Dell Rapids St. Mary captures first state football championship in double OT

The Dell Rapids St. Mary Cardinals defeated the Potter County Battlers, 44-42, to kick off the 2021 state football championships.

Dell Rapids St. Mary's Nic Gaspar makes a catch in front of a Potter County defender during the Class 9B high school football championship game Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. (South Dakota Public Broadcasting photo)

VERMILLION — A tumultuous Class 9B season came to a fitting end Thursday afternoon at the DakotaDome.

No. 5 Dell Rapids St. Mary tied the title contest with 66 seconds left in regulation, then proceeded to win on a two-point conversion in double overtime, defeating No. 3 Potter County, 44-42 for the Cardinals’ first state football title in the playoff era.

Neither team led by more than eight points at any point in the game, as the teams traded scores throughout the afternoon.

Nic Gaspar, the contest’s co-Most Outstanding Back, rushed 21 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns for DRSM (8-3), adding three receptions for 65 yards and another touchdown. CJ Smith went 5-of-12 passing for 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and Ty Brown had 72 yards rushing and a touchdown.

For Potter County (10-3), Grant Luikens was named the game’s Most Valuable Player and shared Most Outstanding Back honors with Gaspar, after completing 16 of 25 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns, with Drake Bassett and Ryder Falkenhagen each catching two of the scoring strikes. Bassett finished with 173 yards on nine receptions and Falkenhagen had four catches for 77 yards for the Battlers.

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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