The dream season continues for Deubrook Area High School's football team.
The Dolphins recorded comeback wins over Potter County in the quarterfinals and Gregory in the semifinals and held off Howard 25-22 in the state Class 9AA championship, capping a perfect 12-0 season with the school's first state football title.
Five Deubrook Area players spearhead the South Dakota Football Coaches Association's Class 9AA All-State football team released today by the South Dakota Sportswriters Association.
"It was just again a magical, phenomenal season," Deubrook Area head coach Adolph Shepardson said.
Record-setting senior running back Ryan Knutson, senior tight end Cory Byers, junior wide receiver Dustin Trooien, senior guard Dallas Murphy and senior linebacker Tyler Jensen each earned All-State honors for the Dolphins. Juniors Kay Glatzer and Riley Hanson were honorable-mention selections.
Twenty of the 24 players on the squad are seniors.
• Quarterback — Jaden Bartling, sr., Gregory. He rushed for 1,825 yards and 23 touchdowns and completed 80 of 140 passes for 1,570 yards and 26 TDs.
"He was an invaluable player to our team's success," said coach Brian Allmendinger. "At times, he carried the team through his determination and efforts."
• Fullback — Anthony Huber, sr., Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan. A returning All-State selection at fullback, Huber rushed for 1,114 yards and 19 touchdowns.
"Anthony is very coachable. He blocks well and has good vision," said coach Jeff VanLeur. "He has been a leader for us the past two seasons."
• Running Back — Ryan Knutson, sr., Deubrook Area. The 150-pound Knutson 10.56 yards per carry during a remarkable season that included 2,434 rushing yards and a state-record 40 rushing touchdowns.
"Ryan is a humble, hard-working and greatly-skilled player," said Shepardson. "He is a model student-athlete."
• Running Back — Jake Kirsch, sr., Kimball-White Lake. A two-time All-State selection, Kirsch rushed for 1,282 yards and 20 touchdowns.
"Jake is an all-around good football player who did a lot of things for us on the field, including a captain, and was a leader off the field as well," said coach Dale Taylor.
• Wide Receiver — Dustin Trooien, jr., Deubrook Area. The state-champion Dolphins ran the ball a lot, but Trooien was a weapon in the passing game — hauling in 31 passes for 544 yards and three TDs.
"Dustin has great hands, high points the ball and uses his hands to catch," said Shepardson. "He also has a great effort blocking. He is a stud wide receiver."
• Wide Receiver — Andrew Taggart, jr. Gregory. A key target for Bartling and the Gorillas, the junior caught 17 passes for 373 yards and seven TDs.
"Andrew runs good routes and has the tremendous ability to make plays while the ball is in the air," said Allmendinger.
• Tight End — Cory Byers, sr., Deubrook Area. The 6-foot-6 Byers was indeed a big target for the Dolphins, catching 14 passes for 231 yards and six touchdowns.
"Cory was our team leader," said Shepardson. "He had a great senior season."
• Guard — Dallas Murphy, sr., Deubrook Area. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Murphy spearheaded an offensive line that helped the Dolphins rush for more than 3,500 yards.
"Dallas is big, physical and hard working. He was our rock on both lines this year," said Shepardson.
• Guard — Nathan Dawson, sr., Howard. A three-year starter, the 6-0, 185-pound Dawson spearhead the line that helped the Tigers produce 4,455 yards of offense and 67 touchdowns this season.
"Nathan is a great football player with a definite motor that runs all the time. His can-do attitude has left an impressing on future Howard offensive linemen," said coach Pat Ruml.
• Center — Matt Gillen, sr., White River. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Gillen was a two-way starter for three years and helped lead White River to an 8-2 record.
"Matt's just a tough, hard-nosed kids," said assistant coach Cory Lambley.
• Tackle — Franky Tusha, sr., Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan. The 230-pound senior compiled 89 tackles, four quarterback sacks and three fumble recoveries.
