As the prep football stage passes the midpoint of the regular season, week six is full of exciting matchups, including a contest between 11AA #2 Mitchell (3-1) and 11AAA #2 Sioux Falls Roosevelt (4-1) at Howard Wood Field on Friday.
Also on the Friday night docket is the 11A battle between #1 Madison (5-0) and #4 Tea Area (3-1) on the Titans' homecoming. 11A #2 West Central (3-1) hosts 11B #4 Canton (3-1) in a game that features teams with a lot of speed and athleticism. In addition, 11AA #5 Yankton (2-3) travels to 11AA Watertown (2-2) in a confrontation of ESD foes. Plus, there is a cross-class clash in 9-man, featuring 9AA #4 Deubrook (4-1) and 9B #5 Dell Rapids St. Mary (4-0), in a game that should feature plenty of offense.
How'd We Do? Last week was much better from a picking standpoint. I was 3-2 (12-13 on the season), a significant improvement over the past two weeks. As a result, my overall record improved to 222-55 (.805) in regular season and playoff contests. This week, I will go with Roosevelt, Madison, West Central, Watertown and Deubrook.
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.
Here is a breakdown of five top area games in our "Focus on Five" preview.
11AA #2 Mitchell (3-1) @ 11AAA #1 Sioux Falls Roosevelt (4-1), Friday, Oct. 4, HWF
At Stake – In a matchup of #2 teams in their respective classes, the 11AA #2 Mitchell Kernels will have to try and control the explosive 11AAA #2 SF Roosevelt's offense. The Rough Riders also have a strong defense, which the Kernels must find a way to crack. Both teams are looking to continue fast starts to the season.
Mitchell Notes: After a 1-8 season a year ago, Mitchell has been one of the surprises and nice stories in prep football this year. The Kernels sit 3-1 with a #2 ranking, which is their highest point in the poll in many years. The "Cardiac Kernels" have made winning late fashionable, stealing a season-opening 27-21 road win over preseason #1 Yankton on a 4th quarter TD pass from Kanin Nelson to Beau Brown. The Kernels also took a 21-14 win over Harrisburg by recovering a blocked punt in the end zone in the final moments of that game. After a humbling 48-7 loss to #1 Pierre, the Kernels bounced back to take a 34-7 decision over Harrisburg. With 11AAA Roosevelt on deck, the Kernels face another big challenge. Head Coach Kent VanOverschelde has been impressed by his young, developing Kernels team. "We are football team that is still developing and working to find consistency," said VanOverschelde. "Overall, hard work and being very opportunistic have been the keys to our success," he said. In the preseason, Nelson won the quarterback position and the sophomore has stepped up with solid numbers, including 40 carries for 122 yards and two TDs rushing while completing 27-of-59 passes for 323 yards and three TDs. He only has two interceptions this season. "Kanin Nelson has proven to be a play maker, and our team has rallied behind his toughness. Along with the receiving corps, he is developing an understanding of pre-snap reads and making sounds decisions, limiting turnovers," said VanOverschelde. Another key player for the Kernels has been junior running back Mitchell Johnson, who has 66 carries for 250 yards and four TDs. "Mitch brings heart and passion to our team. As a leader, he prepared for the season, and is critical to our rushing offense. As he continues to develop his skills, we look for him to get better as the season progresses," said VanOverschelde." Also producing for the Kernels has been juniors Beau Brown (9-138-TD) and Landon Neugebauer (10-78 rushing; 9-71 receiving). One of several seniors stepping up for the team has been tight end Ethan Jones (5-39-TD). VanOverschelde pointed out that senior center Andrew Getty has been a cog on the improving offensive line while junior Matt Larson (44T, int., FR) has provide versatility and leadership on defense. Seniors Alex Herrick (29T, int.) and Preston Skinner (26T, FF) have also played well on defense. As they look ahead to the Rough Riders, VanOverschelde knows the Kernels have to keep the explosive Rough Riders offense off the field. That means his team needs to show ball security and clock control. "They are explosive and have multiple weapons to not just move the ball, but create big plays," said VanOverschelde. "We have to play with composure, work on moving the ball and get first downs," he said. "A key will be containing their team speed, and finding a way to match their physical abilities up front," added VanOverschelde.
