Championship Rewind: Experience Helps Western Christian in 1A Title Game
Isaac Vollstedt celebrates a touchdown in the Class 1A state title game Friday. Jeff Yoder/For Your Prep Sports. By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
A year ago Regina made the big plays in the fourth quarter of a 35-28 win over Western Christian in the Class 1A title game.
In Friday’s championship rematch Western Christian was the team making clutch plays late in a 47-34 win that snapped a six-year state title streak for Regina.
Western Christian outscored Regina 21-7 in the final two quarters, getting critical plays late on both sides of the ball, to win the first state title in program history
“Seeing them on film and seeing them last year we knew they were a talented team,” Regina coach Marv Cook said. “Their quarterback is a great trigger guy and their skill guys made play after play after play. It was tough to get them off the field, they were really, really sound.”
What was the difference for the Wolfpack this season compared to its seven-point title game defeat in 2015?
According to head coach Travis Kooima it was the experience gained in last year’s title game.
Not just the newness that comes with playing in the first championship in school history but the experience of facing a Regina team that hadn’t lost a playoff game since 2009.
“It helped seeing them last year,” Kooima said. “You know the speed and the physicality. You know what to expect. Last year we had to kid of absorb it for a quarter to just see what we had to do to combat their physicality and we knew it coming in this year.”
Western Christian senior quarterback Tyson Kooima echoed that sentiment.
Kooima, passed for 209 yards and two touchdowns in the win on Friday and doubles as a linebacker said the experience of facing Regina helped the Wolfpack more on the defensive side of the ball this time around.
“It helped seeing them before,” Tyson Kooima said. “We knew they were going to run the ball, they have a great offensive line and we really keyed on the run and that helped because they are so physical. This year we kind of knew that going in.”
The Streak: The loss on Friday ended a state title run for Regina that ranks as one of the top stretches in state history in any sport.
Regina is 93-4 over the past seven seasons, winning six straight titles from 2010 to 2015 before this year’s runner-up finish.
During the title run that began with back-to-back 2A crowns in 2010 and 2011 Regina won 30 consecutive playoff games and only lost twice, both coming to Class 3A competition.
Regina won a state-record 56 consecutive games during the title streak with four consecutive 14-0 seasons from 2010 to 2013.
“Every one has been uniquely individual,” Cook said. “This one has been as fun as the others. I’m proud of the way our kids played and competed and prepared all season long and we didn’t come out on top on the scoreboard but it was fun to ride a long and watch these kids do it.”
Ode to Oliver: West High senior Oliver Martin put the finishing touches on one of the best careers in state history for a pass catcher with three grabs for 41 yards in the Class 4A state title game on Friday.
Martin finished his career with 239 receptions for 3,449 yards and 33 touchdowns, all tops in Class 4A.
The 3,449 receiving yards are the third most in state history.
Top Tacklers: West High senior linebacker Max Brown made six tackles in the 23-10 title game loss to West Des Moines Dowling to end his career as one of the most productive defensive players in program history.
Brown finished his career with 275 tackles, the most in the last 25 years at West High.
Sophomore safety Cole Mabry became the first sophomore in West High history to finish with more than 100 tackles in a season.
Returning Running Backs: Isaac Vollstedt and Ben Granstra took turns putting on a show in the 1A title game.
The two running backs combined for 369 yards and six touchdowns in the state title game and the bad news for opposing defense is they both return next season.
“There were two college football running backs playing in the game today and they still have a year left of high school ball,” Western Christian coach Travis Kooima said. “That was just fun to watch.”
Granstra rushed for 180 yards and three touchdowns to lead Western Christian to its first state title.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior finished the season with 1,809 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Vollstedt, a 6-foot-0, 200-pound junior ran for 189 yards and three touchdowns in the title game and finished the season with 1,114 yards and 15 touchdowns despite missing four games with injuries.
“That is the kind of back that he is, he just wears on teams because he fights for every yard, he falls forward all the time, he’s just a tough guy to bring down,” Travis Kooima said of Granstra. “Vollstedt is a great back, both of those guys are juniors and there is going to be bullseyes on their hats for next year because those guys are awesome running backs.”
Offensive player of the week: Vollstedt averaged 8.2 yards per carry on his way to his 189 yards helping Regina roll up 296 rushing yards in the Class 1A title game.
Vollstedt scored on touchdown runs of 13, 5 and 2 yards and also had five tackles and an interception on defense.
Runner-up: West High senior running back Devontae Lane rushed for 53 yards and caught nine passes for 60 yards in the Class 4A title game.
Defensive player of the week: Regina senior Jack Jensen intercepted two passes, returning one 71 yards to set up a touchdown and also made three solo tackles. The two interceptions gave Jensen six in four playoff games and seven on the season which tied for the team lead.
Runner-up: West High linebackers Dillon Doyle and Brown combined for 13 tackles including two for loss in the title game loss to West Des Moines Dowling. Doyle had six solo stops among his seven tackles while Brown had six tackles, including five solos.