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The Top Ten Waldorf Football Games of the Last 4 Seasons (2017-2020)

Waldorf’s 2019 team after beating Valley City State in Valley City, ND. (Photo credit to Kristine Kingland)

By Zach Throne

Ever since former head coach Josh Littrell and the rest of the coaching regime moved to Forest City, Iowa in the summer of 2017 to head the Waldorf football program, the Warriors went from one of the worst NAIA programs to a fringe top 25 football team every year. Head coach Will Finley has continued the success and looks to build for years to come.

Throughout these past four years, Waldorf has taken part in some of the craziest football games in all of NAIA.

Zach Throne, starting 34 of those 40 games — 6 games at defensive tackle and 28 games on the offensive line, compiled these wild finishes, barn-burners and controversial games into a ranking of ten games of the last four seasons of Waldorf football.

10. Waldorf 34 @ Stetson 63 (2018)

The Stetson game cracks the top ten because of the experience. Since they are a Divison-I FCS school, it makes the Hatters the largest program Waldorf has faced. Although the Warriors took the loss, the experience of traveling by plane down to the Florida was one that all members will remember forever.

9. Waldorf 54 @ Presentation 47 (2017)

This game was the definition of a shootout. Both teams had 500 yards of offense and combined for 101 points. In a offensive-centric game, the Warriors made enough plays on defense in second half to take home the win.

8. Waldorf 20 @ Dakota State 14 (2020)

Facing a 14-3 second half deficit in Madison, South Dakota, the Warrior football team made a switch at quarterback and led a comeback to snatch a win away from the Trojans.

As a player, this game was the most electric a sideline has ever been when the Warriors started to gain momentum in the second half. This was the most resilient win during the last four years.

7. Wisconsin-River Falls 24 @ Waldorf 27 (2019)

Wisconsin-River Falls is a Division III school who featured a former Wisconsin Badger linebacker. Despite a back-and-forth battle, the Warriors prevailed in a great all-around football game to beat the D-III foe.

6. Valley City State 35 @ Waldorf 39 (2017)

Valley City State’s football program is very well respected. They finish in the top 3 of the conference almost every season and have a good team year in and year out.

Waldorf’s Hilton Joseph completed a game-winning touchdown pass to best friend Samuel Huntley with only seconds to play and made a statement to the rest of the conference that Waldorf was here to stay.

5. Briar Cliff 26 @ Waldorf 62 (2017)

In Littrell’s first game as Waldorf’s head coach, the whole community came out to the game hoping the previously 0-9 program would be on the rise. Their hope was fulfilled when the Warriors blew out the Chargers in the game, setting the tone for the next four years of football.

4. #21 Dickinson State 30 @ #25 Waldorf 28 (2019)

Waldorf met Dickinson State earlier in the year and lost a heartbreaker in overtime. This game had been voted NAIA National Game of the Week via Twitter because it featured two top-25 ranked teams and the winner had control of the conference.

Waldorf got out to a 14-0 lead and had the ball at the goal line, but Joseph threw an interception that gave the Blue Hawks life. Then the game was an instant classic. Waldorf held a one-point lead before Dickinson State’s kicker made a game-winning field goal with just seconds left to kick the Warriors out of the conference title hunt.

3. Dakota State 16 @ Waldorf 17 (2020)

Senior day. The last game for the winningest class in the four-year history of Waldorf football. The Warriors were down 16-7 with two minutes to play. If the chances of winning were broken down to percentages at that time, Waldorf would have had less than a 1% chance of winning the game, and that is exactly what happened.

A long touchdown pass from Tyler O’Hara to Dom Watt to close the deficit to two. Then a three-and-out by the Trojan offense on its own 2-yard line forced a punt into a ferocious wind that caused the ball to only travel to the 19-yard line with 14 seconds left in the game.

Slater Gifford stayed calm, cool and collected as he drilled a game-winning 36-yard field to cap off a seemingly impossible comeback.

2. Jamestown 54 @ Waldorf 55 (2017)

This win against Jamestown came in the last game of the already wild debut season for Littrell and the Warriors, but this game topped the rest of that season’s games.

In a game where defenses struggled to get stops, the Waldorf special teams made crucial fourth quarter plays (a kick return TD and a blocked extra point returned for two points to tie the game) to force overtime. In overtime, Jamestown scored an easy touchdown to take the lead.

Waldorf responded with a touchdown of their own (Ryan Harrison recovered a Tyron Jones fumble in the end zone) and decided to end the game, win or lose.

Going for the two-point conversion, Littrell called a jet sweep play to Samuel Huntley, who just barely ran through the corner of the end zone to complete a magical debut campaign for Littrell’s Warriors.

  1. #16 Dickinson State 22 @ Waldorf 23 (2018)

This game was the undisputed number one game of the last four years of Waldorf football. Dickinson State has won the conference practically every year (six straight titles: 2015-2020).

Waldorf trailed 22-10 with around seven minutes left in the game. Joseph led the Warriors on a touchdown drive that ended with a fade to Don Jones, who jumped and caught the pass over the defender.

Down 22-17, defensive back Cam Newsome intercepted a pass with about four minutes left and gave Waldorf a chance to win. After a long TD run that the referees called back because of holding, future All-American receiver Ryan Martinez burned All-American cornerback Jay Liggins on a double move.

Joseph threw a perfect pass to Martinez towards the back of the end zone to capture the lead. Liggins gave up only one touchdown that whole year (that touchdown) and found his way in the Philadelphia Eagles training camp briefly.

With a little over one minute to play, Dickinson State tried to make a drive into field goal territory to win, but freshman safety MaCoy Yeakel snatched an inaccurate pass to hold on to the greatest game and upset in Waldorf’s four-year history.