CHINOOK — Playing in, and earning their first-ever state football championship in sub-freezing temperatures, gusty winds and constant snow fall was quite fitting for the Chinook Sugarbeeters football team, because behind key blocks, a defensive wall and the legs of Ben Stroh, it wasn’t long before the Beeters put the Wibaux Longhorns on ice.
Saturday at Hoon field in Chinook, the seventh-ranked Beeters were virtually unstoppable as they defeated the previously undefeated and top-ranked Wibaux Longhorns 74-6 in the state Class C 8-Man championship game.
“I am really proud of our kids and coaches,” Chinook head coach Matt Molyneaux said. “How they dug in all year. We have been talking about this, and we felt like we could do it (win the state championship), but to finally achieve this at this point, to watch our goals come true is amazing. We made it to the state championship and we are one for one. I like that.”
From the very first whistle and the very first play of the game, the Beeters could do no wrong.
And it all began with the opening kickoff that was returned 69 yards for a touchdown by Stroh. The big return and score set the tone for the Beeters' victory, but nobody knew just how explosive the Beeters were going to be, as they erased any doubt that they were the state's No. 1 Class C 8-Man football team.
“We just wanted to make a statement,” Chinook senior running back and linebacker Tyler Molyneaux said. “I didn’t know it was going to be like this (74-6), but we definitely wanted to make a statement. We just came out and everything went well for us.”
Defensively, the Beeters were nearly impenetrable. And if it weren’t for one play of blown coverage, they would have been.
Late in the first quarter, on their fourth drive, the Longhorns found the endzone. Jaylen Sokoloski connected with Ty Tousignant on a 40-yard reception to give the Longhorns their only six points of the afternoon.
“On defense we talked about staying in front of them and not letting them outside of us,” coach Molyneaux said. “And on that play he (Sokoloski) got outside of us. We didn’t give them much, we stepped up and everything went well for us today.”
Before and after that one play, the Beeters' defense played outstanding. They forced the Longhorns' offense to punt six times, as well as forced and recovered a fumble, had an interception, combined for seven sacks and earned a safety.
Connlin Brown earned the safety and recovered the fumble for the Beeters, while Lane Schmitt grabbed the interception. Jorrell Jones and Josh Jones forced the fumble for the Beeters.
But while the Longhorns struggled to score, or to even move the ball down field, the Beeters had no such problems, finding the endzone on both offense and special teams.
After taking an 8-0 lead in the first 12 seconds of the game, the Beeters continued to roll. The Beeters had the ball six times in the first quarter, and on all six drives they found the endzone. Chinook held a 44-6 lead after the first quarter was in the books.
In the first quarter, Stroh added to his 69-yard kick return with a 58-yard rushing touchdown, a 20-yard rushing touchdown, a 70-yard kick return for a touchdown and a one-yard rushing touchdown. And Tyler Molyneaux also got in on the scoring action, punching a touchdown in from six yards out.
In the second quarter, the Chinook barrage only continued.
Tyler Molyneaux got his second score of the game, this time rushing from 27 yards. out. Josh Jones also found the end zone, scoring on a one-yard carry to boost the Beeters to a 60-6 lead at the half.
In the second half a lot of the Beeters subs took over the game, but Chinook still managed two scores.
Stroh capped off his standout performance with a 45-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter, and freshman Zach Molyneaux, who was so instrumental in helping Chinook reach their first title game, added an 18-yard rushing score in the fourth.
Tyler Molyneaux was not 100 percent healthy on Saturday. He suffered a leg injury last week in the Beeters win over Power-Dutton-Brady, but played through the pain to help out his team. And though senior Chris Haider was also sidelined, he too did his part, cheering on his Beeters.
“This just shows that we are more than one deep,” Coach Molyneaux said. “We are more than two deep and more than three deep, we have talked about that all year and it’s the team philosophy. Kids needed to step up and they sure did that today.
“It was difficult (coming together),” Senior Josh Jones added. “Especially coming off our win over Power-Dutton-Brady which was such a close game. But we did come together, and the kids that needed to do their jobs, they stepped up and got it done. We all played 110 percent.”
Chinook finished its season with an 11-1 record and as the Class C 8-Man state champions.