As the prep football season opens, the schedule is dotted with "must see" games. But that shouldn't be a surprise. Every year, we are treated to a smorgasbord of outstanding area matchups, whether rivalry games or first-time contests.
To get you ready for the matchups, this KSFY Sports "Focus on Five" blog will take an inside look at the matchups. For the third straight year, I will take a shot at picking our featured games. During 2011 and 2012, I compiled an overall 210-42 (.833) record in regular season and playoff contests. In the 2011 regular season, I was 24-16 and I was 28-12 a year ago. In the playoffs, I have put together a 79-7 mark in both years. In the playoff finals, my picking rate is 10-2. Here is a breakdown of five top area games.
Football will kickoff on Thursday with a traditional Iowa rivalry battle between Central Lyon/George-Little Rock who travels to highly regarded West Lyon on Thursday night. The 9-man circles feature a pair of #1 teams doing battle in Colome on Friday, where the 9A #1 Cowboys will host 9AA #1 Gregory. 9B #1 Canistota will look to extend its 36-game winning streak against perennial 9A power Hanson. There are two big 11-man matchups on Saturday night. In 11AAA, #5 Brandon Valley hosts #1 Sioux Falls Roosevelt in the Pigskin Classic. In Watertown, the Arrows, ranked #5, will host #2 Pierre in an ESD showdown
Just a reminder. When the games end Friday night, don't forget to tune into KSFY-TV with Sports Director Erik Thorstenson and Matt Peterson for Friday Night Lights. I will join Thor and Matt at the close of the show for some quick analysis on games.
1A West Lyon (0-0) @ 2A Central Lyon-George Little Rock (0-0), Beef Bowl, Thur., Aug. 29
Central Lyon-George-Little Rock: Despite heavy graduation losses, Central Lyon/George Little-Rock opens the season with confidence, albeit with some question marks. "We have had great focus and work ethic this fall," said head coach Toby Lorenzen who has coached the program for 18 years. Central Lyon-George-Little Rock has built a rich tradition of excellence, going 321-126 since. In fact, CL-G-LR has a 67-30 regular season record and stand 13-6 in the playoffs since 2004. Overall the Lions have won three state titles (2006, 1977, 1976) and recorded five runner-up finishes (2008, 2007, 1999, 1996, and 1991). The Lions return a solid core, including 15 letter winners and five starters on both offense and defense. While the starting line-up is not set, one of the leaders will be senior Jesse Henrichs (47 carries, 287 yards, 6 TDs, 2 rec., 17 yards). The backfield will include senior Brent Klingenberg. The receiving corps include senior split end Tanner Ver Steeg (4-85-TD) along with junior tight end Grant Metzger (2-43). The offensive front returns senior Ned Knobloch and Andrew Metzger along with junior Travis Vanderstreek. Defensively, the Lions will operate a 4-3 defense which returns five starters, including linebackers in Klingenberg (61T) and senior Ethan Christians (73T, 2 FR). Upfront senior defensive tackle Jacob Kumba (23T, TFL, sack) will be the anchor. The secondary includes Ver Steeg (27T, 2 int., 31-yard TD return) and Henrichs (43T, 2 int.). CL-G-LR opens with traditional rival West Lyon, which promises to be a challenge. "We need to avoid letting West Lyon make big plays and try to make a couple ourselves. They are the favorite in the class as they return virtually their entire team from a year ago. We will work hard and see what happens," said Lorenzen.
