HARRISON — Sioux County’s remarkable football season became a lot more memorable Friday afternoon.
The Warriors earned their first-ever trip to a state football championship game when they toppled Silver Lake 48-35 in the semifinal round of the Nebraska six man state playoffs.
The victory advances Sioux County (9-1) into next Friday’s state title game against Wauneta-Palisade, which improved to 10-0 on Friday with a lopsided win over Elkhorn Valley.
“As a coaching staff and as a school and community, we’re really proud of our players,” Sioux County coach Barry Swisher said. “They represent us in the best way possible. I couldn’t ask for more from a group. I just hope we can win one more.”
Next week’s final will certainly be an intriguing one, as Wauneta-Palisade was the lone team to derail Sioux County this season, winning 39-28 on Sept. 21. Sioux County actually led in that contest 22-8 in the third period, before the Broncos rallied for the victory. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at UNK in Kearney.
“It’s going to be a great game,” Swisher said.
Warrior fans certainly enjoyed an exciting game against Silver Lake. Although Sioux County led the entire way, Silver Lake never allowed the Warriors to relax.
Sioux County led just 24-21 at halftime but managed to increase its advantage to 19 points in the second half.
“It was a great game today. Both teams came ready to play,” Swisher said. “We just made a few more plays. We caused five turnovers, and we only had one, so that was a big difference in the game.”
Sioux County’s Jonny Dunn enjoyed another big game, rushing for 230 yards on 31 carries and scoring three touchdowns. All of his TDs came in the second half.
“He did a great job,” Swisher said. “Jonny always runs hard. We made a couple adjustments at halftime, and he busted a couple runs in the second half. He’s been playing great for us all year, and our line did a great job.”
Dunn’s first touchdown – a 33-yard scamper in the third quarter, helped give Sioux County a 32-21 lead. He then broke free for a 56-yard TD run later in the third period as the Warriors’ lead grew to 40-21.
Silver Lake closed the deficit to 40-29 on Catarino Perez’s 1-yard touchdown run, but Sioux County responded with Dunn’s 27-yard TD run. Nathan Woodrum added the point-after kick, giving the Warriors a 48-29 lead in the fourth quarter.
Silver Lake did score again in the fourth quarter on a 16-yard run by Journey Ericsson, but that was as close as the Mustangs could get.
“It was a [close] game, but luckily for us, our kids really stepped up and had a great game,” Swisher said.
While Dunn came up huge for Sioux County, so did a number of other Warrior players, including Woodrum, who made all six of his point-after kicks. In six man, point-after kicks are worth two points, meaning Woodrum accounted for 12 of Sioux County’s points.
“So it’s pretty easy to see that that was a big part of the game,” Swisher said.
As a team, Sioux County rushed for 287 yards on 31 carries. Garret Gray added 37-yards rushing on three attempts. Gray also completed 3 of 5 passes for 91 yards with two touchdowns. Philip Parker had three catches for 65 yards and a touchdown, and he also had an interception. Josh Kling had one catch – a 31-yard TD reception. Caleb White, a middle linebacker, had two interceptions.
Although the Warriors were elated to make history Friday by becoming the first Sioux County football team to advance to a state final, Swisher said his players are already preparing for their next challenge.
“They were pretty excited after the game, but it turned pretty quickly to going and trying to beat Wauneta,” he said. “I think our kids are going to be ready to go.”
Sioux County ............. 16 8 16 8—48
Silver Lake ............... 7 14 8 6—35
SC—Garret Gray 31 pass to Josh Kling (Nathan Woodrum kick)
SL—Seyler Monroe 15 pass to Jayden Grabill (Monroe pass to Grabill)
SC—Gray 54 pass to Philip Parker (Woodrum kick)
SL—Journey Ericsson 13 run (kick failed)
SC—Woodrum 9 run (Woodrum kick)
SL—Ericsson 6 run (Catarino Perez kick)
SC—Jonny Dunn 33 run (Woodrum kick)
SC—Dunn 56 run (Woodrum kick)
SL—Perez 1 run (Perez kick)
SC—Dunn 27 run (Woodrum kick)
SL—Ericsson 16 run (kick failed)