DEARY — On senior night for Deary, it was a Kendrick freshman and sophomore who connected for the game’s biggest play.
Tigers freshman quarterback Ty Koepp stayed in the pocket and took a big hit as he launched a pass deep down the right sideline to sophomore receiver Jagger Hewett. The ball landed in Hewett’s arms in stride and he raced the rest of the way to the end zone for a 41-yard score late in the fourth quarter.
Kendrick 38, Deary 30.
“Ty took a heck of a hit, stayed in there, threw a great ball to Jagger,” Kendrick coach Zane Hobart said. “Freshman-to-sophomore connection is always good to see in district titles. Great job by Ty and Jagger.”
It was fitting that one of the biggest rivalries in small-town football came down to the wire in a Whitepine League Division II game at Deary High School.
The Mustangs got the ball back with about two minutes remaining, but Kendrick defensive lineman Jack Silflow — who blocked a punt earlier in the contest — pounced on a loose ball to ice it.
Koepp racked up almost 300 passing yards, rushed for more than 100 yards and was in on all five touchdowns for Kendrick (5-1, 3-0). Hewett had 117 yards on four receptions as his favorite target.
With the victory, the third-ranked Tigers clinched the league title.
“They had to fight. That was the first game we truly had to fight for,” Hobart said. “I was proud of the kids, the way they played.”
Deary (4-4, 1-2) received 191 yards of total offense and three total touchdowns from senior quarterback Brayden Stapleton. But most of Stapleton’s damage came in the first half.
Stapleton exited the game after taking a big hit late in the second quarter, but did come back in the second half and finished out the contest.
“You find something you didn’t know that you had and that’s exactly what he did today,” Deary coach Daryl Stavros said of his quarterback. “... He’s an outstanding football player. Brayden Stapleton is probably the best athlete I’ve ever coached.”
Stapleton found Garrison Bogar for a 62-yard touchdown for the first score of the game and the Mustangs led 6-0 after the first quarter. Bogar finished with 81 receiving yards and 55 rushing yards.
The Tigers piled up 24 points in a back-and-forth second quarter and led 24-22 at halftime. After a scoreless third, the teams traded touchdowns in the fourth, and a Stapleton touchdown and two-point conversion tied it at 30-30 with 4:36 to go.
That’s when Kendrick marched 65 yards on seven plays to take the lead for good.
“I told our guys, the last team to score is going to win, and that’s exactly what happened,” Stavros said. “They scored last and our guys gave it all that they had. We just had a couple weak spots they took advantage of and they won the game.”
An emotional game
Afterward, players met for hugs and handshakes at midfield, and tears were shed on both sides.
Both teams lost a player during the past year.
In 2019, Deary’s Luis Diaz died in a hiking accident. A group of Mustangs carried a Diaz No. 22 jersey to midfield for the captain’s meeting before the game.
Kendrick’s Kolby Anderson died in a car accident June 3. An emotional Hobart said Anderson always looked forward to the Kendrick-Deary game.
“This was one of the game’s that Kolby Anderson, it was his most favorite game of the year,” Hobart said. “He’s got a lot of family from up here. It was an emotional game for not only us, I think there’s a lot of people in their stands it was emotional for.”
Kendrick 0 24 0 14—38
Deary 6 16 0 8 — 30
Deary — Garrison Bogar 62 pass from Brayden Stapleton (run failed), 4:27.
Kendrick — Ty Koepp 2 run (Jagger Hewett pass), 11:55.
Kendrick — Matt Fletcher 12 pass from Koepp (Koepp run), 9:30.
Deary — Stapleton 54 run (Preston Johnston run), 8:52.
Deary — Bogar 3 run (Johnston run), 1:44.
Kendrick — Koepp 9 run (Hunter Taylor pass), 0:57.
Kendrick — Koepp 4 run (pass failed), 11:56.
Deary — Stapleton 3 run (Stapleton run), 4:36.
Kendrick — Hewett 41 pass from Koepp (Fletcher pass), 2:28.
RUSHING — Kendrick: Koepp 20-117, Fletcher 11-52, Wyatt Fitzmorris 6-22. Deary: Stapleton 24-101, Bogar 7-55, Johnston 3-9.
PASSING — Kendrick: Koepp 10-21-0—295. Deary: Stapleton 3-8-0—90.
RECEIVING — Kendrick: Hewett 4-117, Fletcher 2-52, Fitzmorris 2-52, Talon Alexander 1-52, Taylor 1-22. Deary: Bogar 2-81, Dale Fletcher 1-9.
Wiebe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at (208) 883-4624 and on Twitter @StephanSports.