Warner stops Wolverines in state 9A semifinals
Winning on the road in the playoffs is a tough task, especially when the home team is a talented, senior-laden team bent on making its first-ever trip to the state finals. Herreid-Selby Area ran into that buzz saw, as they were defeated 50-20 by the Warner Monarchs in Warner on Saturday in the Class 9A semifinals.
The Monarchs used the big play to produce four touchdowns in the first half. They scored on their first possession on a 54-yard Clay Rozell to Jared Tuszka pass and on their second on a 32-yard touchdown run by Mitchell Boesl.
Herreid-Selby Area had its offense going too, but could not capitalize on two early scoring chances. The Wolverines did put the ball in the end zone on their second possession when Nick Larson found an opening and scampered 12 yards into the end zone, but the Wolverines had two other first-half possession where they worked the ball deep into Monarch territory and gave the ball up on downs without reaching pay dirt.
“We couldn’t finish and that was the difference,” said coach Jeff Kosters. “They (Warner) are very good on offense and I expected to give up yards early, but figured we’d figure things out, eventually.”
Figuring out how to shut down the big plays did not happen, as late in the second quarter, Rozell picked off a Larson pass and three plays later, the Monarchs had a 23-6 lead. Boesl played a big role in the drive as he ran for eight yards on two runs and then hauled in a Rozell pass for a 38-yard touchdown.
After the Wolverines and Monarchs traded non-scoring drives, the Herreid-Selby Area fortunes took a turn for the worse, when Larson was injured.
“He was tackled and the point of the ball was against his chest when he came down,” said Kosters.
Without their quarterback, the Wolverine offense could not attack Warner with the same precision. Brady Vander Vorst took over and had some success, but the late in the second half attempted a screen pass that was intercepted by Warner’s Adam Ochsner and returned 64 yards to the end zone. The late touchdown gave Warner a 28-6 lead at the half.
Although Herreid-Selby Area did manage to put two touchdowns on the board in the second half, Warner responded with three touchdowns and pulled away for the 30-point win.
“The kids played hard,” said Kosters. “It would have been easy for them to pack it in when we lost Larson, but we kept playing and actually moved the ball on them during the second half when he was out.”
Kosters cannot help but wonder how things would have played out if his team had been at full strength for the semifinal game.
“If Larson stays in the game and is healthy, it makes a difference,” said Kosters. “Not having Cooper Schaefbauer on defense hurt really bad when Larson went out. Austin Iverson gutted it out, but wasn’t 100 percent either, and we really couldn’t use him as a receiver with his bum hand.”
A couple times the defense was in order and things just didn’t work out.
“Dakota Houck (5’10”, 140) was forced into playing in the secondary,” said Kosters. “He’s not used to playing back there at all. Funny thing is, on two of their four touchdown passes, he had really good coverage, but it was just a case of a 6-foot, 3-inch, 210-pound man saying, ‘not today son.’ The Tuszka kid just took the ball away from him.”
By game’s end, the Wolverines had racked up 430 yards of offense, but three turnovers and three trips inside the 20 that did not produce points, nullified much of the production.
Houck and Zach Geller each broke the 100-yard mark rushing and Gellar scored on a 13-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Iverson added 58 yards and scored from three yards out in the third quarter. Larson and Vander Vorst combined for 106 yards passing with Caleb Swann catching three balls for 53 yards.
Warner had nearly 400 yards offense. Boesl pounded out 157 yards rushing and when his carries brought the Wolverine defense close to the line of scrimmage, Rozell was perfect on five passes for 166 yards and four touchdowns.
At 11-0, Warner advances to the state championship game where they will challenge defending champion Canistota.
The Wolverines end the season at 10-1 and champions of the Yellowstone Trail Conference.
Herreid-Selby Area (10-1)6 0 6 8- 20
Warner (11-0)14 14 14 8- 50
W- Jared Tuszka 54 pass from Clay Rozell (conversion failed)
HSA- Nick Larson 12 run (conversion failed)
W- Mitchell Boesl 32 run (Rozell run)
W- Boesl 38 pass from Rozell (J. Tuszka kick)
W- Adam Ochsner 64 interception return (J. Tuszka kick)
HSA- Austin Iverson 3 run (conversion failed)
W- Derek Tuszka 17 pass from Rozell (conversion failed)
W- D. Tuszka 30 pass from Rozell (Boesl run)
HSA- Zach Geller 13 run (Geller run)
W- Boesl 4 run (D. Tuszka pass from Rozell
Herreid-Selby Area: Rushing 51-324 (Dakota Houck 11-121, Zach Geller 17-106, Austin Iverson 18-58, Nick Larson 4-41, Brady Vander Vorst 1-(-2)); Passing 9-17-2-106 (Larson 5-10-1-59, Vander Vorst 4-7-1-47); Receiving (Caleb Swann 3-53, Houck 3-23, Dakota Thorstenson 2-20, Iverson 1-10); 21 first downs; 3 turnovers. Defense: Kennedy Kosters 7, Geller 6, Swann 6).
Warner: Rushing 32-225 (Mitchell Boesl 18-157, Clay Rozell 8-33, Jarrod Tuszka 4-27, Jesse Young 2-8); Passing (Rozell 5-5-0-166); Receiving (J. Tuszka 2-81, Derrek Tuszka 2-46, Boesl 1-39); 10 first downs; 0 turnovers. Defense: Rozell 19 tackles, J. Tuszka 14 tackles, D. Tuszka 12 tackles.