The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Big Sandy Pioneers' rush attack lights up Knights, 51-6


September 11, 2019

Junior Kade Strutz (33) runs in a touchdown.

If North Star could have been a trap game for Big Sandy, the Pioneer football team did not take the bait.

In fact, the purple-and-gold ran left, right, around and through the Knights in a 51-6 Friday night romp. Five different Pioneers scored touchdowns. Only a day's worth of accumulated rain seemed to slow Big Sandy.

"The wet field kind of prevented us from running more of our stuff (offensively)," coach Larry Jappe said. "We just pounded the ball and scored a lot of points."

Big Sandy (2-0) showed little indication of gazing back upon its pivotal season-opening win against fellow state title contender Jordan. The Pioneers did not get ahead of themselves facing their first road trip of the year, either. A lengthy jaunt will take them across the North Dakota border for a Friday night rematch with the MonDak Thunder, who handed them one of just three losses a year ago.

Rather, Big Sandy seemed to relish in taking its shot against a league opponent it missed a year ago when the Rudyard team had to forfeit due to lack of players.

Ryan Roth displayed his speed on a pair of scoring plays. Roth took a pitch 35 yards to paydirt with 4:02 remaining in the first quarter, building the Pioneers' lead to 22-0. He added an even more electric 56-yarder in the third quarter, as he swept right and cut back to the left sideline behind a powerful Clint Darlington block, increasing the lead to 43-6.

Perhaps his most satisfying play of the night came on defense, however, as he delivered a punishing hit on Knights wideout Jaden Sargent, preventing a big play on the first snap after Roth muffed a first quarter Ethan Federspiel punt.

"You can't go back. I just got back up the next play and decided to shake it off ... and made a tackle," he said.

The Pioneers' feature back, Kade Strutz, opened up the scoring with a 1-yard plunge at the 8:37 mark of the first quarter. Darlington caught the Pioneers' lone scoring pass less than two minutes later, a 5-yard toss from Parker Proulx.

A pair of Pioneer facemark penalties gifted North Star (0-2) most of the ground they needed to cover on their lone scoring drive, capped by a 5-yard pass from Gavin Spicher to Sargent, with 7:35 to go in the first half.

Proulx faked a throw before handing off to Strutz, who scampered down the left sideline to answer just 17 seconds later on a 51-yard touchdown run.

The Knights put the ball on the turf habitually all night and a fumbled pitch they covered up in their own end zone gave Big Sandy a safety and a 30-6 lead midway through the second quarter.

Chris Burns got behind a wall of blockers to push 10 yards up the middle and gain his first touchdown as a Pioneer at the 4:58 mark in the second stanza.

"I've got four all-state (quality) running backs on this team," Jappe said. "I got to let Chris Burns and Ryan Roth run the ball tonight and show what they got."

Brock Proulx took a handoff 1 yard up the gut to make it 43-6 at the break.

Besides Roth's second TD run, the only points to go up on the board in the second half came when a long snap for a punt sailed over Federspiel's head into the end zone for a safety with less than a minute left in the third quarter.

Yet some of the loudest yells from the Pioneers' sideline came when starters let younger players hear their approval of fourth-quarter plays like Rusty Gasvoda's 19-yard pickup on a Kody Strutz shovel pass and a pancake block by Lance Rutledge.

"That was probably the best part of the game was to see those guys get in," said Roth. "That'll be good down the road for them to have experience in these games."

Jappe acknowledged teams out of the East like this week's opponent, MonDak, have built a reputation as the state's strongest in recent years.

"We want to show them this year, the North is going to be hard on the East," he said. "Or at least we will be."

In the junior high contest that preceded the varsity game, eighth grader Cooper Taylor scored touchdowns on a 43-yard run and a 24-yard interception return to lead the Pioneers to a 32-6 win over North Star.

North Star Knights vs. Big Sandy Pioneers

North Star Knights 6 0 0 0 6

Big Sandy Pioneers 22 21 8 0 51

Game Summary North Star Knights Big Sandy Pioneers

First Downs 4 10

Rushes-Yards 26 -67 19 218

Recep-Yards 3 10 2 24

Passing Yards 10 24

Comp-Attempts 3 10 2 3

TD-INT 1 0 1 0

Fumbles-Lost 5 1 1 1

Penalties-Yards 1 15 6 51

3rd Down Conv 1 8 0 2

4th Down Conv 1 2 0 3

FG Made-Att 0 0 0 0

Tackles 12.0 21.0

Sacks-Yards 1.0 -12 0.0 0

Time of Possession 30:11 13:45


No. Player Rushes Yards TDs Fumbles

5 Payne Ditmar 12 -1 0 1

33 Kade Strutz 5 108 2 0

16 Gavin Spicher 9 -15 0 3

2 Ryan Roth 2 91 2 1

19 Ethan Federspiel 5 -51 0

22 Christopher Burns 3 19 1

3 Elijah Wagoner 4 9 0 0

44 Brock Proulx 2 4 1 0

20 Rusty Gasvoda 2 -1 0 0

16 Kody Strutz 1 -12 0 0


Junior Brady Pleninger (5) takes down one of the Knights.

No. Player Comp Att Yards TD

16 Gavin Spicher 3 10 10 1

16 Kody Strutz 1 1 19 0

13 Parker Proulx 1 1 5 1

33 Kade Strutz 0 1 0 0


No. Player Rec Yards TDs

9 Jaden Sargent 3 10 1

20 Rusty Gasvoda 1 19 0

8 Clint Darlington 1 5 1


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