Win and advance is the order of the day (or more appropriately - night) when the South Dakota High School Football Playoffs kick off Tuesday night.
A year ago, I picked all the games in the playoffs, finishing 74-6 (.925). While that may be a pretty solid picking percentage, luck and breaks fall into any success by prognosticators or anyone brave enough (or perhaps replace "brave" with a more apt word like...) to pick every game.
As I look into my prep football crystal ball, I see all the defending champions advancing at least one round. Ok, that isn't exactly going out on the edge. I do contend that all the 2011 champions (Roosevelt, Dell Rapids, Tri-Valley, Bridgewater-Emery-Ethan, Canistota and Waverly-South Shore) have a shot at the whole thing again.
This season, the playoffs will present significant drama as teams try to avoid a flat tire on the road to the DakotaDome. So, who do I see in the championships? I project a #1 vs. #2 match up when Washington meets Brandon Valley in a battle of unbeatens in the 11AA title game. In 11A, look for Dell Rapids to be back to try for a third straight crown and facing a Harrisburg squad that features the dynamic Andrew McCuen. In 11B, toss a coin, especially after a semifinal night that will likely include three unbeatens (Flandreau, Winner, Aberdeen Roncalli) and one team with a single loss (Tri-Valley) in high drama stakes. In the championship, I think we will see the defending champion Tri-Valley meeting the 2010 champion Flandreau in a rematch from earlier in the season. In 9AA, look for Kimball/White Lake to head back and face the defending champion, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan in a rematch of last year's title tilt. The 9A championship will include Canistota, who will take a 35-game winning streak into the title game, against Warner in a game that may resemble a track meet on the fast turf of the Dome. In 9B, Harding County will battle Colome in an all-west river final with a southeastern South Dakota setting.
As we move forward to the playoffs second round (quarterfinals) next Monday, the dreams of many teams will live on while other squads and their fans will reflect on what might have been. Wait 'til next year is sure to be a cry at some point in beverage establishments around the state. I hope the weather cooperates (not like last Thursday) and that injuries are rare. A lot of great stories are already populating the playoff scene in 2012. As the playoffs proceed, we will talk about some of those teams. Good luck to all the teams and their fan base.
#1 Washington (9-0), #2 Brandon Valley (9-0), #3 Roosevelt (7-2) and #4 O'Gorman (6-3) all have first round byes and will host quarterfinal contests.
#9 RC Central (4-5) at #8 Brookings (4-5)
Preview - Brookings is led by Mikey Daniel (130-863-6 TDs) and quarterback Kaleb Vig (82-157-939-10 TDs). The Bobcats, which have been outscored 193-to-178, have won 2-of-3 games including a 22-0 win over Aberdeen Central on Thursday. Rapid City Central, which owns a 226-to-225 scoring edge over opponents, have won 3-of-5 games. They are led by Blake Stone (112-754-5 TDs) on the ground and Donnie Pallato (56-115-865-10 TDs) at quarterback. Asher Pikula (27-334-5 TDs) leads the RCC receivers.
Pick - This will be a close battle but go with Brookings, 24-20.
#12 Aberdeen Central (2-7) at #5 Yankton (6-3)
Preview - Yankton, which dropped to 6-3 after a regular season-ending loss to #2 Brandon Valley (42-0), has outscored opponents 231-to-171 but has lost three games in four outings. Those losses were all to the AA schools ranked #1 (Washington), #2 (Brandon Valley) and #3 (Roosevelt). The Bucks have had a solid year, led by quarterback Michael Rucker (66-116-813-5 TDs; 53-103-6 TDs). Levi Davis (98-707-5 TDs) leads the ground game and is joined by Evan Schroeder (45-354-3 TDs), who has had an injury-plagued season, and James Hisek (40-387-2 TDs). JJ Hejna (19-325-2 TDs) is the top receiver. Overall Yankton has totaled 489 plays for 3,012 yards, including 2,166 yards rushing. Aberdeen Central, which has been outscored 282-to-105, enters the playoff fray with four straight losses. The Golden Eagles last win was a 20-6 win over Huron. They fell to Yankton on Sept. 14, 42-14. Aberdeen Central has a good quarterback in Jake Carrico and a solid running back/wide receiver in Josh Hilgemann.
Pick - Yankton bounces back and advances to the quarterfinals with a 38-14 win over the Golden Eagles.
#10 Watertown (2-7) at #7 Pierre (6-3)
Preview - Fifth-ranked Pierre, which owns a 305-to-166 scoring advantage against opponents, has won 2-of-3 games and will try and pin a second straight defeat on Watertown. On Thursday, Austin Wagner had 239 yards rushing and a TD to lead the Govs past Watertown, 22-6, on a windy, wet and cold night. Wagner (153-998-9 TDs) leads the Pierre ground attack while Jace Jerome (60-465-5 TDs) also is a big contributor. Austin Christopher (18-484-9 TDs) is the top receiver along with tight end Lane Severyn. Calling signals is quarterback Alex Gray (36-103-876-15 TDs). Watertown, which has lost three straight, has been outscored 314-to-132 this season. They are led by Shay Bratland (145-643-8 TDs; 17 rec., 181 yards, 2 TDs) on the ground and Jess Poppen (28-263-2 TDs) at receiver. Logan Gabriel (85-184-903-5 TDs) directs the offense at quarterback.
Pick - Pierre will be at home and should advance with a 28-12 win over Watertown.
#11 Douglas (5-4) at #6 Lincoln (6-3)
Preview - Lincoln, which owns a 307-to-161 scoring edge over foes, has won 3-of-4 games but fell to O'Gorman, 29-15, in a battle for an AA first round bye. Lincoln, which averages 34.1 points per game, is led by standout running back Caden Quintanillia (151-1,013-19 total TDs), quarterback Connor Burchill (76-161-1,028-13 TDs). At wideout, the Pats have Dylan Bartow (23-286-5 TDs) and Trey Naasz (14-314-5 TDs). Douglas, which has won four straight games, is coming off a win over Custer, 29-6. However, despite the winning streak, opponents own a 258-to-238 scoring advantage.
