Canistota looks for third straight state titleCANISTOTA — Canistota looks to win its third straight football championship title as it faces Warner in the Class 9A championship match at 11 a.m. today in the Dakota Dome in Vermillion.
By: Brooke Cersosimo, The Daily Republic
CANISTOTA — Canistota looks to win its third straight football championship title as it faces Warner in the Class 9A championship match at 11 a.m. today in the Dakota Dome in Vermillion.
The Hawks have played in the dome for the past two seasons, in which they claimed 9A title game in 2011 and won the 9B championship in 2010.
Head coach Lenny Schroeder, whose team has won 35 consecutive games, said the dome is a comfortable place for his team to play in.
“We’ve been through this before, and the dome jitters aren’t there,” Schroeder said. “We’ve had a lot of success there and what has fueled our kids is our fans. They have had reasons to cheer, and we love playing with the noise and in front of a big crowd.”
The teams were the No. 1 and 2 seeds in the 9A playoff bracket and are 11-0 this season.
“I think this will be one of the better 9-man games in the dome this year,” said Schroeder, whose team has never played Warner. “On paper, you can take numbers from one team to the other, and it’s literally the same team. They’ve got size, speed and talented athletes, and so do we.”
Warner has racked up 498 yards rushing in its last two games. Mitchell Boesl has led the team on the ground and recorded 157 yards rushing in Warner’s 50-20 win over Herreid-Selby Area, which helped the Monarchs advance to the championship game. Boesl also rushed for over 100 yards in the quarterfinal game.
The Hawks average 260 yards per game this season; however have ended seven games early due to the mercy rule, which ends a game when a team goes ahead by 50 points.
The Hawks have looked to a trio of seniors to lead the offense. Alex Robertson, Cody Bunger and Eric Tieszen each recorded over 10 rushing TDs this season. Robertson is Canistota’s bread and butter in the run game with 107 carries for 1,015 yards rushing and 14 TDs this season. Tieszen follows with 83 carries for 753 yards and 11 TDs and Bunger has 96 carries for 612 yards and 17 TDs.
Despite being a run-first team, Schroeder said his team isn’t afraid to look down the field.
“We prefer to run the ball but we definitely have the receivers and quarterback to sling it down the field,” said Schroeder, whose team averages 92 yards passing per game.
Bunger has led the air attack at the quarterback position with 46-of-79 passing for 966 yards and 16 TDs.
On the receiving end, Bunger has utilized five different receivers, all of which have scored TDs, this season. Nick Hofer has led all receivers with 18 receptions for 362 yards and five TDs, Boone DeKramer has 13 catches for 238 yards and six TDs, Tieszen has four catches for 144 yards and one TD, Dylan Seubert has nine receptions for 192 yards and four TDs and Robertson has four catches for 78 yards and three TDs.
For Warner, quarterback Clay Rozell threw three touchdown passes in the team’s last victory. Rozell was 5-of-5 in passing for 166 yards in the semifinal round.
Defensively for the Hawks, senior Jason VanWinkle has led the team with 103 tackles and 14 sacks. Tieszen has tallied 99 tackles, DeKramer has recorded 96 tackles and senior Issac Fuhrman has added 69 tackles this season.
Canistota’s secondary has intercepted its opponent’s pass 12 times this season, with Bunger leading the team with four.