By Rich Winter
Think a lot of prep sports fans in South Dakota were more than a little surprised by the No. 7 seeded WildKats ousting previously unbeaten and the No. 2 seed, Arlington/Lake-Preston 29-0. With that win the 7-3 WiLdKats are heading back to the 9AA semifinals for a second consecutive year.
“We were hoping we could go in there and win the football game,” Taylor said. “It was a lot closer than the score indicates as we led 8-0 at half and were very happy to get out of town with a win.”
In 2017, KWL lost their first four games, won their next four and two playoff games (A 30-6 win over Bon Homme) before falling 41-26 to Irene/Wakonda.
Taylor admits the squad was struggling a bit early in the season but everyone is healthy and the offensive line is looking to mash Garretson’s front on Friday.
“We were struggling a little bit offensively at the beginning putting points on the board,” Taylor said. “Had to figure out what we are best and and what we needed to do.”
That challenging regular season schedule has KWL thinking Dakota Dome, although they would have to get by a Garretson squad that is 10-0 and coming off a 44-29 win over Webster.
With the game on Friday, Taylor is fully aware of how challenging this high-powered Blue Dragon offense is.
“They are very quick and they run that double-wing offense as good as anyone in the state,” Taylor said. “They run the football well, they have size up front and defensively they are very strong and come after you.”
Taylor intimated Garretson runs a lot of misdirection and fakes and knows his guys are going to have to play assignment football.
There is some BEEF up front for KWL
Six-foot-7, 300 lb senior Bo Donald will continue his football career at South Dakota State.
Brock Nolz is another big guy up front and Taylor talked bout Tyler Resick.
Tyler falls under the radar a little bit but I've been very impressed with him both offensively and defensively...
KWL’s running game is led by Carter Fredericksen but coach Taylor talked about his other horses, Ty Namanny and Caden Lenz.
“Carter doing the most damage but Namamy puts up tough hard yards and Caden was banged up early in the year but he’s given us good production.
One of the young men I’ve been keeping my eyes open for is 6-foot-8, 195 pound junior Justin Becker. Coach Bertram raved about Becker’s play and hustle and work ethic this summer and you can see some of that translating to the field.
Last week against Arlington/Lake Preston, Becker had four catches for 57 yards and he led the team in tackles with ten, including a sack.
“He’s really improved both physically and mentally,” Taylor said. “He’s playing strong and we’ve started to throw the ball to him because he’s such a big target.”
For the season, Becker lead KWL in sacks.
Last season’s run to the semis fell short but Taylor hopes his guys took something away from the 2017 playoff loss.
“I hope that experience helps us,” Taylor said. “Hopefully we learned from that experience a year ago and don't fall short this time.”
The other 9AA semifinal matches Bon Homme @ Wolsey Wessington.