WINNER — One week after grounding a high-scoring offense, Winner will face another one in today’s Class 11B semifinals.
The Warriors (10-0) host Webster Area (10-0) at 6 p.m. today and the winner advances to the Class 11B state title game on Nov. 15 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings.
Winner is coming off a 36-13 win over St. Thomas More in the quarterfinals. The Warriors held quarterback Ryder Kirsch and the STM offense to 319 yards, while controlling the ball for 28 minutes.
Winner will look to use the same recipe for success against the Bearcats, who edged Mount Vernon/Plankinton 29-22 in the quarterfinal round.
“From our end it probably doesn’t change much,” Winner coach Dan Aaker said. “We want to be effective on offense and line of scrimmage in this game I think will be important for both teams. We are going to have to play really well there and hopefully win that battle. That will be a big part of what we want to do.”
Against STM, the Warriors prepared for just Kirsch at the quarterback position. But the Bearcats utilize a pair of running quarterbacks to engineer the offense. Braden Holland has racked up 508 passing yards and five touchdowns, to go along with 311 rushing yards and 13 more scores. Sterling Rausch has 412 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Running back Coby Reetz (591 rushing yards/7 touchdowns) is another dangerous weapon out of the backfield.
“They do throw it and to be honest with you, it looks like most of their run game was more perimeter and then quarterback scramble,” Aaker said. “They will drop back and if they don’t see what they want, the guys they put back there at quarterback can all run and so that’s a challenge. You kind of want to pick your poison there.”
Winner’s offense is powered by quarterback Brady Fritz and running back Trevor Peters. Fritz has logged 458 passing yards and six touchdowns, while also rushing for 251 yards and two more scores. Peters has 995 rushing yards on 118 carries and 22 touchdowns. Phillip Jorgensen adds 670 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
And for Winner, it starts up front.
“We are just trying to be physical and do the things we want to do,” Aaker said. “We want to keep the ball in our hands and being efficient offensively can certainly help us on the defensive side, too.”
The winner will play the McCook Central/Montrose against Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan winner in the Class 11B title game on Nov. 15.