Roosevelt Notes: Sioux Falls Roosevelt, the preseason #1, has bounced back after a 35-28 setback to #1 Lincoln on Sept. 13. Head Coach Kim Nelson believes his team is showing more consistency and featuring a defense that has improved in execution. "We must continue to improve every aspect of our game, including taking care of the ball and being sound in the kicking game," said Nelson, whose team owns a 179-to-68 point differential. In their wins, the Rough Riders have a 151-to-33 margin with a margin of victory of at 23 points per game. They opened the season with a 30-0 win over Brandon Valley and handled SF Washington, 30-7. After the Lincoln setback, they have defeated Rapid City Central, 49-13; and Aberdeen Central, 42-13. Through five games, Roosevelt has garnered 1,940 yards in total offense (388 per game), including 1,056 passing yards and 155 carries for 903 yards rushing. The Rough Riders have scored 24 TDs – 12 rushing and 12 passing. Meanwhile, the defense has limited foes to 1,217 yards in total offense or 243 per game. Opponents have 148 carries for 638 yards. Junior QB Taryn Christion continues to shine as the leader for Roosevelt. He has 73 carries for 503 yards with seven TDs along with completing 75-of-120 passes for 1,029 yards and 12 TDs. Nelson is pleased and impressed with the leadership and effort that Christion has shown. "He is the first on the field and the last to leave," said Nelson. Christion's career numbers continue to swell. He has 213 carries for 1,150 yards and 18 TDs on the ground while hitting on 174-of-290 passes for 2,596 yards and 23 TDs in the pass game. Senior running back Seth Bjordal (30-151-3 TDs) and a deep and talented group of receivers are others who have produced for Roosevelt. Those receivers include junior Chase Vinatieri (25-365-2 TDs), senior Tanner Hennings (19-338-4 TDs); Ryan Benson (10-174-3 TDs) and David Mulbah (9-227-3 TDs). Seniors Kory Lindquist, Kirby Hora, Skylar Newberg, Kyle Olinger and Austin Atword have been the leaders on the Roosevelt defense. As the Rough Riders face 11AA's #2 team, Nelson is impressed by the work ethic and resiliency of a young Mitchell squad. "The Kernels have found unique ways to win. They really play hard," he said. "I am impressed that they have played some of their best football late in games. We have to be ready for four quarters of football."
Inside Slant: Will Mitchell's defense be able to deal with the electric Roosevelt QB Taryn Christion? Who wins the battle upfront? Can Roosevelt establish a running game with someone not named Christion? Will Mitchell be able to score against a strong Rough Riders defense? How will a young, progressing QB in Kanin Nelson do against one of the 11AAA's best defenses?
Coaches: Kent VanOverschelde, Mitchell, 7th season, 25-37, .403. Kim Nelson, SF Roosevelt, 40-11 @ Roosevelt, 240-119 overall.
Series Records: Roosevelt leads 3-0. The Rough Riders and Kernels have not played since 2010 when Roosevelt took a 41-20 decision. Roosevelt also recorded a 52-0 win in 2009 and a 51-14 verdict in the 2008 playoffs. Overall, the Rough Riders have a 144-to-34 point differential in the on-and-off again series.
Bottom-line: Mitchell needs to get off to a fast start, particularly on the road. Playing on the road means that Mitchell needs to keep turnovers to a minimum and try to limit big plays. Roosevelt appears to have the upper hand with advantages up and down the roster. However, Mitchell has battled in games all season with their second solid start to a season in three years. Bottom-line, Roosevelt is too talented and will prevail.
Who Will Win? Roosevelt defeats Mitchell, 42-14.
11A #1 Madison (5-0) at 11A #4 Tea Area (3-1), Friday, Oct. 4.
At Stake: Madison will look to continue their winning streak and retain the #1 spot in 11A when they travel to meet #4 Tea Area, which will look to make a statement of their own after an earlier disappointing loss at Dell Rapids.
