In a game that came down to the final play, the Winner Warriors claimed the 11B state championship on Friday with an 18-14 win over the Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan Seahawks.
Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan received to start the game, but a backwards pass from quarterback Kaden Klumb resulted in an early fumble, which was recovered by Winner in Seahawks territory.
The Warriors threatened on their first possession, but the Warriors defense held, backed up against their own goal line to force a turnover on downs.
Late in the opening quarter, Kaden Keiser picked off a Kaden Klumb pass to give Winner the football back.
End of the 1st Quarter: Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan 0 Winner 0
Preston Norrid put Winner on the board first with a 4-yard touchdown run. The two-point try failed, but the Warriors snagged a 6-0 lead.
With 3:22 to play in the half, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan would answer. Kaden Klumb ran in a one-yard score, and after a successful point after, the Seahawks took a 7-6 lead.
Winner would recapture the lead in the closing minute of the second quarter, courtesy of a 4-yard run by Riley Orel.
Halftime: Winner 12 Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan 7
The Warriors would extend their lead to 18-7 at the 7:32 mark of the third quarter with a one-yard quarterback keeper from Brady Fritz.
Less than 30-seconds later, the Seahawks added a strike of their own. Bodie Burnham set it up with a 70-yard kickoff return. Two plays later, Burnham punched it into the end zone on a one-yard run. This made it an 18-14 game with just over seven-minutes to play in the third period.
Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan carried over their momentum to the defensive side of the ball as they forced a Winner three-and-out on the Warriors next drive. The Seahawks were unable to capitalize, though, as they were forced to punt it back to Winner.
End of the 3rd Quarter: Winner 18 Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan 14
Bend don’t break – that’s a philosophy that many defenses live by, and that’s exactly what Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan did in the fourth quarter in a must stop situation. Winner drove the ball inside the Seahawks five-yard line, but a huge defensive stand gave Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan the ball back, trailing by four, with just under six-minutes to play in the ball game.
Unfortunately for the Seahawks, Winner’s defense came up equally as big on the ensuing drive, forcing a three-and-out.
Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan had one final chance in the final moments of the game. On the last play in regulation, Klumb took a shot at the end zone but it was broken up by Orel, sealing the victory for Winner.
Final: Winner 18 Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan 14
This is the Warriors third state football title in the past six-years, and their first since 2016.
Outstanding Lineman: Charley Pravecek
Outstanding Back: Sam Kruger
Joe Robbie MVP: Riley Orel
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