Pick - Lincoln advances with a 38-6 win.
#4 Milbank Area (4-4) at #1 Dell Rapids (7-1)
Preview: Dell Rapids, which played without standout fullback/linebacker Cole Langer, defeated Milbank, 20-0, in a lot of wind and rain on Thursday. On Tuesday, the two-time defending champions, which own a 279-to-109 scoring advantage over foes this year, should advance to the quarterfinals rounds as they meet up again with Milbank. The Quarriers will be led by Lane Lebrun (97-658-5 TDs), Riley Schmidt (51-266-5 TDs) and Ryan Nichols on the ground. If Langer (82-639-10 TDs) plays, and he has been nursing an injury, the attack will be tough to stop. Quarterback Matt Kolbeck (32-64-647-10 TDs) has had a solid year behind center. Milbank Area, led by quarterback Taylor Boerger (68-144-1,181-10 TDs), will try and throw the ball, particularly to standout receiver Andy Buchele (33-602-5 TDs) as well as Taylor Tol. Spencer Folk will try and run the ball against a strong Dell Rapids defense. Milbank Area , which has been outscored 238-to-160, has lost two straight games (Dell Rapids, West Central) but has split the last four.
Pick: With or without Langer, Dell Rapids is the best in 11A. They win, 32-6.
#3 Madison (5-3) at #2 West Central (5-3)
Preview - Led by Rush Milne (155-728-11 TDs), Madison will try and continue its turnaround season. Jacob Giles (70-135-874-6 TDs) is a standout quarterback and Brandon Waldner (23-252-2 TDs) a big-play receiver. Preston Nordling (15-172-2 TDs) is also a big help in the receiving game. West Central, led by quarterback Noah Matson (36-59-415-6TDs), has a powerful running attack again as they begin a run for a 12th 11A championship. The Trojans running attack features Anthony Leuth (65-492-4 TDs), Cody Miller ( (71-435-7 TDs) , Cody Bussell (51-252-2 TDs), and Eric Krizan (48-271-8 TDs).
Pick - West Central will be pushed but they win at home, 26-16.
#4 Lennox (1-7) at #1 Harrisburg (6-2)
Preview - Lennox, led by senior quarterback Zach Koosman and senior tight end Joe Hendrickson, will try and spring the upset. Lennox, which has four straight losses since a 40-0 win, nearly upset Luverne (MN) before falling two weeks ago, 27-21. They have been outscored 286-to-114, and lost an earlier encounter with the Tigers, 47-7. Harrisburg has lost just one game in-state (27-7 to Tea Area) and is led by the dynamic quarterback Andrew McCuen (58-126-1,081-9 TDs; 98-702-7 TDs rushing). Trevor DeSchepper (23-522-7 TDs) has made big plays all season at wideout, including TD catches of 95 and 60 yards, the later which help lift the Tigers past AA Huron. Harrisburg also features Kyle Ackerman in the backfield. The Tigers owns a 238-to-145 scoring advantage over opponents.
Pick: Harrisburg will win, 44-7.
#3 Tea (5-3) at #2 Dakota Valley (6-2)
Preview - This game will be the top matchup of the first round in 11A and is a revenge match up of sorts for Craig Clayberg's fourth-ranked Tea Area squad against Jason Jund's second-ranked Panthers. The Titans dropped a 20-19 decision to Dakota Valley on Thursday. For the Panthers, Tanner Lambert is the leading rusher in 11-man ranks with 182 carries for 1,323 yards and 14 TDs and will be expected to carry the load. A week ago he had 179 yards and two TDs. Aaron Likness (37-78-520 yards, 5 TDs), DV's QB, has missed two straight games as Isaac Faldmo has stepped in and played well. Taylor Lambert is a standout lineman on both sides of the ball and could be a key for the Panthers' rushing attack. Dakota Valley, which has split the last four games (losses to Tri-Valley and Dell Rapids), owns a 234-to-126 overall scoring advantage. Tea Area, which has a 272-to-116 scoring differential, has some outstanding athletes led by quarterback Taylor Roeman (54-106-1, 051 yards, 8 TDs; 62-255-7 TDs). Gunner Ensz (78-617-13 TDs) and Chase Deckert (75-484-4 TDs) leads the ground game while Riley Knutson (60-402-4 TDs; 14 rec., 278 yards, 4 TDs) can both catch and run it. Mitchell Nissen (23 rec., 472 yards, 3 TDs) is a standout perimeter player. Key for Tea Area will be to slow down DV's powerful inside rush game while making big plays themselves.
Pick - This will be a close one - flip a coin. Tea Area wins, 23-21.
#4 Little Wound (3-5) at #1 Todd County (7-1)
Preview - Head Coach Bob Korneley's Falcons, which own a 337-to-79 scoring margin, already has a win over Little Wound (66-14). The Falcons, which have won 7-of-8 games, are led by Clyde Colombe (51-659-14 TDs), who has three straight 100-yard rush games. Zach Cox (31-461-10 TDs), who has two straight 100 yards games, also leads the defense (54T, sack, three interceptions and two FR). Todd County, which was 9-1 a year ago, including an 8-0 regular season, has won 15-of-16 games. Little Wound has three straight losses and has been outscored 155-to-307.
Pick: Todd County rolls to a 65-13 win.
#3 Chamberlain (2-6) at #2 Cheyenne-Eagle Butte (5-3)
Preview - Chamberlain, which has been outscored 212-to-78, has four straight losses since a 40-7 win over Todd County. Cheyenne Eagle-Buttes, which owns a 203-to-186 scoring advantage, has won 3-of-5 games. The edge here is to Chamberlain, led by Russell Felicia, which defeated Todd County while CEB lost (42-0) to the Falcons.
Pick - Chamberlain wins a tussle, 22-8.
