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Cavalier rolls past W-N-G to 9-man state title

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FARGO – Ryan Chrest was standing at midfield in the Fargodome, one of four finalists for the North Dakota 9-man football senior player of the year. When Hunter Braaten was announced as the winner, Chrest didn’t feel any letdown.

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“I wasn’t disappointed at all,” the Cavalier High School senior said. “We won the state championship. That’s all that mattered to me.”

Chrest’s record-setting performance led the Tornadoes to the title. The quarterback rushed for a Dakota Bowl-record 377 yards, scoring four touchdowns, as the Tornadoes beat Westhope-Newburg-Glenburn 54-6 in the 9-man state title game Friday.

The championship was the first for the Tornadoes’ football program since 2004.

Chrest picked up 377 yards on just 16 carries. The speedster’s four touchdowns runs covered 57, 34, 52 and 74 yards. For good measure, he had two interceptions on defense.

“Chrest – I don’t know what to say after that performance,” Cavalier coach Sandy Laxdal said. “He’s an amazing athlete. He put us on his back. He has such athleticism, and the artificial turf made him a little quicker. And he has such vision. He follows his blockers.”

Chrest made an early impact. On the second play from scrimmage, he followed three blockers down the left side on a sweep, made a cut to elude a tackler at the 35 and went in for a 52-yard score.

On Cavalier’s next possession, he ran left, cut across the grain and went in at the right pylon for a 34-yard scoring run.

“It makes you feel good when you open holes and he goes through,” senior lineman Jeff Stith said. “Sometimes you think, ‘Holy cow, how’d he get down there so fast?’ But it happens every game, so we’re used to it.”

Brock Robbins followed with 2- and 4-yard touchdown runs.

But the big play came as time expired at the end of the second quarter. Chrest set in the pocket to pass, rolled right and, flushed out of the pocket, reversed direction and cut up the middle for a 52-yard scoring run and a 38-0 halftime lead.

“I was looking short,” Chrest said of the potential pass. “But we were covered. And coaches tell us if something is open, run for it.”

Said Laxdal: “I think that was the back-breaker. They’d stopped us. But they couldn’t contain Ryan. He makes so many people miss. He’s tough to tackle.”

Cavalier got second-half scoring runs of 76 yards from Chase Walton and 74 yards from Chrest. Braaten put Westhope-N-G on the scoreboard with a 20-yard run with 1:20 remaining.

With Walton adding 80 yards and Robbins 62, Cavalier set a Dakota Bowl team record with 519 rushing yards. Braaten rushed for 123 yards and was 7 of 22 passing for 69 yards to lead the Sioux offense.

Stith was a spark plug on defense for Cavalier with three sacks and a fumble recovery.

“I was just pushing hard,” the senior said. “We were really watching out for Braaten. We knew if we gave him space he could score, so we tried to make sure he didn’t get out of the backfield.”

WNG 0 0 0 6– 6

C 16 22 8 8–54

C–Chrest 57 run (Chrest run)

C–Chrest 34 run (Chrest run)

C–Robbins 2 run (Robbins run)

C–Chrest 52 run (run failed)

C–Walton 76 run (Kaercher pass from Chrest)

C–Chrest 74 run (Robbins run)

WNG–Braaten 20 run (pass failed)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: WNG, Braaten 22-123, Smette 8-27, Marquart 1-2. C, Chrest 16-377, Walton 9-30, Robbins 14-62.

PASSING: WNG, Braaten 7-22-2 69 yards, Schell 1-1-0 13. C, Chrest 1-1-0 15.

RECEIVING: WNG, Miller 3-57, Conway 2-22, Smette 2-3, Schell 1-0. C, Robbins 1-15.

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