Madison Notes: 11A #1 Madison appears to be a team on a mission. The Bulldogs, which own basketball championships but haven't made an appearance a championship game appearance in the DakotaDome, have rolled up a 186-to-45 point differential in five straight wins. After a 5-4 season a year ago, Madison is the undisputed #1 team in 11A. With wins over three-time defending champion Dell Rapids (39-12) and 11-time champion West Central (24-21), the Bulldogs will look to continue their impressive start when they travel to face 11A #4 Tea Area (3-1). Madison Head Coach Max Hodgen feels good about this squad. "We have played well on defense with great balance on offense. We need to play disciplined ball," he said. In 2013 Madison has operated a balanced approach, generating 372.6 yards in total offense per game. They have 963 passing yards and 903 on the ground. Milne leads the rushing attack with 84 carries for 562 yards and 11 TDs. Giles has completed 52-of-91 for 955 yards and seven TDs. Preston Nordling has been a dangerous player for the Bulldogs with 794 all-purpose yards and seven total TDs. He has caught 20 passes for 492 yards and four TDs while scoring on a 60-yard interception return and a pair of punt returns (10-228-2 TDs). Aside from Milne, Madison's rushing attack include Mason Hemmer (20-188-2 TDs) and Brodie Frederickson (17-104-2 TDs). The receiving corps includes Carter Kasuske (14-169-TD), and Hemmer (7-156-TD). The defense has recorded two shutouts, picked off six passes, forced six fumbles and recorded seven sacks. This is a group led by senior Tyler Currey with 49 tackles and four TFLs. Bradyn Steffen has 30 stops, 5.5 TFLs and a sack while Jordan Unterbrunner has 27 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, and two sacks. Also playing big for Madison has been Johnny Monroe with 28 tackles and two TFLs and Kasuske, who has 23 stops. Hodgen respects the Tea Area program, aware of the talent the Titans have on both sides of the ball. "Tea Area runs some option and have the speed to break one at any time," he said. "From here on out we are going to get everyone's best game. It is also their homecoming so we anticipate a lot of excitement and energy down there."
Tea Area Notes: As seasons progress, the next game becomes the most important one on the schedule. As 11A #4 Tea Area readies for #1 Madison on the Titans' homecoming, they next game is indeed important. The Titans are a team focused on continuing to play well and get some traction for a successful run. Tea Area has recorded two straight shutouts after being shut out themselves by three-time defending champion Dell Rapids on Sept. 13. Head Coach Craig Clayberg has a team that appears to be building momentum. "Our team chemistry is getting better," said Clayberg. "We have a number of new faces in the starting lineup this season and they are starting to trust each other and are becoming more comfortable with the offense and defense," he said. The Titans opened the season with a 46-6 win over Elk Point-Jefferson before falling at Dell Rapids, 15-0. They have defeated Vermillion and Sisseton by the same 41-0 score on consecutive week. As a result, they have built an impressive 128-to-21 scoring differential. This is a group led by four senior co-captains, all who are stepping up this year. "Taylor Roemen, Gunnar Ensz, Cooper Hansen, and Tarin Smallfield have all been playing varsity football since they were sophomores. They really do a great job of helping the younger players in practice and in games. They are great men, both on and off the field," said Clayberg. Tea Area has compiled 1,409 yards in total offense or 352.3 yards per game. Of that total, they have 994 yards rushing on 126 attempts for 7.9 yards per carry and 248.5 yards per game. Senior Gunnar Ensz leads the way with 31 carries for 388 yards and nine TDs. He has 1,155 career rushing yards on 124 attempts with 25 TDs. Senior Cooper Hansen (21-285-3 TDs) and senior QB Taylor Roeman (30-141-3 TDs) and Brett Herr (10-57) are other key players in the rushing attack. In the passing game, Roeman has hit on 25-of-54 passes for 415 yards and three TDs. In his career, Roeman has 1,641 passing yards, completing 89-of-182 passes and 12 TDs. Senior wide receiver Tarin Smallfield is a big target at 6-3 and Roeman's main go-to-guy in the pass game. Smallfield has 10 receptions for 204 yards and two TDs. On defense, Hunter Irvine leads the way with 36 tackles, 1.5 TFLs and a forced fumble. Garrett Welsh had 33 tackles, TFL, and two sacks while Smallfield has 31 tackles, fumble recovery, 1.5 sacks and 1.5 TFLs. As Tea Area faces Madison for the first time, Clayberg knows his team has a huge challenge ahead. "Madison is a good football team with a lot of weapons. We can't let them have any big plays when they are on offense - we need to contain them," said Clayberg. "Defensively, they are a good size team. We just need to play our game and execute on every play. We need to rally to the ball and not commit any turnovers."