West Lyon Notes: Optimism is high in West Lyon, 10-2 a year ago, which returns the core of its team from a year ago. This is a team that has made winning a habit with 22 playoff appearances in the past 24 years, directed by veteran head coach Jay Roseboom. West Lyon has five title appearances with three championships during that impressive run. Since 2004, the Wildcats sit 86-22, including 19-8 in the playoffs. Over the last five years, they are 53-11 and 14-4 in the playoffs. West Lyon returns 13 starters, including seven on offense and six on defense. The West Lyon Power I offense will be led by the return of quarterback Brandon Snyder (21-of-39-421 yards, 7 TDs; 74 att., 681 yards, 9 TDs), who doubles as the place kicker (43-of-48 PATs, 1-1 FG, 26 yards). The backfield includes standout senior running back Kaleb Heyer (107-905, 15 TDs; 1 rec., 9 yards, TD, 18 total TDs) along with seniors Bennett Feuchtenberger (42-195-5 TDs.) and Kyle Groenweg (50-353-2 TDs; 5-86 rec.). Upfront, the Wildcats will have three starters back on the offensive line, including seniors Matt Metzger, Reagen Meyer and junior Jake Newborg. The Wildcats' 4-3 defense should again be solid with six starters back, including Bauman (25T, 10 TFLs, 8 sacks, FR), Newborg (31T, 2 TFLs, sack, int., FR) and Pottebaum (39T, 5 TFLs, 2 sacks, FR) upfront. Heyer (94T, 5 TFLs, 2 sacks, FR, int., 2 defensive return TDs) is the lone returner at linebacker and will be joined by Moser (39T, 3 TFLs, 2 sacks). The secondary includes senior Groenweg (43T) and Synder.(47T, 5 int.).
Inside Slant: West Lyon will look to establish Snyder and Heyer in the rushing game. The Wildcats are a team with a ton of experience which will be a factor in close games like this one. CL-G-LR will also look to establish their ground game, but will have an inexperienced backfield.
Coaches: Jay Rozeboom, West Lyon, 21st season, 203-38, .842; Toby Lorenzen, Central Lyon-George Little Rock, 18 years, 142-54, .724
Season Results: First game for both teams.
Series Records: Over the last 10 games, the two rivals stand 5-5, although West Lyon has won three of four. CL-G-LR won three straight from 2006-08. A year ago, West Lyon won the matchup, 14-7. Here are the other scores – 2011 – CL-G-LR 16 West Lyon 14; 2010 – West Lyon 40 CL-G-LR 7; 2009 – West Lyon 28 CL-G-LR 0; 2008 – CL-G-LR 20 West Lyon 14; 2007 – CL-G-LR 26 West Lyon 14; 2006 – CL-G-LR 14 West Lyon 0; 2005 – West Lyon 21 CL-G-LR 10; 2004 – CL-G-LR 15 West Lyon 14 & West Lyon 20 CL-G-LR 6, playoffs.
Bottomline: In this rivalry matchup, it appears that West Lyon has the upper hand with Heyer, Snyder and a ton of experienced players both ways. But remember this is always a battle and should be again. Look for West Lyon to pull away late.
Who Wins? West Lyon takes a 24-13 decision.
9A Hanson (0-0) @ 9B #1 Canistota (0-0), Friday, August 30
Hanson Notes: With a solid core group back, perennial 9-man power Hanson will look to rebound from a 4-5 season and return to the regular state of order – winning football. Veteran head coach Jim Haskamp likes what he has seen with his team so far this fall. "Our attitude, competitiveness and the emphasis of being a more physical football team have been good," he said. Getting off to a good start will be important, especially in facing perennial 9-man power Canistota, which is riding a 36-game winning streak. "It is important that we control the line of scrimmage and be able to match their physical style of play," said Haskamp. While they haven't won a 9A title since 2010, Hanson is always tough. The Beavers have won four titles since 2005, recording a 77-20 overall record (since 2004) with a 22-5 record in the playoffs. The 2013 team should be a difficult team to handle with the return of 14 letter winners and several starters. A talented backfield leads the way, including senior running back Jacob Paradeis (125-768-7 TDs), juniors Jordan Marquardt (104-404-3 TDs; 9-252-4 TDs rec.) and Mason Mayer (73-251-3 TDs; 8-165-TD rec.). Juniors Sam VanderStouwe and Jerrod Zens will compete/share QB duties. On the offensive front, seniors Ryan Guericke, Andrew Nelson - a transfer from Marion - and junior center Tristan Bender form a solid group. Hanson's defense should be solid with the return of Paradeis (47T, int., sack), who was an All-State linebacker a year ago. Other returning starters include Marquardt (46T, 3 sacks, 3 int.) and VanderStouwe (34T, sack, 3 FR) at linebacker. On the defensive front, the addition of Nelson (60T, sack, 2 FR) will be huge. He is joined by Miller (29T, sack) and Guericke (39T, two sacks, FR) and Lane Kessler. Mayer (50T, 2 int., FR) will lead the secondary, which also includes Tim Leach, Levi Doyle and Aaron Wenande.
