Canton defeats Parkston for 11B crown
VERMILLION — The Parkston High School football team is still in search of its first state title after falling 20-14 to Canton in the Class 11B championship Friday at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.
The No. 3 Trojans’ (10-2) late rally was thwarted after the No. 5 C-Hawks recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock.
“It’s just so hard to put into words, but I’m so proud of how they fought in every game,” an emotional Parkston coach Eric Norden said following the loss. “As a coach you really wish you could get this one for them.”
Parkston consistently moved the ball on Canton, but three first-half turnovers on consecutive possessions cost the Trojans a number of chances to score.
“I thought we came out of the first half pretty well, giving up only the one score in that ordeal,” Norden said about his team’s first-half miscues. “We had a few breaks that went against us, but that is the way the game works.”
After Canton missed a field goal attempt to start the game, Parkston’s offense got moving early.
The Trojans went 80 yards in six plays, with Josh Rands finding Brady Reiff for a 32-yard touchdown to give Parkston an early 7-0 lead.
Parkston’s Miles Semmler fumbled on the team’s next drive, and Canton recovered at the Trojan 25-yard line. The C-Hawks scored four plays later on a 2-yard run by Kyler Kniffen to tie the game at seven.
Parkston again fumbled its ensuing possession away to Canton. After the Trojans drove inside the Canton 10-yard line, senior Mitch Heisinger lost the handle after fighting for additional yardage.
“It’s tough for it to end this way,” Heisinger said following his final game for the Trojans.
Parkston junior Wes Dvorak threw an interception on the team’s next possession for a third first-half turnover, but the Trojan defense stood tall to keep the score tied heading into halftime.
“We put ourselves in some tough positions with the turnovers, but our defense did a great job with their backs against the wall,” Norden said.
After Dvorak narrowly missed a 43-yard field goal wide left on Parkston’s first drive of the second half, the Canton offense made its first statement of the contest.
“We have preached that we are a second-half team all year and that no team is in better shape than us,” Canton coach Rich Lundstrom said.
The C-Hawks drove 80 yards on 13 plays, eating up more than half of the third quarter. Running back Austin Schruers punched in the go ahead score for Canton from two yards out.
Tanner Broughton became the third C-Hawk rusher to find the end zone with his 1-yard score in the fourth quarter to give Canton a 20-7 lead.
Parkston did not go without a fight, as Reiff caught a 39-yard pass to set the Parkston up inside the 5-yard line with just over two minutes to play.
Canton forced Parkston into a fourth-and-goal, which cost the Trojans precious seconds. After a timeout, Austin Bertram took the handoff, fought through two Canton defenders and reached across the goal line to keep Parkston alive.
Parkston’s onside kick was touched early by a Trojan, and Canton was able to run the clock down for the win.
“The heart was racing a bit before that kick, and I’m just glad that we didn’t get caught,” Lundstrom said.
Dvorak led the Parkston offense with six rushes for 66 yards, while Rands completed 3 of 7 passes for 46 yards and a score. Reiff caught two passes for 71 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, Parkston got nine tackles from Heisinger and David Voorhees, while Bertram added seven tackles and a late interception, which set up the Trojans’ final score.
Canton took control of the game on the ground in the second half with two long drives, as Gabe Dolen led the way with 16 carries for 97 yards. C-Hawk quarterback Cody Majeres was named the Joe Robbie Most Valuable Player after throwing for 102 yards on 5-of-6 passing.
“We are ecstatic to have been here and we would have loved a win, but this means we are getting where we need to be,” Norden said.
Canton 7 0 7 6 — 20
Parkston 7 0 0 7 — 14
PAR — Reiff 32 pass from Rands (Dvorak kick), 6:26.
CAN — Kniffen 15 run (Ratcliffe kick), 2:31.
CAN — Schruers 2 run (Ratcliffe kick), 2:06.
CAN — Broughton 1 run (run failed), 6:08.
PAR — Bertram 3 run (Dvorak kick), 1:35.
RUSHING — CAN, Dolen 16-97, Broughton 13-43, Schruers 4-22, Kniffen 4-21, Majeres 11-11. PAR, Dvorak 6-66, Heisinger 11-51, M. Semmler 7-39, A. Semmler 4-5, Bertram 1-3, Scott 1-2, Stoebner 2-(minus 2).
PASSING — CAN, Majeres 4-6-1, 102 yards. PAR, Scott 3-7-0, 46 yards; Rands 1-1-0, 32 yards; Dvorak 0-1-1.
RECEIVING — CAN, Ripley 2-56, Dolen 1-35, Jennings 1-6, Schruers 1-5. PAR, Reiff 2-71, Heisinger 1-7.
DEFENSIVE LEADERS — CAN, Majeres 7 tackles, Ripley 6 tackles and 1 INT. PAR, Voorhees 9 tackles, Heisinger 9.