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Jamestown's 'resilient group' wins second-straight state title

Bue Jays senior quarterback Payton Hochhalter threw for 296 yards and finished with seven total touchdowns in the state title game Friday.

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Jamestown's Payton Hochhalter breaks free on a flea-flicker reception against Fargo North during the North Dakota 11A championship game at the Fargodome on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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FARGO — Jamestown’s Payton Hochhalter had quite the day with seven touchdowns — three passing, three rushing and one receiving — to help propel the Blue Jays to a 46-28 win over Fargo North and their second-straight 11A state championship during Dakota Bowl XXX on Friday at the Fargodome.

While the Spartans were within two possessions of the Blue Jays entering the half, untimely turnovers and mistakes allowed Jamestown to pull away.

“Obviously (Jamestown) is a very good football team,” said Fargo North coach Adam Roland. “We made too many mistakes and we played behind the chains a bit offensively. We had plays set up where we shot ourselves in the foot. It’s one of those things when you go up against a good team, you can’t do that.”

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Jamestown's Jackson Walters grabs a reception against Fargo North's Peyton Trogstad during the North Dakota 11A championship game at the Fargodome on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Spartans mistakes — a blocked punt deep in their own territory and two interceptions in the second half — took their toll, but the Spartans showed they were able to get in the end zone, Roland said.

North was first on the board as Peder Haugo ran in from 22 yards out 5:04 into the game. Haugo found his way to the end zone again in the second quarter on a 20-yard run to his left into open field. He finished the day with 134 yards on 16 carries.

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Ethan Welk found Jeremiah Sem in the second quarter for a 47-yard score that had Sem dancing his way past defenders into the end zone.

Welk scored the final touchdown of the game on a 4-yard carry with 4:51 left in the game.

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Jamestown's Colton Mewes pressures Fargo North quarterback Ethan Welk during the North Dakota 11A championship game at the Fargodome on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Welk ended the day 7-of-16 for 182 yards. Sem led the Spartans' receiving crew with four receptions for 139 yards. North kicker Max Watson went 4-for-4 on extra points.

North entered the playoffs as the fifth seed following a year that started well but tailed off as it went on. However, Roland never lost faith in his team.

“We were excited going into the season and we started off really good,” he said. “We faltered a little bit towards the middle and end of the season but we never lost faith, never lost hope and we never lost sight of what we wanted to do which was get to this game.”

North ended the season 7-5 and the Spartans say goodbye to a small senior class. A small senior class, though, also means several key players — like Haugo, Sem and Welk — will return next year.

“The seniors aren’t going to go out on the note they wanted but they need to hold their heads high,” Roland. “We return a lot of players next year. A lot of juniors and sophomores that will be seniors and juniors and we have a pretty good class coming.

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Jamestown's Payton Hochhalter crosses the goal line to score a touchdown against Fargo North during the North Dakota 11A championship game at the Fargodome on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

“I just want to tip my hat to a small senior class who made it and did what they had to do. We just came up short.”

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Sam Fritel and Finn Lynch each had seven tackles for the Spartans, with six solo and two assists each.

The Jamestown Blue Jays offense was led by Hochhalter’s seven touchdowns which included two passes to Nathaniel Walz of 2 and 38 yards. He had another TD pass to Jackson Walters from 27 yards out.
In addition to taking it in on the ground three times, Hochhalter also caught a pass from Walters that he turned into a 35-yard touchdown. On that play, Hochhalter handed the ball off to Walters then rolled out to the left, getting open for the pass downfield.

Hochhalter was 16-of-25 for 296 yards passing. Walz hauled in five passes for 129 yards while Aden Braun's 94 rushing yards led the team.

Hochhalter earned NDHSCA Senior Athlete of the Year while coach Bill Nelson earned Coach of the Year honors.

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Jamestown's Payton Hochhalter celebrates his interception against Fargo North during the North Dakota 11A championship game at the Fargodome on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022
David Samson/The Forum

Nelson said the win to become back-back state champions was “surreal.”

“The kids put in a lot of time, the coaches put in a lot of time. I get labeled as head coach but that’s just a label. There are a lot of people behind the scenes that do a heck of a lot of work,” Nelson said. “We knew there was a possibility (of repeating) with the group of kids we had. We had to go through some highs and lows. It just continued to build and continued to build. It’s a pretty resilient group of young men.”

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