The Howard Tigers are one step closer to the Class 9A championship game. The Tigers mauled the Castlewood Warriors 56-13 in a quarterfinal contest at Howard on Thursday night.

"We played really well," said Howard Coach Pat Ruml. "Castlewood came out and really competed throughout the game."

Howard grabbed the early lead. Riley Genzlinger scored the only touchdown in the first quarter on a four-yard run. John Callies added the two-point conversion run and the Tigers led 8-0.

The Tigers stretched their lead to 15-0 early in the second quarter when Genzlinger scored on a one-yard run and Callies kicked the extra point.

Castlewood answered when Tristan Nielsen tossed a 10-yard pass to Carson Kirwan and Kegan Tvedt kicked the extra point. The Warriors trailed the No. 1 seeded Tigers 15-7.

"I liked the way our players responded after giving up a touchdown early in the game," Ruml said.

Howard scored the last three touchdowns of the second quarter and held a 36-7 halftime lead.

Lane Miller scored on a 42-yard run, Genzlinger scored his third touchdown on an 11-yard scamper and Ty Beyer scored on a two-yard plunge. Callies connected on all three extra-point kicks.

Miller scored his second rushing touchdown in the third quarter, capping off a scoring drive with a 29-yard touchdown run. Callies added another extra-point kick and the Tigers led 43-7.

Garret Kerkvliet scored on a one-yard plunge for the Warriors to make the score 43-13.

Tisyn Spader tossed an 18-yard scoring strike to Beyer before the end of the third quarter. Callies added another extra-point kick and the Tigers led 50-13.

Kieffer Klinkhammer scored the only touchdown in the fourth quarter for the Tigers on an 11-yard run.

"Our offensive assignments were much better this week, allowing us to get some big plays," Ruml said.

Miller ended the game with 90 yards rushing on seven carries. Klinkhammer added 86 yards on eight attempts. Genzlinger finished with 73 yards on 10 carries.

Spader was 6-of-14 passing for 82 yards. Jaxon Kampshoff caught two passes for 48 yards.

Kirwan ended the game for the Warriors with 41 yards rushing on 10 attempts.

Nielsen was 16-of-19 passing for 153 yards. Kerkvliet caught three passes for 48 yards. Tvedt hauled in four passes for 46 yards.

Kampshoff had 14 tackles to lead the Tigers' defense. Beyer had 13 tackles and Callies added nine.

"I thought our special teams and defense were both outstanding again," Ruml said.

Howard (9-0) will have a huge test on Friday when the Tigers host the Canistota-Freeman Pride. Earlier in the season Howard downed Canistota-Freeman 16-14 in triple overtime.

"Everyone knows what's at stake in this game," Ruml said.