Coaches: Max Hodgen, Madison, 4th season, 14-16, .466. Craig Clayberg, Tea Area, 4th year, 19-15, .558.
Inside Slant: Can Tea Area's defense slow down the big-play Madison offense, keyed by southpaw QB Jacob Giles? How important will homecoming prove to be for the Titans? Can Ensz continue to find the end zone for Tea Area? Will Roeman find Smallfield in the pass game? Will Milne continue to find space in an opponent's defense? Most of all, does Nordling continue to cause nightmares for opponents?
Series Records: First-ever meeting between the schools.
Bottom-line: This is a matchup of two talented squads with game-breaking talent on both sides of the ball on both teams. Clearly, Madison is on a roll. With struggling Vermillion (1-3) and Lennox (1-3) on the schedule yet, a win by Madison most likely means an unbeaten regular season. Giles, Milne and Nordling are a dangerous trio and make something happen every week. They will again. Meanwhile, Tea Area has a lot of pride and faces the Bulldogs on homecoming. This is a talented team that can score in several ways. If Roeman can find Smallfield for some big plays and the Tea Area front can create some openings for Hansen and Ensz, they could cause major headaches for the top-ranked Bulldogs.
Who Wins? At this juncture, Madison is the best team in the class until someone beats them. They prevail, 27-14.
11B #4 Canton (3-1) at 11A #2 West Central (3-1)Friday, Oct. 4
At Stake: 11A #2 West Central, the preseason #1, will try and get back on track after a loss to #1 Madison, 24-21, on the road. The Trojans will face a Canton team that has won two straight games, including a 38-0 win over defending 11B runner-up Tri-Valley.
West Central Notes: After a late rally fell short in the loss to 11A #1 Madison on Friday, West Central will look to get back to the business of winning. Prior to the Madison setback, #2 West Central had three wins by a 153-to-12 margin (Dakota Valley, 49-6; Vermillion, 53-0; Lennox, 51-6). Moving forward, the Trojans will operate without senior QB Noah Matson, whose season likely ended with a broken collarbone against Madison, and linebacker Josh Mettler, who had an ankle injury two days before the Madison game. Still, this is a talented team led by an explosive backfield and a physical offensive and defensive front. Plus, the Trojans have winning mojo as reflected in a state-best 11 playoff titles and 13 championship game appearances. So, one blip in the season only means that the Trojans have renewed focus as 11B #4 Canton comes to town. Leading West Central is their talented corps of running backs, including Cody Miller (37-261-2 TDs), Cole Tirrel (25-211-6 TDs) and Cody Bussell (41-284-5 TDs). Besides that trio, the team is deep in the backfield with Cole Becker (6-42-2 TDs), Alex Voigt (4-97), Seth Titus (15-70-TD), Jevan Mueller (4-21-TD) and Jonah Rechtenbaugh (1-18) in reserve. West Central, which will likely move tight end Jace Hanisch to QB, will utilize Tirrel (2-29) Miller (2-55), Voigt (3-85), Bussell (3-68), Becker (2-40) and Brayden Swartout (1-19) in the pass game. "The key for us is offensive balance with the ability to run the football, which has made our play-action passing very efficient," said Mueller, who watched Hanisch perform admirably (3-of-3-71 yards) at QB when Matson went down last week. With Hanisch under center, this squad will look to continue a productive offense, which has generated 1,423 yards in total offense or 355.75 yards per game. Of that total, the Trojans have 141 carries for 1,053 yards or 263.25 yards per game. West Central has been tough defensively all season with big plays a significant part of the team's success. "We have gotten big plays out of our special teams. Defensively, we have been able to force takeaways and ‘3 and outs" most of the time," said Mueller. As the Trojans face the C-Hawks, Mueller wants to make Canton one-dimensional by taking away their running game. "We have to eliminate big plays and watch out for Cody Majeres, who is a threat every time he touches the ball. They might be the fundamentally best team on the offensive line we will see this year. They are big strong and get off the ball well. Their skill players are big, fast, tough runners so they are very multi-dimensional team," said Mueller.
