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Meyer leading Warriors 2nd time around

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WINNER — Last year, Trace Meyer was the Winner Warriors’ most valuable player on defense.

The linebacker’s season was highlighted when he forced a fumble in the 2012 11B state championship game against Tri-Valley, which led to the game-winning touchdown for the Warriors.

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This year, Meyer has maintained his strong defensive play, while also emerging as the Warriors’ top offensive threat.

As Winner’s fullback, Meyer has rushed for 1,237 yards and 17 touchdowns on 137 carries in 2013.

Meyer is averaging 123.7 yards per game and will be counted on as the No. 1 Warriors take on No. 5 Canton in the Class 11B state semifinals at 6 p.m. Saturday in Winner.

“Trace is a very gifted player for us,” Winner football coach Dan Aaker said. “He has turned into our feature back. Using the fullback is a little different for us, but he has had a solid year in every phase of the game.”

Winner (10-0) will also rely on contributions from running back Sam Naasz and quarterback Nathan Galbraith.

Naasz, a junior, has rushed 79 times for 662 yards and six touchdowns. Naasz has also caught five passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns.

Galbraith has carried it 60 times for 425 yards and eight touchdowns. The first-year starting quarterback has completed 12 of his 33 passes this season for 293 yards and three touchdowns.

The Warriors will be fighting for the chance to go back to the DakotaDome for the second straight season to play for the 11B state title. The last time Winner played in back-to-back state championship games was 2008-09.

Aaker said if his team is to win the game against Canton (9-1) Saturday they will need to negate big plays for the C-Hawks.

Canton will rely on quarterback Cody Majeres and running back Gabe Dolen to provide most of its big plays.

Majeres has run for 680 yards and 17 touchdowns on 96 carries. The senior has thrown for 526 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.

Dolen leads the C-Hawks on the ground with 813 yards, 10 touchdowns on 119 carries.

“They are a very good team that has really been on a roll the last five or six games,” Aaker said. They have big play ability on offense. They are also a pretty senior laden and pretty veteran that really attacks you when they are on defense.”

Charged with stopping the Canton defense will be senior linebacker Shayden Drey, senior lineman Jay Brandis and senior lineman Kray Krolikowski.

Drey has a team leading 41 tackles, Brandis leads the team in sacks with eight, while Krolikowski has 24 tackles and six sacks.

The Warriors lost four starters from a year ago that were voted to the 11B all-state team, but the Aaker said his seniors have stepped up to fill those holes this year.

“Every year we set pretty high expectations,” the 11th year head coach said. “Our senior leadership this year has been great. They have done a super job of leading this team.”

If the Warriors prevail over Canton they would meet the winner of No. 3 Parkston vs. No. 2 St. Thomas More in in the DakotaDome.

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