No. 1 Lewis Central spoils Le Mars’ long-awaited return to playoffs

Tuesday, November 1, 2022
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Le Mars Community’s Sione Fifita makes a Lewis Central defender miss while catching a ball which led to the lone touchdown of the game for the Bulldogs on Friday. Fifita sprinted for a 52-yard score on the slant pass.

COUNCIL BLUFFS — A long-awaited return to the playoffs for Le Mars Community ended with a 57-7 loss to top-ranked and defending champion Lewis Central in a Class 4A Round of 16 game on Friday.

Le Mars Head Coach Ken Vigdal said the team took the first step with their first playoff appearance since 2013 and now they know what it will take to take the next step to be able to compete against some of the top teams in the state.

“This is a big step for our program because we made the playoffs and we played the No. 1 team in the state,” Vigdal said. “Now we know where we have to go to. This was a learning experience.”

Lewis Central opened the scoring on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Braylon Kammrad to Lual Maker and took a 13-0 lead on a 49-yard pass to Curtis Witte.

Le Mars started near midfield early in the second quarter after a punt and kick-catch interference penalty. Le Mars got on the scoreboard with a slant pass from Teagen Kasel to Sione Fifita as Fifita made the defender miss after making the catch and used his speed to race his way to the end zone on the 52-yard scoring play.

“He caught it in full stride and Teagen threw a great ball,” Vigdal said. “Once he got it, he turned it on and it was gone.”

The energy built up by the big play quickly deflated as Lewis Central’s Boston Hensley returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown.

“We went 13-7 there and then the kickoff return for a touchdown was kind of a momentum changer for us,” Vigdal said.

Le Mars was unable to get the offense going much the rest of the game as they punted four times in the remaining time in the second quarter. The team punted twice more in the second half.

The Bulldogs were bottled up in the run game, being held to 65 rushing yards on 28 carries.

“They were good athletes and they were fast on top of it,” Vigdal said. “They were able to close the holes that other teams couldn’t close.”

Lewis Central added three touchdown passes before halftime to take a 40-7 lead into the intermission. Kammrad connected with Witte and Maker for the second time apiece as they ended as the top two receivers in the game for the Titans with three catches each. Witte led the team with 132 receiving yards while Maker added 81 receiving yards.

Owen Thomas added an 12-yard scoring reception before halftime and Kammrad’s sixth and final touchdown pass went to Parker Heller on a 14-yard play early in the third quarter to start the running clock with the score at 47-7. Kammrad finished the day 12-of-18 passing for 298 yards and six touchdowns.

“The long-ball on defense hurt us,” Vigdal said.

Facing a big deficit and not being able to find much success in the running game, the Bulldogs were forced to throw the ball. The team did get a couple of deep completions on back-to-back plays to Beau Wadle on the first drive of the second half. Wadle finished with four catches for 101 yards as the team’s top receiver as Teagen Kasel ended 12-of-24 for 191 yards with a touchdown and interception at the quarterback spot.

Those deep plays put the Bulldogs on the doorstep of scoring, but a fumble by Kasel which was recovered by Lewis Central’s Payton Ludington ended the team’s best scoring opportunity of the second half.

Lewis Central added a 38-yard scoring run from Chance Chappell and a 25-yard field goal for Karson Lea in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to finish their scoring.

Le Mars did avoid another late scoring opportunity by the Titans after a muffed punt gave Lewis Central the ball at the Le Mars 10-yard line. Markevius Moton intercepted a pass from backup quarterback Brady Hetzel as the junior was also one of the top tacklers for the Bulldogs in the game. Moton finished with four tackles, finishing behind Fifita’s 5.5 tackles and Evan Jalas’ five tackles.

(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Le Mars Community’s Markevius Moton intercepts a pass for the Bulldogs in Friday’s playoff game.

Le Mars finishes the season with a 6-4 record. Vigdal thanked his seniors for helping to turn the program around.

“It’s sad to see them go, but that’s high school football,” Vigdal said. “They’ve meant a lot to us. They helped start the tradition last year. They took it a step further this year and now next year’s seniors have to take it a step further and win our first playoff game.”

Lewis Central (10-0) will host Glenwood (7-3) in the quarterfinal round on Friday.

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