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2023 Football State Championships: Monday Roundup

by Nov 20, 2023Preps Football

state championships
Photo Credit: Mike Sautter

Memorial Stadium played host to the 8-man 1 and 2 and Class B state championships on Monday, and the Hurrdat Sports team is providing updates throughout the day.

CLASS D1 – No. 1 Stanton 42, No. 7 EMF 36

The top-seeded Mustangs looked to be in trouble early in the fourth quarter as the Bobcats capitalized on an interception to take a 28-18 lead.

However, Stanton proceeded to score 24 straight points to take control, then ran out the clock to finish 13-0 and capture the school’s first state championship.

Stanton junior quarterback Barrett Wilke shrugs off an EMF defender on his way to the end zone. Photo by Mike Sautter.

Junior quarterback Barrett Wilke was the Mustangs’ MVP, finishing 6-10 for 135 yards and three touchdowns through the air and 250 yards and three more scores on 38 carries. He added seven tackles, a pass break-up and a forced fumble.

Senior Mitchell Hupp was Wilke’s favorite target with four receptions for 79 yards and two touchdowns on offense, and he led the defense with 15 tackles as well. Junior Jordan Claussen added a 56-yard receiving touchdown, 38 yards rushing on five attempts, two two-point conversions, seven tackles and an interception.

EMF senior Breckan Schluter finished with 39 carries for 266 yards and five touchdowns, breaking the D1 postseason rushing yards record in the process. In five playoff games, he totaled 1,410 rushing yards, breaking Clint Belina’s class record of 1,327 from 2009 (which was also the all-class record). Schluter added three two-point conversions plus 10 tackles including 2.5 for loss on defense. He finished the season with 2,979 yards rushing and 61 total touchdowns on the season.

The Mustangs responded quickly in the fourth after falling behind by 10, consistently getting to the edge for a 10-play, 65-yard scoring drive that ate up just 3:03 of game time. On the next play, EMF had a receiver running free, but the ball was under-thrown and Claussen picked it off in EMF territory. Wilke went untouched off the left end for as 32-yard touchdown on the next play to put the Mustangs in front.

Two plays later, Garrett Hansen forced and recovered a fumble. The Bobcats forced a turnover on downs to regain possession but immediately fumbled it back with Hansen recovering the ball again at the EMF 30.

A couple of false starts threatened to derail the drive, but on fourth-and-6, Wilke dropped back to pass and dropped a dime over the outstretched hand of an EMF defender to Hupp in the end zone for the dagger 26-yard touchdown.

EMF responded quickly with a six-play, 65-yard touchdown drive in 93 seconds, but Stanton moved the chains with a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-2 and ate up the rest of the clock in victory formation.

Wilke finished the season with 2,140 yards rushing, 1,292 yards passing and 58 total touchdowns, and he still has one more season to go — along with most of Stanton’s other impact players.


CLASS D2 — No. 8 Sandhills/Thedford 50, No. 2 Wynot 12

Sandhills/Thedford quarterback Kyle Cox broke a pair of records in the Knights’ D2 state championship. Photo by Nolan Erspamer.

Sandhills/Thedford quarterback Kyle Cox put the Knights on his back and carried his team to the school’s first state championship.

Cox, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound junior, logged the first 20 carries for Sandhills/Thedford. Then after a 2-yard run for Coby Higgins, he carried it 33 times in a row before letting Higgins carry the ball in from the 1. Cox, the son of head coach Tyson Cox, added two more carries to his total for good measure, scoring his sixth touchdown as time expired.

Cox finished with 65 carries for a D2 single-game playoff record 486 rushing yards. He accounted for all but 7 of the Knights’ yards from scrimmage. He also added 10 tackles, three pass break-ups and an interception.

Wynot marched down the field with a 15-play, 65-yard drive to open the game, chewing up half the first quarter. The Blue Devils didn’t score again until the third quarter as Sandhills/Thedford scored 28 straight, all on Cox touchdowns plus a pair of Cox two-point conversions (one passing, one rushing).

The Knights added three more touchdowns to close out the game in a dominant showing on both sides of the ball.

Quarterback Dylan Heine threw for 127 yards and a touchdown with Carson Wieseler accounting for 77 of those yards and the score on eight receptions. Kasen Koch scored the second touchdown on the ground for the Blue Devils.

Cox’s championship performance pushed his five-game playoff rushing total to 1,436, which is a new all-class record (topping Schluter from the first game). The previous D2 record was Tyson Denkert’s 1,267 from 2001. He finished the season with 2,900 yards rushing, 970 yards passing, 188 yards receiving and 71 total touchdowns.


CLASS B — No. 1 Bennington 21, No. 3 Omaha Skutt 0

Bennington senior Quinton Archer (4) celebrates after a big play during the Class B State Championship. Photo by John S. Peterson.

The Badgers and SkyHawks faced off in week one in a game that went down to the wire and ended in controversial fashion.

The two teams met again in the final game of the season at Memorial Stadium, and this time the Badgers left no doubt, shutting out the SkyHawks to win their 39th straight game, a new Class B record, and complete their third-straight undefeated season.

What’s even more impressive is the Badgers have had two different starting quarterbacks, three different leading rushers, three different leading receivers and two different leading tacklers during that run.

Senior running back Quinton Archer led the way with 117 yards and a touchdown on 37 carries, and he also caught three passes for 54 yards and another score. Senior quarterback Peyton Sanmann threw for 125 yards and two scores.

The story of the game — and the season — was the Bennington defense, however. Skutt finished with 194 total yards and averaged 3.4 yards per play in the shutout. The Badgers nearly had more empty possessions (seven punts, three turnovers on downs, one interception) than first downs (12).

Bennington opened the game with a nine-play, 80-yard drive that ended in a 36-yard touchdown pass from Sanmann to senior KJ Taffa. Fifteen empty possessions followed before Archer found his way into the end zone — carrying a couple of SkyHawks with him — for a 12-yard score to push the lead to 14-0 late in the third quarter.

On the next drive, Bennington stopped Skutt inches short of the line to gain on fourth down, then the Badgers delivered the knockout blow with a 32-yard touchdown to Archer on a wheel route. Skutt had a chance to put points on the board, pushing the ball into the red zone, but the Badger defense stiffened up and stopped the SkyHawks on another fourth-and-1, putting an exclamation point on the dominant defensive effort.

Junior linebacker Kyler Lauridsen finished with 10 tackles including a sack, topping 100 tackles for the second-straight season with 107. Junior Layne Boever matched him with 10 tackles and a sack while senior Ben Gilliland recorded nine tackles including 1.5 for loss, finishing one tackle behind Lauridsen on the season.

Archer finished the season with a Class B-leading 1,803 yards rushing and 23 total touchdowns, averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

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