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Big Play Blue: Raiders rip off six long-distance touchdowns in shutout playoff victory over Divide County

RICHARDTON -- Players for the Richardton-Taylor-Hebron football team appeared nervous early during their 9-Man State Playoff first-round game against Divide County.

Richardton-Taylor-Hebron senior fullback Zach Schmalenberger eyes the end zone on a run against Divide County during an opening round game of the 9-Man State Playoffs on Saturday, Oct. 13, from John H. Gengler Memorial Field. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)
Richardton-Taylor-Hebron senior fullback Zach Schmalenberger eyes the end zone on a run against Divide County during an opening round game of the 9-Man State Playoffs on Saturday, Oct. 13, from John H. Gengler Memorial Field. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)

RICHARDTON - Players for the Richardton-Taylor-Hebron football team appeared nervous early during their 9-Man State Playoff first-round game against Divide County.

Following the opening kickoff, the Maroons drove down the field in 13 plays, collecting three first downs in the process before stalling just outside of the Raiders 10-yard line. The defense earned a fourth-down stop, but the Richardton-Taylor-Hebron offense gave the ball right back after a three-and-out.

The program was participating in its first home postseason contest in four years, but it didn't take them much longer to get rolling.

During Richardton-Taylor-Hebron's next offensive possession, senior fullback Zach Schmalenberger got boys in blue on the scoreboard, dancing through defenders en route to a 57-yard rushing touchdown. Amassing six scoring plays of 40 yards or longer, the Raiders zoomed into the next round with a 44-0 victory on Saturday, Oct. 13 from John H. Gengler Memorial Field.

With their first postseason triumph since 2015, the Raiders will travel to St. John for a second-round date with the Woodchucks next Saturday.

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"Our offensive line just had to settle down a little bit," Richardton-Taylor-Hebron head coach Seth Forster said. "Divide County's defensive line was doing different things and we just had to call it out and get straighten out up front there. Once we did that, we were able to be more successful running the ball with Zach Schmalenberger, he had a big day and guys were blocking downfield. ... So we just had to calm the nerves when they lined up, make our adjustments and we were able to execute."

Schmalenberger was just getting started as the senior went the distance again in the second quarter, taking an inside handoff up the middle before bouncing to the outside and outrunning the Maroons defenders on a 54-yard scamper. The Raiders' approach on the ground was by design, attacking the interior before busting to the boundary.

"Their defensive ends were crashing the outside pretty hard," Schmalenberger said. "So during film all week, the coaches told me to come inside and bounce it out. And I should be able to break (some runs)."

On the second play of the second half, Schmalenberger bolted through Maroons resistance for a 41-yard score before adding his fourth touchdown of the day for a 56-yard dash later in the third quarter. The senior sat out the fourth, finishing with 236 rushing yards on 14 carries.

"This means a lot because this is potentially our last game on this field. I started out here and it's very humbling to have the fans and their support for the last six years," Schmalenberger said. "I think this game ranks as one of my best ones, cause this could be my last game here. Finishing out on such a high note with my best friends since seventh grade, it means a lot."

Midway through the second quarter, Divide County drove into the red zone again. However, on fourth down, Maroons sophomore quarterback Logan Osvold overthrew his intended receiver and was intercepted in the end zone by junior defensive back Owen Voigt.

"I think it was a very big stop, just shutting them down and letting them get as little as possible," Voigt said.

On the ensuing Richardton-Taylor-Hebron drive, senior quarterback Logan Hoff found senior tight end Collin Kuntz on an out-pattern. Kuntz turned upfield and sprinted down the sideline for the 55-yard score, helping the Raiders extend to a 24-0 lead at halftime.

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With only 14 players in uniform, Divide County did not have the firepower to go blow-for-blow with its opponent. Outside of the two drives that traveled deep inside of enemy territory, the Maroons collected only six first downs, one of which was earned by after Raiders facemask penalty.

"We were able to get in the red zone early, but we just kind of wore out," Maroons head coach Bob Brown said. "When we weren't able to get it in, it was disappointing, you could see the heads were down a little bit. When you only have 13-14 guys, we ran out of gas in that second half, we didn't have much left in the tank."

Richardton-Taylor-Hebron junior fullback Britton Paulson capped the scoring with a 42-yard rushing touchdown.

After a dominant victory against Divide County, the Raiders will begin preparations for St. John on Monday, but until then, the team has the rest of the weekend to celebrate a strong performance.

"I was very proud of the kids," Forster said. "We talked all week on being the most physical team on the field. I think they did that today and that just showed itself on the scoreboard. They went hard every play from the beginning to the end and I couldn't be any prouder of them."

Richardton-Taylor-Hebron 44, Divide County 0

DC 0 0 0 0 - 0

RTH 8 16 14 6 - 44

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First quarter

RTH: Zach Schmalenberger 57 run (Schmalenberger run)

Second quarter

RTH: Schmalenberger 54 run (Owen Voigt pass from Logan Hoff)

RTH: Collin Kuntz 55 pass from Hoff (Hoff run)

Third quarter

RTH: Schmalenberger 41 run (Run failed)

RTH: Schmalenberger 56 run (Schmalenberger run)

Fourth quarter

RTH: Britton Paulson 42 run (Run Failed)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: DC, Brendon Molloy 25-72; Logan Osvold 21-43. RTH, Zach Schmalenberger 14-236; Elijah Vogle 5-25; Brandon Farley 1-7; Collin Grage 1-1.

PASSING: DC, Osvold 7-17-1, 40 yards. RTH, Logan Hoff 4-8-0, 84 yards, TD.

RECEIVING: DC, Molloy 6-34; Dylan Haugland 1-6. RTH, Collin Kuntz 2-68, TD; Owen Voigt 1-9; Preston Floberg 1-7.

Records: DC 4-5 (3-3 Region 6). RTH 6-3, (5-2 Region 5).

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