’Cats fall in defensive battle
Published: Thursday, October 18th, 2012
Aâï¿½ï¿½48-yard catch and run touchdown by Hot Springs’ Jake Oberpriller late in the third quarter proved to be the decisive play in the Custer High School football team’s 14-6 loss in Hot Springs last Friday night in a game that was a defensive slugfest from beginning to end.
With the roll the Bison had been on recently, many may consider Custer’s close loss a moral victory of sorts. Don’t count Custer head coach Russ Bailey among those.
“We are a good enough team to play with them. If we could have won that game, we could have won a share of the conference (championship),”âï¿½ï¿½he said.âï¿½ï¿½“It’s a loss. We should be playing with these teams and be at that level. The kids have to start thinking they should be winning these games and winning conference titles. It’s time.”
Three of the first four possessions in the game began with offenses being forced into three-and-outs, with the fourth possession ending when Custer recovered a Bison fumble.
The first score came with around 3:45 left in the first quarter when Oberpriller went around the left end, broke three Custer tackles and scored from four yards out. The Bison had to only go 34 yards on the drive after intercepting Custer quarterback Chase Glazier.
Neither team could move the ball much after that, with Custer being put in third-and-long situations on a consistant basis by Hot Springs sacks, and the Custer run defense bearing down on the Hot Springs running attack.
“Our defense played well. You want them to give up yards, but not touchdowns and get stops when they have the opportunity,”âï¿½ï¿½Bailey said.âï¿½ï¿½“When we had a chance to make tackles, we made tackles. Iâï¿½ï¿½was pleased with that.”
After Kenneth Myers and Casey Seidler joined forces to sack Hot Springs quarterback Justin Harkless midway through the second quarter, a long Jared Thomsen punt return that would have given Custer a first and 10 at the Hot Springs 22 was negated by a block in the back. Custer had to start at its own 43-yard line instead and promptly went three and out.
The Wildcat defense again held, however, and gave Custer the ball back with under two minutes remaining in the half. The Wildcats were able to move the ball into the end zone as the half ended, with Glazier finding Clayton Wahlstrom from five yards out. The subsequent two-point conversion failed and Custer trailed 7-6 at halftime.
Custer came out in its jumbo set to begin the second half and moved the ball around 50 yards before Glazier was again sacked on fourth and 15, turning the ball over on downs. Third and fourth and long was a recurring theme for Custer, a product of untimely penalties and all of the sacks allowed and taken.
“We moved the ball at times, but I was not happy with our offensive consistency,”âï¿½ï¿½Bailey said.âï¿½ï¿½“You can get 50 first downs a game, but if you can’t put four of them together and score a touchdown it does no good. We couldn’t sustain drives.”
Two possessions after the fourth and 15 sack, Harkless found Oberpriller for the decisive touchdown. Custer had one last promising drive snuffed out at the 4:30 mark of the fourth quarter when Myers was stuffed short of a first down on a fourth and two play inside Bison territory.
Bailey bemoaned the lack of a single long drive in the game for Custer, saying the offensive sloppiness would be a focal point for the Wildcats in practice this week.
“We never once completed a pass to hurt them against their blitz. They just kept sending them and we never took advantage of it,”âï¿½ï¿½he said. “We weren’t throwing the ball well. If we’re not pass protecting, it’s hard to look at the quarterback and ask ‘why aren’t you winning this for us?” It’s kind of hard when he is running for his life.”
The Wildcats, now 4-3 for the season, will play their regular season finale this Friday night when they host the Douglas Patriots. Kickoff is at 6 p.m., and the game will also be Parents’ Night.
Custer may be catching the Patriots ad the wrong time, as they have won three straight games, including convincing wins over Rapid City Stevens, Sturgis and Belle Fourche.
“They are going to be tough. They are a good football team. They blitz you, cover you and hit you. They are big up front and aggressive,” Bailey said We’re trying to rebound, and they are rolling.”
The Class 11B playoffs start Tuesday, with Custer virtually guaranteed a home first round game against either Hill City or Bennett County, both teams Custer has already defeated once this season. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Custer 0 6 0 0 —6
HS 7 0 7 0 —14
Rushes-yards 35-78 NA
Passing yards 88 NA
Passing 10-21-2 NA
Fumbles-lost 2-2 NA
Rushing:âï¿½ï¿½Custer—Kenneth Myers 19-57, Jared Thomsen 4-29.
Passing:âï¿½ï¿½Custer—Chase Glazier 10-21, 88 yards.
Receiving: Israel Parsons 3-16, Jared Thomsen 2-20, Clayton Wahlstrom 2-16, Joel Thomsen 1-17, Kenneth Myers 1-10, Blake Frybarger 1-9.
Defense: Paul Climenti eight tackles, two unassisted; Kenneth Myers six tackles, one unassisted, one sack; Clay Seidler six tackles, one unassisted.
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