Canistota Notes: A young Canistota team takes a 36-game winning streak into the 2013 season. With a daunting schedule, including a dangerous 9A team in Hanson on Friday night, the Hawks have a big challenge as they chase Freeman's all-time record of 46 in a row. Yet, it is a program that has taken hits from graduation before and rebounded nicely. "Hanson is much more experienced team that we are," said first- year head coach Jamie Strang, who took over as head coach this summer. "We need to get out to a fast start and play a clean football game. I like how we have progressed with a large amount of change and growth from the start. We still have a lot of work to do but everything has been positive," he said. Clearly, Canistota has a big challenge ahead but since moving away from a co-op with Bridgewater after the 2009 season, they have been one of South Dakota's most dominant 9-man program in history. The Hawks have reeled off 36-straight victories, winning back-back-to-back titles in two different classes, putting up a 1,843-to-202 point differential, including 658-to-28 in the playoffs. They were 12-0 in 2010 in claiming the 9B title and 12-0 in each of the last two years in rolling to 9A crowns. This year's squad will be led by returning senior standout, Nick Hofer (130-2,259, all-purpose yards; 70-817-16 TDs rushing; 27-632-8 TDs receiving; 13-228-KOR; 19-392-2 TD; 2 int., 30 yards, TD), who will play quarterback or running back. He has a 29 combined TDs in his career. The backfield will also include junior Carson Hofer and sophomore Jared Nielsen (7 carries, 74 yards, 2 TDs; 243 all-purpose yards). Sophomore Shay Jolley may win the quarterback job, which would shift Hofer to running back. The offensive front will be led by seniors Matt Anderson and Colton Golder and junior Dominic Weber. The vaunted Canistota 3-5-1 defense will be led Hofer (16T, PD) in the secondary along with Nielsen, Jolley and Jacob White Lance. The linebackers include Seubert, C. Hofer, Jacob Buseman, and Jonathan Dick. Upfront, Golder, Anderson, Weber, Engbarth, along with Noah Sandman and Jace Olson, will be in the rotation.
Coaches: Jim Haskamp, Hanson, 29 seasons, 161-81 (.665); James Strang, Canistota, 1st year, 0-0.
Inside Slant: Nick Hofer is a dangerous player for Canistota. But, the question remains will the young talent deliver for the Hawks? Hanson has a solid backfield led by Paradeis. With the transfer of Andrew Nelson from Marion, the front wall is solidified. Both teams have question marks headed into the season at QB. So, will turnovers play a role in the game?
Season Results: First game of the season for both teams.
Series Records: Over the last 11 meetings, dating to 2004, Canistota or Canistota-Bridgewater is 5-6 vs. Hanson. Interestingly enough, Canistota has won all five matchups since leaving the Canistota-Bridgewater co-op. In 2010, Canistota took a 20-8 verdict over the 9A champs. In 2011, the Hawks won twice by scores of 48-0 and 42-0 in the playoffs (semifinals). In 2012, Canistota again defeated Hanson twice on shutouts – 55-0 in the regular season and 54-0 in the playoffs. However, Hanson won six straight from 2004-09 by scores of 30-13, 50-0, 42-0, 22-18, 51-0, and 46-16.
Bottomline: Hanson is a veteran group that has taken its share of lumps from a dominating Canistota team over the past three years. With this game on the Hawks home field, look for a close, physical contest. Hanson's backfield looks solid and they are stronger on both sides of the ball upfront. Canistota has to break in a lot of new faces and needs a quick start Friday. The Hawks have lost key players before. Will these young, but talented Hawks, be able to step it up?