Canton Notes: After a tough opening stretch in 2012 season, Canton finished that season with three wins in four games. The C-Hawks have carried that momentum into the 2013 season. They have three wins in four games, including an impressive 31-0 win over defending 11B runner-up Tri-Valley last week. In the opener, Canton defeated Bon Homme, 36-21, and they have a 41-14 win over Beresford along with a 21-14 loss to Parkston. Since that week two loss to Parkston, the C-Hawks have won two straight by a combined 79-14 margin. Like West Central, this is a run-focused team that plays solid defense. "The key for us is to establish our running game and play solid defense," said head coach Rich Lundstrom in his 12th year at Canton. "We need to block well, be disciplined on defense and play well on special teams." The offense is directed by the multi-talented QB Cody Majeres, who has 49 carries for 244 yards and five TDs while completing 14-of-28 passes for 269 yards and three TDs. He leads an offense that has rushed for 1,283 yards on 208 carries and 17 TDs. With 269 yards passing, the C-Hawks have generated 1,552 yards in total offense or 388 per game. Lundstrom pointed out that his team relies on Majeres, along with fullback Tanner Broughton (34-243-5 TDs), halfback Gabe Dolen (56-363-4 TDs), who has a pair of 100-yard rushing games this season, and Jake Ablett (32-191-TD). Tight end Eli Ripley (7-94), Bruce Schroedermeier (2-18), Brian Jennings (3-122) are the main go-to-guys in the pass game. Upfront, the C-Hawks lean on Tyler Lems. "These guys make everything happen for us," he said. On defense, Broughton (21T, 6 TFLs, sack), Dolen (19T, 3 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, FR) , Ripley (19T, 2.5 TFLs, int., FR), Lems (16T, 3 TFLs, int., 2 FF, 2 FR) and Austin Schreurs (11T, 4.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks) lead the way. It has been a stingy defense, which has allowed just 499 total yards. On the injury front, Canton has been without Drew Estabrook, a likely starter on line, who was hurt in preseason, as well as starting tackle Adam Esche, who will miss the West Central game but should return soon.
Inside Slant: Can Canton's physical defense slow down and corral the speedy and aggressive West Central offense? Will Cody Majeres find space to make a big play? Can the C-Hawks pound away at the West Central middle? Will Cole Tirrel continue to make big plays?
Coaches Records: Rich Lundstrom, 12th year (15th overall) at Canton, 54-47, .534; Kent Mueller, 10th year (24th overall), 91-26, .778.
Series Records: West Central leads, 24-17. The last meeting between the teams occurred in 2008 when West Central took a 54-0 win. Dating to 2004, West Central has six straight wins. West Central's wins include 2007, 56-0; 2006, 42-7; 2005, 41-0; 2004, 43-6, and 28-7 (playoffs).
Bottom-line: This is Canton's toughest test to date, moving up a class to battle the #2 Trojans. Both teams will want to establish a running attack and mix in passes. Both teams have strong, talented backfields. Look for this game to be tight all the way.
Who Wins? West Central will rebound with a 27-22 win over Canton.
9B #5 Dell Rapids St. Mary (4-0) at 9AA #4 Deubrook (4-1) Friday, Oct. 4
At Stake – Both Deubrook and Dell Rapids St. Mary are ranked in their respective polls and focused on continuing their winning streaks. St. Mary has won four straight as has Deubrook, which lost to 9AA #1 Arlington in the opener.
