Black Panthers bottle up Hamlin’s rushing attack: Platte-Geddes’ defense punctuates perfect season
VERMILLION -- Platte-Geddes grounded Hamlin’s version of thunder and lightning on Thursday.
Behind a dominant and aggressive defense, the Black Panthers rolled past the Chargers (42-12) in the Class 9AA state championship at the DakotaDome.
Hamlin (11-1) entered the contest averaging 293 rushing yards per game and with more than 3,200 yards on the ground. But the Black Panthers (12-0) punctuated their perfect season by smothering the Chargers’ rushing attack.
“We knew coming in D-Line had to play well,” said Platte-Geddes junior lineman Caden Foxley, who was named the most outstanding lineman. “They had some big guys and that was a big emphasis for us this week. We know our middle linebackers -- if we take on blocks -- they would finish the job.”
Platte-Geddes held the Chargers to a season-low 147 rushing yards, while bottling up Hamlin’s two running backs -- Jackson Noem and Cameron Thue. Noem, a 6-foot, 185-pound speedster, was limited to a season-low 29 rushing yards on 11 carries. Noem entered the contest with more than 2,000 rushing yards on the season, while racking up more than 3,200 yards and 40 touchdowns in his career.
A 6-foot-1, 220-pound bruiser, Thue was held to 34 rushing yards on nine carries. Thue came into the contest with more than 600 rushing yards and eight rushing scores.
“Both of their running backs have a lot of different characteristics to their running game,” Platte-Geddes senior quarterback/defensive end Kelby VanDerWerff said. “But very good obviously. We knew our D-Line had to take on blocks so our backers could fill and the backers did exactly that.”
VanDerWerff and the offense also had a hand in keeping Hamlin’s offense off the field. He engineered an offense that racked up 326 total yards and used a six-minute opening drive to keep Hamlin’s offense on the sidelines.
“If we kept our offense out there, their defense wears down and they had the same linemen out there,” said Platte-Geddes running back/defensive back Grayson Hanson, who was named the outstanding back and Joe Robbie MVP. “They just wore down and it makes everything easier.”
With nowhere to run, Hamlin resorted to passing the football and that also played into Platte-Geddes’ hands. Xander Sheehan finished 6 of 14 for 104 yards and was picked off by Jackson Neuman early in the fourth quarter. Hanson was also responsible for forcing a fumble.
Platte-Geddes turned the two turnovers into 10 points.
“We are after turnovers all the time,” Platte-Geddes coach Bruce Hanson said. “We might miss one or two maybe but Jackson Neuman made a great pick on one of them. We got nine to the ball all the time so that stuff happens.”