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Scoopers Roll Over Belle Fourche

Terry Anderson, KBHB Radio Sports - October 16, 2020

BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. – The Sturgis Scooper football team used a punishing ground game and pinpoint passing to generate one of their best offensive outputs of the season on Friday night as they downed the Belle Fourche Broncs, 35-6, at Lou Graslie Field.

The Scoopers were coming off a 42-20 dismantling of the Mitchell Kernels at Woodle Field, a homecoming win that kept the possibility of a home playoff game alive for the Scoops.

The Belle Fourche defense held Sturgis on their first series and took over on their own 15-yard line following a Brodie Eisenbraun punt. Senior defensive back Kaden Phillips picked off the first pass attempt by Belle Fourche sophomore quarterback Anthony Budmayr and returned it to the Bronc 42-yard line. Scooper signal caller Owen Cass found tight end Sanden Graham down the left sideline on the next play for a 36-yard completion, moving the ball to the six-yard line. Three plays later, senior fullback Talon Elshere punched the ball in from the five to put Sturgis on the scoreboard. Eisenbraun’s kick was good and Sturgis led 7-0.

The Scooper defense knew Bronc running back Brextin Garza was dangerous in the open field and he stung the defense on his first carry of the ballgame, getting loose for a 38-yard run to the Sturgis 21. The Scooper defense regrouped and kept Belle Fourche out of the red zone and the Broncs turned the ball over on downs. Both teams traded possessions throughout the remainder of the first quarter but neither team could put any points on the board. The Scoopers led 7-0 after one quarter.

“Defense all year has been pretty solid,” said Sturgis head coach Chris Koletzky. “Our emphasis has changed from last year, trying to make things happen and get turnovers. This year we’re really trying to make teams earn it. Belle Fourche had a couple of big gains but when they got down to the 20-yard line our defense really stiffened up.”

Sturgis began the second quarter at the Bronc 30-yard line and moved the ball to the 19 before Gage Kracht intercepted a Cass throw at the Belle Fourche seven, ending the Scooper drive. Bronc wide receiver Len Fuhrer caught a pass from Budmayr on the next series, then coughed up the football and the Scoopers took over at the Belle Fourche 39-yard line.

Sturgis capitalized on the Bronc turnover on the very next play, as Scooper running back Kaden Phillips scampered in from 39 yards out for a touchdown. Eisenbraun’s extra point was good and Sturgis led 14-0 with 9:31 left before the half.

The Scoopers put together a 7-play, 61-yard drive midway through the second quarter, culminating in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Cass to Graham. The kick was good and the Scoopers led 21-0 at the half. Koletzky has been impressed with the rapid development of his sophomore quarterback and the abilities of the Scooper skill players.

“The improvements we’ve seen here in the second half of the season, some of it has to do with strength of schedule, and figuring out who our quarterback was going to be,” he said. “Owen (Cass) has been able to work with his running backs and receivers in practice and then get some more experience on Friday nights. We have some players this year, Sanden (Graham), Kaden (Phillips), Talon (Elshere) and Wren (Jacobs) that can get the ball out in space and can win those one on one battles.”

The misty rain that built through the first half turned into rain drops in the second half, making the football slippery and the field conditions deteriorated.  The strength of the Scooper kicking game was evident on the first play of the second half as Eisenbraun executed a perfect onside kick that slipped through the hands of the front line of the Bronc receiving team and Sturgis recovered the ball on the Belle Fourche 45-yard line.

Pressure from the Bronc defensive line caused Cass to roll out on the next play and his pass was intercepted by defensive back Aiden McCarty at the Bronc 19-yard line. Belle Fourche went three-and-out on the ensuing series and had to punt, pinning Sturgis back on their own 25. The Scoopers put together an 8-play drive on their next series but couldn’t get the ball past midfield. Eisenbraun’s picture perfect punt put the Broncs back to their own 7-yard line and it looked like the Scooper defense might push the Belle offense into the end zone for a safety.

The offensive combination of Budmayr and Garza woke up the Belle Fourche crowd, moving the ball to the Bronc 22-yard line. On the next play, Garza took a pitch on the left side from Budmayr, who ran to his right and caught an 18-yard pass from Garza. Budmayr was horse collar tackled by the Scooper defense as he headed towards the sideline and injured his left leg and was taken out of the ballgame. Freshman Nolan Wahlfeldt came in for Budmayr and the drive stalled. Belle Fourche turned the ball over on downs at their own 43.

Scooper fullback Talon Elshere came into the game with just 20 yards gained on 16 carries for the season, but he took advantage of a worn-down Bronc defense late in the third quarter with a 49-yard touchdown run down the middle of the field. Dominik Smith’s kick was good and Sturgis led 28-0 with 1:27 left in the third. The Scooper running game was firing on all cylinders as the rain continued to fall in Belle Fourche.

“We have to be able to run when we want to, or at least be somewhat proficient,” Koletzky said. “It’s getting to that time of year when the snow is going to fly, the field is going to be wet and we’ll have run the ball in those situations, especially in South Dakota.”

The Sturgis defense clamped down on the next series, forcing Belle Fourche to turn the ball over on downs once again. Two plays later, Elshere broke off a 52-yard touchdown run through the middle of the Bronc defense, capping off a three-touchdown night for the senior. Smith’s kick split the uprights and Sturgis led 35-0 with 9:40 left in the game.

The Broncs finally got on the scoreboard with a 17-yard touchdown run by Garza with 2:27 left. Kicker Anthony Staley slipped as he attempted the extra point and the kick was no good. Koletzky brought in his reserves for the final Scooper drive and the game ended with a 35-6 Sturgis victory.

The Scoopers finished the night with 450 yards of total offense. Sturgis had 31 carries for 263 yards, led by Elshere with eight carries for 117 yards and three touchdowns. Cass was 14 of 21 passing for 187 yards. Graham had another outstanding night offensively, with 9 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown. The Scoopers had three turnovers, all interceptions, and five penalties for 50 yards.

Belle Fourche had 208 total yards and were led by Garza on the ground, who was the workhorse for the Broncs with 22 carries for 137 yards. Budmayr was out of the game early with his injury but finished the night six of 13 passing for 71 yards. The Broncs had four turnovers and five penalties for 50 yards. The Broncs fell to 2-5 and travel to Custer next Thursday, Oct. 22 for their season finale.

The Scoopers improve to 4-4 on the season and finish their season at home against their ‘crosstown’ rival, Spearfish. Koletzky emphasized that his team can’t overlook the Spartans, who are looking for their first win.

“We’re excited where we’re at, we gotta keep that mentality where we need to stay humble. We have to want to improve each day and we still need to push ourselves. These rivalry games are always close, we need to make sure we are prepared.”

Phone number: 605-347-4455
E-mail: [email protected]
Address: 1612 Junction Avenue, Suite #1
Sturgis, SD 57785