CHINOOK — Rarely do high school athletes have the kind of game that Chinook junior running back Ben Stroh had on Saturday.
And to do it on a stage as big as the state championship game, that makes his performance all the better.
Saturday in Chinook, the Sugarbeeters defeated the Wibaux Longhorns 74-6 in the Class C 8-Man state football championship. And while yes, football is a team sport, and Stroh gives all the credit to his offensive line and key blocks, Stroh’s performance clearly stood out.
“(Ben) Stroh had a huge game,” Chinook head coach Matt Molyneaux said. “We can’t even begin to say how big of game he had. We talked to Ben (Stroh) about having to step it up and carry the load and being the leader with Tyler (Molyneaux) being hurt a bit, but we knew it wouldn’t be possible without that great push we have been getting up front all year.
“It was no different,” Stroh added. “I try to play 100 percent all of the time. This was just another game. But they (offensive line and blockers) could not have been better, they set everything up.”
Stroh paid no attention to the less than favorable weather conditions. And despite the wind, snow and frigid temperatures, he looked as if he had played under the same circumstances all season long.
But Stroh also had a slightly different role in this game. With senior back Tyler Molyneaux in and out still nursing an injury he suffered last week, Stroh found himself as the featured back.
On six carries, Stroh rushed for 160 yards and four touchdowns. But Stroh also scored two more times on long kick returns. Stroh’s rushing touchdowns came from 58, 20, one and 45 yards out, and his two kick returns for scores came from 69 and 70 yards away.
All-in-all, it was big day for a junior running back who led his team to its most important victory this season, and in the school's history.
“This was just another game,” Stroh said. “I knew my front line would be ready to go, and us backs live and die by our front line. I knew I had to run hard and keep my footing, small steps; they got me in the end zone. We knew we needed to run straight forward, and that’s what happened. Everybody knows that’s what we do, and they just couldn’t stop it.
“A lot of people were saying that we were a one-man team” senior Tyler Molyneaux added. “And Ben Stroh and everybody else proved that’s not true.”