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Stanley County center Slater Tople (55) looks to hit his assignment on St. Thomas More after snapping the ball to begin play at at Ole Williamson Field Oct. 18 in Fort Pierre. Tople is one of eight seniors on the Buffs team.

The Stanley County Buffaloes took to the road on Thursday night when they traveled to Salem to take on the McCook Central/Montrose Fighting Cougars in the first round of the 11B playoffs. The Buffs came in looking to avenge a 52-14 loss to the Fighting Cougars earlier this season.

The two teams traded points and momentum in the early parts of the game. The Fighting Cougars started to pull away when senior running back Blake Gessner scored on a 22 yard run. That opened up a stretch that saw the Fighting Cougars score two more touchdowns, including a 59 yard touchdown catch for senior wide receiver Jake Cheeseman with about 1:26 left to go in the first half. The Fighting Cougars took a 34-13 lead into halftime.

The second half didn’t start the way the Buffs probably would have wanted as sophomore outside linebacker Trey Clausen intercepted a pass from Buffs senior quarterback Reid Wieczorek. Clausen took the ball in for a 45 yard pick-six. The Buffs responded not long after when Wieczorek connected with senior wide receiver Cade Stover on a 38 yard touchdown to bring it to a three-score game. The Fighting Cougars put the finishing touches on their win when Cheeseman caught his third touchdown pass of the game, this one from 84 yards out with a little over a minute to play. That score would be the final one, as the Fighting Cougars emerged victorious by 47-19 score.

The Fighting Cougars were led by their senior quarterback Raygen Randall, who connected on 11-19 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns. Cheeseman hauled in seven catches for 253 yards and three touchdowns. Junior running back Jacobi Krouse was a workhorse on the ground. He had 199 rushing yards on 26 carries.

The Buffs were led by Wieczorek, who had 133 passing yards, 109 rushing yards, and two touchdowns. Stover had 75 receiving yards. Junior defensive back Trey Frost led the Buffs defense with eight tackles.

The Fighting Cougars improve to 8-1 with the victory. They will travel to Mobridge to take on the Mobridge-Pollock Tigers (8-1) on Thursday in the Class 11B Quarterfinals. The Buffs end their season with a 3-6 record. Thursday’s game was the last one for eight Stanley Country seniors. Those seniors are Reid Wieczorek, Isaac Cliff, Dylan Gabriel, Cade Stover, Garrett Shoup-Anderson, Slater Tople, Taylor Robbennolt, Jacob Fratzke and Delbert Stands.

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