Deubrook Notes: With a perfect 12-0 title-winning season in 2012 and a 20-3 mark over the past two years, Deubrook is on a winning mode. Led by head coach Adolph Shepardson, this team showcases an explosive offense with a defense that shutdowns opponents. In five games, Deubrook has a 216-to-98 point differential over opponents. Shepardson likes the way this team continues to progress, especially after a frustrating 34-20 loss to #1 Arlington in the opener. Since that loss, they have defeated Colman-Egan, 62-6; Estelline, 53-14; Elkton-Lake Benton, 45-32, and Castlewood, 36-12. "We have improved each game of the season," said Shepardson. "Our new starters have matured and improved all season long. The offense is scoring points almost every possession and not turning the ball over. Riley Hanson has been making big plays for us all year as has Dustin Trooien. Our kids believe in themselves and work hard," he said. In five games, Deubrook has rolled up 2,032 yards in total offense or 406.4 per game. Of that total, they have 1,555 yards rushing on 162 carries for 311 yards per game and 9.6 per carry. In four straight wins, the Dolphins have held a 196-to-64 scoring margin, scoring at least 36 points in every game. Leading the offense has been one of the most electrifying players in prep football this year, Riley Hanson, who has 90 carries for 971 yards and 14 TDs (16 TDs total) which pushes his career total to 177 carries for 1,727 yards with 25 TDs. In all-purpose yards, he has 4,384 yards, including 1,361 this year. Earlier, Hanson had 367 yards rushing on 31 carries with five TDs vs. Elkton-Lake Benton. He is also an exciting player on special teams with a 40.33 average on KOR (6-242-TD) and a 16.5 punt return average (4-66). Trooien, an all-state wide out last year, has stepped in at QB and produced solid, efficient numbers. He is 25-of-43 for 429 yards with seven TDs and just one interception. Trooien also has 39 carries for 220 yards and four TDs rushing. Also adding strength to the Dolphins rushing attack has been junior Dalton Kruse (19-175-2 TDs) and junior Mads Esbensen (10-141-TD). The receiving corps are led by junior Jacob Berndt (6-98-2 TDs), senior Trent Johnson (6-126-2 TDs), senior Quinn Peterson (5-82-2 TDs), sophomore Nate Vostad (5-56) and Hanson (4-82-TD). Clayton Dahl, who was the SD Football Coaches Association Line MVP in the state title game in 2012, has been solid. He is one of the leaders on defense with 30 stops and 2.5 sacks. Junior linebacker Evan Sheffield has been dominant on defense with 61 tackles and 1.5 sacks while Esbensen (39T), Trooien (36T, 2 int.), and Peterson (34T, 2 sacks, FR) have made huge contributions. Overall Deubrook, has 11 sacks, forced 12 turnovers, including nine fumble recoveries. Shepardson knows that St. Mary will be a tough opponent. "We need to shut down their double wing offense, make our read keys on defense and have great pursuit and tackle well. It is important to dominate the line of scrimmage and win special teams," said Shepardson. "I think it will be important on how fast we can adjust on game day to the speed at which they run the double wing. DRSM does a nice job of executing that offense."
Dell Rapids St. Mary Notes: After an unfamiliar 3-6 season a year ago, Dell Rapids St. Mary is back doing the things that has defined this program under head coach Ross Flemmer. In other words, they are winning by executing a strong and explosive rushing attack along with a shutdown defense. As they head into a showdown with 9AA #4 Deubrook, the Cardinals have put together a 218-to-66 point differential in winning four straight games to kick off the 2013 campaign. "Our kids have been playing hard this year," said Flemmer, who team is 100-30 during his tenure, including 70-23 since 2004. DRSM has had three 10-win campaigns during that run and last year's season was the first non-winning season since a 5-5 mark in 2005. "They spent a lot of time in the weight room after last year's season and are much more physical this year," said Flemmer of his Cardinals' crew. This year's squad has generated 1,638 yards in total offense or 409.5 yards per game, including 1,389 yards rushing or 347.25 per game. This season they have churned out rushing totals of 400, 428, 289 and 272. All of that production has led to four wins with a 28 point differential per game. The Cardinals have scored at least 40 points in every game, including a 40-14 verdict over DeSmet-Iroquois in the opener and then a 60-32 decision against then #3 Castlewood. They rolled to a 58-14 win over Oldham-Ramona/Rutland in week three and a 60-6 decision against Colman-Egan last Friday. The offense is led by running backs Josh Brown, who has 42 carries for 623 yards and 13 TDs while Ben Bunkers has provided 41 carries for 333 yards and five TDs. Jacob Glazier has added 17 carries for 169 yards with Christian Schnieders provided 17 carries for 72 yards and four TDs. Bunkers has also completed 6-of-12 passes for 93 yards while starting QB Wes Henricy is 5-of-9 for 106 yards and two TDs. "Our offensive line has played very well so far this season. They've been doing a great job, and our backs have been running hard," said Flemmer, noting the leadership of seniors Leon Maxwell, Jonah Longville, Jared Scholten and Bunkers. As they prepare for Deubrook, the Cardinals need to be aggressive and physical, says Flemmer. "We need to be able to run the football. Defensively, we have to try to stop (Riley) Hanson and (Dusty) Trooien," said Flemmer. "We need to be able to try to slow up their two offensive weapons. They are quite fast and elusive so we need to neutralize their speed."
