Warriors blank Fighting Cougars in Class 11B quarterfinals

Winner's Riley Orel carries the ball against McCook Central/Montrose's Trevor Hansen (35) on Thursday in Winner. Winner's Bosten Morehart, center, and McCook Central/Montrose's Kade Grocott (66) are in the background. (Ryan Deal / Republic)

WINNER -- Two playoff games and two shutouts for the Winner Warriors.

The Warriors blanked McCook Central/Montrose, 30-0, in the Class 11B quarterfinals on Thursday at Warrior Field. Winner, which shutout Garretson (40-0) in the playoff opener, will host Sioux Valley on Nov. 6 in the semifinals.

On Thursday, the Warriors (9-0) and Fighting Cougars (5-4) traded defensive stops in the first half before Winner pulled away in the second half. Winner scored on its opening drive of the second half and its defense continued to pitch a shutout.

“We had a plan going in and we executed very well,” Winner senior linebacker/fullback Preston Norrid said. “I am very proud of defense keeping a zero on the board and I am just happy with our overall performance on defense.”

The Warriors, who have now won 15 straight games at Warrior Field, seized the momentum when quarterback Brady Fritz broke loose for a 34-yard touchdown run and a 16-0 lead.


“You always want to defer and get the ball in the second half,” Winner coach Trent Olson said. “So when you make adjustments you’ve got the ball and go down right away and score. That’s huge.”

Winner’s Kaden Keiser added a 32-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, while Norrid added a three-yard rushing touchdown to cap the scoring.

Riley Orel led the Warriors with 136 rushing yards on 18 carries and one touchdown. The Warriors finished with 355 total yards (352 rushing) and dominated the time of possession (32:33-15:27). MCM managed just 137 total yards, went 2 of 11 on third-down conversions and 0 of 7 on fourth-down plays.

“That’s a team that scores over 35 points per game and they never really threatened,” Olson said. “We had them basically in the middle of the field or their own end of the field all night.”

MCM bruising running back Jacobi Krouse was held to 64 rushing yards on 21 carries. He finished his senior season with more than 1,900 rushing yards.

“That was our main goal was to stop the run and make them pass it,” Norrid said. “We knew their quarterback wasn’t as experienced. He threw the ball up and we had some interception chances. That was our game plan is to stop 40 (Krouse) on the run and then focus on the pass.”


Orel’s 27-yard touchdown run capped off an impressive opening drive, but then the teams settled in for a defensive slugfest. The teams traded punts and turnover on downs, while the first half was played between the 20-yard lines.

The Warriors then took control in the second half.

“We had a little bit better execution offensively,” Olson said. “But they had a great defensive plan and they played very hard. You have to give them a lot of credit. They played a very good game defensively.”

Keiser finished with two interceptions and seven tackles on defense, while Landon Thieman posted 7.5 tackles. MCM’s Gavin Gordon finished with 73 passing yards. Will Cleveland led MCM’s defense with 10 tackles and one interception.

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