Muenster senior Grant Hess had a dominant first half to help the Hornets close out an undefeated regular season.
Muenster claimed the district championship with a 53-6 win against Petrolia at Hornet Stadium on Friday night.
Muenster (10-0 overall, 4-0 District 7-2A-2) reclaimed the district crown from reigning state champion Windthorst and finished the regular season undefeated for the first time since 2017.
Petrolia (8-2, 2-2) began the year 8-0 but dropped its last two games after facing the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in Class 2A-2 to finish third in the district.
Hess said the Hornets played great in all phases of the game.
“We had a really good start,” Hess said. “Had 22 (points) I think after the first quarter and just kept going, especially through the first half. We’re playing really good football.”
Hess scored four of Muenster’s five first-half touchdowns. He opened the scoring with a 15-yard touchdown catch from sophomore Seth Stoffels after a penalty negated Hess’s punt return touchdown. Petrolia scored on its next play, making it 7-6 Muenster after a missed extra point. Hess returned the resulting kickoff 83 yards for his second touchdown in 31 seconds.
With a minute left in the first quarter, Hess caught a 32-yard strike from Stoffels. On the two-point conversion, Hess took a handoff from Stoffels and ran left, faked a pitch to another player running the opposite direction, then threw the ball to a wide-open Gredan Wolf in the end zone, making it 22-6 Hornets.
Early in the second quarter, Petrolia was forced to punt. Hess returned the punt 73 yards to score his fourth touchdown of the night.
Muenster coach Brady Carney said if he had seen an opportunity, he would have let Hess go for a rushing touchdown, as well.
“Grant really stepped up and had an awesome night,” Carney said. “Good for him. He’s a senior. He’s been with me now for four years and worked his tail off. It’s going to be good for him to remember those times.”
Hess finished with five receptions for 94 yards and two touchdowns. He returned two punts for 154 yards and a touchdown, and he returned two kickoffs for 113 yards and a score.
The Hornet defense also had a strong showing. Petrolia lost nine yards running the ball. The Pirates threw for 147 yards. Much of that came on their lone touchdown, a 54-yard strike from Cooper Watson to Caleb Henderson. Petrolia threw one interception, taken by Muenster junior Cabett Blake.
The last time Muenster went undefeated in the regular season, the Hornets won a state championship. There is still a long way to go before that becomes the focus, but Muenster’s goal every year is to play in December. Hess said the Hornets still have work to do.
“Can’t be satisfied,” Hess said. “We gotta keep going. We have a goal. Want to get to state, of course, but just gotta keep going.”