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Hot Springs blanks Roncalli in 11B quarterfinal

Hot Springs’ Preston Iverson (3) makes a move past Aberdeen Roncalli’s Zane Backous (11) during Thursday night’s Class 11B playoff football game at Dacotah Bank Stadium. Photo by John Davis taken 10/27/2022

The Hot Springs Bison flipped the script on Aberdeen Roncalli Thursday night.

The Bison racked up more than 400 yards rushing, kept Roncalli off the scoreboard and knocked off the previously unbeaten Cavaliers 28-0 in the quarterfinals of the Class 11B football playoffs at Dacotah Bank Stadium.

Roncalli had only trailed one time all season, but found itself in an uphill battle against the Bison.

Hot Springs used a potent ground game, featuring twins Landon and Preston Iverson, along with Camron Maciejewski, to consistently move the ball all game long.

“We’ve got that three-headed monster in the backfield and there’s a lot of things we can do with them,” said Hot Springs coach Ben Kramer. “It came down to our offensive line. We told them all week, this game’s going to be won or lost in the trenches and boy they far exceeded any expectation that I had.”

Roncalli, which had not given up more than one touchdown in any game this season, simply had no answer for the Bison rushing attack.

“Their offense is hard to duplicate in practice and run it effective and get a good look at it,” said Roncalli coach Billy Young. “It’s just something that takes a lot of time to get good at. You can’t just have your JV jump out there and simulate that.”

Still, it was just a 7-0 game at halftime and when the second half started, Roncalli had the Bison pinned back at their 4-yard-line. Two plays later, Hot Springs was facing a third down and three from its 11 when Preston Iverson broke free for a 45-yard run. That play marked the beginning of the end for the Cavaliers as Hot Springs scored moments later and took total control.

“I couldn’t do that without my linemen,” Preston Iverson said of the pivotal play. “They set it up perfectly. I just had to finish the rest of the play with my legs.”

That play was something that Kramer used at the most opportune time.

“We kind of had that play in our back pocket,” Kramer said. “We ran it and that was big for us, obviously.”

The Cavaliers were close to having it stopped, but came away empty handed.

“We were just right there. We were just arm’s-length away from stopping him and he slipped out and made a big play,” Young said. “That changed the momentum and everything seemed to kind of spiral downhill after that.”

While it was still a one-possession game at the time, that particular play flipped the field and definitely changed the tone for the rest of the contest.

“It switched the momentum around there,” said Roncalli senior Maddox May. “I think that’s kind of just what put the end to us.”

Preston Iverson capped that 96-yard drive with a short TD, then added another score later in the quarter before Landon scored the team’s final touchdown to go along with the game’s first score.

Meanwhile, the Bison were able to halt the Roncalli offense, which came into the contest averaging 32 points per game. The Cavaliers weren’t able to run between the tackles or get outside against the Hot Springs defense.

“They were really fast. Their linebackers were flying to the ball,” Young said. “They have guys that are built more like safeties playing linebacker and it’s hard for our pullers to get around and get to those guys, because they’re beating us to the hole every time. We tried to do some different stuff blocking-wise, but nothing seemed to work.”

The Bison were focused on stopping May and tried to make sure they went low to bring him down.

“Their strategy is to run the ball with (May), their running back,” Preston Iverson said. “He’s a pretty big man. We just had to get low and tackle him at the knees.”

May, who became the first Roncalli running back since 2013 to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season, was unable to break free for any big runs on the evening.

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Maddox May, far right, jumps around Hot Springs’ Matt Close (4) as Chaney Klippenstein, far left, closes in on defense during Thursday night’s Class 11B playoff football game at Dacotah Bank Stadium. Helping block on the play for the Cavaliers is Jackson Isakson (15). Photo by John Davis taken 10/27/2022

“There wasn’t much of an area to go,” May said. “When I found the hole I did, they’d be there in the next level, so I couldn’t really get anywhere.”

Landon Iverson finished with 191 yards rushing and Preston Iverson added 186 to lead Hot Springs, which will head to Elk Point-Jefferson for a semifinal contest next week.

Roncalli ended the season with just one loss and plenty of memories along the way, including a Northeast Conference championship.

“Playing with these boys just has been a real fun experience this year,” May said, “and I’m never going to forget it.”

Young said it is difficult to say goodbye to this year’s senior class, because they share a special bond.

“I’m going to miss that group. They were seventh-graders when I took over as head coach, so we’ve all kind of grown together,” Young said. “It’s tough to watch those guys walk out the door, not just as players, but as people.”

Hot Springs (8-2) 7 0 14 7 – 28

Aberdeen Roncalli (9-1) 0 0 0 0 – 0

First Quarter

HS – Landon Iverson 27 (Will Gilbertson kick), 1:11.

Third Quarter

HS – Preston Iverson 5 run (Gilbertson kick), 5:55.

HS – P. Iverson 5 run (Gilbertson kick), 3:39.

Fourth Quarter

HS – L. Iverson 8 run (Gilbertson kick), 8:46.

OFFENSE: Hot Springs rushing 53-442 (L. Iverson 19-191, P. Iverson 29-186, Camron Maciejewski 5-65), passing 1-6-0 for 6 (P. Iverson 1-6-0 for 6), receiving (L. Iverson 1-6), first downs 21; Aberdeen Roncalli rushing 29-87 (Maddox May 15-43, Abe Kretchman 5-20, Andrew Brennan 4-13, Jackson Isakson 5-11), passing 8-17-1 for 129 (Isakson 8-17-1 for 129), receiving (Brennan 2-79, Jayden Munroe 1-35, May 2-10, Keegan Stewart 2-2, Zane Backous 1-3), first downs 7.

DEFENSE: Hot Springs, Dylan Webb 6 tackles, Chaney Klippenstein 5 tackles, Gilbertson 5 tackles, Maciejewski 4 tackles, P. Iverson 4 tackles; Aberdeen Roncalli, Phillip Zens 11 tackles, Backous 7 tackles including 2 sacks, May 6 tackles, Brendan Livermont 4 tackles.

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