Even on the warmest of nights, a chill fills the air when two rival schools meet on the gridiron. Already this fall, we have been treated to some outstanding games. These past two weeks of teams mashing helmets and scoring touchdowns in rivalry match ups have brought plenty of drama and football theatre.
Guess what? More is on tap this week, a lot more.
On Friday, West Central will host Dell Rapids in Hartford as the two schools that have a combined 14 11A titles will meet with the Quarriers having won four straight rivalry match ups. Obviously that does not play well in Hartford and the Trojans will be out for a little revenge.
At USF Stadium on Friday night, Canistota and Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan will meet for the third time with the Hawks holding a 2-0 lead. Two 9-man schools within a few miles of each other will get it on football style and the expectations will be that the game will be a wire-to-wire contest.
In Minnesota, Hills-Beaver Creek will try and solve defending 9-man champion Edgerton-Ellsworth in what will be a high scoring affair. Edgerton-Ellsworth has been on top recently as H-BC, who will have homefield advantage, seeks to change recent outcomes with their rival.
At the President's Bowl on Saturday, fans will be treated to a doubleheader at Howard Wood Stadium, beginning with the O'Gorman and #1 Washington AA match up at 4 p.m. The two schools will meet for the 59th time in a rivalry battle between teams that have won 10 (O'Gorman, 8; SF Washington 2, playoff titles) AA championships. That game is followed by #4 Lincoln facing AA defending champ and #3 Roosevelt in another intra-city rivalry battle.
"This is a great event for Sioux Falls," Washington coach Brian Hermansen said at a President's Bowl Luncheon on Wednesday. "It is an unbelievable thing for the students, coaches and administration at all the schools and in the city," he said.
Focus on Five Results: In week two, a 3-2 record pushed our overall season record for picks to 7-3. Over the past two years, we sit 111-25 or .816 percent. This week, we have a series of tough battles but we will go with #1 Washington, #1 Canistota, #3 Roosevelt, top-ranked Edgerton-Ellsworth and then in a mild upset, #2 West Central over #1 Dell Rapids.
Here is a breakdown on "Focus on Five" games.
11A #1 Dell Rapids (1-0) at 11A #2 West Central (2-0), Hartford, Friday
Dell Rapids Notes: #1 Dell Rapids (1-0), which is seeking a third straight 11A title, rolled to a season-opening victory over 11B Canton (0-2) as Cole Langer had nine carries for 97 yards rushing and TDs runs of seven and 39 yards. He also led the Quarriers defense with 13 tackles. Matt Kolbeck, who started his first game at quarterback, completed 3-of-7 passes for 83 yards. He threw a 49-yard TD strike to tight end Bryce Koch. On opening night, Steve Hansen's crew unleashed a deep and talented running back corps, including Lane LeBrun, who had 12 carries for 51 yards and a two-yard TD run; Brett Nichols, who had nine carries for 39 yard and a four-yard TD run ; and Michael McGee, who had three carries for 34 yards and a 13-yard TD run. Overall, Dell Rapids' ground attack produced 292 yards on 51 carries with 375 yards in total offense.
West Central Notes: #2 West Central (2-0) won for the second straight game, handling Madison (0-2), 35-7. Kent Mueller's Trojans own a 70 to 7 points advantage over opponents in two weeks of play. Against Madison, West Central again unleashed its vaunted rushing attack, led by Anthony Leuth with 21 carries for 125 yards and a TD. Cody Miller added eight carries for 66 yards rushing and two TDs while QB Noah Matson completed 3-of-4 passes for 63 yards passing and a TD. Leuth had two catches for 59 yards. West Central also defeated Vermillion, 35-0, in week one. This year, Leuth has accumulated 36 carries for 223 yards and two TDs while Miller has 21 carries for 157 yards and two TDs. As West Central looks to end a four-game slide to Dell Rapids, they will try and continue a path to a 14th straight title game (own 11 titles in 13 title appearances). While the Trojans have exhibited a strong running attack, they have been without Josh Auble, who was projected to be a starting fullback/safety but was hurt in a summer football camp and hasn't played yet.
