STURGIS, S.D. – The Sturgis Scoopers came into their season opener against the Rapid City Central Cobblers with question marks on offense and defense, but their performance put those questions to rest with a 20-7 win on Friday night at Woodle Field.
The Scoopers lost nine seniors to graduation, three of whom were all-state selections. Rising all-state senior wideout Tyan Buus transferred to Pierre after his father took a job in the Lyman school system, taking his skills to the state champion Governor football team. Scooper head coach Chris Koletzky knew that he had holes to fill but has confidence in his returning players.
“These guys are going to step up and replace the yardage maybe but it’s leadership that we’re looking for, to see how we can have some of these younger guys step up and be more vocal leaders,” Koletzky said.
Late in the first quarter, the Scoopers took over on their own 27-yard line and put together a methodical 73-yard drive, culminating in a 27-yard touchdown run by Owen Udager to put the Scoopers up 7-0.
The Cobblers took advantage of a Scooper turnover with 7:14 left before halftime, recovering the ball on the Scooper 13-yard line. Five plays later, running back Zack Soderlin dove over his offensive line to tie the game at seven apiece.
Sturgis put together another long drive to start the third quarter, moving the ball downfield on the legs of senior quarterback Aiden Hedderman. Hedderman took the ball 27-yards down the middle of the field and scored with 9:05 left in the third to put Sturgis up 14-7.
The Cobbler defense kept Hedderman and the Scooper offense in check early in the fourth quarter, forcing a Sturgis punt. Rapid City Central took over on their own 16-yard line. The Scooper defense put pressure on Cobbler quarterback Ryan Wetch, forcing him to throw an errant pass which was picked off by cornerback Dee Daniels, who brought the ball back to the Cobbler 18-yard line. On the next play, Hedderman took the snap and pump faked, causing the Cobbler cornerback to pause, giving Scooper wideout Teigen Wormstadt the room to find the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown catch. The kick was no good, giving Sturgis a 20-7 lead with 8:26 left in the game.
“We threw that hitch pass on the back side a couple of times in a row, and (the defensive back) was biting down on it more and more,” Hedderman said. “So we had Teigen run a hitch-go pattern and I saw (the defensive back) bite down so I threw it up for (Wormstadt) to catch it and he made a great play and caught it.”
Rapid City Central strung together a good offensive drive on their next series but penalties stalled the drive, turning the ball back over to the Scoopers on downs. The Cobblers ran out of time outs and the Scoopers killed the clock, securing the 20-7 victory.
Sturgis (1-0) finished with 344 total yards of offense. Hedderman had 15 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown and completed 11 passes on 16 attempts for 104 yards and a touchdown. Sully Jost had six carries for 90 yards, with Udager adding 42 yards on eight carries. Wormstadt caught four balls for 39 yards and a touchdown. Jost had three catches for 17 yards, with Byron Holt and Dalyn Dschaak adding a catch apiece. The Scoopers had six penalties for 60 yards and one fumble. Hedderman gave credit to his offensive line after the win.
“Our linemen started doing really good in the second half,” Hedderman said. “Everything just started rolling, holes started opening up and our running backs did great on faking the hand offs, so I just had huge seams to run through. It was boomtastic.”
Rapid City Central (0-1) had 188 yards of total offense, with 20 carries for 22 yards and 166 yards of passing by quarterback Ryan Wetch. Kaiden Mathieu caught four balls for 60 yards. The Cobblers had 12 penalties for 95 yards and two turnovers, both interceptions.
The Sturgis Scoopers host the Mitchell Kernels next week at Woodle Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 6pm.