Polk County West's quick strikes set the tone in 43-14 playoff win over Fosston

Polk County West senior Sam Gapp ran six times for 155 yards and three touchdowns.

PCW's Sam Gapp runs past Fosston defender Thatcher Palubicki for a touchdown in the first half Tuesday at Cushman Field. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

With just one loss this season, the Polk County West football team might've expected to receive a first-round bye in the Minnesota Section 8A playoffs.

Instead, the No. 3 seed Thunder dominated Fosston enough early to use Tuesday night's playoff opener as a tune-up for Saturday's semifinal showdown with No. 2 Mahnomen-Waubun.

PCW senior Sam Gapp ran six times for 155 yards and three touchdowns -- all in the first half -- as the Thunder cruised through running time in the second half en route to a 43-14 win over the Greyhounds at Cushman Field in Grand Forks.

Gapp's numbers would've really been eye-popping had the 6-foot, 185-pound speedster not had a 93-yard run in the second quarter called back for holding.

"Credit the guys up front that have gotten it done for him, and you know, he's a dandy," PCW coach Darrin Byklum said.


The Thunder's first three offensive series were all two-play scoring drives.

Gapp started the game with a long kick return to set up first-and-10 at the Fosston 33. After Gapp went for 29 yards on a sweep on the game's first offensive play, PCW handed off to David Larson for a 4-yard touchdown run just 52 seconds into the game.

A few minutes later, PCW quarterback Isaac Zavarol hit Cullen Rohrich on a 51-yard touchdown pass to push the lead to 14-0.

Before the end of the first quarter, Gapp scored from 58 yards out.

"It was a quick start," Byklum said. "That's what we needed to do -- get out and get after it right away."

Gapp started the second quarter with touchdown runs of 20 and 13 yards as PCW pulled away 33-6 midway through the second quarter.

"The line did their job and created open space," Gapp said.

The Thunder, 7-1, advance to the section semifinals against Mahnomen-Waubun for a 2 p.m. Saturday kickoff in Mahnomen.


"They're a really aggressive team and are every year," Gapp said. "We have to be more physical."

Mahnomen-Waubun is also 7-1 this season. Both teams' lone loss is to section No. 1 Ada-Borup. The Thunder lost to Ada-Borup 12-7, while Mahnomen-Waubun lost 33-12.

Against Fosston, Zavarol finished with 122 yards on 8-for-10 passing. Fosston was led by Etthan Gray's 59 yards rushing, Thatcher Palubicki's 127 passing yards (119 in the first half) and Kaden Sanford's 83 yards receiving.

Polk County West 43, Fosston 14

First quarter

PCW -- David Larson 4 run (Cullen Rohrich kick)

PCW -- Rohrich 51 pass from Isaac Zavarol (Rohrick kick)

F -- Ryne Duppong 30 pass from Thatcher Palubicki (pass failed)

PCW -- Sam Gapp 58 run (kick failed)


Second quarter

PCW -- Gapp 20 run (Rohrick kick)

PCW -- Gapp 13 run (kick failed)

Third quarter

PCW -- Rohrick 38 field goal

PCW -- Zach Fenno 9 run (Rohrick kick)

Fourth quarter

F -- Etthan Greg 30 run (Kelton Greg run)


RUSHING -- PCW: Sam Gapp 6-155, David Larson 3-43, Mike Gapp 3-22, Zach Fenno 3-23, Jon Prosje 3-20; F: Gavvin Gray 13-27, Etthan Gray 9-59

PASSING -- PCW: Isaac Zavarol 8-10-0, 122 yards; F: Thatcher Palubicki 7-16-1, 127 yards

RECEIVING -- PCW: Rohrich 1-51, Sam Gapp 4-30, Landen Denney 1-22, Kaven Rohrich 1-11, Mike Gapp 1-5; F: Kaden Sanford 4-83, Ryne Duppong 2-37, Aaron Norland 1-7

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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