Inside slant: With four straight wins in the rivalry, will Dell Rapids continue its hex over the Trojans? Can West Central slow down Cole Langer and a deep Quarriers rushing attack? On the flip side, will Dell Rapids have an answer for Leuth and Miller and the Trojans fast-paced rushing game? Will a special teams play determine the outcome?
Coaches: Kent Mueller, 9th year as West Central HC, 80-9, .899; 84-21, .646. Steve Hansen, Dell Rapids, 18 years, 115-61, .653.
Last Week: West Central 35 Madison 7. Dell Rapids 39 Parkston 7.
Series Records: In the last 10 games between two 11A powerhouse, the two schools have gone 5-5. However, Dell Rapids has won four straight and five of the last six encounters, including three times in the playoffs. A year ago, Dell Rapids defeated West Central twice, winning the regular season encounter, 35-18, and then rolling to a 35-0 win over the Trojans in the state title game. In 2010, Dell Rapids won the regular season encounter, 37-22, and defeated the Trojans, 32-26, in the 11A semifinals.
Bottomline: Both teams suffered heavy graduation losses since they played in the state title game a year ago. Yet, both teams have continued their winning ways, exhibiting strong running attacks and shutdown defense. This may be the first of two meetings this year as both teams look like they could be among 11A's best squads. This should be a back-and-forth affair that will likely be determined by a crucial turnover or big play or special teams or on defense. Look for the offenses to move the ball aplenty.
Who Wins? In a bit of a surprise, we see West Central pulling off an upset, defeating the Quarriers, 24-23.
11AA #4 Sioux Falls O'Gorman (0-2) vs 11AA #1 Sioux Falls Washington (2-0), 11AA, Howard Wood Field, President's Bowl, Saturday
Washington Notes: Washington, which owns 37 all-time titles (2 playoff and 35 mythical crowns), returns 30 seniors, including 17 which start for Brian Hermanson's squad. Washington, the top-ranked 11AA school, has opened with two wins by a combined 82-14 margin. While the team has opened strong, Hermanson said at a President's Bowl luncheon that "we have to stay motivated and away from injuries. We tell the team every day, they have to give their best effort every day." In the opener, SF Washington scored on all of its first half possessions and built a 43-0 halftime advantage en route to a 49-7 road victory against Rapid City Central in week one. Sam Cooke led the Warriors rushing attack with 16 carries for 138 yards and two TDs (3, 12). Senior quarterback Jon Hander completed 10-of-14 passes for 211 yards and 3 TDs (20, 52, 22). SF Washington had 428 yards in total offense on 54 plays, including 263 through the air. SFW scored seven TDs and did not use more than 3:03 on any drive. In fact, three drives were 42 seconds or less and six of seven drives took 2:22 or less to score. In week two, the Warriors were sparked by senior Nate Gerry, who had a 90-yard kickoff return for a TD to open the second half, in a 32-7 win over rival Lincoln (1-1). Sam Cooke had 20 carries for 109 yards and an eight-yard TD run for the Warriors, which now has won 59 of the past 67 games over five plus seasons. Dan Marlette had seven carries for 71 yards and a four yard TD run against Lincoln. The finished with 47 carries for 198 yards against a tough Lincoln defense. Washington's defense was dominating in both games, allowing just two total TDs. Against Lincoln, the defense recorded a pair of sacks and held the Pats to 87 total yards, including just 44 yards on 33 carries. For the season Sam Cooke has 36 carries for 251 yards and three TDs. Jon Hander has completed 18-of-35 for 268 yards and three TDs. While the team has enjoyed success, they may get better when three injured receivers return, including Grant Larson, Jordan Strand, and Justin Miller.
