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Trojans stomp Elkton-Lake Benton, advance to Class 9AA title game

Parkston’s defense shined again in the upset of previously undefeated ELB, as the Trojans roll toward Vermillion on a seven-game win streak.

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Parkston's Kolter Kramer (7) follows the lead block of teammate Brayden Jervik (2) as Elkton-Lake Benton defenders close in during a Class 9AA semifinal contest on Nov. 4, 2022, in Elkton.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic
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ELKTON, S.D. — Parkston wasn’t going to be denied a trip to the DakotaDome. Not this time.

After coming up just short in the semifinal round a season ago, Parkston left no doubt on Friday night, as the sixth-seeded Trojans went on the road and bludgeoned second-seeded Elkton-Lake Benton, 36-8, in the Class 9AA semifinals to punch their ticket to Vermillion.

It’s the first time since winning the Class 11B title in 2014 that Parkston will compete for a state football championship.

“We all remembered how last year ended, so we just focused up,” said running back/linebacker Brayden Jervik. “We weren’t going to let it happen again this week, we kept pushing and it showed tonight.”

In dismantling the previously unbeaten Elks, Parkston wasted little time. After getting a stop on the game’s opening possession, the Trojans took the ball and went 55 yards in 10 plays, the last of which was an 8-yard touchdown run by Kolter Kramer.

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It was a sign of more to come for Parkston, which doubled up the high-powered Elks offense in total yardage, 262 to 130.

After a long kickoff return set the Elks up deep in Trojan territory, the defense came up with another stop, ultimately recording a fourth-down sack to ward off the scoring threat. Kramer responded with his second touchdown of the first half, shedding multiple ELB defenders on a 25-yard run to put Parkston up 16-0.

“It got chilly, they missed a couple blocks and we were able to get hits on the quarterback. I think that stunned them a little bit,” said Parkston coach Matt Grave. “Then we scored on our first two drives and that was huge because we didn’t score again for a while. But we were able to get constant pressure, wear time off the clock and didn’t give up any big pass plays. Anytime you do that, you have a chance.”

The story continues below.

Though the Elks denied the Trojans a third touchdown on the final possession of the first half, Parkston pushed the margin to three scores right out of halftime, with Kaleb Weber taking it 25 yards for the score and a 24-0 lead.

Sam Benson added a 34-yard rushing score moments later, making it 30-0 before the Elks offered their first and only reply.

On fourth-and-9, Ryan Krog found Tanner Stein on a 20-yard scoring strike, briefly giving the home team hope at 30-8 entering the fourth quarter. But a clock-draining drive by the Trojans wound up in the endzone again, with Luke Bormann scoring on an 8-yard run that put a final stamp on a second-straight Trojan upset of an undefeated, higher-seeded opponent.

“If it wasn’t for last year’s seniors, we don’t accomplish what we have this year,” Grave said. “[Last year] was the first time any of them had been past the first round. For them to know they had an opportunity to go to a state title game and fall short, it showed everyone if you want to go get it and are willing to put the work in, good things happen.”

Unofficially, Parkston rushed for 230 yards on 43 carries while completing 4 of 7 passes for 32 yards. Meanwhile, the Trojans' defense held an Elks offense that had rolled to 42.3 points per game and a 10-0 record to just five first downs. Krog, who came in averaging more than 300 yards of offense and accounting for five touchdowns per game, was limited to 65 yards passing and 38 rushing.

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Parkston (10-1) will make the program’s first-ever appearance in a nine-man title game (fifth overall) in a clash with top-seeded Wall (11-0) in the Class 9AA championship on Friday, Nov. 11.

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 ldierks@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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