Sunnyside Christian third at state

Titans win semifinal, 42-40

Photo by Jennie McGhan



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Sage Elder tries to slip the tackle by Luke Dykstra of the Knights.

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Luke Wagenaar reaches for the ball as Odessa-Harrington’s Josh Clark.

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Lane Marsh makes a catch before being injured and taken out of the game.

— Not a head is hung following Saturday’s 1B state semifinal football game.

Sunnyside Christian’s sideline was filled with smiles despite losing, 40-42, to Odessa-Harrington.

That’s because the Knights were able to add the school’s very first third place state football trophy to the case. Kyler Marsh also won the sportsmanship award.

“This is the best season — coming in, we didn’t think we would do this,” senior Adrian Heffron said.

Coach Jeremy Thomas was full of praise for the team’s accomplishments, too.

“No one has scored 40 points against them (the Titans) this season,” he said. “We had a great year.”

Odessa-Harrington hadn’t allowed its opponents to score more than 20 points until Almira-Coulee-Hartline in the quarterfinal game. The Warriors lost, 28-60.

“We knew it was going to be a tough match-up,” Odessa-Harrington coach Jeff Nelson said of the semifinal against Sunnyside Christian.

“They were tough — they have really skilled kids, and there’s a reason they were here,” he said.

The Titans’ leading scorer, Sage Elder, was well-defended by the Knights. He had just one 7-yard reception and rushed 26 times for 236 yards.

His brother, Gaven, had three receptions for 9 yards and gained 140 yards on 23 totes.

Keeping the brothers under control was a team effort. Adrian Heffron of Sunnyside Christian tallied 12 tackles, Luke Dykstra and Kyler Marsh each had nine, Luke Wagenaar and Chance Marsh were credited with five apiece, Brennan Rip had four tackles, Lane Marsh tackled the offensive players three times and Johnny Heffron had two stops.

“Gaven was the hot hand — it’s hard to defend both him and Sage,” Nelson said.

Chance and Kyler also intercepted quarterback Colton Hunt one time each.

Defensively, both teams made their opponents have to scurry and scramble for yards. However, the Knights left Brad Johnston open for a touchdown in the second quarter.

The offense on either side was also formidable.

Sage Elder opened the scoring on the first play of the first possession, scoring on a 65-yard run. He followed it up with the conversion.

Sunnyside Christian’s answer — a touchdown by Luke Wagenaar. He caught a 6-yard pass from Chance Marsh. The Knights couldn’t convert, giving the Titans an 8-6 lead at the end of the quarter.

Brad Johnston of Odessa-Harrington opened the second quarter with a touchdown after catching a 23 yard pass from Camden Weber. Sage Elder scored the extra two points.

Sunnyside Christian took over and marched the ball down the field. From the 22-yard line, Chance connected on a pass to Luke Wagenaar for the score. The conversion failed.

Gaven Elder answered on the other end of the field on a 6-yard run. The conversion attempt was stopped.

Before the halftime whistle, Sunnyside Christian had one more touchdown up its sleeve. Lane Marsh scored on a 27-yard catch. But, the Knights failed to convert.

It was on the next possession that Lane was driven out of bounds and taken to the ground. He remained on the sidelines for assessment and it was determined he would not play the remainder of the game due to a concussion.

“That contributed to the loss,” Thomas said.

The halftime score was 22-18 in favor of the Titans.

Justin Faber, the Knights starting quarterback, was on the injured reserve list the last few games. With Lane Marsh out, he was cleared to play as a receiver for the second half of Saturday’s game — resulting in seven receptions for 73 yards.

Kyler Marsh scored the first touchdown in the second half. He hauled in a 22-yard pass from his older brother to make the play. The attempt to score an additional two points failed.

Gaven Elder scored on a 4-yard run and added another two to the score.

It was a 31-yard pass from Chance to Kyler that resulted in another Knights score. Luke Wagenaar converted on a pass from Chance, ending the third quarter with 4-point deficit, 32-36 lead.

Chance Marsh scored on a 1-yard scamper, and Justin Faber converted on the pass, to take the 40-36 lead.

But, Hunt connected with John DeWulf to score the final touchdown on a 14-yard pass and no conversion points.

Sunnyside Christian, on its final possession, tried to control the clock. The Knights got within a yard of the goal line before coughing the ball up on downs with just 52 seconds remaining.

Chance Marsh even pitched the ball to Kyler Marsh as he was taken down by a couple of defenders. but Kyler was unable to make the catch.

The Titans took over and made a couple of plays before Hunt took a knee.

“We’ve never been here before and it was incredible,” Thomas said. “If the team continues to work hard in the offseason, we’ll get back here.”

He said there are a few seniors leaving, but the younger players — including the Marsh brothers — are strong and capable of seeing the Knights through another successful season.

Chance Marsh completed 28-of-45 passes for 388 yards and was intercepted once. Kyler Marsh was 1-of-2 passing for 12 yards.

Chance rushed 13 times for 27 yards; Adrian Heffron had three carries for 17 yards and Luke Dykstra had a 3-yard tote.

The team’s passing game resulted in 400 yards. Kyler Marsh collected nine passes for 142 yards; Luke Wagenaar hauled in 7 passes for 86 yards; Lane Marsh had two receptions for 40 yards; Luke Dykstra had four receptions for 45 yards and Brennan Rip had a 14-yard catch.



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