O'Gorman Notes: The Knights, which have won eight overall playoff championships with 14 title game appearances since the playoffs era began in 1981, will attempt to give veteran head coach Steve Keuter his 260th career win. The Dakota State graduate is just 25 wins way from the all-time leader Max Hawk, who had 284-78-2 record wins at Yankton until retiring in 1994 after leading the Bucks to the AA title. O'Gorman has opened the season 0-2, dropping an 18-15 home decision to #2 Brandon Valley and a 19-7 loss to SF Roosevelt at the Dakota Bowl, a game in which the Knights had just 107 yards in total offense. In that game, the Knights lost the services of junior quarterback/wingback Tanner Schulte with a foot injury in the first quarter. Schulte, who had rushed for 19 yards in the game before he was hurt, has 120 yards on the season and also threw a TD pass vs. Brandon Valley. He is likely to miss 5-6 weeks as he heals from a leg injury. The only OG TD against Roosevelt came on Blake Hilmoe's 16-yard TD pass to Austin Pharis, who is one of five athletes going both ways. Others include Max Smith, Nic Steffl, Alex Wiiliams and Ryan Erickson. Steffl leads the team in rushing, accumulating 156 yards on 21 carries and a TD reception. "Offensively, we are a work in progress," said Keuter of the Knights. "I think we will have something to show you and we will be a team to get your eye on this year," he said at the President's Bowl event.
Inside slant: With Schulte out, will O'Gorman rebound and find a way to produce offense against a physical and experienced Washington defense? How long can the O'Gorman defense hold the Warriors in check? Will Hander connect with Chris Parker or Nate Gerry on big plays? Will special teams have a role in this game?
Coaches:; Steve Keuter of O'Gorman, 35 years (34th at O'G), 259-73-1, .780; Brian Hermanson, SF Washington, 72-16, .818
Last Week: Roosevelt, 19 O'Gorman, 7; Washington 32 Lincoln 7
Series Records: SF Washington leads, 30-28; Hermanson, 4-5 vs. O'G. Since 1987 (25 years), Keuter has led O'Gorman to a 20-12 series advantage, although the teams have split the last 20 matchups. O'Gorman has a 4-3 edge in playoff matchups, although Washington won the 2010 title game. The only overtime affair during that span was a 38-31 decision by the Warriors in 1998. O'Gorman won seven of nine games in the series from 2003-08.
Bottomline: Is it possible that O'Gorman falls to 0-3 to start the season? We think that Washington, which has 17 senior starters, is too deep and talented for O'Gorman. The Knights defense is solid and will hold the Warriors in check for awhile but as Lincoln found out, the Washington offensive line will wear down the Knights defense. Look for Cooke to go over 100 yards again and Marlette to find some success inside. As is his mantra, Gerry, a Nebraska recruit (verbal), will like produce a big play on offense or special teams.
Who Wins? We see the Warriors taking a 28-7 win over the Knights.
9A #1 Canistota (1-0) vs. 9AA #1 Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan (1-0), Friday, USF Stadium, 8 p.m.
Canistota Notes: Led by quarterback Cody Bunger, defending 9A champion Canistota opened up a 14-0 lead and then held off a strong 9AA Howard squad to win its opener, 20-16. The Hawks, which won the 9B title in 2010 and the 9A title a year ago, will look to continue a 25-game winning streak, the fifth longest in 9-man history. In that opener, Bunger completed 8-of-12 passes for 190 yards and a nine-yard TD throw and also had 25 yards rushing. Alex Robertson added 11 carries for 94 yards and a three-yard TD run. Eric Tieszen provided 11 carries for 67 yards and a TD as well as two catches for 91 yards. Tieszen had 10 tackles and a sack and Robertson added five tackles and two sacks for the Hawks defense, which produced five sacks on the night. The Hawks had 376 yards in total offense in the opener. Now ahead is the match up with 9AA #1 B-E/E, who Canistota has defeated two straight times. In his career, Bunger has rushed 103 times for 1,265 yards and 19 TDs while completing 54-of-93 passes for 954 yards and 19 TDs with just one interception. His backfield mate Alex Robertson has 165 carries for 1,260 yards and 15 TDs in his career.
Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan Notes: BEE, which has made eight 9-man championship game appearances and won six titles, including the last two in 9AA, opened defense of their 9AA title with a 60-6 decision of Freeman. They out gained Freeman, 449-to-125, including a dominating 398-to-31 rushing yards advantage. All-state running back Anthony Huber was dominating as he had 16 carries for 198 yards rushing and four TDs (9, 21, 55, 71). Junior quarterback Jace Connor completed 5-of-7 passes for 51 yards and a score, which was a 31-yard pitch and catch with Blake Bartscher. Head coach Jeff Van Leur moved into a tie for second on the all-time national 9-man wins list with 208 victories (208-101, .673). As for Huber, he now has totaled 322 carries for 2,601 yards in his career. He has scored 37 TDs.
Inside slant: Will Huber be able to find some openings in the Hawks' defense? Will B-E/E slow down the dual threat Cody Bunger? Will the defenses slow down either offense? Was the first game by Canistota and indicator that they are vulnerable to power rushing teams? Will the Seahawks ended their rivals' 25-game winning streak which ranks among the best ever by 9-man football teams?
Coaches: Lenny Schroeder, eight seasons, 108-69, .610; Jeff VanLeur, 33rd season, 208-101, .673
Last Week: Both teams had an off-week. Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan opened with a 60-6 win over Freeman. Canistota held off Howard, 20-16, in their opener.
Series Records: Canistota leads, 2-0. Since the two schools have broken from a co-op, Canistota has won both encounters, taking a 46-2 decision in 2010 and winning a nail biter, 34-26, at the FCA Bowl last year in Sioux Falls. In 2010, Jeb Olson had 115 yards and two TDs, Trevor Schroeder had a TD pass and fumble recovery for a TD and Cody Bunger scored a TD in the win. A year ago, Bunger had two TDs, threw for 98 yards and rushed for 129 in the win. B-E/E trailed just 20-18 after Seth Wethor returned a kickoff 85 yards for a TD to open the second half. Troy Hofer had 24 tackles for Canistota. Kendall Lindeman rushed for 203 yards and scored two TDs. The Seahawks had the ball at the end but did not score.
Bottomline: These two teams, two of the best in 9-man football over the past several years, will meet again at the FCA Bowl at USF Stadium in Sioux Falls, With game time set for 7 p.m., all eyes, at least in 9-man, will be on these talented squads. This will be a hard-fought battle that will again be decided late in the night at USF Stadium. Both teams will try and utilize their strong rushing games to control the game. It is expected that Bunger will throw the ball more than Connor but who hits on the big plays will decide the outcome. It is noteworthy that both teams have winning streaks on the line - B-E/E at 11 and Canistota at 25.
Who Wins? We think this game will be a game that is closely contested from the opening kickoff to the final seconds of the fourth quarter. Bunger and Huber will have strong games and we think that a special teams play could play a role. It may come down to who has the ball at the end. We think Canistota prevails, 34-32.
#1 Edgerton/Ellsworth at Hills-Beaver Creek (1-0), 9-man, Minnesota, Friday
Edgerton-Ellsworth Notes: The Flying Dutchmen, the defending 9-man champions and top-ranked this year, opened with a big-time performance, defeating Alden-Conger, 66-16. E/E opened with 46 points in the first quarter and led 58-8 at halftime in cruising to a win. Standout quarterback Isaac Heard completed 5-of-6 passes for 153 yards and four TDs. Austin LaFollete had two carries for 58 yards, including a 52-yard TD run. Tyler Kurrasch had five carries for 53 yards and a three-yard TD run. Junior quarterback Nate Paulson had six carries for 81 yards and a 51-yard TD. Head Coach Andrew Fleischman was pleased with the effort. He told the Pipestone newspaper: "We didn't run a ton of offensive plays, but we did more out of our power running game than we have in the past and did a pretty good job with it. I saw some things we need to improve on, we made some mistakes in terms of blocking assignments, but overall I was happy with it." On defense, the Flying Dutchmen held Alden-Conger to 135 yards in total offense, and only 13 yards passing. Derek Voge had seven tackles and a fumble recovery while Kurrasch provided eight tackles and a sack. Overall, the Flying Dutchman had four sacks. Fleischman knows the game with Hills-Beaver Creek will be difficult. "It'll be a major test for us; they have a phenomenal team. They have a great running back in Dalton Bass and have a big, big offensive line – we're definitely giving up some weight there. The good thing is, win or lose, we're going to know where we're at; and hopefully we can gain some lessons from that and keep moving forward."