Who Wins? Top-ranked 9B Canistota scores late at home and takes 24-19 decision.
9AA #1 Gregory (0-0) @ 9A #1 Colome (0-0), Friday, August 30
Gregory Notes: After eight appearances in the playoffs in nine seasons, including a semifinal berth a year ago, Gregory football is on the upswing. During the past nine years, Gregory is 51-31, including 8-8 in the playoffs. Under the direction of fifth year head coach Brian Allmendinger, the Gorillas rolled to a 9-2 season a year ago and the prospects are high for the Gorillas in 2013. "We have good depth on our team, which provides us great looks with the scout team. It will allow us to rotate guys during games to keep everyone fresh – critical in hot weather games," said Allmendinger. As they look to 2013, they are a program beaming with confidence with the return of 22 letter winners, including five starters on offense and six on defense. The offense will be run by junior Kurt Braun (19-148-2 TDs, 2-2-35-2 TDs passing). The backfield includes seniors Paul Taggart (19-143-3 TDs, 2-17-TD rec.) and Brody Boes (22-114-2 TDS; 21-565-6 TDs rec.) and junior Jonah Beck (42-366-5 TDs). Gavin Thomas (15-325-5 TDs) and junior Mason Juracek are the starters aat tight end. The offensive line includes senior Scott Shoemaker along with junior Skye Soesbe and Dowain Kerner. On defense, Boes (76T, sack, int.), Beck (80T, 12 TFLs, 2 FR) and Warnke (59T, 3 TFLs, FR) will lead the team at linebacker. Upfront, seniors Josh Wagner and Scott Shoemaker (35T, 5 TFLs, 2 sacks, FR) along with sophomore Noah Beck are solid. The secondary includes senior Derek Stukel (53T, 4 TFLs) and Juracek.
Colome Notes: In one of the biggest games of the opening weekend, Colome hosts #1 9AA Gregory. Head Coach Kevin Keiser knows it will be a battle. His team returns one of the state's top players in quarterback Terrance Kinzer and a large group who have experience. "We will have to limit big plays and control the line of scrimmage," said Keiser. "We have a little more speed this year than in the past but have lost some size," he said. And, the coach realizes that Gregory is talented with experience. "Gregory puts a lot of pressure on a defense with multiple formations and make you tackle in open field," said Keizer. "They also have a lot of depth, they bring back almost everybody. I think Gregory could be one of the best 9 man teams in state, based on talent and experience that they bring back. It will be a really tough test for us especially first game and with not as much experience." Colome, which has played in six title games, has a tradition of excellence, winning 9B titles in 1988 and 2007. They also finished second in 1981, 1987, 2006, and 2012. Colome, 10-2 in 9B a year ago, moved up to 9A in 2013-14. Kinzer (190-1,964 all-purpose yards; 28-of-64-500-8 TDs passing; 170-1,607-29 TDs; 1,014 career passing yards and 12 TDs as well as 2,719 career rushing yards and 42 TDs) is a dynamic player. He scored 192 points in 2012 and has 54 combined TDs in his career. Kinzer also has 11 games over 100 yards rushing, including three over 200 yards. Also in the backfield will be junior RB Cole McCarty (27-163-2 TDs) and sophomore Reed Harter (6-41-2 TDs; 2-43 rec.). Senior end Lane Fawcett (4-81-2 TDs) and Cody Heath will catch passes. The line includes juniors Colin Stenson and Austin Seegers as well as senior Zack Ekberg. On defense, Kinzer (124T, 6 int., FR) leads the way at strong safety with McCarty (7T) and Harter (25T, 2 int.) also in the secondary. The linebacking corps include Hrabenek (86T, 2 FR), junior Reed Rutten (13T), and senior Jacob Worden (59T, int.). Upfront, Fawcett (57T, FR, 8.5 sacks), Ekberg (41T) and Seegers will be solid.
Coaches: Brian Allmendinger, Gregory, 6th year, 25-22, .532; Kevin Keiser, Colome, 6th year.
