Football team posts second consecutive shutout

Jason Ferguson
What do you do for an encore after a shutout of Bennett County?
If you’re the Custer High School football team, you do the same thing, only this time you do it on homecoming in front of the home fans.
For the second consecutive Friday evening the Wildcat defense was an impenetrable purple and gold wall as the Wildcats thumped the visiting Lead-Deadwood Golddiggers 42-0 last Friday at Wildcat Field.
 Wildcat defenders were in the ’Digger backfield all evening, racking up eight tackles for a loss and seven sacks, including two each from Quade Parker and Dossen Elmore. Daniel Sedlacek, Ty Dailey and Nick Herman also got in on the sack attack.
“I’m thankful coach (Russ) Evans (defensive coordinator) is with us. He does a phenomenal job on the defensive side of the ball,” head coach Dave Williams said. “He has them believing in his system. It doesn’t matter who we put in there, it seems they do a good job.”
It’s appropriate then, that the defense got the scoring started for Custer, as Sedlacek’s sack was for a safety on Lead-Deadwood’s first possession as the ’Cat defense pushed the ’Diggers back 10 yards with the help of one of Parker’s sacks and a tackle for a loss by corner Ashton Dekker.
Custer took over after the free kick on Lead’s 30 yard line and wasted little time in scoring, as quarterback Sam Sword found running back Chance Harsh from 15 yards out for a score a couple of plays later. Nolan Saufley’s point after made the score 9-0.
Custer scored again following a Golddigger punt, this time taking the ball initially on the Golddigger 48 and marching down the field in three plays, capped by a Sedlacek run from five yards out. Another Saufley point after made the score 16-0 with less than half the first quarter gone.
Another ’Digger punt was again followed by a Custer touchdown that took only three plays and 48 yards, this time with Sword doing the honors as he kept the ball around the left side four a touchdown run that made the score 22-0.
Williams said he couldn’t pinpoint what led to the hot start, saying after his players spent all day Friday in the sun and enjoying homecoming festivities he was worried the opposite would happen—the team would come out flat.
“They came out on fire. Everyone was excited,” he said. “They did a great job in all aspects of the game.”
Dailey, a senior offensive lineman, said he believes the offensive line set the tone at the outset by taking it to the ’Diggers immediately.
“Our O-line came out to play,” he said.
As great as the first eight minutes were, the next 16 minutes were the opposite, as the Wildcat offense started to sputter and turn the ball over, although the defense continued to hold the ’Diggers out of the endzone. As the teams went to the locker room the momentum seemed to be with the ’Diggers, despite their being down three touchdowns.
“We kind of relaxed. We stopped playing to our full potential,” Dailey said of the letdown.
“They got satisfied. We are like alligators. We eat a little and get satisfied and aren’t hungry anymore,” Williams said. “We can’t do that. We have to be aggressive the entire game.”
Because of the lull, Williams said he found himself in the odd position of having to scold his team despite being up 22-0.
“I said, ‘it’s 22-0, and I have to yell at you.’ We don’t want to do that,” he said.
Linebacker Sam Furse said Williams’ message was received, and the lack of fire in the second quarter made for an angry Wildcat squad in the third quarter. Furse added Decker gathered the seniors and reminded them it’s their last homecoming.
“That’s pretty important to us,” he said.
Midway through the third quarter the Wildcats got their offense back on track, as Sword found Harsh for his second touchdown of the game, this one a diving snag from two yards out. Following a Saufley point after, Custer led 29-0.
After another Lead-Deadwood three and out the Wildcats started the fourth quarter off with a bang when Sword found Jace Kelley streaking down the sideline for a 64-yard score that put Custer up 36-0 following the point after kick.
Sword finished the game six of 10 passing for 97 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with four different receivers.
Sedlacek, who toted the ball 32 times in the game for 174 yards, put the finishing touches on the scoring on Custer’s next possession when he capped a 55-yard drive with a 27-yard rumble up the middle. The Wildcats churned out 276 yards on the ground in the game.
“These kids have been impressive. We have 21 kids that can dress out right now and play football,” Williams said. “We have great seniors, and great players. They really flew around. What a great night and a great homecoming.”
Sedlacek led the team in tackles, with eight, while Dekker added seven and Gage Tennyson had seven from his safety position.
The Wildcats, 3-3, now turn their attention to the Southern Hills Showdown, as they head to Hot Springs Friday evening for a 6 p.m. kickoff against the rival Bison. The game has playoff implications, as the Wildcats sit just outside of the eighth and final spot in playoff seeding in Class A and will undoubtedly need to win their final two games to have a chance at a postseason berth.
The Bison, 1-5, are coming off a shutout loss at Stanley County and have lost twice to Lead-Deadwood this season.
The Wildcats defeated the Bison for the first time in eight years last year, in a 14-7 slugfest that was in doubt until a final Bison Hail Mary fell to the turf.
Both Dailey and Furse made no secret of their goal for the game, both saying “50 them” (enact the mercy rule) nearly in unison, with Furse adding “by the half” with a grin.
Williams was much more diplomatic.
“It’s a rivalry. It’s a grudge match every time we play Hot Springs. It doesn’t matter how good one team is or how bad one team is,” he said. “They are down this year, but when it comes to Custer, it’s a battle.”
Williams did offer a prediction, however, though not nearly as bold as his players.
“It’s going to be a great game,” he said, before adding, “We will be bringing the trophy back.”

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