STATE CENTER - Welcome to the postseason, Red Oak. Let me show you the way out.
The third-ranked West Marshall football team took care of the Tigers in their first-ever state football playoff appearance, dismantling Red Oak with ease, 48-6, in Wednesday's Class 2A opener.
Trojan junior Duncan Ferch ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns on just four carries, returned a punt 35 yards, and took the opening kickoff of the second half back 90 yards to help propel West Marshall (10-0) into the second round for the third year in a row.
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
West Marshall’s Duncan Ferch follows his blockers up the right sideline for a 35-yard punt return for touchdown during the first quarter of Monday’s Class 2A playoff game in State Center. Ferch totaled four touchdowns as the third-ranked Trojans advanced with a 48-6 triumph over Red Oak.
Red Oak, which traveled 3 hours for its first-ever postseason football game, did not notch a first down until the 10:42 mark of the second quarter. By then, West Marshall led 35-0.
"The thing I was most pleased about was that they came out ready to play and did what they had to do early," Trojan head coach Ken Winkler said of his squad. "You never know whether you're going to take someone lightly, and we tried to emphasize that. We got off to a fast start and we jumped on them early, we came out and took care of business."
West Marshall will face off with District 7 foe Nevada for the second time this season, hosting the Cubs (6-4) in Monday's 7 p.m. second round contest. The Trojans trounced Nevada 53-7 in their first meeting back in Week 4.
In Wednesday's postseason opener, the Trojans dominated both lines of scrimmage, forcing Red Oak (3-7) into three-and-outs or turnovers on downs in each of five first-quarter possessions. The offensive line of Bailey Brockman, Colby Dunn, Garrett Goodwin, Marcus Webber and Jacob Yocum cleared enough space for all of West Marshall's backs to break free, and the Trojans ran 29 times for 331 yards - 300 of them in the first half.
Red Oak's opening possession gained 1 yard, and Ferch took Jake Pszanka's first handoff 61 yards to paydirt. The Tigers went backward 4 yards on their next drive, and Ferch brought Nicholas Leinen's punt back 35 yards for a 14-0 lead less than 4 minutes into the game.
Elijah Streeter's first carry on a counter run went 42 yards for a score, Devin Chesler added a 29-yard touchdown dash and Ferch went 42 yards on his fourth and final carry to bring West Marshall's mountain of a first-quarter advantage to 35-0.
Chesler's second-quarter touchdown run came from 54 yards after he went into a pile up front, came out on the other side and went untouched the rest of the way.
Ferch's 90-yard kickoff return - his third such score this season - put the Trojans out front 48-0 just 22 seconds into the second half.
"He ran for a couple, took the punt back and had a kickoff return, and he would have had an interception return for another one," Winkler said. "As a football player, he had a good night."
Ferch's 50-yard interception return for a touchdown was called back on a penalty, and West Marshall inserted its second team into the game to rest its starters for Monday's second round.
"They handled it well, they did what they had to do in practice to prepare for this game," Winkler said. "They're pretty low key sometimes, more than some of our other teams, but when the game gets here they're ready to go."
Chesler totaled 103 yards on six carries, Streeter had 86 yards on seven attempts, and all 331 of West Marshall's yards came on the ground.
Red Oak's lone score came with 2:46 left in the game as Leinen went 39 yards on a fullback blast to momentarily pause the running clock.
Tigers tailback Evan Mellott carried 26 times for 94 yards, but Red Oak was limited to 143 total yards on 49 plays.