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Dakota Bowl 24: Thunder make Lighting; vaporize Lakers

As the kick off game of the twenty-fourth Dakota Bowl starting slow is expectable. Playing football at nine AM is abnormal at any level of the game, after all. There is also the pressure of setting the stage for the day of games and the little thing known as the state title at stake. But those don't have to actually equate to anything once the ball goes airborne. Anyways, enough pre gaming, let's talk championship!

As I hinted at, or stated out right if you took it that way, the Class A championship game between the Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm "Thunder" and the Des Lacs-Burlington "Lakers" opened the days events on Friday. I will try to refrain from making Thunder related puns even though they did play at the home of the Thundering Herd.

For whatever reason, the game did start slowly. The first two possessions went for punts and then when EEK got aggressive on their second possession, they turned it over on downs. The Lake show started to make progress when they got the ball for the second time. By stringing together a couple first downs they made it to the 13 yard line but then found themselves at a fourth down and eight. Instead of going with a field goal attempt, a last ditch touchdown attempt was taken and succeeded upon. A throw to #21, Joshua Knutson. Beginning the day long theme of points left on the field, they failed on the ensuing two point conversion which left the game at a 6 - 0, Laker advantage and now leaves me wondering if more kids should play soccer in the state so as to at least potential also have field goal kickers. But that's a discussion for another time.

On EEK's (that may be the best set of school initials I've heard yet) next possession they were equally able to string plays together and actually with less turnover potential. It all lead to them having a first and goal at the six yard line. It only took one more play for them to make good on the opportunity. #3, Clayton Grueneich took a handoff on the first play into the endzone. After the extra point kick was successful the score was 7 - 6 EEK with just under a minute to go.

On the very next snap of the ball by DLB's offense there was a fumble, recovered by the Thunder at the 15 yard line. Two rushing attempts later and they were at the six with the first quarter gone.

Grueneich took the third consecutive handoff for two more yards for the first down and goal at the four. Two plays later, #5 Cole Goehring finished off the short drive with six points. After a missed kick the score sat at 13 - 6, EEK.

The Lakers struggles continued on the kickoff. After a muffed attempt at catching the kick, the offense found itself at the five. Unable to gain any traction on offense, the defense then found itself attempting to defend against the shortest of fields. EEK quickly had the ball back at the two yard line and quickly took advantage with another touchdown by Gruineich . After a successful conversion pass to #81, Luke Wertz, the score sat at 21 - 6 in favor of EEK.

Des Lacs - Burlington showed that they weren't ready to give up when they got the ball back. After taking the kickoff at the twenty they used a mix of run and pass to go 80 yards for their next score. Highlighted by receptions by #22, Rylan Bachmeier and #40, Tanner Johnson, they ended up at the one yard line and #9, Dylan Schestler was able to cap it off from there. The defense in turn was able to force a three and out by the Thunder.

Now the Laker offense stared down a 90 yard field but once again showed itself to be undaunted. One play after a reception by Bachmeier at the 25 came a touchdown pass to #17, Jacob Ruden who took the ball for six more. They tacked on a two point conversion which set the score at 21 - 20, Ellendale with under three minutes to go in the half and the ball back at the 36.

Clayton Grueneich was the focal point of the latest drive, as the team sought to run out the clock on the half but also get one more score in. With the longest play of the drive being an 18 yard run by #3 they did just that, ultimately cashing in for another touchdown make the score 28 - 20 at intermission.

Des Lacs - Burlington started the second half with the ball and seemed to want to strike quickly. Four pass plays in a row gave them some yardage but then lost them the ball when it was intercepted by #15, Brennen Vance. Not for nothing but the defense once again made a stand, forcing a turnover on downs at their own 13. Their offense just couldn't manage to maintain possession of the ball and on the second play of the drive fumbled yet again, and it was recovered by the defense.

The predictable out come occurred not long after when on a fourth and one from the five yard line, Grueneich scored again.

A trio of non scoring drives took the game a well into the fourth quarter.

The last gasps of hope for DLB were snuffed out when Grueneich scored yet again to put his team up 22 points with under seven minutes remaining in the game. From there it was just a matter of the clock being worn down. After a couple first downs the Lakers turned it over yet again.

A few plays were run by each team from there but the Thunder managed to eat up most of the remaining time before giving the ball back for the last time.

Final Score: Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm ~ 42, Des Lacs - Burlington ~ 20.

Congratulations to the Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm Thunder on winning the 2016 Class A Football Championship!

Scoring Summary

  • DLB Touchdown (Knutson)

  • EEK Touchdown (Grueneich)

  • EEK Touchdown (Goehring)

  • EEK Touchdown (Grueneich)

  • DLB Touchdown (Schestler)

  • DLB Touchdown (Ruden)

  • EEK Touchdown (Grueneich)

  • EEK Touchdown (Grueneich)

  • EEK Touchdown (Grueneich)


There were other good plays made by Thunder players but when a guy has as dominant a performance as Clayton Grueneich the decision is simple and singular.

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