third.
Washington then quickly moved the ball down the field against a tiring O'Gorman defense, finishing with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Schelhaas to Logan Uttecht on a seam route to close the gap to 24-21. Washington was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the touchdown, so they kicked off from the 25, and O'Gorman started their next drive from their own 32. The third quarter ended with O'Gorman facing 2nd and 9 from their own 42.
The warriors defense were able to stop the Knights, and O'Gorman boomed their first punt of the game with 11:05 to play. They were able to take larger chunks of yardage using a five-wide spread formation, giving Schelhaas room to run, as well as open different receivers. With 8:12 to play, Washington took their first lead of the game on a 24-yard touchdown pass to Smith, in which Smith appeared to take the ball out of the hands of the O'Gorman cornerback. The kick missed, and Washington had a 27-24 lead.
O'Gorman punted on their next possession, and Washington managed to move the ball down to the Knights' 13 yard line, where O'Gorman used their final time out with 1:30 to play, and Washington facing 4th and 2. Schelhaas was unable to gain the first down, and O'Gorman took over at their own 10 yard line, with 1:25 left and no timeouts. Fritsch moved his offense to their own 32, but Michael Ennals sealed the game with an interception, giving Washington their first class 11AAA championship, coach Chad Stadem's third title for his third different South Dakota school, and Washington's 4th state football championship. Schelhaas was named the Joe Robbie Most Outstanding Player, with his 20-for-29 passing for 316 yards and 3 passing touchdowns, as well as 16 carries for 61 yards.
SCORE BY QUARTERS 1 2 3 4-FINAL
SF O'GORMAN 3 14 7 0-24
SF WASHINGTON 0 7 14 6-27
RUSHING: O'GORMAN: Makwinja 12-72-1TD; Fritsch 16-65-1; Peery 1-50-1; Bauer 8-44-0; Casiello 2-(-3)-0. WASHINGTON Schelhaas 16-61-0TD; Bren 2-17-0; Fitzsimmons 17-14-1; Kpeayeh 2-3-0.
PASSING: O'GORMAN: Fritsch 11-18-112-0TD-1INT. WASHINGTON Schelhaas 20-29-316-3TD-0INT.
RECEIVING: O'GORMAN: Peery 5-69-0TD; Casiello 4-27-0; Pals 1-9-0; Bauer 1-7-0. WASHINGTON: Uttecht 7-151-1TD; Smith 7-108-2; Bren 3-22-0; Bolden 1-20-0; Fitzsimmons 1-11-0; Benson 1-4-0.
5:56 1st - SFO-Jakowicz 27 yd FG (OG 3-0)
11:58 2nd - SFO-Makwinja 1 yd TD run (OG 10-0)
4:52 2nd - SFW-Schelhaas to Smith 8 yd TD pass (OG 10-7)
0:53 2nd - SFO-Peery 50 yd TD run (OG 17-7)
11:17 3rd - SFW-Fitzsimmons 5 yd TD run (OG 17-14)
3:00 3rd - SFO-Fritsch 3 yd TD run (OG 24-14)
1:00 3rd - SFW-Schelhaas to Uttecht 23 yd TD pass (OG 24-21)
8:12 4th - SFW-Schelhaas to Smith 24 yd TD pass (WASH 27-24)