#4 Pine Ridge (4-4) at #1 Spearfish (6-3)
Preview - Spearfish, which averages 28.8 points and 320 yards in total offense per game, is led by Nate Rotert (99-978-11 TDs) in the backfield and quarterback Brandon Kemp (67-119-828-4 TDs). Overall the Spartans have a 259-to-72 scoring edge, including two straight shutouts after rebounding from two consecutive defeats. Pine Ridge, which has been outscored 246-to-209, has won three straight.
Pick - Spearfish will advance with a 34-7 win.
#3 Belle Fourche (3-5) at #2 Hot Springs (6-2)
Preview - Hot Springs, which owns a 215-to-72 scoring edge, faces a team they have already defeated 40-0. Hot Springs is led by Jake Oberpriller (98-642-8 TDs) along with quarterback Justin Harkless (39-92-588-4 TDs; 53-187-2 TDs). Eriq Swiftwater (15-258-TD) leads the receiving corps. Oberpriller has 73 tackles while Shane Hansen has 47 tackles and four picks. Since a 49-6 win over Pine Ridge, Belle Fourche has lost three straight. They have been outscored 228-to-152.
Pick - Hot Springs rolls to a 40-6 win.
#4 Mobridge-Pollock (4-4) at #1 Aberdeen Roncalli (8-0)
Preview - Aberdeen Roncalli, which has a 282-to-26 scoring advantage against opponents, has recorded five shutouts, including three straight. The Cavaliers have held opponents scoreless for 13 straight quarters. On the season, the Cavaliers have been dominant, rolling to a 8-0 record and a 282-to-26 scoring edge. The offense is led by Matt Swallow (72-692-10 TDs; 19 rec., 336 yards, 8 TDs), Lucas Lorenz (20 rec., 292 yards, five TDs.) and sophomore quarterback Zach Lundquist (68-of-128-983-19 TDs). Mobridge-Pollock, which defeated Chamberlain, 21-13, on Thursday, has lost 3-of-4 games and have been outscored 196-to-160 on the season. On August 31, Aberdeen Roncalli defeated M/P, 36-0.
Pick - The Cavaliers won the first match up handily and will again prevail. We think it goes, 38-6, for Roncalli.
#3 Webster (6-2) at #2 Deuel (6-2)
Preview - These two squads met each other on Sept. 28 with fifth-ranked Deuel taking a 26-13 decision. Deuel, which owns a 230-to-145 overall scoring advantage against opponents, has three straight wins since dropping a 27-6 decision to #4 Aberdeen Roncalli. The Cardinals are led by dual threat quarterback Lincoln Swenson (40-108-753-10 TDs; 165-1,076-11 TDs). He has had six games over 100 yards, including five straight. Swenson has had 177, 290 and 156 yards rushing the past three weeks. Deuel can also look to the explosive Trevor Cassels (20-474-10 TDs; 4 interceptions, FR, 94-yard kickoff return for TD). Ryan Damm (56T, 4 sacks) and Curt Boeke (60T, sack) are a tough duo upfront for coach Matt Rosdahl. Webster, which owns a 211-to-90 scoring edge, has just two losses, also falling to Roncalli (35-0). Webster Area, which is 3-2 in the past five games, averages 185.8 yards rushing and 94.4 through the air. The offense is led by quarterback Reid Valsvig (48-116-755-7 TDs) along with senior running backs Andy Rithmiller (116-723-9 TDs; 13 rec., 255 yards, 4 TDs) and Jared McClurg (90-429-8 TDs). McClurg is a defensive star with 72 tackles, three sacks, an interception and two fumble recoveries.
Pick - Expect this game to be tight into the fourth quarter. Swenson is a dynamic player and will make a play to determine this one. Deuel wins, 30-20.
#4 Garretson (4-4) at #1 Tri-Valley (7-1)
Preview - On August 31, Garretson gave second-ranked and defending 11B champions Tri-Valley all they wanted in a 16-8 decision by the Mustangs. The Blue Dragons, which own a 147-to-116 overall scoring edge, have won 2-of-3 games. They are led by senior quarterback Patrick Whetham, senior tight end Brady Mudder along with senior running back Cody Bonte and sophomore Matt Johnson. Tri-Valley, which only has a 24-22 loss to top-ranked Flandreau, is the top seed in 11B (based on power points). The Mustangs, which have a 278-to-130 overall scoring margin over opponents, has four straight wins. They are led by quarterback Brett Page (26-44-453-9 TDs), and running backs Logan Koopman (98-952-12 TDs), Logan Otto (55-353-4 TDs) and Sam Mader (98-403-6 TDs). Tri-Valley loves to pound the ball cut can throw it with tight end Dominic Burgraff, Koopman and Otto as primary receivers.
Pick - Tri-Valley has continued to improve as the season has progressed. They will be a tough team to knock out. Champions are proud and the Mustangs prevail, 32-12.
#3 Canton (4-4) at #2 Flandreau (8-0)
Preview - Flandreau will pound the ball at Canton as they have done with eight opponents all year. Between Jacob Patterson (115-836-11TDs), Mitchell Foster (62-690-13 TDs), and David Parsley (41-483-7 TDs), Flandreau has 218 carries for 2,009 yards and 31 TDs. The trio averages a combined 9.21 yards per carry. As a team, they have 2,537 yards and 37 TDs and averaged 317.1 yards per game with 37 TDs rushing. Canton, a team beset early with key losses including Kase Jacobs, Austin Gates and Gabe Pflueger, will rely on Cody Majeres, who has 117 carries for 1,052 yards and 17 TDs.
Pick - Flandreau is just too good for an injury-plagued Canton team. Fliers will take a 38-12 decision.
