Grand Forks Central football starts new era with win over Watford City
The Knights started the 2022 season with a 75-yard kickoff return from Jack Simmers en route to a 19-0 halftime lead against Watford City.
GRAND FORKS — Grand Forks Central football fans hoping to see reasons for optimism to kick off a new era under first-year Knights coach Jake Schauer didn't have to wait long Friday evening.
Jack Simmers took the opening kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown as the Knights rolled over Watford City 33-0 at Cushman Field, winning a season opener for the first time since 2009.
"Last year, we didn't have the year we wanted," Central wide receiver-defensive lineman Tray Kuntz said. "This is great. It's a great start to the year and hopefully we can keep making this season better."
Central's win to kick off the 2022 season certainly wasn't classic Knights, a program that has featured dynamic running backs over the years.
The Knights pulled ahead with a pass-heavy attack. Central quarterback Dylan LaMont was 16-for-22 passing for 164 yards and two touchdowns, while the Knights ran for 75 yards with 65 of those yards coming on the final drive of the fourth quarter.
"(LaMont) is a really smart kid, and he reads the field well," Schauer said. "He's super easy to coach. I thought he was a good leader."
Watford City, a program that has gone 2-34 in the last four years, was led by Judd Johnsrud, who had 54 passing yards and 15 rushing yards. Jason Hogue added 75 rushing yards on 15 carries.
After the Knights went up 8-0 following the Simmers kick return, Watford City went three-and-out offensively and Central countered with a 17-play drive.
Knights kicker Ross Wilber hit a 27-yard field goal to push the lead to 11-0.
Watford City went three-and-out on its second offensive series and the resulting punt attempt was botched as Central defensive lineman Zach Kuznia tackled the Wolves' punter deep in Watford City territory.
After the turnover, the Knights ballooned the lead to 19-0 three plays later as Jayden Haake bowled into the end zone from 3 yards out.
The short passing game of LaMont kept the Central momentum rolling in the third quarter. He connected with Malachi Beaulieu for a 10-yard touchdown pass to make it 26-0.
The final score was a 4-yard pass from LaMont to Cole Barta, who also had an interception defensively.
Barta caught six passes for 52 yards, while Kuntz had five grabs for 57 yards.
LaMont was far and away Central's leading rusher with two carries for 51 yards.
GF Central 33,Watford City 0
GFC – Jack Simmers 75 kickoff return (Cole Barta run)
GFC – Ross Wilber 27 field goal
GFC – Jayden Haake 3 run (Barta run)
GFC – Malachi Beaulieu 10 pass from Dylan LaMont (Wilber kick)
GFC – Barta 4 pass from LaMont (Wilber kick)
RUSHING – GFC: Dylan LaMont 2-51, Caden Johansen 2-18, Jayden Haake 4-7; WC: Jason Hogue 15-75
PASSING – GFC: LaMont 16-22-0, 164 yards; WC: Judd Johnsrud 5-11-1, 54 yards
RECEIVING – GFC: Cole Barta 6-52, Tray Kuntz 5-57, Jack Simmers 1-22, Bryce Philpot 2-16; WC: Levi Musser 4-29, Martin Waggoner 1-17