From the press box, Sioux Falls Washington appeared to play as close as possible to perfect in its 42-14 pounding of Rapid City Central Friday at Howard Wood Field.
The Warriors’ suffocating defense forced two Cobbler turnovers deep in Rapid City Central territory to set up an efficient offense with a short field, helping Washington stake a big lead in the first quarter, a lead it never surrendered.
All good, right?
Not for Warriors head coach Chad Stadem.
“We kind of had a lull in the second quarter,” he said. “That’s what we have to get better at. We’ve had that in a number of games. We get a lead and we just settle. That’s something we have to work on.”
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It’s the kind of thing head coaches typically say after a dominant win — they nitpick at small things in a strong overall effort.
But both Stadem lauded the effort of his defense.
“Our defense has been playing well all year,” Stadem said. “They don’t get enough credit. Our offense gets all the credit.”
Sophomore quarterback Jayden Johannsen liked what he saw, saying the team played well in every phase of the game and made few mistakes.
The Warriors held Rapid City Central to just 280 yards of offense on 62 plays — a dismal 4.5 yard-per-play average. The Cobblers didn’t cross the 50 yard line until there were about three minutes left in the first half, and Washington forced Central into countless third-and-long situations.
Washington turned the ball over on downs on the Cobbler 29 on its first drive. On Rapid City Central’s first play of the ensuing series, Walton-Blanden took the snap and fired to his right side, but he overthrew his intended target and the ball bounced away. Washington junior linebacker Seth Benson alertly pounced on the ball, which was ruled a fumble as Walton-Blanden had not thrown it forward.
That gave the Warriors possession in the red zone, and Sean Oromo punched it in around the left side from 14 yards out on the next play.
Washington forced a punt, then scored again after Johannsen hit senior running back Thuro Reisdorfer along the left sideline for a long catch-and-run. Reisdorfer came down with the ball, made a couple defenders miss and streaked to the end zone for a 52-yard score and 14-0 lead.
The Warriors’ defense came up big again when Zach Heins intercepted Walton-Blanden at the Cobbler 27. Johannsen threw a back shoulder fade to Logan Uttecht for a five-yard score just four plays later, giving Washington a 21-0, first-quarter lead.
“They set us up for some short scores right away,” Stadem said of his defense. “They did some real good things. You’re going to have guys like that.”
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Johannsen threw four touchdown passes while Uttecht caught four balls for 97 yards and two scores. Oromo ran for 70 yards and scored twice. Walton-Blanden was the only Cobbler player who could do much against the stout Warrior front as he rushed for 84 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Follow Ryan Heuer on Twitter at @ArgusRHeuer .