#4 Bon Homme (4-4) at #1 Winner (8-0)
Preview - Winner has fourth straight shutouts and five overall as they have put together a 16-quarter scoreless streak. Overall they own a 343-to-52 point differential, including 189-to-0 in the past four games. Overall this season, the hard-nosed Warriors have 350 carries for 2,514 yards or 314.3 per game. The Warriors are led by Kyle Bertram (78-652-8 TDs), Ben Connot (81-683-9 TDs) and Trace Meyer (69-446-6 TDs) at running back with Tanner Fritz (18-31-389-9 TDs) directing the offense. Bon Homme, led by Dakota Bodden and Ross Kortan, have won three of five games. They have been outscored, 163-to-121. Bon Homme has a winner over playoff participant Wagner (20-0).
Pick - Winner advances with a 34-16 win.
#3 Parkston (6-2) at #2 Wagner (6-2)
Preview - In one of the best 11B matchups, a pair of 6-2 heads will bang helmets. Wagner, which has outscored opponents, 191-to-117, has won three-of-four games. David Kocer leads the offense with 162 carries for 1,108 yards and 12 TDs. Noah St. Pierre, who has over 100 yards rushing in two of the last three games, is another factor for Wagner, which defeated Parkston, 15-10, in the season opener. Parkston, which is led by Jesse Thuringer, has won six straight games and has a 213-to-97 scoring advantage over opponents. Parkston has only lost to Wagner and Winner.
Pick - Wagner will be at home and will be emerge with a 18-14 win.
#4 Hill City (5-3) at #1 St. Thomas More (6-2)
Preview - St. Thomas More, which owns a 286-to-104 overall scoring advantage, has won four straight games since a 13-10 loss to Hot Springs (6-2). In that run, STM has outscored teams, 194-to-28. Hill City, which has won 3-of-5 games, owns a 230-to-141 scoring advantage over opponents. They recently defeated Red Cloud, 48-13. In common opponents, STM has a 34-14 win over Custer while Hill City fell to Custer, 26-6. STM also has a quality win, 7-0, over 11A Spearfish (6-3).
Pick - STM has rebounded nicely after a loss to Hot Springs. They are the choice here, 35-12.
#3 Bennett County (4-4) at #2 Custer (4-4)
Preview - In a battle of 4-4 teams, Custer may have the upper hand, due in part of a more difficult schedule. While Custer has three losses in four games, they fell to St. Thomas More and Hot Springs. Custer does own a 26-6 win over Hill City and defeated Bennett County, 26-7, on August 31. The Wildcats are led by junior quarterback Chase Glazier (67-117-951-8 TDs), and junior running back Kenneth Myers (121-448-5 TDs; 12 rec., 65 yards, TD). At wide out Cohl Wahlstrom (17-189-TD) and Jared Thomsen (11-281-3 TD) can make big plays. Bennett County, which owns a 221-to-128 overall scoring edge over opponents, are 2-2 in the last four games. They defeated Little Wound/Crazy Horse, 50-0, in their last game
Pick - Custer moves on with a 31-12 win.
#4 Tri-State (4-4) at #1 Clark/Willow Lake (7-1)
Preview - Tri-State, which owns a 284-to-137 overall scoring advantage has two straight wins when they have a 106-to-6 edge over opponents. Tri-State has outscored foes, 210-to-12 in wins and been outpointed, 125-to-74 in losses. They are led by the Lick brothers. Dylan Lick (37-77-582-9 TDs; 63-272-7 TDs) plays quarterback while Dexter Lick (105-843-6 TDs) is one of the better running backs in 9AA. They will face a hot Clark-Willow Lake team which took a 21-6 win over Tri-State on Sept. 21. Clark/Willow Lake, which owns a whopping 364-to-121 overall scoring differential, has seven straight wins since losing to 9A #3 Hamlin, 34-14, on opening night. They also have a close 46-44 win over playoff-bound 9A Wilmot. They have a 121-to-20 edge in games over the last two weeks. This is a big-play squad led by senior running back Lane Hovde, who has had multiple 100-yard games and twice had four or more TDs in a game. They also feature senior running back Rhett Florey who has made big plays on special teams and defense as well as offense. Tyson Jenkins and Torrey Kolden are two other C/WL players expected to play a big role in the playoff opener.
Pick - Clark/Willow Lake will handle a solid Tri-State team, 34-12.
#3 Miller (4-4) at #2 Leola/Frederick (7-1)
Preview - Miller has had an up and down season as they take on Leola/Frederick in the first round. The Rustlers, which own a 212-to-167 overall scoring advantage, defeated Highmore-Harrold, 52-2, last week. They are led by dual threat standout quarterback Lee Sivertson (85-636-11 TDs; 30-75-306-4 TDs). In his career he has completed 121-of-214 passes for 1,535 yards and 20 TDs while rushing 245 times for 1,624 yards and 22 TDs. As such, he has accounted for 42 TDs and a combined 3,195 yards. Also for Miller, Kris Wharton has 71 carries for 465 yards and six TDs while wide out Wyatt Strasburg has 17 receptions for 180 yards and three TDs. Leola/Frederick, which holds a 382-125 scoring advantage over opponents, has only lost to 9A #2 Warner (8-0). In the last game, they defeated Timber Lake, 58-8. Leola/Frederick is led by standout running back Brian Sumption (85-902-18 TDs), who has scored about every way possible, kick/punt and interception returns, passes, runs and throws. Dane Campbell is the quarterback (28-45-456-6 TDs) while Derrick Podall (17 rec., 302, 5 TDs) is a threat out wide. Tyler Hoffman and Evan Emery are dangerous running backs.
Pick - Leola-Frederick will take a 36-24 decision.
