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No. 1 Warbirds work past Gregory

WOLSEY--For a team that feasts on big plays at every turn, Wolsey-Wessington's Lynden Williams provided plenty for his top-ranked Warbirds Friday. Williams scored four times--two rushing, one receiving and one interception return--to power the No...

Gregory's Grant Thomas (6) prepares to pass, while teammate Isaac Barreto blocks Wolsey-Wessington's Brevan Hooks (10) during a nine-man high school football game Friday in Wolsey. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)
Gregory's Grant Thomas (6) prepares to pass, while teammate Isaac Barreto blocks Wolsey-Wessington's Brevan Hooks (10) during a nine-man high school football game Friday in Wolsey. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

WOLSEY-For a team that feasts on big plays at every turn, Wolsey-Wessington's Lynden Williams provided plenty for his top-ranked Warbirds Friday.

Williams scored four times-two rushing, one receiving and one interception return-to power the No. 1 team in Class 9AA to a 34-13 victory over third-ranked Gregory at Warbird Field. The victory locked up an undefeated regular season for the Warbirds (8-0), clinching the Missouri Valley Conference championship in the process.

"I think they came to play," Wolsey-Wessington coach Gordon Hooks said of his team. "We had to have that championship mentality and it was a very physical game, with some big hits out there."

It was a 14-13 game in favor of Wolsey-Wessington after Gregory started the second half with a stop on defense and a 33-yard scoring connection from Grant Thomas to Caleb Stukel with 7:12 to go in the frame. But after both teams traded possessions, Williams caught a deep ball from quarterback Skyler Zomer and broke it for a 75-yard touchdown, putting W-W back up 20-13.

It stayed that way into the fourth quarter. Gregory (5-2) drove to the Warbird 43-yard-line and faced a 4th-and-10. Coach Brian Allmendinger dialed up a fake punt run that went for four yards, yielding the ball back to the Warbirds.

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W-W promptly took advantage, and three plays later, Williams capped a sweep play with a 55-yard jaunt to the end zone, to put the Warbirds up 28-13 with 10:51 left. Williams padded the lead with a 2-yard touchdown run less than 6 minutes later and the Gorillas never tightened the contest again.

Wolsey-Wessington-a team that averaged more 44 points and 520 rushing yards per game over its first seven contests this season-finished with 341 yards of total offense, with 219 of that in the second half.

Similarly, Williams had just 19 yards rushing in the first half on eight carries but had the big play that flipped the game early. With Gregory up 7-0 and facing a 4th-and-5 at the W-W 35, Williams stepped in front of a Thomas pass and ran it back 72 yards for the touchdown to go up 8-7 with 8 minutes until halftime.

"We have a lot of guys who can make some big plays and Lynden is one of them," Hooks said. "Defensively, I think we showed up in a big way."

Unofficially, Williams had 114 yards rushing on 18 carries for the game, plus three catches for 103 yards. The lead for W-W reached 14-7 before halftime when Devante Luellman capped a seven-play drive with a 12-yard touchdown run.

"They're both very patient runners and good at hitting the hole," Allmendinger said. "When it's time to tackle them, it's like trying to tackle that light pole over there."

Gregory's first score came via Stukel. Just before the end of the first quarter, Stukel broke a sweep play 51 yards to put the Gorillas in front 7-0.

Beck led the Gorillas in rushing with 63 yards on nine carries, while making 13 tackles on defense. Stukel ran for 53 yards on eight carries, as Gregory ran 30 times for 150 yards and finishing with 233 yards of total offense.

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"Honestly, I thought our team played pretty well," Allmendinger said. "But that was mostly our defense, because they did a good job early on. But our offense was atrocious for most of the game."

The Gorillas close out the season with Miller/Highmore-Harrold on Friday, while the Warbirds await the playoffs, in which they will be among the top seeds in the state.

Scoring summary

First quarter

G: Caleb Stukel 51 run (J.J. Beck kick)

Second quarter

WW: Lynden Williams 72 interception return (Mark Hamilton run)

WW: Devante Luellman 12 run (run failed)

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Third quarter

G: Stukel 33 pass from Grant Thomas (kick blocked)

WW: Williams 75 pass from Skyler Zomer (pass failed)

Fourth quarter

WW: Williams 55 run (Brevan Hooks pass from Zomer)

WW: Williams 2 run (pass failed)

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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