It didn’t take long for Sioux Falls Washington’s experienced roster to take control over a young Rapid City Central lineup.
The Warriors scored every time they touched the ball in the first half to take a 43-0 lead at the half, and coasted to a 49-7 win over outmanned Central Saturday at O’Harra Stadium.
Returning 14 starters on both sides of the ball overcame any doubts the Warriors had about a relatively new offensive line.
“Defensively, having eight starters back really helps us. We’re way ahead of where we were. Our blitz scheme gave them problems at times,” Warrior coach Brian Hermanson said. “It was a great effort tonight, a great way to start the season."
Senior running back Sam Cooke sliced his way through the Cobbler defense for 119 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns, all in the first half.
“What can you say about Sam Cooke? Unbelivable. Great field vision and made some unbelievable cuts,” Hermanson said.
Luke Reiter, and Danny Marlette also ran for touchdowns for the top-ranked Warriors.
Quarterback Jon Hander completed 6-of-10 pass attempts for two touchdowns in the first half, and added a 23-yarder to Jordan Determan in the second half.
“He (Hander) has a lot of confidence and he’s a lot bigger and stronger. Just by having those reps over the past couple of years has made him a very good quarterback,” Hermanson said.
Wide receiver Zac Lupica hauled in a 50-yard strike from Hander to put Washington up 28-0 in the second quarter.
The Warrior defense kept Central pinned deep in their own territory, invariably giving Washington a short field all night.
Austin Benson recovered a Cobbler fumble and returned it to the 12. After a 10-yard holding penalty Nate Gerry caught a 22-yard pass to give Washington its halftime advantage.
Central managed just 46 yards of offense and four first downs in the half.
“For us, we do have a lot of inexperience out there, but that’s no excuse. We’ve got to come ready to play. We talk about anytime a team hits you in the mouth, you’ve got to hit back,” Cobbler coach Trent Pikula said. “When they pop you’ve got to pop back. For the first half, we were just a little bright-eyed. When you get down to a team like that it’s just fuel for the fire.”
Sophomore quarterback Danny Pallotto completed 6-of-14 passes for 68 yards, most coming in the second half against the Washington reserves.
A fumble recovery by Shane O'Connell gave Central its first possession inside Washington territory, but the Cobblers drive stalled.
A 29-yard pass from Pallatto to Pikula set up Central’s lone touchdown against the Warrior reserves in the fourth quarter. Ben Dingus ran twice and completed the drive with a one yard plunge.
Central, (0-1, 0-1 Greater Dakota Conference) plays Sturgis in the 20th annual Rushmore Bowl Friday night. Washington (1-0, 1-0 GDC) plays Sioux Falls Lincoln Friday night at Howard Wood Field.
BELLE FOURCHE 29, STURGIS 21: Belle Fourche outlasted Sturgis in both teams' first outing of the season, 29-21.
The theme of the game was set in the opening minutes. The Broncs gave away yards with an opening kick offside penalty. Moments later, the Broncs' Nathan Lange picked up a Sturgis fumble and ran into the end zone.
"Overall, I thought we played well, we just we had some key mental mistakes," Sturgis head coach Clint Nelson said.
"What I was really happy about was that it was sloppy, but the kids still never got down on themselves or each other," Broncs head coach Adam Nowowiejski said.