Inside Slant: Both teams will try to establish the rushing game while controlling the clock as much as possible. Gregory will have to deal with Colome's size and the speed and quickness of Kinzer. Gregory has a strong, fast backfield and a group of standout receivers. Look for some points to be put up in this game.
Season Results: This will be the first game for both teams.
Series Records: The two schools restarted a series three years ago with each team winning in the past two years. In 2011, Colome captured a 14-8 decision. A year ago, Gregory recorded a 48-20 win.
Bottomline: This will be a physical game that will feature highly ranked teams in their respective classes. A battle of #1 shapes up as one of the best games of the first week. Look for Gregory to have some success on the ground and also in the passing game. Kinzer is dynamic and will be tough to stop. The key for Colome is get steady line play and production from an fairly new set of running backs. Gregory has had a great summer and brings back a boatload of experience. Unless, I am wrong, this one goes to the wire.
Who Wins? In a tight contest, look for Gregory to take a 34-30 decision on the road.
11AA #2 Pierre (0-0) @ #5 Watertown (0-0), Saturday, August 31
Pierre Riggs Notes: After a rebound 7-4 season in 2012, Pierre Riggs will look to forge a second straight winning season as they open the season Saturday at ESD rival Watertown. Pierre, which will be directed by new head coach Jayson Poppinga, looks to be one of the favorites to capture the reformed 11AA class. For the third time in four seasons, the Governors put together a 7-4 season. The Govs have 14 returning letter winners, including six starters on offense and five on defense. The offense will be led by senior QB Alexander Gray (50-of-128-1,069-15 TDs; 96-563-4 TDs), a dual threat looking for a big season. Junior Jace Jerome (108-528-5 TDs) will handle running duties along with Skyler Poppen. The receiving corps will be solid, led by standout senior wide receiver Austin Christopherson (30-648-9 TDs). The offense will include TE Shay Reinke (2 rec., 29 yards, TD) and an offensive line led by a group of three seniors, including Brandon Swenson, Kyle Veitz and Ben Leidholt. On defense, Pierre Riggs will look to leadership from senior Dylan Bennett and Reinke upfront, along with Gray, senior Nathan Blaseg and Garrett Pochup in the secondary. Christopherson, M. Blaseg, Green, and Rancour also could play on the defense.
Watertown Notes: Veteran head coach Steve Svendsen senses that things may be a bit different for the Watertown Arrows in 2013. While they finished just 2-8 a year ago, they had a solid offseason program and the team has come together, says the coach. The Arrows return 30 letter winners, including eight starters on offense and nine on defense. Among the returning starters is a group of 14 seniors, all with starting experience. The Arrows will feature one of the most talented AA players in senior running back/kick returner Shay Bratland (1,597 all-purpose yards; 153-697-7 TDs; 20-256-2 TDs rec., 20 returns for 569 yards, TD) Senior quarterback Logan Gabriel (52-136-TD rushing; 93-of-208-979-6 TDs, 9 int.) will utilize Bratland along with dynamic wide out Jess Poppen (33-312-2 TDs). A senior-dominated offensive front includes two-year starter and senior Kolton Michalski. Seniors Nate Johnson, Harrison Jones and Lucas Kobat also started a year ago upfront. The Arrows defense will be led by senior linebacker Trevor Jutting (36T, int). Others figuring in the defense rotation include senior Eric Gauer (15T) and Jamison Spiering (FR) at LB with Johnson (30T, FR), Michalski (22T, 2 FR), senior Dylan Duffy (15T, blk kick, 3 FR) and senior Marcus Gravatt (10T) upfront defensive front. The secondary returns seniors Joe Foley (38T), and Mark DeSpiegler (9T) along with juniors Ricky Hannasch and Matt Decker (5T).
