If the Bon Homme Cavaliers are prepared to repeat as Class 9AA State Championships come next Thursday in Brookings, they showed it Friday night in Tyndall.

The 10-1 Cavaliers fought and grinded the entire way Friday night, as Bon Homme defeated the Deuel Cardinals 26-6. The Cardinals are no easy opponent either, having just one loss before Friday night, and outscoring their playoff opponents 99-20. However, the Cavaliers defense was dominated.

“They (the defense) played as a group, as a family, as a bunch of brothers,” Bon Homme Head Coach Byron Pudwill said. “Defense isn’t about one hero, everybody has to take care of their gap and do their job and there can’t be any let downs.”

The defense was strong from both teams from the beginning, as the Cavaliers and Cardinals both kept each other out of the end zone the entire first quarter. On the first play of the second quarter, however, an offensive standout on the night for the Cavaliers helped Bon Homme find the end zone first.

Noah Heesch found a gap in the defense and raced for a 40-yard touchdown to put the Cavaliers up 7-0. Nick Kasten would then finish off a seven play drive for the Cardinals to put the Cardinals within one at 7-6, but Heesch was not done.

The junior running back scored on a six-yard run at the end of the second quarter to put the Cavaliers up 13-6, then broke open the game by returning the second half kickoff all the way back for a touchdown, and gave the Cavaliers the lead it needed.

“Wow, you know that kickoff return in the second half, that was huge it was a one touchdown game, you’re playing a team like these guys that have that big home run threat, one touchdown is not meaningless, but it’s not exactly safe,” Pudwill said.

The defense would continue to hold for the Cavaliers, shutting out the Cardinals for the reminder of the game, while Josh Crownover had a six-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to put the game nearly out of reach at 26-6. The Cavaliers then sealed the victory on a fumble recovery off of a bad Cardinals snap, earning them the 26-6 victory and punching their ticket to the Class 9AA State Championship in Brookings.

Heesch finished the game with 104 yards rushing on 11 carries and two rushing touchdowns, while Crownover had 54 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. The strong Cavaliers defense was led by Cole Bares, who had nine tackles including a sack. Crownover and Jac Conrad also contributed greatly for the defense, finishing with eight tackles a piece.

Now the Cavaliers will prepare for the championship in Brookings against Viborg-Hurley. And although the temperatures are expected to be frigid, Pudwill and the Cavaliers will be prepared to play no matter the circumstances.

“Well, about a month ago, we went to Cabela’s and ordered snow shoes, so we’re ready,” Pudwill said. “We will be ready. We’re just excited, I don’t care if it’s 80 below or 95 degrees we just want to go.”

The Class 9AA Championship game between Bon Homme and Viborg-Hurley with take place at 1:45 CT at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

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