by Steve Peterson
There was much anticipation in the air for the “newly renovated Ebenoe Field” hosted its first football game as West Sioux welcomed South O’Brien for its season opener on a warm Aug. 24.
The Wolverines returned home with a 13-0 win over the Falcons in a defensive-minded contest.
The Falcons had the ball first and gained a few first downs as junior Jesus Rivera directed the offense as quarterback. Mitch Schlumbohm, Jacobe Millikan, and Taylor Anderson led the rushing attempts.
“We just have to get more consistent on offense. I thought we played pretty well on defense,” said West Sioux Coach Clint McKee. “We have to get more second down and six and third down and four (yards to go) situations.”
Schlumbohm had 49 yards of rushing to lead the attack on offense. Quarterback Jesus Rivera, playing in his first varsity start, was 5-for-12 passing for 49 yards. Taylor Anderson had 17 yards rushing and 32 yards receiving for the Falcons.
Brandon Burkard played a solid game at defensive tackle. Millikan had a fumble recovery for the Falcons.
“After their standout running back, Zach Nieman, was hurt early, I thought they did not have much drop-off. Plus their line played better than we thought,” said McKee of the Wolverines.
West Sioux, on its first drive, got inside the SOS 40-yard line but punted.
The Falcons got the ball right back after a good play in the secondary by Justin Negaard on an incomplete Wolverines’ pass.
Anderson caught a nice 20-yard pass from Rivera and Mason Ericson snared a 17-yard pass on the second Falcons’ march to the SOS 45, but that, too, ended in a punt and the first quarter was a 0-0 deadlock.
Two plays that separated the two teams occurred in the second quarter as the visitors gained a 13-0 halftime lead.
Junior Zach Nieman broke free for a 51-yard touchdown run for the Wolverines as the visitors gained a 6-0 lead with 8:24 left in the second quarter. The point after try was missed.
Brett Puhmann returned a Rivera punt all the way from 93 yards out for a touchdown with 1:56 left before halftime. SOS made the PAT for a 13-0 lead.
The Wolverines had the ball first to start the second half and ran more than six minutes off the clock until the Falcons’ defense stiffened. Schlumbohm made a nice knock down of a pass to end the drive.
West Sioux tried a couple of comebacks in the second half, most notably in the fourth quarter, when Rivera, Schlumbohm and Anderson led a drive to the South O’Brien 20, but that was close as the Falcons would get to a score Friday.
South O’Brien, coming off a playoff win last year, had a punishing ground game. Marcus Atkinson rushed 25 times for 138 yards; Nieman finished with seven carries for 113 yards.
The Friday game marked the first official use of the new bleachers, liked by all, and newly painted visitors’ side bleachers.
South O’Brien had 17 first downs to West Sioux’s seven.
South O’Brien had 290 yards in 47 rushing attempts while West Sioux was 34 rushing attempts for 84 yards. West Sioux had 49 passing attempts to eight for South O’Brien.
South O’Brien out-gained West Sioux, 298 yards to 133.
South O’Brien lost two of five fumbles and West Sioux had one lost.
West Sioux had 25 yards in penalties and South O’Brien had 10 yards in penalties.
South O’Brien 0-13-0-0-13
West Sioux 0-0-0-0-0
11:10 – South O’Brien, Zach Nieman, 51 yard touchdown run, kick failed, South O’Brien 6, West Sioux 0.
Second quarter, 01:56: South O’Brien, Bret Puhrmann, 93-yard punt return for a touchdown, Michael Callahan Point After Touchdown kick, South O’Brien 13, West Sioux 0.