VERMILLION, S.D. | The Janke twins from Madison had heads turning in the South Dakota Class 11A state football championship game Saturday.
In short, the talented duo was too much for Dakota Valley to handle on the DakotaDome turf and Madison chalked up its third consecutive state title with a 42-20 triumph.
The game pitted the No. 1 Bulldogs against second-ranked Dakota Valley, which zipped right down the field to score on its first possession. After that, though, the Panthers mustered little offense and couldn’t contain Madison’s two-headed monster with the same last name.
Jaxon Janke set an 11A championship game record with 197 receiving yards and scored two touchdowns, while twin brother Jadon racked up 155 total yards and scored four times.
Madison (12-0) won for the 35th time in its last 36 games while appearing in the championship game for the fifth straight season. After spotting Dakota Valley a touchdown, the Bulldogs took advantage of couple of miscues to regain control.
“You can’t make mistakes against a good team and we made some uncharacteristic mistakes with a couple turnovers and penalties,” Dakota Valley Coach Jeff VanDenHul said. “Good teams capitalize on that and they can score points in bunches. We knew that and knew we had to keep them down but when you give them extra opportunities they take advantage of it in a hurry.”
Dakota Valley (11-1) received the opening kickoff and proceeded to march 68 yards in eight plays. Nate Rice took it around left end for a 13-yard touchdown with 7:30 showing on the clock and sent the Panther fans into a frenzy.
They kept the momentum and forced Madison to punt on its first possession, but the punt was downed inside the 1-yard line. That’s where things started to turn bad for Dakota Valley.
On the first play after the punt, Sam Chesterman fumbled and Madison’s Brad Hoff recovered at the 5-yard line. Jadon Janke scored the game-tying touchdown on the next play.
Dakota Valley, which seldom throws the ball, went to its bag of tricks and called on Jake Likness to throw an end-around pass, which was intercepted by Jaxon Janke. That set up the go-ahead drive, a nine-play, 70-yard march capped by Jadon Janke’s second short touchdown run.
It was 14-7 at the end of the first quarter and Madison once again pinned the Panthers at their own 1 on a punt midway through the second. This time while lined up in punt formation, the snap sailed over the punter’s head and out of the end zone for a safety.
After the ensuing free kick, Madison struck again on a 45-yard pass from Justin Giles to Jadon Janke. Janke did most of the work, hauling in a short throw and racing down the sideline to paydirt.
A similar 66-yard play from Giles to Jaxon Janke made it 29-7 with just under two minutes remaining before halftime.
The Jankes each added another touchdown in the third quarter to kick in a continuous clock.
Dakota Valley’s Luke Johnson hauled in a couple of touchdown passes in the final two minutes of the game to make it respectable. By then, though, Madison had its reserves on the field.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group and this is a start,” VanDenHul said. “We’ve got things going the way we want them to and we’re going to keep digging and get back here next year.
“I’ve never seen rubber balls bounce and roll as far as they did down to the 1-yard line and then we have that turnover and they score after we had stopped them. We couldn’t get it back under control after that.
“They’re a great team and you have to tip your hat to a couple of their athletes. And, thank goodness they’re seniors.”
Jaxon Janke received the Joe Robbie Award for most valuable player after breaking the previous record of 183 receiving yards set by Jeff Fischer of Milbank in 1983. Jadon Janke rushed for a game-high 93 yards and three touchdowns and had two catches for 62 yards and a TD.
Giles, a third-year starter, completed 10 of 17 passes for 259 yards.
Dakota Valley was led by Chesterman with 62 yards on 15 carries while Austin Carter – who did most of the damage on the opening drive – had 56 yards on 14 totes.
“That first drive I thought we were definitely going to be pushing the ball,” Carter said. “But they made a few changes and things started going the other way. I wasn’t feeling too good, my ankle was hurting and I couldn't run the ball and cut that well. In the beginning of the game I thought we were going to out-physical them and play our brand of football but things happen and it didn’t go our way.”
Dakota Valley was playing in the championship game for the second time in school history. The Panthers lost a tight contest to Webster in 2000 on a late field goal.