#4 Ipswich/Edmunds Central (4-4) at #1 Deubrook Area (8-0)
Preview - Deubrook Area, which has completed the regular season unbeaten for the first time in school history, has rolled up 394-to-110 advantage Last week, the Dolphins, which average 348 rushing yards per game, won the Dakota Valley title with a 48-6 win over Arlington (7-1). The Dolphins are led by Ryan Knutson (141-1,591-25 TDs), who averaged 198.9 yards per game and 11.28 per carry. He has 154 total points and scored four or more TDs four times. He could go over 3K rushing for his career on Tuesday as he has 390 carries for 2,915 yards and 36 TDs in his career. Also for Deubrook, Riley Hansen (38-466-5 TDs, 4 rec., 95 yards, TD, 4 int., 83-yard KO return, 94-yard punt return) has 11 total TDs. Quarterback Taylor Olson (28-224-3 TDs, 37-82-578-7 TDs) directs the offense while Dalton Kruse (25-345-6 TDs) and receiver Dusty Trooien (15 catches) are part of an explosive offense. Ipswich-Edmunds Central, which has been outscored 237-to-216, has three wins in the past five games. They have won two straight when they have a 86-to-48 margin. I-EC, which averaged 335 yards in total offense, is led by quarterback Lane Myer (65-166-897-7 TDs; 103-429-5 TDs) and running back Alex Marsh (101-637-7 total TDs), who has three games over 100 yards this season. Receiver Brayden Thares (24-404-4 TDs) is a dangerous receiver.
Pick - Deubrook Area is one of the best in 9AA and takes a 48-26 decision.
#3 Elkton-Lake Benton (5-3) at #2 Howard (6-2)
Preview - Elkton-Lake Benton has had a solid year, leading with a solid rush game and a tough defense. This season, they own a 221-to-103 scoring advantage. E/LB has won three of four games but had a three-game winning streak snapped by DeSmet/Iroquois, 24-0. They have recorded four shutouts on the season. Howard rolled to a 58-8 win over Mt. Vernon and stayed #4 in the rankings. Howard, which owns a 342-to-123 scoring advantage, is led by a powerful trio in the backfield in Evan Donahue (65-614-10 TDs), Luke Loudeberg (90-685-9 TDs), and Cole Potter (54-728-10 TDs), a group that has produced 2,027 yards on 209 attempts for 29 TDs. Pat Ruml's team is directed by quarterback Landon Laible (40-56-496-10 TDs, 22-54-5 TDs). The Tigers have only lost to 9A #1 Canistota (20-16) and 9AA #2 Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan (28-26). In three consecutive wins, Howard has a 149-to-21 advantage.
Pick: Howard comes into this game on a roll. They will continue on that path with a 28-6 win over Elkton-Lake Benton.
#4 Parker (6-2) at #1 Kimball/White Lake (8-0)
Preview: The top-ranked Kimball/White Lake WiLdKats, which have a dominating 379-to-120 overall scoring advantage against opponents, have scored 38 points or more in every game except a 26-22 win over defending champion Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan. The WiLdKats, which advanced to the state title game in 9AA a year ago (lost to BEE, 36-24), have been led by its standout backfield in Trevor Reinesch (100-865-15 TDs, 62T, 4 int.) and Jacob Kirsch (123-891-13 TDs, 59T, 3 int., sack), who both rushed for over 1K a year ago and again are over pace for that total again. Quarterback Jesse Taylor (26-167-6 TDs; 42-76-708-10 TDs; 34T, 3 int.) directs the explosive offense and the defense has been tough, holding five opponents to 14 points or fewer. Kyle Peters (37-310-2 TDs; 16 rec., 320 yards, 4 TDs) and Ethan Gaulke (11-177-4 TDs) are other offensive weapons for K/WL. On defense, Turner Blasius (67T, 4 sacks) and Hunter Dykes (35T, 5 sacks) are key players. Parker, which has had a turnaround season in 2012, has won four straight games in a 6-2 mark. They own a 277-to-150 scoring advantage with a 165-to-60 edge in the four consecutive wins. The Pheasants have only loss to 9B #4 Viborg-Hurley (28-16) and 9AA #4 Howard (36-8). Blake Reynolds leads the rushing attack (154-1,212-18 TDs) while quarterback Seth Dykstra ((25-50-446-6 TDs, 106-665-10 TDs) has been another stalwart for Bill Leberman's squad.
Pick: Kimball/White Lake is best team in 9AA. They advance with 44-21 win over Parker.
#Bridgewater-Emery-Ethan (6-2) at #2 Gregory (7-1)
Review: This is clearly one of the top matchups of the first round. BEE, the two-time defending champs, have only losses to 9A unbeaten and #1 Canistota (16-8) and 9AA #1 Kimball/White Lake (26-22). They are led by Anthony Huber (147-1,019-16 TDs), who has -- career yards. Kyelle Herrick (90-489-5 TDs) and quarterback Jace Connor (90-463-3 TDs; 37-53-546-12 TDs) lead the offense. Clayton Dye (14-166-7 TDs) has been a big-play receiver. The Seahawks are 6-0 all-time against Gregory, including a 68-16 win in the first round a year ago. However, this Gregory team has been one of the best in 9AA this season. Ranked fifth in the most recent KSFY-KWSN poll, Gregory owns a 408-to-134 scoring advantage over opponents Meanwhile Gregory also has only lost to K/WL (65-28) and have had a turnaround season led by Jaden Bartling, who is having one of the best seasons by a 9-man quarterback in history. He has joined the exclusive 1,000-1,000 passing/rushing club. Bartling, who has 2,242 all-purpose yards and 110 total points, has 80 carries for 1,066 yards and 16 TDs while completing 51-of-87 passes for 1,024 yards and 18 TDs. Jonah Beck (35-380-5 TDs; 46T, 8 TFLs) helps out in the backfield while Andrew Taggart (15 rec., 314 yards, 7 TDs) is the key receiver.
Pick: Look for this game to go to the wire with BEE defeating Gregory, 34-28.
#4 Newell (4-4) at #1 White River (7-1)
Preview - Newell, which has outscored opponents, 203-to-156, closed the season with a 52-6 win over Edgemont. They closed with three wins in four games. White River had its undefeated season end in a 28-22 loss to 9B #2 Colome (7-1) last Thursday in the Little Moreau Conference title game. White River owns a 287-to-154 scoring edge and have six games over 35 points. They are led by quarterback Wyatt Krogman (25 total TDs) and Nick Waln.