Hills-Beaver Creek Notes: Hills-Beaver Creek opened with a 62-8 win over Randolph. The Patriots will be led by standout running back Dalton Bass, a senior who was the Southern Confederacy Back of the Year and honorable mention all-state a year ago. He came into the season with 2,448 career yards on 283 carries and 38 TDs. He had 1,339 yards and 23 TDs a year ago. Dylan Gehrke is the quarterback with Tate Bork (454 yards, 5 TDs a year ago) helping out in the backfield. Zach Wagenaar (47T two sacks a year ago) and Bork (18T, four sacks) lead the defense.
Inside slant: Can Edgerton-Ellsworth slow down Dalton Bass? Will the Patriots find a way to slow down the explosive E/E offense led by Heard? Will either defense be able to stop the potent offenses? How big a homefield advantage will this game be for Hills-Beaver Creek?
Coaches: Rex Metzger, 3td year, 16-5, .761; Andrew Fleischman, 88-23,. 793
Last Week: Edgerton-Ellsworth defeated Alger-Conger, 66-14. Hills Beaver Creek defeated Randolph, 62-8.
Series Records: Over the past three seasons, Edgerton-Ellsworth has controlled this season, winning twice in 2011. A year ago, the Flying Dutchmen defeated H-BC, 36-20, in the regular season and 44-36 in the playoffs en route to the school's first ever state title. In 2010, Hills-Beaver Creek fell to E/E, 36-12 and lost a 20-14 decision in the playoffs. The Patriots lost in 2009, 42-12.
Bottomline: Hills-Beaver Creek simply has problems with the guys from Edgerton-Ellsworth. Over the last five games, they have lost all of them, including two games in the playoffs. H-BC will try and get Bass the football and frequently. Meanwhile, Edgerton-Ellsworth will rely on the arm of Heard and what appears to be a solid rushing attack. It isn't likely that either defense will slow down the explosive offenses on both sides.
Who Wins? We like Edgerton-Ellsworth to prevail in a high scoring affair, 42-30, on the Patriots home field.
#4 Sioux Falls Lincoln (1-1) vs. #3 Sioux Falls Roosevelt (2-0), Saturday, 7 p.m., Howard Wood Field
Lincoln Notes: Coach Aaron Beavers will try for his 100th career win when the Patriots match up with SF Lincoln. The Patriots have exhibited a strong defense unit with an offense that is trying to find its way. In the opener, both offense and defense were solid in rolling to a 50-6 win over Rapid City Stevens. A week ago, they fell top-ranked Washington, 32-7. However, the Patriots trailed just 7-0 at halftime when the Warriors' Nate Gerry took the opening kickoff back for a score. Then the Washington running game finally wore down a strong Patriots defensive front. On offense, Coach Aaron Beavers crew is led by junior quarterback Connor Burchill, completed 8-of-15 passes for 174 yards and three TDs (2 int.) against Stevens. He struggled in game two, completing 4-of-13 passes for 44 yards and a TD. Junior standout Caden Quintanilla has compiled 31 carries for 183 yards and two TDs this season. Burchill has completed 12-of-28 passes for 218 yards and four scores. Lincoln has had some success on special teams with Evan Decosse returning a kickoff 95-yards (seventh longest in history) against Aberdeen Central. Trevor Naasz, who was hurt in the Washington game and is questionable, has five receptions for 142 yards and two TDs while playing both ways. Dylan Bartow, who caught a 29-yard TD pass against Washington, is likely out due to injury. While injuries are hurting the development of his team, Beavers is optimistic with a good Roosevelt team in front of them. "We have had a couple of good practices. We may be a little light-handed but the kids are working hard. Burchill is doing a good job at quarterback and a couple of new guys will step in this week. Our front seven was solid (against Washington). We just will have to stay after it," he said at the President's Bowl luncheon.
