Photo by Nick Bernardy
WHAT A RUSH—Senior running back Tupak Kpeayeh runs the ball in the Nov. 10,11AAA Championship game.
Football team ends season with 28-22 loss in finals
Warriors 11AAA runners-up to Brandon Valley
By Taylar Erickson
Warrior varsity football team members ended the 2018 season as the 11AAA runner-up after they fell to the Brandon Valley Lynx 28-22 Saturday in the championship game at the DakotaDome in Vermilion.
The Lynx took over five-minutes off the clock on their opening drive and got on the board first with a two-yard touchdown run by Brandon Valley junior Jesse Steffel.
WHS then put together a solid drive on the opening offensive possession of the game, but it came to an abrupt halt when Brandon Valley picked off a senior quarterback Jayden Johannsen pass, giving the ball back to the Lynx.
The Warriors got on the board early in the second quarter with a one-yard touchdown run by senior running back Tupak Kpeayeh. After a missed extra-point attempt, the Lynx led 14-6.
WHS scored once again with less than one- minute to play in the half when Johannsen found senior Gabe Person for a four-yard touchdown to make the halftime score Brandon Valley 14, WHS 13.
The Warriors received to start the second half of play, but a fumble a few plays into the drive by Kpeayeh gave the Lynx possession inside Warrior territory, leading to a Brandon Valley touchdown. The Warriors would then turn the ball over on their next possession when Johannsen was intercepted for the second time in the game and scored again to make it 28-13 Lynx with 2:53 to play in the third quarter.
With 11:14 to play in the game, the Warriors tightened the gap on a Johannsen four-yard pass to senior wide receiver Jhett Andersen for the touchdown. The extra point bounced off the goalpost to make it 28-19.
The Warriors were then able to add a 19-yard field goal from junior kicker Freddy Frederic, which made it 28-22, Brandon Valley with 4:45 remaining.
WHS was able to get the ball back with roughly two minutes to play, but the Lynx defense held, forcing a turnover on downs.
Head coach Chad Stadem said he was very proud of the boys, overall.
“Brandon Valley played a perfect game to beat us,” Stadem said. “Yet, we held it together and still had a chance to beat them.”
This was the first state championship for the Lynx since 1998 and their first in Class 11AAA.
Kpeayeh ended his WHS career with 73 touchdowns and 442 points, setting school and state records. Person had 11 career receiving touchdowns, tied for number eight in WHS records. Senior Adam Durland had 10.5 career sacks to tie the record for WHS. Senior Peyton Nieuwsma had 10 to tie for second.
The Warriors will end their season with their annual banquet at 6 p.m. Nov. 13 in the WHS Commons.