Warriors playing in third straight semifinal game, hosting FlandreauThe No. 1-seeded Winner Warriors have one more block in the road in their quest to the 11B state championship game. Winner takes on No. 4-seeded Flandreau it its third home playoff game this season at 6 p.m. today in Winner.
By: Brooke Cersosimo, The Daily Republic
The No. 1-seeded Winner Warriors have one more block in the road in their quest to the 11B state championship game.
Winner takes on No. 4-seeded Flandreau it its third home playoff game this season at 6 p.m. today in Winner.
Warriors coach Dan Aaker said playing at home isn’t necessarily a huge advantage but brings comfort to the team and fans.
“We like rewarding our fans, and there’s that comfort in being in your own stadium,” said Aaker, whose team is 10-0 this season.
The Warriors have lost in the semifinal round two years in a row, losing 28-7 to McCook Central/Montrose last year in Winner. The previous season, the Warriors lost to Mobridge-Pollock 34-14 in Winner.
Recent playoff memory hasn’t been all bad for the Warriors, however. Winner made it to the championship in 2009, when it won the state title against Tri-Valley on a Hail Mary pass on the final play.
Aaker said the seniors are hungry to get back to the top.
“I feel our guys are very focused and understand where they are in the season,” he said. “They’ve been in this situation all four years and know what it takes.”
Flandreau is also undefeated this season at 10-0. The Fliers beat Canton and St. Thomas More en route to today’s semifinal round.
The Warriors have given up just six points during the first two rounds of the playoffs and 52 points during the regular season.
Aaker said his team’s success is a tribute to the defense.
“At this stage of the game, you have to play sound defense to advance,” he said. “We really focus on stopping the run against, and that usually opens up opportunities for us.”
Trace Meyer has led the Warrior defense with 73 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions and Adam Farner has 57. Nolan Donahue has led the secondary with four interceptions.
The Warriors have had the majority of its offensive success on the ground. In 10 games, Winner has racked up 3,261 yards rushing, averaging 326 yards per game.
“It’s tough for teams to key on one player because we are so balanced,” Aaker said. “Our offensive line has made great strides this year and a lot of our success is because of them.”
Senior Kyle Bertram has led the offense with 93 carries for 925 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ben Connot has 825 yards and 12 touchdowns on 97 carries and Meyer has 615 yards.