WALL — The Harding County/Bison football team threw everything at No. 2 Wall on Friday — trick plays, a halfback pass, even an onside kick — but the Eagles were ready for it.
The blue and gold were unfooled by the Ranchers’ trickery, shutting down their offense and coupling it with another stellar offensive performance, rolling to their largest victory of the season, 55-0, in a game that lasted just one half.
“Coach (Jay) Wammen’s a great coach, he’s been doing it for years, he’s been in the semifinals. Harding County’s traditionally always been a great club, so he brought everything I think he could,” Wall head coach Lex Heathershaw said. “Our guys, we had told them, just be prepared for anything. They’re going to try to come and win just like everybody else.”
The undefeated Eagles (7-0), who recorded their 22nd straight regular season win, improved their already Class 9AA-leading offense and defense. They picked up their fourth shutout of the year, and are now beating opponents by an average of 52-5 with one game remaining on their regular season slate.
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Burk Blasius finished a perfect 9 for 9 in the air for 173 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions for Wall, adding a rushing touchdown as part of a four-carry, 24-yard performance. Cedar Amiotte was a force in the ground game yet again, collecting 156 yards on just seven carries and scoring three touchdowns, as well as grabbing an interception on defense. Rylan McDonnell tallied four receptions for 60 yards and was one of four receivers to catch touchdown passes.
“We were really ready. We prepared all week, we watched a ton of film, we had a junior high game Monday so we got to watch extra film instead of practice then, so we had their offense down,” Brodi Sundall said. “We have a really complete team. Everyone can go off any night, so by the time we hopefully get to the state championship, everyone will be at the top of their game and we can roll.”
Apart from the usual outstanding performances, a new player seems to emerge with a big game every week for the Eagles, and Friday it was Sundall. The junior running back and safety earned an interception and fumble recovery on defense, while catching two passes for 33 yards and a touchdown on offense.
“What’s nice is we have so many weapons all over the field,” Heathershaw said. “Tonight Brodi had a big game, but I don’t know how many guys scored tonight, so hats off to our offense. Defense puts up another goose egg, so the team’s rolling right now and we’re proud of them.”
Kelby Hett completed 8 of 15 passes for the Ranchers (5-2) for 72 yards and two interceptions, while Rylee Veel ran for 52 yards on 15 carries. Braden Routier earned 27 yards on four receptions, and Gage Gilbert tallied 35 yards on four catches.
“We played at safety most of the game, that’s where I was at, so we could watch him and see where he went,” Sundall said of Hett. “Just kept an eye on him at all times.”
Harding County/Bison dug into its bag of tricks on the opening kickoff, trying an onside kick that unsuccessfully bounced out of bounds. Wall, taking over at its own 45-yard line, ran a smooth seven-play drive, capping it off with a quick 5-yard pass from Blasius to Sundall for the first points of the night.
The Ranchers managed to move the ball to the opposing 48 on their first drive, the deepest they got all night, but fell short on a 3-yard run on fourth-and-4. The Eagles needed only three plays to find the end zone again, scoring on a 3-yard QB keeper from Blasius.
McDonnell recorded a big return on Harding County/Bison’s first punt, bringing the ball back 56 yards to the opposing 22. Amiotte then punched it in off-tackle on the ensuing play.
Following a Norman Livermont sack on Hett on third-and-11, Amiotte returned a punt 45 yards to the end zone, but the play was called back due to a block in the back. It didn’t matter much, however, as Blasius aired out a pass to Stran Williams, who hauled in a 40-yard touchdown reception two plays later to make it 28-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The Ranchers started to get their offense going at the end of the opening frame and into the second, picking up two first downs and moving the ball near midfield, but on fourth-and-3, Hett was flushed out of the pocket and threw a pass that Sundall grabbed for the interception.
Three plays later, Amiotte hustled 35 yards for the touchdown.
Another Harding Co./Bison turnover came on its next possession, after Gilbert caught what would’ve been a first-down pass from Hett. On the tackle, the ball came loose and Sundall picked up, returning it about 30 yards for the touchdown, but that play we called back for a hold.
Still, Wall took over at the opposing 40, then Blasius completed three straight passes of 21, 9 and 10 yards, the final one coming on a toss into the end zone to McDonnell, who high-pointed the ball and snagged the touchdown on a diving catch.
The Eagles started their next drive just past midfield following an unsuccessful fourth-and-8 attempt, and two plays in Blasius hit Thane Simons for a wide open 23-yard TD reception to get his team within two points of the mercy rule, leading 48-0.
Amiotte then intercepted a third-and-10 pass from Hett before taking the first-down handoff on the ensuing play and sprinting 50 yards for the touchdown with 3:55 to play in the first half.
The Ranchers then ran out the clock to end the game at halftime.
Wall’s 55 points is the second most its scored this season, while its 55-point margin of victory surpasses four previous 50-point wins.
The Eagles travel to Kimball/White Lake next Friday for their regular season finale.
Contact Matt Case at email@example.com