"Franky has worked very hard to get where he's at," said VanLeur. "He blocks very well and was our go-behind player this year again."
• Tackle — Walker Lick, sr., Tri-State. The 6-2, 230-pound Lick was chosen as the Tigers' defensive most valuable player for the second straight year — recording 47 solo tackles, 52 assists, three quarterback sacks, two pass deflections and a fumble recovery.
"Walker is a very strong and a surprisingly nimble athlete," said coach Steven Schiltz. "His great instincts on the field allow him to predict offensive movements and make tackles virtually anywhere,"
• End — Ethan Pearson, sr., Elkton-Lake Benton. The 6-3, 218-pound Pearson had 35 solo tackles, 18 assists, two fumble recoveries and 19 hurries to go with a school-record 5.5 quarterback sacks.
"Ethan is a big-time playmaker who can change a game in a hurry on defense," said coach Tal Farnham.
• End — Derrick Podoll, jr., Leola-Frederick. The junior made 83 tackles including 42 solos, 20 tackles for a loss and 11 quarterback sacks.
• Linebacker — Cole Potter, sr., Howard. The 195-pound senior made 63 tackles and had four quarterback sacks.
"Cole is a really good player on both sides of the ball. He will flat out run you over and has the ability to change the outgame of a game by himself," said Ruml.
• Linebacker — Tate Nafziger, sr., Potter County. A two-time All-State selection, the 215-pound Nafziger accumulated 54 solo tackles and 37 assists.
"Tate has a true passion for the game of football and plays the game the way football should be played," said coach Vern Smith.
• Linebacker — Tyler Jensen, sr., Deubrook Area. An honorable-mention All-State player as a junior, he recorded 158 tackles, two quarterback sacks and two fumble recoveries this season.
"Tyler was everywhere on defense and made a ton of plays for us," said Shepardson.
• Linebacker — Rhett Florey, sr., Clark-Willow Lake. Florey was involved in 88 tackles (56 solos, 32 assists) for a Cyclone team that went 9-2 and advanced to the state semifinals. He had 15 tackles for a loss and six interceptions, three of which he returned for TDs.
"We used Rhett to key on our opponent's best player," said coach Joel Huber. "He is one of the best players I have coached and was our best defensive player."
• Back — Evan Donahue, sr. Howard. The 5-8, 165-pound Donahue repeated as an All-State defensive back with 77 tackles, three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
"Probably, pound for pound, the toughest kid on the field every week," said Ruml. "Evan goes wide open in practice and in games."
• Back — Trevor Reinesch, sr., Kimball-White Lake. Reinesch was involved in 84 tackles and also had four interceptions and a fumble recovery. He earned All-State honors for the second straight year.
"Trevor has a passion for the game of football," said Taylor. He always worked hard to understand the game and continued to strive to get better."
• Long Snapper — Eugene Martin, sr., De Smet-Iroquois. The four-year starter shined on offense, defense and special teams for the Eagles.
"Eugene has a worth ethic that is very contagious," said coach Tom Hoek. "He was a great leader for our young team."
• Kicker — Andrew Kirschenman, jr., Elkton-Lake Benton. The junior averaged 47.2 yards per kickoff, made four of six field-goal attempts and 24 of 26 point-after kicks for the Elks.
"Andrew is the hardest-working kicker I've coached in 25 years," said Farnham.
• Punter — Jesse Taylor, sr., Kimball-White Lake. The senior averaged 41.1 yards per punt and help limit opponents to a return average of less than 2 yards per kick. He also had three punts inside the 20-yard line.
"Jesse is a very talented athlete and leader on and off the field," said Coach Taylor.
• Special Team Player — Wyatt Krogman, sr., White River. The three-year starter was a threat on offense, defense and special teams.
"Teams tried to put two or three guys on him and he still couldn't be contained," said Lambley
Courtesy: Watertown Public Opinion