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Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan senior Blake Bartscher tries to evade the grasp of Arlington junior Andrew King early in the first quarter of the 9AA state championship football game Thursday at the DakotaDome in Vermillion . Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan won the game 36–6.

Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan tops Arlington for 9AA football championship

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The Daily Republic
Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan tops Arlington for 9AA football championship
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

VERMILLION — Strong defense and big plays secured the third Class 9AA state football championship for No. 4 Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan in a 36-6 win over No. 2 Arlington in the title game Thursday at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.

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The championship is the sixth in the program’s history and third since Bridgewater joined with Emery/Ethan in 2010.

“Every time is great and to do this with this group of kids is something special,” BEE coach Jeff VanLeur said. “We faced some adversity along the way this season, but we played like a championship team all year.”

BEE (11-1) senior running back Wade Miller was named the Joe Robbie Most Valuable Player of the game, as the star running back finished with 24 carries for 107 yards and three scores, while also catching a 54-yard pass in the first half.

Arlington (10-2) had little answer for the BEE offense, as the Seahawks did not punt in the game.

After J.D. Shape intercepted Cardinal quarterback Andrew King on the first drive of the contest, the Seahawks drove down to the 1-yard line where Miller punched it in. Jordan Grosdidier converted the two-point conversion on the ground to give BEE an early 8-0 lead.

The Cardinals attempted to answer on the ensuing possession, but the Seahawk defense had none of it. BEE stopped Arlington with a fourth-down goal-line stand and took over.

“We had to concentrate on getting to our guys and pushing them back and it worked,” BEE senior lineman Tyler Myers said. Myers was named most outstanding lineman for his performance.

Pinned deep, the Seahawks marched 99 yards, chewing up more than half of the second quarter. Senior quarterback Blake Bartscher hit Miller for a 55-yard play-action pass on a second-and-15 play from the BEE 10-yard line.

“That was big because we stopped them and that drive put us up three scores and put them behind the 8-ball,” VanLeur said.

After a pair of strong runs by Grosdidier, Bartscher capped the drive with a 13-yard touchdown toss to Shape to put BEE up 22-0.

Bartscher finished the championship with eight carries for 55 yards and a score, while also throwing for 64 yards on 3-for-3 passing and one touchdown. Bartscher was named most outstanding back.

Grosdidier added a team-high 122 yards rushing on 20 carries in the win.

Miller widened the BEE lead late in the fourth quarter to 14-0 with a 7-yard touchdown run.

With Arlington driving late in the second quarter, Ethan Riggs came up with the Seahawks’ second interception of the first half to keep the Cardinals off the board heading into the locker room.

Arlington forced a turnover on downs after a lengthy BEE drive to start the second half, and drove the ball inside the Seahawk 10-yard line once again. But the Cardinals came away empty handed, as Miller intercepted a tipped fourth-and-goal King pass from the 5-yard line.

“We talked all year about making big plays and we did,” VanLeur said.

Miller put the game away early in the fourth quarter with his third rushing touchdown of the game, capping an 88-yard fourth-quarter drive.

Arlington scored a fourth-quarter touchdown on a run by King, but it proved to be too late.

“We just got beat by a better football team today,” Arlington coach Steve Gilbertson said.

Senior quarterback Jace Connor came into the game late for the Seahawks to take a snap for the first time this season. Connor was to be the BEE starting signal caller this year, but a workplace injury in the offseason left him with fractured vertebrae at the bottom of his spine.

“Jace has meant everything to this team and we knew he was going to go in no matter what,” VanLeur said.

Myers, Bartscher, Riggs and Jaden Weber each tallied seven tackles for the Seahawk defense.

BEE was strong up front against a potent Arlington run game, allowing just 52 yards on 12 carries to the Cardinals’ leading rusher Luke Weber.

King finished with 120 yards passing and another 87 yards rushing for Arlington.

VanLeur, who has coached the Seahawks for 34 years, will say goodbye to six seniors. With a strong core returning, BEE should be right back in the mix for number seven in 2014.

“I wouldn’t want to have it any other way, and I know not many seniors get to end their careers the way we did,” senior running back Wade Miller said.

NOTES: Former Gregory coach Mike Dacy was honored at halftime with the Distinguished Service Award. Dacy coached Gregory to the state runner up in 1981 and 1984 and served as the school’s principal from 1981 till he retired in 2010.

Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan 14 8 0 14 -- 36 Arlington ……………………….. 0 0 0 6 -- 6

First Quarter BEE: Wade Miller 1 run (Jordan Grosdidier run)

BEE: Miller 7 run (conversion failed)

Second Quarter BEE: Bartscher 13 pass to J.D. Shape (Bartscher run)

Fourth Quarter BEE: Miller 3 run (Bartscher run)

ARL: Andrew King 3 run (conversion failed)

BEE: Bartscher 1 run (conversion failed)

RUSHING: BEE: Jordan Grosdidier 20-122; Wade Miller 24-107; Blake Bartscher 8-55; Ethan Riggs 1-1; ARL: Andrew King 17-87; Luke Weber 12-52; Tanner Lemme 4-34; Nathan Parker 3-6.

PASSING: BEE: Bartscher 3-3-0-64; ARL: King 8-16-3-120.

RECEIVING: BEE: Miller 1-54; J.D. Shape 1-13; Grosdidier 1-0; ARL: Weber 5-86; Lemme 2-25; Logan Kangas 1-9.

DEFENSIVE LEADERS: BEE: Bartscher 7 tackles; Tyler Myers 7 tackles; Riggs 7 tackles, 1 INT; Jaden Weber 7 tackles; Miller 5 tackles, 1 INT; Shape 3 tackles, 1 INT; ARL: Lemme 15 Tackles; Kangas 14 tackles.