Pick - White River 44 Newell 22
#3 Lemmon/McIntosh (5-3) at #2 Potter County (7-1)
Preview - Potter County, which will look to make an eighth appearance in the 9-man championship, has rolled to seven wins in eight games, putting together a 328-to-68 points differential. The Battlers, led by coach Vern Smith, have won four straight when they own a 202-ot-14 advantage. They have two consecutive shutouts and three overall. Potter County is led by Tate Nafziger (hurt early in the season), Chayce Hall, Tanner Heuer, Hayden Simon (83-624-14 TDs). Lemmon/McIntosh, which opened 4-1 before losing two of its final three games, has a 196-to-182 overall scoring advantage. They have loss to 9A Faith (52-0) and 9B #1 Harding County (48-12).
Pick: Potter County will take a 44-12 win.
#4 Wolsey-Wessington (7-1) at #1 Warner (8-0)
Preview - In one of the most intriguing of the first round matchups, two of the hottest teams in 9A will meet Tuesday in Warner. Fifth-ranked Wolsey-Wessington, which lost to Warner, 22-8, in the season opener, has seven straight wins and a 331-to-91 overall scoring differential with opponents. Since Sept. 14, they have ripped off point total of 74, 50, 40, 510 and 54 (269 overall). In addition, they average 355 rushing yards (272-2,840, 10.4 avg per carry) per game and have had 411, 478 and 512 yards rushing in games this season. The Warbirds are the only team with two runners already over 1K for the year. Senior Roy Lumpkin (69-1,013-15 TDs) has four games over 100 yards and Ryne Johnson ((93-1,086-15 TDs) has 1,000 yards for the second straight season. Johnson has had six straight games over 100 this season and three TDs or more in four of the last five games. However, they face a tough task in second-ranked Warner, which has simply ran over every opponent, except Wolsey-Wessington. They have outscored opponents, 367-to-49. They have held every opponent to 14 points or less and recorded three shutouts, including a 50-0 win over Plankinton last Thursday. It was the seventh straight game that Coach Tom Kulesa's team had scored at least 45 points. This team is led by quarterback by Clay Rozell and Mitchell Boesl at running back. Derrek and Jarrod Tuszka are a pair of explosive ends. Actually, Jarrod Tuszka is used in a multitude of ways from receiving to running to even throwing.
Pick - In what will be a tight contest, look for Warner to make a big play or two late and win 28-22.
#3 Eureka/Bowdle (5-3) at #2 Herreid/Selby Area (8-0)
Preview - Eureka-Bowdle has had a solid season, outscoring opponents, 197-to-155, in a 5-3 campaign. They have three wins in the past four games but lost to playoff foe Herreid/Selby, 30-0, on Thursday. This is a squad led by quarterback Josh Raile and running backs Brandon Beutler, who has had several games over 100 yards, and Cameron Lux. Herreid/Selby will be a hard out this year for any opponent. They have dominated to a tune of a 400-to-50 points differential. The Wolverines, which has a 28-14 win over 9AA Potter County (7-1) had had 48 points or more in six games and recorded four shutouts. They have six games when opponents were held with no more than eight points. Jeff Koster's Herreid/Selby squad, which has a season high point total of 76, is led by senior quarterback Nick Larson along with explosive sophomore Cooper Schaefbauer. Senior fullback Zach Geller and junior end Dakota Thorstensen are other key figures in the Wolverines' attack.
Pick - Herreid/Selby will again defeat Eureka/Bowdle, 37-12.
#4 Hanson (4-4) at #1 Canistota (8-0)
Preview - Canistota, which has outscored playoff foes, 446-to-14, over the past two plus seasons, have a 384-to-89 points edge in 2012. Since the start of the 2010 season, they have won consecutive titles (9B, 2010; 9A, 2011) with an overall point margin of 1,631-to-188. In 9A alone, they have a 1004-to-50 margin in two seasons. In the two years in 9A, they had a 42-point margin or greater in 15-of-20 games. As they prepare to open this playoff campaign, Lenny Schroeder's team has extended its winning streak to 32 games, which ranks second all-time. Cody Bunger (76-402-10 TDs, 33-55-678-12 TDs) leads the offense which also features Alex Robertson (74-727-9 TDs), Eric Tieszen (54-591-8 TDs), and Nick Hofer (22-294-4 TDs). Jason Van Winkle leads the defense with nine sacks. Hanson, which is being outscored 242-to-156, lost to Canistota earlier this year, 55-0. After opening 3-0, Jim Haskamp's team lost four in a row before rebounding to defeat 9B #4 Viborg-Hurley, 38-20. This team is led by senior quarterback Tyler Pringle, junior running back Jacob Paredeis and sophomores Mason Meyer and Jordan Marquardt.
Pick - Canistota will advance with a 52-8 decision.
#3 Arlington (7-1) at #2 Hamlin (8-0)
Preview - This is another of the outstanding first-round matchups in the playoffs that begin on Tuesday. The two teams have combined to win 15-of-16 games. Arlington, which own two 9A titles in 2004 (Stickney/Mt. Vernon, 39-14), and 2005 (Gettysburg, 30-28), has rebounded from a 4-4 season, with seven wins in eight games. The only loss by the Cardinals is to 9AA #3 Deubrook Area, 48-6, in the Dakota Valley Conference title game on Thursday. Arlington features an offense that is run-based, led by backs Lane Weber and Zach Warnke. Overall Arlington has a 331-to-128 scoring differential this season. Arlington, which has 240 carries for 2,168 yards, is led by Weber, who has 85 carries for 805 yards and 13 TDs and his backfield mate Zach Warnke with 62 carries for 725 yards and 10 TDs. Quarterback Andrew King has provided a dual threat with 44 carries for 310 yards and five TDs while completing 31-of-45 passes for 945 yards with nine TDs and just one interception. Tanner Lemme leads the receivers with seven catches for 346 yards and four TDs. Hamlin, which has been ranked in the top five for most of the season. owns a 350-to-70 overall scoring advantage against opponents. On a nine-game winning streak dating to the final game of the 2011 season, Hamlin has scored at least 32 point in very game. They have held foes to 14 or fewer points in 7-of-8 games. Hamlin, which averages 285.1 rushing yards and 76.3 through the air, have 2,281 total yards on the ground, averaging 6.75 per carry. They are led by quarterback Brody Grantham (23-48-513-8 TDs) and running back Dusty Quiram (129-1,105-16 TDs), who has gone over 1K rushing and has six games of 100 yards or more, including two games of 200 or more. Mason Leiseth has 10 TDs, 271 yards rushing, 186 yards receiving, 96 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions. Alex Holzwarth has nine sacks for a defense that has 23 sacks as a team along with 19 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries.