Roosevelt Notes: Led by sophomore Taryn Christion, Sioux Falls Roosevelt has opened with wins over Aberdeen Central, 49-8, and Sioux Falls O'Gorman, 19-7. The Rough Riders defense, led by its only returning starter in linebacker John Wessel, has held two opponents to 15 total points and 263 yards in total offense. On offense, the talented sophomore, Christion has completed 19-of-32 passes for 345 yards and four TDs and made several big plays for Nelson's squad. Wide receiver Lucas Wilbur has four catches for 91 yards and three combined TDs and is part of a solid receiving corps. Injuries have hurt the Roosevelt team with starting backs Mikal Smith out for another three to four weeks and Jeremiah Clark, also likely out this week. Seth Bjordahl and Christion have handled the running duties for the Rough Riders. Bjordahl has 106 yards in two games while Christion has 106 yards on 26 carries and a TD. Look for Chase Vinateri, the nephew of Indianapolis Colts Adam Vinateri, to start in the backfield. Besides Wilbur, the talented receiving corps include Tanner Hennings, who has come up big, hauling in three passes for 83 yards and a 61-yard TD in the week one win . Against O'Gorman, Christion was 11-of-19 for 149 yards with a two-yard TD run and 31-yard TD pass to Wilbur (2 rec, 53 yards) on an acrobatic play. Roosevelt had 257 yards in total offense, including 108 yards on 34 carries against a tough O'Gorman defense. "We have a good team," said Nelson at the President's Bowl luncheon. "We are kind of starting over with a lot of new faces," he said of the Rough Riders, who were hit hard by graduation a year ago. "Our defense has been good. We just need to continue to develop."
Inside slant: Will Lincoln be able to sustain offense against a young but talented Roosevelt defense? Which quarterback, Burchill or Christion, has the upper hand in this matchup? Does Roosevelt get its running game going, despite some key injuries? Will speed merchant Quintanilla find an opening and go the distance?
Coaches: Aaron Beavers of Sioux Falls Lincoln, 9th year, 99-53, .656, 53-45, .546; Kim Nelson of Sioux Falls Roosevelt, 4th year (33rd overall), 30-7, .811; 220-119, .649.
Last Week: SF Washington 32 Lincoln 7. SF Roosevelt 19 O'Gorman 7.
Series Records: Sioux Falls Roosevelt has won four of the past six matchups between the schools. A year ago in a #1 vs. #2 match up, Roosevelt upended the top-ranked Patriots, 45-29. Roosevelt also defeated Lincoln, 35-21, in 2010, and had a 45-14 win over the Patriots in 2009. During Lincoln's championship season of 2008, they defeated the Rough Riders, 21-6, in the regular season and 21-7 in the playoffs. Roosevelt defeated Lincoln, 41-0, in 2007.
Bottomline: Injuries have hurt both teams but that comes with football and backups have to step in and up. Lincoln's defense was impressive against Washington, although it wore down in the fourth quarter. Roosevelt's defense, the best in 11AA a year ago, again looks the part. They have been dominating. Christion has also started out fast and if he continues his development, may turn into one of the best quarterbacks in AA. Burchill has had his moments and made big plays but just needs to find more consistency. Both quarterbacks need to avoid forcing the action and let the play come to them. Both coaches will try and establish the run and then mix in their passing game. Without Naasz and Bartow, Lincoln will need someone to step up at receiver. If they do that, this game could be deteermined at the end.
Who Wins? We like Roosevelt to prevail, 19-10, in a game dominated by defenses. Look for Christion to again make a key play in the win.