Coaches: Jayson Poppinga, 1st year, 0-0; Steve Svendsen, 2nd year at Watertown, NA
Inside Slant: Both teams come into this ESD matchup with high expectations. Can Watertown get Bratland some open space where he can utilize his speed and strength? Will Pierre's Gray and Christopherson form what has the potential to be one of the 11AA's top QB-WR combos? Will Jerome establish a ground attack for Pierre? Can Gabriel utilize the speed of Poppen, Bratland and Foley in the pass game? And, will either defense be able to create some stops?
Series Records: Typical ESD scenario as the Pierre and Watertown have split the last 10 meetings. Pierre has won four of the last five games, including two a year ago by scores of 22-6 and 28-6 in the playoffs. The Govs won a tight 16-14 decision in 2011 but dropped a 13-12 verdict to the Arrow in 2010. In 2009, Pierre won, 28-7. From 2006-08 Watertown won three straight games by scores of 36-0 (2006), 31-23 (2007), and 9-3 (2008). In 2005, Pierre won a 37-28 shootout while Watertown had a 35-7 win in 2004.
Bottomline: This should be a fantastic opening round matchup. Watertown has an edge being at home and Pierre has had some issues in first games before (Yankton, 27-21 loss in 2012). I expect both teams to find pay dirt early. Look for a lot of big plays. This should go down to the end and could hinge on the leg of Pierre's Pochop, an all-state kicker.
Who Wins? Upset Special - Watertown breaks out fast and holds on for a 28-27 win over Pierre.
11AAA #1 Sioux Falls Roosevelt (0-0) @ #5 Brandon Valley (0-0)
Brandon Valley Notes: Coming off an 11-1 season, the Brandon Valley Lynx has momentum in the program, even after losing to graduation some of the all-time greats in the program (Chad Marso, Matt Vanderberg). Head Coach Chad Garrow has a highly successful program that has gone 75-26, including 11-9 in the playoffs, since 2004. It is a team that returns a lot of talent, though some of them may lack in experience. Therefore, the fall camp has focused on reps and building rhythm, especially on offense. "It has taken some time on offense," said Garrow. "But, we had a good practice (Tuesday) in terms of timing with QB, receivers and our running backs. We are running a little slower than last year when we had a lot of experience back but it is starting to come around. Defensively, I feel good about where we are at." With 11AAA #1 Sioux Falls Roosevelt coming to town Saturday, Garrow knows his team has a tough opening test. "Obviously they are one of the top two teams in the state. Last year, they were young and hung with us. They are a good team with a lot of team speed. Taryn (Christion) is a threat and has matured at QB. It will be a tough matchup but it will be a good test to show us where our team is right now." BV, a tradition-rich program, has six overall titles (since 1982), copping three in 11AA and three others in 11A. The Lynx also own two mythical titles. As the Lynx reload, they do so with 14 letter winners, including two starters on offense and three on defense. BV's spread offense will have a makeover, led by the installation of junior Jake Comeaux at QB. The running game will be led by senior Cam Holmes (23 rec., 144 yards), one of the fastest players in South Dakota (2nd, 200 meters; 1st, 400 meters, State AA Track Meet) and perhaps senior Devon West. With the return of standout A.J. Garrow, the receiving corps will be solid. A two year starter, Garrow (62-731-5 TDs) has career numbers of 110 receptions (7th all-time) for 1,382 yards and six TDs. Talented newcomers Drew Reinschmidt and Denton Bose will be factors in the pass game as will tight end Alex Wilde. On the offensive front all-league performer Eric Ode will be the anchor with Kevin Petersen handling the other tackle and Andy Holes and Jake Meyers at guards. Nate Bennet will be the center. The 4-3 defense took heavy graduation losses but return senior linebacker All-ESD selection Lucas Lunstra (95T, 3 int.). Junior Wyatt Winter is a solid player and Andrew Sorensen an up and coming talent. On the line, BV will start Peter Choudek and Alex Maassen at ends with Ode and Bennet at tackles. The corners will be Holmes and Anthony Pacheco (15T, int.) with West (15T, 2 int.) and Reinschmidt handling safety chores. In addition, West will serve as punter and placekicker (31-of-35 PATs; 2-of-7 FG).
