The Milbank Area Bulldogs ended their season with a 35-6 loss to West Central in the opening round of the Class 11A high school football playoffs Thursday, October 29, at Hartford. The Dawgs finished with a 6-4 overall record.
“I am very proud of this team’s effort,” explained Milbank Area head football coach Jeremy Tostenson. “This team never quit.”
The Bulldogs surprised the Trojans to start the game. Cole Dockter received the ball on the opening kick, reversed it to Kyle Montag who took it 98 yards to the end zone for a Bulldog touchdown. Dalton Koch’s extra point kick was partially blocked, and Milbank Area remained on top 6-0 with just seconds off the clock.
The Bulldog advantage was short-lived however. West Central came back four plays later with its own 60-yard TD run and PAT to overtake the 7-6 lead.
Milbank Area took the field for its first offensive series of the contest. Jonny Ash entered the ballgame, sharing the quarterback duties with Isaac Snaza. Ash’s long bomb on Milbank Area’s first play of the game was picked off by the Trojans.
West Central then inched its way down the field and capitalized on a three-yard TD run to go ahead 14-6 with five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The local’s offense took the field in hopes of making something happen for the Bulldogs. Unfortunately, a muffled handoff exchange dropped to the ground and was recovered by West Central. The opponent did not take too long to punch the ball in for another score with just over one minute left in the first quarter and widen the gap to 21-6.
Milbank Area’s defensive got a workout in the first quarter, spending most of the time on the field. The Bulldogs completed just four offensive plays in the first quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, the Dawgs recovered a West Central fumble. Milbank Area was unable to convert on the turnover and was forced to punt the ball away. West Central fumbled the ball on the punt and the Bulldogs recovered, giving another glimpse of hope for the locals. Time expired on the clock before further points were added to either team’s score.
The teams played nearly even throughout much of the second half. West Central scored one touchdown in the third period to go ahead 28-6. They sealed the win at 35-6 with a five-yard TD run in the final stanza.
Milbank Area completed the contest with 69 total yards of offense. The Bulldogs had just 33 yards rushing and 36 yards passing. West Central collected 387 yards of offense which included 389 yards rushing and negative two yards passing.
Montag led the Bulldogs with 25 yards rushing on six carries, three yards receiving on two catches, was 0-1 passing with an interception and a kickoff return for a touchdown. Tristan Hall added six yards rushing on four totes and caught one ball for three yards. Snaza had four yards rushing on seven carries and was 1-3 passing for five yards. Tanner Gauer collected four yards rushing on four carries and caught two passes for 25 yards. Jacob Jackson added five yards on one reception. Ash went 5-10 passing for 31 yards and two interceptions.
On the defensive side, Gauer and Riley Folk led the team with eight tackles each. Devin Stricherz followed with seven while Tanner Kettwig had five. Jake Anderson and Zach Angerhofer tallied four tackles; Koben Huber, three, and Snaza, Cole Dockter and Riley Wollschlager, two each.
Playing in their final football game of their high school careers were seniors Devin Stricherz, Isaac Snaza, Kyle Montag, Tristan Hall, Jacob Jackson, Nolan Foss and Dalton Koch.
West Central will advance to face number seven-seeded Lennox in the semi-finals slated for Friday and Saturday, November 6-7. Madison will face Sioux Falls Christian in the other semi-final matchup. The winners will battle for the championship title Thursday, November 12, at the DakotaDome in Vermillion