For the first time since 1982, the Lennox High School football team will be playing for the State Championship title.
The Orioles punched their ticket to State on Friday after defeating West Central 34-33.
“I’m very happy for these young men and the entire Lennox School District community! It was a hard fought game and we didn’t finish the game as well as we wanted, but these boys found ways to make plays and they never gave up on each other,” said Oriole head coach Matt Luze.
Ben Zarr got things going early for the Orioles, returning a fumble 28 yards for a touchdown in the opening quarter. Lennox scored twice in the second quarter as Caleb Metcalf caught a 31 yard touchdown pass from Josh Arlt and Brandon Fodness grabbed a 15 yard touchdown pass from Arlt. Arlt also ran in the two point conversion after the first score but the two point attempt failed on the second score; however, Lennox had built a 20-6 halftime lead.
In the third, Metcalf and Arlt connected for their second score of the night as Metcalf grabbed the 29 yard pass. Once again the two point conversion failed.
West Central managed their second score of the night in the third quarter, scoring on a nine yard run. They converted their two point conversion to bring the score 26-14.
The Champion would be determined in the fourth quarter.
Lennox’s Haden Mendel took a carry in the fourth quarter 34 yards for the score. Will Daugherty grabbed the two point conversion pass from Arlt to give Lennox a 34-14 lead.
However, West Central managed to score three times in the fourth, the last coming in the final minute, putting the Orioles’ victory in jeopardy. The extra point, which would have tied the game, was no good causing celebration on the Orioles’ sideline as they guaranteed their spot in the State Championship game.
“We’ve earned the right to play for one more week and that means we have the chance to get better and improve,” said Luze.
The Orioles finished with 372 yards of offense, gaining 117 yards rushing and 255 yards in the air. Arlt’s favorite target on the night was Metcalf, who grabbed nine passes for 143 yards.
On the ground, Mendel led the Orioles with 59 yards rushing.
Defensively, both Zarr and Daugherty were credited with a fumble recovery in the game. Peyton Eich grabbed an interception and Mendel and Fodness led the team in tackles with eight each.
Awaiting the Orioles in the fight for the State title will be a strong team from Canton who defeated Tea Area, 28-10, to advance.
“Canton is playing very well and we will need to play our best game of the year to beat them. I’m looking forward to this opportunity and I’m excited to see Oriole Nation support us at the State Championship,” Luze added.
The State Championship will be played at the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings this Thursday, Nov. 14 at 7:15 p.m.