Sioux Falls Roosevelt Notes: Head Coach Kim Nelson likes his Rough Riders squad. And, why not? Roosevelt is ranked #1 in 11AAA in the KSFY-KWSN Broadcasters Poll and will be one of the top teams in the new 11AAA class in 2013. They are loaded with the return of nearly everybody on offense and defense. "I really like our athleticism and speed," said Nelson. "Our receivers and defensive backs have really come along quickly," he said. With a road test opening the season at Brandon Valley in the Pigskin Classic, Roosevelt will have an early test. Nelson knows that BV can be explosive even if graduation hit the Lynx hard. "We must control their passing game by using a combination of pressure and coverage to keep the QB guessing. Then we have to keep the ball away from them," he said. Roosevelt, which is 36-10 with Nelson at the helm, has been on quite a run of success since 2004, accumulating an 87-21 record, including 21-6 in the playoffs. They have won three titles, including the 2011 crown, finished runner-up once (2004) with three semifinal appearances and two quarterfinals in the 11AA playoffs. This team will be led by one of the most talented players in South Dakota prep football in junior dual threat QB Taryn Christion (140-647-11 TDs; 99-of-170-1,566-11 TDs-6 int.). The other pieces of the backfield includes senior RB Seth Bjordal (127-664-6 TDs; 9-43 rec.) and newcomer Jake Bear with junior Chase Vinatiera (10-44 rush.; 11-136 rec.) in the slot. At flanker, Roosevelt will look to Ryan Benson and Ben Whempner with senior Tanner Hennings (27-413-4 TDs) and Tyler VanVoorst at TE. Senior David Mulbah will handle wide receiver duties. On the offensive line, Roosevelt starts seniors Tyce Kidd and Justin Haffield as well as 6-7, 290 pound junior Grant Schmidt, junior Hunter Tebben and center Sam Denevan. The defense will return six starters led by standout senior Kory Lundquist (38T, 7.5 sacks, int., 3 FF, FR, def. TD return) at DE. Also up front will be senior Skylar Newberg (17T, int., FR, def. TD return), DT Cody Base and DE Dante Iron Hawk. At linebacker will be a talented group led by seniors Kirby Hora (75T, sack, int., 3 FR, 3 PBU) and Trevor Janish (79T, 1.5 sacks, FF, FR) along with junior Alex Garcia (37T). The secondary is also loaded with returning starters in seniors Kyle Olinger (61T, sack, int.) at strong safety and Austin Atwood (31T, int.) at cornerback. Taylor Bren and Bismark Roberts will work at the other corner with Whempner handling the free safety duties.
Coaches Records: Chad Garrow, Brandon Valley, 14 years, 66-24, .733; Kim Nelson, Sioux Falls Roosevelt, 5th year (34th overall), 36-10 @ Roosevelt, 236-118, .667, overall.
Inside Slant: Can Brandon Valley slow down the Roosevelt offense and dual threat Taryn Christion? Will BV be able to establish its vaunted passing attack with a lot of new pieces? How fast is the Roosevelt defense?
Season Results: First game for both teams.
Series Records: Since 2006, the two squads have met six times with the Rough Riders own a 4-2 advantage. A year ago BV took a 34-20 win in the 11AA semifinals to earn a trip to the DakotaDome. Two years ago, Roosevelt rallied for a 38-37 quarterfinal win over the Lynx as the Rough Riders went onto a state 11AA title. In 2010, Roosevelt picked up a 25-20 win while BV won the 2009 contest, 36-7. Roosevelt won games in 2007 by a 51-20 score and also rolled to a 42-6 decision in 2006.
Bottomline: Brandon Valley is a tough team at home. However, the Lynx have to reload after losing some of the program's greatest players ever in quarterback Chase Marso and WR Matthew Vandenberg. They have talent and will give Roosevelt some problems in the opening half. But, this is a talented Roosevelt team that looks like the best in 11AAA. Christion and his offensive mates will be able to move the ball and the defense will play tough.
Who Wins? Sioux Falls Roosevelt opens the season with a 31-19 win over BV.