Line dominates in Polk County West win

Polk County West's James Fontaine wraps up Pelican Rapids Jayden Rutherford in the first half Wednesday. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Playing a higher-classification opponent is no extra incentive for Myles Smith.

“It’s just another game, another team,’’ the Polk County West senior lineman said. “We knew we had to dominate up front to get things done.’’

The blockers came through for the Thunder on Wednesday. Polk County West closed the high school football regular season with a 6-2 record as the Section 8A Thunder handed visiting Pelican Rapids a 34-6 defeat. Pelican Rapids, a Section 8AA team, finished the regular season 5-3.


Polk County West won by forcing turnovers (three), converting the miscues into three touchdowns and controlling the line of scrimmage.

“I think it was one of our better games on the line,’’ Smith said. “We communicated. We got into our blocks and got them done.’’

That showed in the yardage. Polk County West rushed 55 times for 294 yards and had a 357-78 advantage in total offense. The Thunder offense ran 60 plays; 15 of them resulted in double-figure yardage.

“It was the line, definitely,’’ PCW running back John Fontaine said. “Most of the time, the holes were wide open. Then it was just up to us (ball carriers) to run through them. The line dominated.’’

Pelican Rapids lost fumbles on each of its first two possessions. The Thunder converted those possessions into touchdown runs covering 1 and 14 yards by Josh Wagner for a 14-0 lead.

“That turned the game around right there,’’ PCW coach Darrin Byklum said. “To get two turnovers and score on them both, that set the tone. It got us some early momentum.’’

After McHale Korf’s 8-yard TD run pulled the Vikings to within 14-6, Sam Gapp stripped a Vikings runner of the ball on Pelican Rapids’ next possession. Gapp then hit Fontaine for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds left in the second quarter and a 22-6 halftime lead.

“That put a dagger into the game,’’ Byklum said.


“That (Vikings) team was no slouch. I was happy with the way we got off the ball up front. Our line gave our quarterback time to set up and throw. It gave our backs good holes.’’

The PCW offense was balanced.

Wagner rushed for 89 yards. Fontaine had 56 yards rushing and another 51 yards on three receptions. Gage Wavra added 67 yards on the ground while Gapp rushed for 37 yards and was 4-of-5 passing for 63 yards. Gapp and Fontaine each rushed for a touchdown in the second half.

Korf was Pelican Rapids’ top threat, rushing for 33 yards and completing 6-of--8 passes for 50 yards.

Wagner, Fontaine and Gapp each accounted for more offensive yards than the Vikings team totaled.

“That was a phenomenal job by our defense,’’ Byklum said.

Polk County West will host a first-round Section 8A playoff game Tuesday.


Polk County West quarterback Sam Gapp runs past Pelican Rapids defenders Tommy Thach and Johnny Ziebell in the first half Wednesday. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

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