It was a game that the West Central Trojans left feeling like they had found out who they are as a team.
For St. Thomas More, it was a game that left a lot of questions unanswered.
The Trojans ran for 205 yards on their way to a 43-13 rout of the Cavaliers Saturday in STM's home opener.
“To come out here against a quality opponent like St. Thomas More, right now I’m really, really happy for the kids,” West Central coach Kent Mueller said.
The win improved the Trojans to 1-2 on the season, with the first two losses coming to Tea Area and Winner.
“It wasn’t that we’ve played that badly in our first two games, but mistakes have really haunted us,” Mueller said. “We have the potential to be a really good team, but until we clean up the mistakes, stop shooting ourselves in the foot and play error free, we’re just going to be an average team.”
West Central looked anything but average Saturday as STM fell to 1-2 on the season.
“We didn’t show up today, plain and simple,” STM coach Wayne Sullivan said. “I told the guys that they’ve got to figure it out, because it’s going to be a long year if we don’t.”
STM started the game with a three and out and a poor punt set the Trojans up with the ball at the STM 40-yard line.
Three plays later, they were in the end zone as Gabe Lorang raced 20 yards for the first touchdown of the game.
Both teams struggled to move the ball for the rest of the half with the score locked at 7-0 headed into the break.
In the second half, both offenses got rolling as Devon Garry of West Central scored on a 16-yard run with 9:39 to go in the third quarter.
The Cavaliers responded with a touchdown of their own, as Kane Kavanaugh connected with Thomas Rafferty for a 7-yard touchdown to make it 13-7.
Whenever STM seemed to get momentum, West Central was able to take it back. Garry (who scored three touchdowns on the day) scored from 16 yards out and the Trojans converted a 2-point try to make it 21-7.
Kavanaugh would score one more before the third quarter was over, as he connected from 20 yards out with Jacob Hyde to make it 21-13.
The fourth belonged to the Trojans, who scored a touchdown only 38 seconds into the quarter after a fumble from Ross Skinner of STM, and would score again when Lorang took the ball in from 4 yards out with 8:44 left.
The nail in the coffin was when Skinner was tackled in the end zone for the safety. The ensuing kickoff was taken back for a touchdown to close the scoring.
After STM made it 21-13, West Central scored 22 straight points.
“We did it in a number of different ways,” Mueller said. “Our special teams have been pretty good in the first two games. I thought they were very good today. This is our best offensive performance in terms of possessing the ball and pounding away. The defense we made some adjustments and the kids figured those adjustments out which was great to see.”
West Central will take on Dell Rapids Friday and Mueller said he thinks his team understands what they have to do to reach their goals.
“The expectations we have are such that it doesn’t matter what year you are or what group of seniors this is, our expectations are, I think, a little bit different than anyone’s in the state,” Mueller said. “There’s no wiggle room for us to not be as close to perfect as we possibly can be, so this game went a long way in reinforcing that attitude.”
For STM, it will look to pick up the pieces at home against Sturgis. Sullivan said the team that takes on the Scoopers is going to have to look a lot different than the team that was on the field for the home opener.
“I have no idea. I don’t have the slightest idea why on a big game, on a big stage, we just didn’t show up,” he said. “They outmanned us. They took it to us and punched us in the mouth.”
STM and Sturgis go at it at 6 p.m. Friday.