With a playoff berth already secured earlier this season and coming off one of their biggest wins of the season last week, the Salt Fork Storm avoided a let down and continued to rise to the occasion as they pushed their record to a perfect 8-0 and 6-0 in the Vermilion Valley Conference with a 42-7 victory over Schlarman Academy on senior night for the Hilltoppers.

The win guarantees the Storm at least a share of the Vermilion Valley Conference championship.

“Our guys understand the significance of the team’s history,” Salt Fork head coach Brian Plotner said. “They want to sustain what the other teams have done, and they have begun to add their own page to that history by clinching at least a share of the VVC tonight.

“Over the years, the teams have won by doing the right things and working hard and that is what has brought us success again this season.”

Salt Fork has qualified for the postseason every year since 1998, including all 10 years under Plotner.

Brandon Dixon got the Storm out to a quick 14-0 lead on touchdown runs of two and one yards.

“We wanted to come out of the gate early tonight,” Dixon said. “Getting at least a share of the conference title means a lot and I am proud of everyone on the team. We have a lot of weapons and we try to take advantage of our opportunities.”

A game-time decision at quarterback, David Sacre closed out the first quarter scoring for the Storm with a 1-yard touchdown run.

“Having a lot of weapons on offense makes my job a lot easier,” Sacre said. “We run the ball to set up the pass, and we ran the ball well tonight.”

The Schlarman defense would stiffen in the second quarter — forcing a fumble and a punt, but Ryland Fluhr would score from 28 yards out with less than three minutes to go in the period to send the Storm into halftime with a 28-0 lead. The Storm defense would allow only one first down in the first half and it came in the last minute of play.

The Hilltoppers would fumble on the second play of the second half, giving the Storm a short field and two plays later, Fluhr would score from six yards out to make the score 35-0.

Colton Osborne would finish the Storm scoring with under four minutes to go in the third on a 35-yard run which made the score 42-0 and resulted in a running clock for the rest of the game.

The Hilltoppers would score four minutes into the fourth quarter when Cody Carpenter recovered a fumble in the end zone.

“This is a great group of guys who have gotten better every week since week 1,” Plotner said. “We don’t talk about things like undefeated years or winning the conference, but we know how important those accomplishments would be.

“We have a chance to make some history and that would be great, but our main goal is to keep improving so we are playing our best football in week 10 when the playoffs start.

“We know we have a small margin of error as a football team and we have to come out ready to play every week like we did tonight. We didn’t play as well in the second quarter but we got off to a good start and came back and finished the game strong.”

It was the final home game for Schlarman seniors Tyler Russell (15 carries for 111 yards),Lucas Spezia, Ron Soderstrom, Joe Semershiem, Mike Sielhymer, Nate Ames, Joe Cahill, Casey Hahne, John Rogers and Spencer Tolson. Spezia, Soderstrom, and Tolson will be four-year letter winners.

“The ten seniors have stuck with the program and stuck it out,” said Schlarman coach Mike High. “They have worked hard and done all they could.”

The Storm return home next week to face the Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac Comets at Catlin, while the Hilltoppers (2-6, 1-5 VVC) close out their regular season at Bismarck-Henning.

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