Inside Slant: Both teams have talented backfields, so which team controls the line of scrimmage? Can Brown and Bunkers continue to make big plays? What about Hanson, will he break some big plays on offense or special teams for Deubrook? Can Trooien continue to show efficient play at QB for the Dolphins?
Coaches Record: Ross Flemmer, Dell Rapids St. Mary, 15th season, 104-30, .776; Adolph Shepardson, Deubrook, 45-66, .405; 24-4, .857 at Deubrook.
Series Records: This is a series that started in 2006 and has been controlled by the Cardinals until the past two years. Deubrook trails DRSM, 4-2, but have recorded consecutive wins by a 64-30 margin a year ago and 34-8 two years ago. The Cardinals wins included 40-26, 2010; 58-8, 2009 48-0, 2008; and 42-0, 2007.
Bottom-line: This is one of the best matchups of the week in 9-man ranks. Both teams will pound the ball, searching for openings and big plays in the ground game. Hanson provides Deubrook with the most explosive player on either side. He is elusive, quick and can be gone in a flash. Meanwhile, DRSM's Josh Brown is a load to bring down as is his running partner Ben Bunkers. A key will be upfront – who wins the line of scrimmage battle? Can Trooien continue to develop as a solid QB? This game may be the highest scoring affair in 9-man ranks, weather-permitting.
Who Wins? With Deubrook at home, the Dolphins get a slight edge, 36-30.
11AA #5 Yankton (2-3) @ 11AA #3 Watertown (2-2) Watertown, Friday, Oct. 4
At Stake: The Yankton-Watertown matchup is a key ESD battle as both teams try to develop consistency and build momentum. Both squads were victorious a week ago with Watertown edging Harrisburg, 17-14; and Yankton claiming a 22-14 win over 11AAA O'Gorman. This game matches up two of the best players in prep football in the Arrows' Shay Bratland and Yankton's J.J. Hjena.
Yankton Notes: A preseason favorite in the media, the Yankton Bucks' 2013 campaign has been marked by inconsistent play, which has included turnover problems and poor field position. As the Bucks look to get back to .500 and start building a winning streak, they face a pair of tough ESD battles in the next two weeks. This week, Yankton matches up with Watertown with #1 Pierre Riggs heading to Crane-Youngworth Field in two weeks. Veteran head coach Arlin Likness feels his team keeps pushing each other to get better. "Our record is 2-3 but we come out every week with the goal of getting better. We have a good attitude and we are seeing leadership out there," said Likness. "We have a bunch of great kids, who just need to keep improving on a daily basis," he said. In the season opener, Yankton fell to #2 Mitchell, 27-21, when the Kernels hit a late TD pass. After a win over Rapid City Stevens, 52-36, the Bucks lost a pair of ESD shootouts to Brandon Valley, 42-25 at home and Aberdeen Central, 34-21, on the road. Last week, they defeated SF O'Gorman, 22-14. It was Yankton's first win over the Knights since 2000 and a first win over a Sioux Falls school since 2007. Yankton, which has won six 11AA crowns but none since 2002, have a 64-34 record since 2004, which implies that the Bucks expect to win. For them to continue on the upward track, the leaders of team have to continue to make plays. They have generated 1,671 yards in total offense or 334.2 yards per game, including 1,357 passing and just 314 yards (145 carries, 2.1 avg.) on the ground. Leading the way is Hejna, a three year starter, who has been the state's most dynamic receiver with 32 catches for 642 yards and seven TDs. At QB, Mason Strahl (49-89-803-4 TDs) and Brady Hale (39-71-516-6 TDs) have split duties with both shining at various points. Levi Davis (45-125-2 TDs; 10-83 rec.) has been the featured running back, although he hasn't been able to break through with a big game this season. Jordan Lightner (15-51) also sees action in the backfield. Others contributing in the passing game include wide outs Tanner Termansen (10-211-TD), Parker Kuchta (9-74-TD) and Matt Fitzgerald (13-168-0). Steven McKee is the leader on the offensive line. Lane Sawatzke is invaluable in the kicking game. He has hit on 4-of-8 field goals, including a 54-yarder, and 13-of-14 PATs According to Likness, the Bucks need continued improvement in all three phases of the game. "Our line play has to improve," he said. "The defense needs to keep opponents out of the end zone and the offense has to limit turnovers and move the ball," he said. The coach knows that Watertown will be a big test. "They have great speed and size upfront, along with being athletic. We will have our work cut out for us. For us to have a chance, we have to play our best game of the season," he said.
