Photo by Kel Lorenz
Hot Springs head coach Ben Kramer celebrates with his team in a post-game huddle following their 49-13 win over previously undefeated Sioux Valley, in a Class 11B quarterfinal game played last Thursday, Oct. 26, in Volga.
By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – The Sioux Valley Cossacks entered their home quarterfinal playoff game versus the Hot Springs Bison last Thursday night with an undefeated 9-0 record and a 45-7 average margin of victory.
Similarly, the Bison entered the game with an 8-1 record and 42-7 average margin of victory, but proved very early on they were the superior team and ultimately dominated the game and won by a score of 49-13, which sets up this Friday night’s Class 11B home semifinal at Woodward Field versus Rapid City Christian.
“What an awesome night of football for this football team,” said Hot Springs head coach Ben Kramer. “This was a huge road win against an exceptional football team. We are so proud of this group; they have done absolutely everything to get us into this position.”
After senior Camron Maciejewski rushed for more than 200 yards and five touchdowns in back-to-back games the two previous weeks, the win over Sioux Valley showcased the other head of Hot Springs’ backfield monster as Braden Peterson ran for 204 yards and four touchdowns, including a 41 yard run in the game’s opening drive.
“We took the air out of their sails with the early touchdown,” said Coach Kramer.
Despite the early 7-0 lead, host Sioux Valley did answer on their first possession with a 36-yard touchdown pass of their own to tie the game 7-7, which provided Cossack fans only false hope as Hot Springs scored three more unanswered touchdowns to take a 28-7 lead late into the second quarter. The points were tallied thanks to a 37 yard run by Camron Maciejewski and then two more from Peterson, first from 16 yards out then from 81 after Peterson took a reversed handoff from Maciejewski only to get bottled up on the left side near the line of scrimmage. After shaking a leg tackle, Peterson reversed the field to the right and sprinted past everyone to go in for the score.
Sioux Valley was able to add on six points just before halftime, but it was the final points they would score all night. After a scoreless third quarter, the Bison scored three touchdowns in the fourth, with a pair of them set up by turnovers including an interception by Peterson and a near scoop-and-score by Kayden Hansen.
“We knew turnovers would be a difference in the game,” Coach Kramer said. “Fortunately, we were able to win that battle, score after the interception/fumble and not give them any extra possessions.”
Special teams were also once again strong for the Bison, as senior Josh Kleinsasser was five-for-five in extra point attempts and also pinned Sioux Valley deep on kickoffs.
Defensively, Coach Kramer said his guys “played great,” especially in the second half. “Shutting out a high-powered offense like that in the second half is a huge feat.”
In addition to scoring three touchdowns while running for 131 yards and receiving for 37 yards, Maciejewski was also one of the leaders on defense with 14 tackles (3 solo) including four tackles for loss. Fellow senior Caleb Rickenbach had 15 tackles (3 solo) while Colin Iverson had 11 (2 solo) and Chaney Klippenstein had 10 (2 solo). Matt Close added six tackles (2 solo), Gabe Maurer six, Modes Kerr five (2 solo) and Aidyn Janis a sack.
This Friday’s semifinal game being played on Hot Springs’ home field was made possible thanks to an upset in the other quarterfinal matchup as No. 10 Rapid City Christian earned their second straight win over a higher-ranked opponent when they defeated No. 2 Deuel by a score of 13-8. The previous week, they knocked off No. 7 Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanbord Central by a score of 36-7.
“Rapid City Christian is not an underrated team anymore,” Coach Kramer said. “They have earned their place in the semifinals.”
Aside from still-unbeaten Class 11A Dell Rapids – who gave the Bison their only loss of the year on Sept. 8 by a score of 14-20 – Rapid City Christian was Hot Springs’ toughest competition all year in an Oct. 6 matchup at Hart Ranch which ended with a close 23-13 final score.
“They’re very well-coached, loaded with athletes and make very few mistakes,” Kramer added. “We snuck out of there earlier this year with a win, and you can guarantee they will be ready.”
The winner of this Friday’s night’s 6pm matchup at Woodward Field will face the winner of the other semifinal game which pits No. 1 Winner (10-0) versus No. 4 Elk Point-Jeffeson (9-1). Last year, Hot Springs lost to Elk Point-Jefferson in the semifinals, before they went on to defeat Winner at the Dakota Dome in Vermillion, which is where the Bison hope to also be playing next Friday morning, Nov. 10, at 10 a.m.
“We gain a day of practice compared to the last two weeks,” Coach Kramer said. “We know the things we need to do better this time around and will prepare accordingly. Cannot wait for this one; it is going to be a long week.”
The game can be viewed via livestream at one of the two links listed below: