Football: Sioux Center routs Okoboji in homecoming game, 50-22

Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Okoboji's Tyeson Barnett applies a stiff arm to Sioux Central's Chase Wells while returning a Sioux Central kickoff for a 95-yard touchdown Friday, October 11 in Albert City. The Pioneers would struggle against the Rebels, however as they fell 50-22. (PHOTOS BY MICHAEL FISCHER)

Sioux Central used its bread and butter to roll over Okoboji Friday night, Oct. 11, in Albert City at its 2013 homecoming game, 50-22. The Rebels pounded the ball on the ground to the tune of 531 yards and improved to 4-3 on the season with the non-district win.

"They're really good at running the ball and that's basically all they do," Okoboji head coach Jon Allen said. "Their kids stay low, and they aren't especially big; their quarterback is the biggest kid on the team, but they fire off low and worry about the four yards in front of them and are good at getting those yards. We tried throwing everyone at those holes (on blitzes) and and guessing which hole they were running into, but they were able to gash us and we just could not stop them."

Junior Devin Tripp scored four touchdowns and gained a career-high 342 yards on the ground on 39 carries. It was the seventh-consecutive game with over 115 yards this season for Tripp, one of Class 1A's leading rushers. Nathan Leer added 94 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown.

Okoboji's Austin Fox breaks the tackle attempt of Sioux Central's Ryan Pitts Friday, October 11 in Albert City. The Pioneers kept it close early, but would end up on the short end of a 50-22 score.

"We practiced all week with three footballs in the backfield and tried a couple of different defenses to stop it. It looked pretty good with our scout team, but we just couldn't simulate the speed and strength of their line. Those kids have gotten pretty good at executing that offense the past couple of years," Allen said. "It was frustrating to get beat by a team when you basically know the plays that they're going to run. We need to clean up our tackling technique and we need to work on getting lower than (opposing lines) are. We failed to get as low as they did on the line."

The Rebels scored on the first drive of the game after marching 75 yards with its trademark quick-set, triple veer offense. Tripp found paydirt from seven yards out, and after the conversion attempt failed, Sioux Central grabbed a 6-0 lead, which would remain through the first quarter.

The Rebel defense impressed in the first half not allowing much offense from the Pioneers and forced five Okoboji punts on six first-half possessions.

After Tripp's first score, the Rebels went 3-and-out on its next possession and lost a fumble on the following series after being set up with prime field position by a Pritchard 60-yard punt return down to the Okoboji 35. A pitch from quarterback Habben to Leer was recovered by the Pioneers at their own 30-yard-line.

Okoboji third-string quarterback Jacob Dodge completed two passes to Tyeson Barnett for two first downs before the Rebel defense forced a punt. Tripp went to work again as the second quarter began with two runs of over 10 yards before breaking off a 41-yard touchdown run for the game's second score and a 14-0 lead.

Okoboji would get on the board when Barnett fielded the ensuing kickoff at the 5-yard-line and went down the sideline for a 95-yard return touchdown.

Sioux Central answered the kick return score with a long, time-consuming drive that would take nearly seven minutes off the clock and result in a Pritchard touchdown from seven yards out. Early in the drive, Tripp broke free for a 72-yard score but had it called back due to a personal foul penalty on the Rebels. Sioux Central later would convert a 4th down conversion in its own territory to extend the scoring drive.

"Tyeson was able to follow a couple of good blocks and he was able to get up along the sideline and a few stiff arms later he was in the end zone," said Allen. "We thought that it might be a turning point, but a few plays after that he went down and it seemed like we had guys going down every drive after that."

After a Pioneer punt, Tripp would score his third touchdown of the first half with a 28-yard run to make it 28-7 at halftime.

The third quarter would be more of the same as the Rebels found the end zone twice, Tripp's fourth touchdown and Leer's first of the game, which triggered the running clock as the score ballooned to 42-7. Mac Prior added the Rebels' final score of the game.

Okoboji would put up two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, one on a 13-yard Barnett rush and the second on a 48-yard touchdown from Jacob Dodge to Jordan Hanna to make the final 50-22 after a two-point conversion by the Pioneers.

Allen said depth played a factor as injuries pilled up as the game went long.

"We were able to get a running game going with Austin Fox. We had a series where we kept feeding him the ball and were moving the chains and towards midfield he twisted his ankle and went down," he said. "Noah Bouse was knocked out of the game early on and he seems like he'll be able to practice this week. Wyatt Slipke will be out, John Gidley was still out with a concussion and we'll have to wait and see with Cole Millard. He went down late in the game with a back injury. We'll put Austin throw an agility test Thursday to see if he'll play on Friday."

Dodge, filling in for the injured Alex Heller (concussion), completed 12 passes for 139 yards with one touchdown in the game. Hanna hauled in five receptions for 100 yards with a score. Barnett finished with 167 all-purpose yards after making five grabs for 27 yards.

"Alex (Heller) is going to start practicing today," Allen said. "Jacob has done a great job filling in. He made all the throws he needed to and made his zone reads."

Defensively, Colbin LaRue and Hanna both recovered fumbles. Hanna had a team-high 13 tackles, followed by Brett Barthman with 11. Wyatt Slipke, Riley Anderson and LaRue all made seven stops.

Allen also said that Holt Hunziker had a good game punting, booming a couple punts that barely trickled into the end zone.

Sioux Central improves to 4-3 overall, while Okoboji falls to 0-7. The Pioneers next play at Western Christian.

"We feel that we're a better match up with these next two teams as our pass defense is pretty good," Allen said. "Although they do have a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard passer. They're a team like us that can pass and run the ball. They've got some really good players in Brady Van't Hul and Ethan Fenchel. They've caught a lot of passes from (Daniel) VanMaanen and then Drew Van Sloten can run the ball. They have a lot of weapons, but we feel that we match up a lot better with a team that throws and runs. We feel our strength is in our d-backs and last year we were in a similar situation where they were looking pretty good and we were struggling and we played by far our best game of the year. We've had some injuries, so that's worrisome, but we feel that we have some young guys that are capable of filling their shoes."

Ryan Christoffel contributed to this story

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