STATE CENTER - The challenges keep coming and the West Marshall football team keeps rolling.
The Class 2A No. 2 Trojans captured yet another victory by a big margin, this time doing it against No. 4 Fort Dodge St. Edmond, 42-21, Saturday on Senior Night.
All-state back Dalton Ferch scored five touchdowns and rushed for 224 yards to pace the Trojans, who now have victories over three ranked opponents this season and another 'W' against last year's state finalist.
T-R PHOTO BY TRAVIS HINES
West Marshall running back Dalton Ferch (23) celebrates one of his five touchdowns with quarterback Braydn Beals as members of the Fort Dodge St. Edmond football team look on during the first half of Friday’s Class 2A District 7 game in State Center. The second-ranked Trojans defeated their fourth-rated guests, 42-21, in a battle of unbeatens.
The Trojans have worked their way to 7-0 overall and 5-0 in district play in dominating fashion, having outscored opponents by a combined total of 320-41.
"I think overall we've got a football team that's pretty good offensively, pretty good defensively," said West Marshall head coach Ken Winkler. "I think our special teams are pretty good, so I think we're pretty solid if we can just put it together to play well."
The Trojans put together a sparkling first half, but misfired in the second. Still the game was never really in doubt, and the Trojans now control their own destiny in District 7.
West Marshall outgained the Gaels (6-1, 4-1) 318-123 in the first half and tallied 12 first downs to St. Edmond's three.
"The first half," said Winkler, "was a great half."
Both teams scored on big runs on their second possession of the game, but West Marshall then tacked on three touchdowns in the second quarter to take a commanding 28-6 advantage into the locker room.
The first score of the second quarter came on a 60-yard drive that was keyed by a 34-yard rush on third down by Ferch and capped on a 1-yard plunge by the senior.
After a Gaels punt, West Marshall then went 64 yards on six plays to score on a drive that featured two completions of 15 yards or more by quarterback Braydn Beals.
Ferch made the score 21-6 when he went in from 14 yards out running the Wildcat offensive formation.
St. Edmond probably thought it would only trail by the two scores going into the break when it pinned the Trojans on their 11-yard line with under 2 minutes to play, but a Beals-to-Ferch connection for 47 yards got the Trojans out of trouble and allowed them to score five plays later of Ferch's 1-yard run.
West Marshall has made it its specialty of scoring with its 2-minute offense at the end of the first half.
"Speed helps you do that. For some reason we do have a knack for being able to go down the field," said Winkler. "I think people, because of our speed and with little time on the clock, they get a little soft. Because most of the time it hasn't been a long pass. It's been something shorter and then we just turn it into something."
The Gaels showed some fight in the second half, but were unable to close within one possession.
St. Edmond's rushing game, which garnered 218 yards on the night, limited West Marshall's third quarter to just six offensive plays.
The Trojans, however, made the Gaels pay when they went to the air, getting a 96-yard interception return from Tysen Streeter after St. Edmond had traveled 74 yards in a drive that lasted nearly 7 minutes to go ahead 35-6 late in the third.
"I didn't think he was going to throw it," said Streeter of the interception, "and then I just put my hands up."
An Alex Mericle touchdown 3 minutes later followed by a Beals pick (his first of the season) and another Mericle touchdown before the 8-minute mark of the fourth quarter drew the score to 35-21, however.
West Marshall responded with an 80-yard scoring drive that finished on Ferch's 29-yard run in which he carried a pair of Gaels defenders for the final 5 yards into the end zone.
"Taking some of the anger out I had on defense," said Ferch, who also plays defensive back, of the run.
Neil Flattery rushed 26 times for 156 yards and a score for the Gaels while Mericle had 38 yards rushing.
Beals threw for 136 yards on the night while completing 6-of-9 passes to help the Trojans vanquish yet another highly thought of foe.
"Games against (overmatched teams) don't make you better," said Winkler. "It makes you look good, but they don't make you any better. It's games like this."
"We didn't play as well in the second half," added Winkler, "but it's the end that counts.
"In the end, it's 42-21."
West Marshall will play the final two games of its season away from home, first going to Story City to face Roland-Story next week and then heading to Le Grand to face rival East Marshall in the regular season finale.