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Warbirds keep playing their way to a title
Nov 13, 2020

By Rodney Haas 

VERMILLION — Wolsey-Wessington coach Gordon Hooks recalled having Zoom meetings with his players during a time when the season was a 50-50 chance of happening as a result of COVID-19.

According to Hooks, his players just wanted to play.

“I knew we had a talented group,” he said. “It didn’t matter who we played. It didn’t matter what position they played. They just wanted to play and once we got through three games and six games and when we realized we might get through the season, we just wanted to keep playing.”

Keep playing they did — all the way to DakotaDome and the 9B championship game on Thursday afternoon, where the Warbirds capped off a season of uncertainty with a 32-14 win over Del Rapids St. Mary’s.

“Our No. 1 goal was simple to keep playing and today we got to the championship and we played our last game,” Hooks said.

The win is the program’s first championship since 2015 when Wolsey-Wessington defeated Woonsockot-Wessington Springs-Sanborn central 36-22. 

“I just thought our kids came out and played hard — driving and the long drive — coming all the way to the DakotaDome. Our kids were excited. It was a fun trip and our kids were excited to be here.”

The Warbirds (9-1) jumped out to a 12-0 lead after the first quarter and held a 18-0 lead at halftime.

Eric Klanchnik led Wolsey-Wessington with two rushing touchdowns — a 14-yard run in the first quarter and a 10-yard run in the second quarter. Klanchnik ended the night with 16 carries for 68 yards while Marty Gohn had 65 yards on seven carries. Gohn also added a 1-yard run with 2:53 left in the fourth quarter.

Corbin Haarmeyer threw for 173 yards while completing 14 of 16 attempts and one touchdown pass for the Warbirds.

“Our offensive line carried us through this year,” Hooks said. “That’s the unit that we hang our hat on and I think they showed up tonight.”

Quarterback Connor Libis was responsible for 263 of the 309 total yards for Dell Rapids-St. Mary’s Thursday afternoon.

Libis rushed for 140 yards on 26 carries while also completing 9 of 13 passes for 123 yards including two touchdown passes. He found Nick Gaspar for a 45-yard pass in the third quarter for the Cardinals (7-3) and then found Sam Palmer for 45-yards in the fourth quarter. 

“I thought we played one of our better games today,” Hooks said. “Dell Rapids is a big team and they are physical upfront. The quarterback (Connor Libis) is one of the most talented players we played all year.”

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