’Cats rebound, crush Spartans

Jason Ferguson
Prior to last Friday evening’s home opener against the visiting Spearfish Spartans, Wildcat senior Daniel Sedlacek gave a rose to his parents as part of a COVID-19-forced early senior night.
He spent the rest of the night being a thorn in the side of the Spartans.
Sedlacek ran for 316 yards and five touchdowns as the Wildcats bounced back from a shaky first game of the season to run over, around and through the Spartans on the way to a 40-0 victory at Wildcat Stadium last Friday evening.
“I didn’t expect this tonight,” head coach Dave Williams said after the game. “I have been hard on them this week. They kept blocking and blocking. Boy, they came through tonight.”
The Wildcats pounded out 504 yards on the ground, as quarterback Sterling Sword also went over 100 yards rushing and backup running back Tony Plaisted added 56 more.
The offensive line of Eli Steele, Ty Dailey, Dossen Elmore, Jake West and Zane Severyn had its way with the Spartans, made even more impressive by the fact the line had to be shuffled a day before the game due to injury and illness.
“We had position changes we just put in, so to drive the the field like that and crush them felt good,” Steele said.
There was no indication the game would be so lopsided at the outset, as the teams traded punts and turnovers throughout a scoreless first quarter.
The Wildcats struck first in impressive fashion. After being pinned on their own nine yard line following a Spartan punt, the Wildcats marched down the field for nearly seven minutes of game clock for a score, punctuated by Sedlacek’s first touchdown, this one from three yards out.
“That’s always huge in any game when you can sustain a drive that far, pound out the clock and yardage and finish it,” Williams said. “That’s the key—we put it in the end zone every time we drove down (the field).”
Custer struck again on its next possession, as Sedlacek finished a drive with a five-yard score and Custer led 12-0 at halftime after the two-point attempts on both scores failed.
Sedlacek had 134 yards rushing at halftime, but deflected all of the credit for his big day to the lineman blocking for him.
“They were blocking like men out there,” he said. “I give every one of my runs to them.”
After the Spartans went three and out on their first possession of the half Sedlacek scored again, this time on a 54-yard dash up the middle. A Nolan Saufley extra point was good for a 19-0 Custer lead.
Spearfish’s next possession ended on a diving interception by Custer’s Jace Kelley, and on Custer’s first play from scrimmage on the ensuing possession Sedlacek raced around the left side of the Custer line for a 74-yard score. Another Saufley point after made it 26-0.
After a 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was negated by a holding penalty, Spearfish again punted after three attempts at a first down, aided by a Dailey sack of the Spartan quarterback on third down.
Custer promptly took the ball down the field and scored again, with Sedlacek again punching the ball in and Saufley again kicking the point after.
Sedlacek said after the team fell flat in its opening week game at West Central, the Wildcats came out against Spearfish with something to prove.
“They made us look really bad, so we were playing with a chip on our shoulders this week,” he said. “We took it out on Spearfish and beat them into the ground until they didn’t want any more.”
The final score of the game came on Custer’s next possession when Sword kept the ball around the end and picked up some good blocks from his receivers on the way to a 76-yard touchdown.
With the uncertainty of the season due to COVID-19, Williams said he was just happy the team was able to play, while crediting the Wildcats for being ready and earning what he said he felt was some unearned early-season bravado.
“I told them the only way they can do some of that cocky stuff is to prove it on the field,” he said. “And boy, tonight they did.”
Both Sedlacek and Steele, who feared they may not get to play their senior season of football, expressed their gratitude for being able to play.
“Who knows, we might not get another game,” Steele said.
“It’s great to be out here playing,” Sedlacek said. “We are really lucky.”
When he wasn’t carrying the ball, Sedlacek was staying busy on defense and was tied for the team lead in tackles with five, four of which were solo. He added a sack, as did Dailey and Nick Herman, while Dailey also had five tackles, as did Sam Furse.
In going from giving up 42 points in the first half against West Central to not allowing a score against Spearfish, Williams said the Custer defense was able to use its speed to its advantage.
“If we use it to our advantage, we can play with the boys on the eastern part of the state,” he said. “Anytime you can pitch a shutout, it’s a good thing. The defense showed up.”
The Wildcats make their longest road trip of the season this Friday when they head to Lennox for a 7 p.m. CDT game.
The Orioles are 0-2 on the season, but have faced a pair of tough games, losing to both Dell Rapids and Class AA Brookings.
Williams said Lennox lost a lot to graduation and threw the ball a lot in its first two games, but expects the Orioles to try to pound the Wildcats on the ground as they did a year ago.
“It’s going to be a tough game. They have some size,” he said.

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