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Prairie wins third football title since 2008

Prairie's Jacob Stubbers scored what proved the 1AD1 football championship game-winner on this run during the fourth quarter of the Pirates' 36-28 victory Friday night, Nov. 18, at the Kibbie Dome.

Photo by Andrew Ottoson
Prairie's Jacob Stubbers scored what proved the 1AD1 football championship game-winner on this run during the fourth quarter of the Pirates' 36-28 victory Friday night, Nov. 18, at the Kibbie Dome.

— It had been several years since Prairie last took the visitors' sideline at the Kibbie Dome — an indicator the Pirates came into Friday night's championship game as underdogs to Whitepine League rival Genesee — but with a 36-28 win over the Bulldogs, PHS brought the big prize back to Cottonwood for third time since 2008.

“I'm super proud of this group,” PHS head coach Ryan Hasslestrom said. “They played the whole season with their backs against a wall. Injuries really had an impact as we went through this year but a great group of young players stepped up and made an immediate impact. They deserve a ton of credit for what we accomplished.”

“Playing as the underdog was a lot of fun for us too in the playoffs,” he added. “I think our players took that as a challenge to prove that they belonged in each and every game they played in. This will go down as one of the best seasons in school history.”

The win resulted from Prairie's execution of just the kind of game plan the Pirates have deployed all season.

“Defensively, we did a heck of a job preparing,” Hasslestrom said. “We went through countless hours of plays to prepare. We had a few breakdowns with missed tackles, but Genesee is good. [Genesee senior Edward] Becker is a heck of a football player. Offensively, our goal was to try to pound the ball and we were successful early. In the second half, we just ground it out.”

Having taken a 6-0 lead barely more than a minute into the contest on a short run by Spencer Schumacher — which capitalized on Caleb McWilliams' long run on the second play from scrimmage — Prairie slipped into a 6-6 tie after Genesee struck back with a deep pass converting fourth-and-long near midfield.

Prairie took a 12-6 lead into the second quarter after converting a fourth-and-five deep in Genesee territory into a 16-yard touchdown pass from Schumacher to Hunter Chaffee. Prairie advanced that lead to 20-6 on Schumacher's second touchdown pass of the game, which came on a 9-yard strike to Nick Mager. (Jacob Stubbers ran for the conversion.)

Genesee once again leveled the score, with Kolby Moser running 25 yards to score one rushing touchdown and Becker housing a 55-yarder with 8:25 left in the first half.

Prairie regained the lead with Schumacher running in another short score and Stubbers once again tacking on the two-point try.

Then Prairie booked the first of several consecutive critical defensive stops: with less than two minutes remaining in the second quarter, Genesee turned the ball over on downs at the Prairie 13; the third quarter began with Prairie kicking off and the PHS defense forcing a three-and-out; after the PHS offense committed a turnover at its own 15, the Prairie defense forced Genesee into fourth-and-18 and an incomplete pass; the teams traded punts, with Genesee sending the ball back to Prairie on the first play of the fourth quarter.

With the teams having shut each other out during the third, Prairie put together an 11-play series that tilted field position from the PHS 24 to the Genesee 14 before the Bulldogs stopped the Pirates on fourth-and-two. Genesee's possession ended with Moser's pass caught by Chaffee — an interception near midfield which launched the drive that scored what proved the decisive points.

“We just kept at it,” Hasselstrom said. “We didn't get away from what we knew we could do, and we made a couple of big defensive plays.”

The Pirates outgained Genesee 413 total yards to 362, 215 rushing yards to 129, and 20 first downs to 14.

Having broken big runs during the previous possession — one for 28 yards, another for 17 yards — Stubbers scored the game-winner from 15 yards out with 3:12 remaining; Schumacher threw to Chaffee for the points-after, putting PHS ahead 36-20.

Genesee had scored two touchdowns barely more than a minute apart during the second quarter, but after the Bulldogs turned it over on downs with 1:58 left, the Pirates' swagger began to show even as their coaches urged them to stay focused on finishing the game.

Prairie opted to run off most of the remaining clock and then punt, which left Genesee barely enough time to score once more, which the Bulldogs did on a Moser-to-Becker pass play with five seconds left.

Needing only to recover an onside kick to secure the 1AD1 title, the front-liners on Prairie's “hands team” made no mistake, and the 2017 squad celebrated the victory with a new banner to hang alongside those from 2008 and 2014.


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