Winner repeats as state champs

Dan Bechtold/Winner Advocate Photo
Aiden Barfuss carrys the ball for Winner in the Class 11B state championship game in Vermillion.

Character. Determination. Desire. Stout defense. Speed.   All words that be used to describe a very proud Winner football team that won a back to back state championship Friday in Vermillion.

The Warriors defeated Bridgewater/Emery-Ethan 40-8 and finished the season undefeated with a 12-0 record. This is the same team Winner has faced the previous two state championship games. A year ago Winner defeated BEE 18-14. Then, three years ago in Brookings, BEE nipped Winner 21-14.

“We did a great job today,” said Aiden Barfuss who was named the Joe Robbie most valuable player of the game. “Our offense struggled a little bit but I think we could have scored more. I love how we played today.”

Also honored with awards for their hard work in this game were Charley Pravecek who was named the outstanding lineman for the second year in a row. He is proud to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Oscar, who was named the outstanding lineman when he played for Winner.

Kaden Keiser was name the outstanding back.

“I thought we won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” said coach Trent Olson. “We were able to eliminate their run  game.”

The Warriors running game features a senior dominated line and a variety of ball carriers. Winner rushed for 369 yards.

This was the Warriors second convincing victory over BEE this season. Winner won a home matchup 44-0 over the Seahawks on Aug. 27.

The victory for Winner in the Dome on Friday sealed the Warriors ninth state title since 1981. It is interesting  to note that Winner won the very first state championship game in 1981. That year in Class 11A Winner won 31-21 over Vermillion. This year marked the 40th anniversary of the state football championships.

Friday morning Winner went to work forcing a three and out on defense. Kaden Keiser broke loose for a 61 yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.

BEE responded by driving inside the Warrior 40-yard line with two passing connections before the drive was stalled and Charley Pravecek rushed his way to block the Seahawk punt forcing a short field.

Two plays later Aiden Barfuss broke free for a 35 yard TD run to put Winner up by 16.

Winner only had one TD in the second quarter and it was right away. Joey Cole scored on a two yard keeper to go up 24-0.

In the third quarter, Cole scored on a one yard run. BEE responded in the third quarter with a touchdown.

Cole, who had  hand in all three of Winner’s final touchdowns, connected with Ethan Bartels on a 9  yard pass.

“We came out right away and scored on our first three drives,” said Cole, the senior quarterback. “We  slowed down and made our own mistakes.”

Cole said it was exciting to winning back to back state titles. “It is fun to be part of that and it is really exciting,” he said.

Barfuss who was leading rusher, was followed by Keiser with 99 yards, Riley Shippy, 50 and Cole, 44.

On defense, Riley Orel  and Barfuss each had 5 tackles. Tayden Mathis, Jack Peters and Riley Shippy each had 4.

Five athletes had 3 tackles—Cole, Ashton Klein, Achilles Willuweit, Jack Kruger and Pravecek.

Ashton Klein had 1.5 sacks with Jackson Vesely and Keiser each having a sack and Blake Volmer intercepted two passes.

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