Pick - While Arlington is talented, they have a tough first round matchup with Hamlin. The Chargers continue their great turnaround season and prevail, 36-13.
#4 South Central (4-4) at #1 Corsica/Stickney (5-3)
Preview - Corsica/Stickney, which owns a 328-to-128 overall scoring advantage, has won 3-of-5 games. Two of those losses are to 9AA #1 Kimball/White Lake (38-12) and 9AA #2 BEE (34-24). In its five wins, Corsica/Stickney has an unreal total of 274-to-12 in point differential. The Jaguars have recorded four shutouts this season. This is a team led by quarterback Adam Borman along with running backs Myles Van Vurren and Gunner BaanHofman. Both were over 100 yards last week. South Central which owns a 254-to-219 overall scoring advantage. The Cougars, which has won 2-of-3 games, have a similar winning margin. They have a 177-to-30 advantage over opponents in games they have won. This team features Turner Serr (122-759-17TDs), who had 204 yards and five TDs in a win last week, along with Garrett Bruns (94-726-9 total TDs). Between the pair, they have had seven games over 100 yards.
Pick: This will be tight game with Corsica/Stickney advancing with a home win - 28-22.
#2 Wilmot (5-3) at #3 Irene-Wakonda (6-2)
Preview - While seeded higher Wilmot is a wildcard and thus opens on the road. Wilmot, which opened 4-0 before losses to three playoffs team (Waverly/South Shore in 9B, Clark/Willow Lake in 9AA and Hamlin in 9A) has a big-time offense led by quarterback Austin Hulscher, who has accounted for 30 TDs (20 by pass). Hulscher (98-178-1,637-20 TDs) is also a force on defense with eight quarterback sacks and an interception. Chase Bronson (130-878-7 TDs) leads the ground attack that averaged 159.9. The passing game, which averaged 222.5 yards, features Hulscher and senior wide receiver Landon Hammer, who has 44 catches for 949 yards and 12 TDs. As he contemplates 1K in receiving, Hammer has been a big-play game on both sides of the game with nine interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Irene-Wakonda, which has lost two straight, owns a 323-to-179 scoring advantage over opponents. After opening 6-0, Irene-Wakonda has lost to 9AA Parker (42-24) and 9B #4 Viborg-Hurley (56-6). In the opening six wins, I-W scored at least 43 points in every game but in the last two have a combined 30 points. Nonetheless this is a talented squad led by Dustin Livingston, a dynamic quarterback and one of the most explosive in 9A. Livingston (26-62-474-8 TDs; 79-830-18 TDs), who has two or more TDs in six games, has accounted for 26 TDs for a team that averaged 223.9 rushing yards and 59.3 pass yards. Garrett Anderson (78-454-5 TDs) is the top option in the backfield. Anderson has 70 tackles and three sacks and Livingston, 47 tackles and three interceptions on defense.
Pick: Wilmot handles Irene-Wakonda, 23-16.
#4 Kadoka Area (5-3) at #1 Faith (7-1)
Preview - Kadoka Area, which owns a 134-to-101 scoring advantage, has won 4-of-6. Faith, which has 358-to-66 points differential, has only a loss to 9B #1 Harding County (28-26). They have scored 48 points or more in six of eight games. They have had five games or more with 50 points.
Pick - Faith 54 Kadoka Area 6
#3 New Underwood (6-2) at #2 Wall (5-3)
Preview - New Underwood, which has won six of eight decisions, owns a 319-to-166 overall scoring edge over opponents. They have won three straight when they hold a 143-to-60 advantage. This squad has four wins in five games and put 38 points or more on the board in those four wins. New Underwood lost to Wall, 31-20 in a season opener on Sept. 7. Wall, led by head coach Kent Anderson, has gone 5-3 with a 209-to-202 scoring margin. They have three straight wins and are led by running back Tyler Trask, who had 25 carries for 341 yards rushing and three TDs in a win three weeks ago. Wall also features Trevor Anderson, a standout field goal kicker, who has a couple of kicks over 30 yards this year.
Pick - Wall will defeat New Underwood, 34-17.
#4 Dell Rapids St. Mary (3-5) at #1 Waverly-South Shore (6-2)
Preview - Dell Rapids St. Mary, led by the veteran coach Russ Flemmer, opened the season 3-1 before suffering four straight losses including a 22-20 setback last Thursday against Lake Preston. They are led by Ben Bunkers, Wes Heinricy and Mitch Brown. Waverly-South Shore, which has a 310-to-55 overall scoring edge, has four straight wins, including a pair of shutouts. During that run, they have 200-to-46 scoring differential. W/SS, the defending 9B champions, has won 26 of its last 29 games. The 2012 squad is averaging 226 yards rushing and 83.1 yards through the air. Quarterback Sam Pond (52-96-648-13 TDs; 84-327-4 TDs) leads the offense. Gavin Kolden (16 rec., 191 yards, four TDs and 38 carries for 380 yards and six TDs) along with Tyler Mundahl (85-702-9 TDs) are other key performers. Others involved in the W/SS offense include receivers Zach Stricherz (16-201-3 TDs) and Austin Comes (12-153-4 TDs).