Watertown Notes: Watertown remains a team to keep an eye on. With their win over Harrisburg, the Arrows moved to 2-2 with losses only to 11AAA #1 Lincoln (56-24) and 11AA #1 Pierre (35-24). They also have an impressive 32-13 decision over Aberdeen Central. With a home game against Yankton on Friday, the Arrows are looking to make more progress and try and build momentum. Head Coach Steve Svendsen feels that his team needs to be mentally-focused and avoid costly mistakes that can derail a team. "We have been able to play with a more physical style in the running game, which helps our passing game when we are effective," said Svendsen, noting that team needs to be assignment-sharp as they face the Bucks. Watertown features one of the state's elite running backs in senior Shay Bratland, who now has 2,314 career all-purpose yards including 765 in 2013. Bratland has 106 carries for 521 yards rushing and five TDs, which pushes his career total to 259 carries for 1,218 yards and 12 TDs. At QB, senior Logan Gabriel (38-106-499-3 TDs, 2013; 131-314-1,478-9 TDs, career) will lead the offense. His main passing weapon is Jess Poppen, who caught the game-winning TD in the win over Harrisburg last Friday. Poppen has 13 catches for 179 yards and two TDs this season while also handling placekicking duties (2-2, FG; 9-of-10 PATs). The defense is led by senior linebacker Trevor Jutting with 19 stops and a fumble recovery. This week, the Arrows, which have generated 744 yards on the ground and 1,243 yards in total offense (310.75 yards per game), need to be consistent on both sides of the ball against a Yankton team, which is coming off a big win over O'Gorman.. Svendsen has a lot of respect for the Yankton team, noting Coach Likness does a fantastic job utilizing talent and fitting players into his system. "We have to be ready for the challenge of whatever comes our way. I also think we need to establish ourselves on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. In establishing the line of scrimmage, we have to be able to run the football, grind some clock and keep the ball out the hands of their offense, which might be our best defense," he said.
Coaches: Steve Svendsen, Watertown; Aaron Likness, Yankton, 15th season (29th overall), 113-50, .693 @ Yankton, 231-81 overall.
Inside Slant: Will Shay Bratland find space to utilize his speed/power combo? Will Yankton's pass offense continue to put up big numbers? What kind of factor will JJ Hejna of Yankton play in the receiving game and on defense? Which team wins the battle up front? Who avoids turnovers?
Series Records: Since 2004, the two schools have gone 5-5. Yankton has won the last two matchups – 44-0 in 2012 and 48-18 in 2011- and three of the past four games in the series. Watertown's last win was a 26-14 decision in 2010. Other games include 2009 – Yankton, 24-14; 2008 – Watertown, 15-14 and 7-0 in the playoffs; 2007 – Watertown, 14-7; 2006 – Yankton, 27-14; 2005 – Yankton, 27-21; and 2004, Watertown, 20-14.
Bottom-line: In this key ESD battle, both teams should have success moving the ball and putting up points. It could very easily turn into a shootout. Bratland will find space in the Yankton defense. If Poppen can "pop" a few long plays in the pass game, Watertown will be tough to beat. Yankton has struggled in the rushing game, which they need to correct ASAP. It is clear the Yankton passing attack will strike some big plays, utilizing Hejna and Termansen.
Who Wins? Go with Watertown at home, 33-26.