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Strong defense lifts Dell Rapids to victory over West Central in 11A title game

Josh Jurgens
South Dakota Public Broadcasting
2022 SDHSAA Football Championships Class 11A

Dell Rapids defeated West Central 24-7 on Friday night in Vermillion at the Dakota Dome. From start to finish, the Quarriers defense made it difficult for the Trojans to get into an offensive rhythm.

The Quarriers received to start the contest, but on the opening drive, quarterback Jack Henry was picked off by Trojans defensive back Dalton Mulder near midfield. West Central was unable to capitalize on the short field, however, and they quickly went three-and-out. On the punt attempt, Justin Zirpel botched the snap, which gave the Quarriers field position inside their opponents 30-yard line. A few plays later, Henry broke free for a 21-yard quarterback keeper, giving Dell Rapids an early 6-0 lead.

West Central was forced into another quick three-and-out on their second possession of the game. The Quarriers offense followed suit and stalled on their next offensive possession as well. Dell Rapids then got their punt blocked as Crew Heier came through to get a hand on it. This set up the Trojans with their best field positioning of the game.

End of the 1st Quarter | Dell Rapids 6 West Central 0

West Central took a shot into the end zone on a 4th and short situation at Dell Rapids 10-yard line, which was completed, but Owen Heath’s foot was out of bounds making it incomplete and it was a turnover on downs for the Trojans.

The Quarriers were able to move the ball past midfield on their next possession, but their drive stalled out as well. They’d get the ball back a few players later, however, as Chase Jones picked of a Zirpel pass on a wide receiver screen design. With 3:25 to play in the half, Henry broke free around the right side for a 15-yard touchdown run, his second of the game. This gave Dell Rapids a 12-0 lead over the Trojans.

Zirpel would throw his second interception of the game on West Central’s next offensive drive, this one to Mason Stubbe, who returned it to the 5-yard line. With their backs up against the wall, West Central’s defense came up with a huge defensive stand, holding the Quarriers out of the end zone.

Halftime | Dell Rapids 12 West Central 0

Both offenses continued to struggle in the third quarter. Dell Rapids had quite a few yards on their first possession of the second half, but it eventually stalled, and West Central still wasn’t able to find a rhythm to get their offense moving.

End of the 3rd Quarter | Dell Rapids 12 West Central 0

At the 6:42 mark of the fourth quarter, the Quarriers extended their lead. Stubbe took it in from five-yards out to make it a three possession game at 18-0.

Less than two-minutes later, West Central finally got on the board when Zirpel found Aiden Bartmann in the back of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown connection. The Quarriers still led 18-7.

Dell Rapids would score one more time before the end, Brayden Pankonen ran it into the end zone from two-yards out. Zirpel threw his third interception of the game in the closing moments for the Trojans, this one to Braden Fersdahl, who sealed the victory for the Quarriers.

Final | Dell Rapids 24 West Central 7

This is Dell Rapids sixth state football championship in program history, they’re last coming in 2014 before Friday night’s battle.

Jack Henry had two rushing touchdowns on 64-yards from the ground. He also had 182-yards passing with 125 of those yards going to receiver Brayden Pankonen. The Quarriers defense held West Central’s offense to just 97-yards of total offense in the contest.

Click Here for game stats

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.
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