Pick: Waverly/South Shore will put together a 38-12 win.
#3 Lake Preston (5-3) at #2 Castlewood (5-3)
Preview - Lake Preston likes to pound the ball featuring Jaden Denison. While he will likely have another 100-yard rush game, this game will be all Castlewood. The Warriors have a standout quarterback in Lucas Ching (71-130-1,108 yards, 21 TDs), a big-play receiver in Case Wiarda (19 rec., 584 yards, 11 TDs) a power runner in Carson Borer (112-805-15 TDs), who had 210 yards and seven TDs in a win last week.
Pick: Castlewood takes this one, 38-10.
#4 Marion (4-4) at #1 Viborg-Hurley (6-2)
Preview - Viborg-Hurley, which rolled past Irene-Wakonda, 56-6, last weekend, is led by Tyler Gerdes, who had a state-best 352 yards rushing plus five TDs. He now has 85 carries for 1,085 yards and 18 TDs. Quarterback Jack Huether (26-43-574-6 TDs; 53-387-4 TDs), Trevor Jacobsen (51-483-5 TDs, 4-198-3 TDs), Tyler Novak (67-400-6 TDs) are other key players for the Cougars, which owns a 324-to-158 scoring advantage. Marion, which has rebounded to have a solid year, is led by quarterback Nick Gortmaker (27-68-422-5 TDs; 128-659-14 TDs) and Andrew Grassl (179-922-10 TDs). They own a 248-to-238 points edge over opponents.
Pick: Viborg-Hurley will win, 38-16.
#3 Centerville (5-3) at #2 Avon (5-3)
Preview - Avon, which averaged 28.9 points per game, is run-focused out of a wishbone option set. HC Tom Culver's Pirates averaged 231.4 yards rushing per game, led by Brandon Kocmich (44-619-9 TDs) and Devin Tolsma (70-492-7 TDs). Logan Mudder (17-31-125-TD, 72-288-3 TDs) run the offense. Centerville, which has two wins in three games, has been outscored 240-t0-220. They are led by Seamus O'Malley at quarterback with Luke Abbas and Josh DeRaad in the backfield. Abbas had 91 yards and a TD and DeRaad, 78 yards and two TDs, in a 22-16 win over Alcester-Hudson to close the regular season.
Pick - Avon will advance with a 24-12 win.
#4 Rapid City Christian (4-4) at #1 Hitchcock-Tulare (6-2)
Preview: Hitchcock-Tulare, which is led by quarterback Dan Marshall and running back Cole Chaplin, has won five straight games in which they own a 204-to-30 scoring differential with opponents. Chaplin had 28 carries for 174 yards and two TDs in a 26-0 win over Faulkton Area. Rapid City Christian has won three straight when they have a 156-to-30 scoring margin over foes. Overall, they own a 272-to-55 scoring edge. This team is led by Eli Houchens who had six carries for 100 yards and four TDs (45,35 and 22 yard runs and a 33-yard TD reception) and quarterback Paul McLaughlin (9-100-63-yard TD run) last week.
Pick: Hitchcock-Tulare will take a 38-16 decision.
#3 Sully Buttes (3-5) at #2 Faulkton Area (4-4)
Preview: Sully Buttes made the playoffs by virtue of a 22-14 overtime decision as running back Jace Anderson had 50 carries for 250 yards and two TD. The Chargers, which have been outscored 207-to-152, opened the season 2-0 before five straight losses ended last Thursday. Faulkton Area, which is 4-4, has been outscored 195-to-53. They are led by Darin Wiesler (139-1,120-9 TDs), but the sophomore did not play last week. William Edgar (43-295-3 TDs) is a solid back and Kurt Biedler (47-106-585-5 TDs) has played solid behind center.
Pick: Even if Wieseler does not play, Faulkton Area is the better team. They will prevail 33-14.
#4 Jones County (3-5) at #1 Harding County (8-0)
Preview - Harding County, which has a 375-to-57 scoring differential, is the only unbeaten team in 9B. Clearly the favorite headed into the playoffs, they are led by quarterback Jess Feist (85-126-1,331 yards, 15 TDs; 93-895-14 TDs), who has 29 combined TDs. Steve Koch (68-536-11 TDs), Windom Hewsom (44-352-6 TDs) plus receivers Ckyler Floyd (39-608-5 TDs) and Harvey Mollman (17-363-7 TDs) are a dangerous group. Jones County, which has split its last four games, has been outscored 177-to-173 and ended the year with a 38-20 loss to New Underwood.
Pick - Harding County will win, 48-12.
#3 Bison (4-4) at #2 Colome (7-1)
Preview - Bison, which has been outscored 262-to-229, has two straight wins and three victories in five games. In their last two games, they own a 92-to-33 scoring edge. However, they must take on a hot Colome team on the road. Colome has won six straight games, including a 28-22 win over 9AA White River for the Little Moreau Conference crown. Colome, which averaged 37 points per game (296-to-145 scoring differential), is led by junior quarterback Terrance Kinzer (21-47-401-6 TDs; 114-825-17 TDs - 18 total) and senior running back Andrew Odden (157-961-12 TDs), who have combined for 1,786 yards rushing (team total of 2,102) and 29 TDs. The Cowboys, which averaged 262.8 yards rushing per game, have an overall scoring advantage of 296-to-145. Led by Odden and Kizzen, they average 6.24 yards per carry. Odden has six gaes over 100 yards, including five of the past six outings. Kinzer has four games over 100 yards but has scored at least one rushing TD in every game this season and two or more rushing TDs in six of eight games. Kinzer also has 72 tackles and five interceptions. Odden has 45 tackles and a pick. Lane Fawcett and Cohl Ratermann each have 6.5 sacks as the team has 15 along with nine interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Raterann also leads the team with 12 receptions for 228 yards and four TDs.
Pick - Colome will win, 48-6.