For some teams, the regular season ends on Friday while others will have one last go at it a week from today. Regardless, teams in the 11-man and 9-man classes are jostling for spots in the playoffs.
As prep football turns the corner toward the playoffs, this week's Focus on Five previews features a number of key matchups. In Sioux Falls, a Friday night rivalry doubleheader at Howard Wood Field will include #2 Roosevelt (6-1) facing arch-rival O'Gorman (2-4) in a 5 p.m. game. At 8 p.m., #1 Lincoln (7-0) will battle defending big-class champ and city rival Washington (3-4). In Pierre, control of the ESD and more will be on the line when the 11AA #1 Governors hosts 11AAA Brandon Valley (5-1), which has won five straight. In 11B, upstart Redfield-Doland (6-1), which has won six straight, faces a stern test with 11B #5 Parkston (5-1). Finally, prep fans will be treated to a 9-man tussle between ranked teams in different classes at Dell Rapids. 9B #5 St. Mary (5-1) will host 9AA #1 Arlington, which has seven straight wins.
How'd I Do? For the third straight week, I was 3-2, which pushed my season total to 18-16. We are on a roll now. Right (anybody else believe I just jinxed myself). As a result, my overall record improved to 228-59 (.794) in regular season and playoff contests. This week, I will go with Brandon Valley, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Parkston and Arlington.
A sidebar - I haven't done very well with games involving Pierre (1-3). Govs Nation, I did pick your team a week ago. So, not too many darts my way, ok?
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.
11AAA #3 Brandon Valley (5-1) at 11AA #1 Pierre (5-1) Pierre, Friday, Oct. 18.
At Stake – In a battle for control of the ESD title and more, 11AAA #3 Brandon Valley travels to face 11AA #1 Pierre, which lost for the first time last week to ESD rival Yankton, 29-26, on the road. Pierre is intent on getting back on the winning track and welcomes a home game. Meanwhile, the Lynx are focused on a sixth straight win.
Pierre Notes: After a tough road loss to #2 Yankton (29-26), Pierre Riggs will look to get back on track when they host 11AAA #3 Brandon Valley (5-1) on Friday in Pierre. Even with the loss, Pierre retained the top spot in the KSFY-KWSN Broadcaster's Poll. The loss to Yankton ended the Govs' five-game winning streak, which was the best start to a season since the 1988 team took an unbeaten record into the 1988 state title game (44-6 loss to O'Gorman). The loss was a bit frustrating for the Govs, which has lost to Yankton three straight times, including the last two by six points or less. However, good teams must have a short memory and move onto the next game. "Last week was obviously a setback, but our team had improved each week up until Yankton," said Pierre head coach Jayson Poppinga. "Offensively and defensively we need to play responsible football to finish drives, win the turnover battle, and get off the field on 3rd downs defensively," he said. In Brandon Valley, Pierre faces a team they lost to twice a year ago (42-27 in the regular season and 41-17 in the playoffs). In fact BV has won nine of the past 12 games in the series (since 2004). "Brandon is a well-coached team that doesn't make many mistakes," said Poppinga. "Their passing game is very precise; being able to limit the big plays will be a key defensively. Offensively, we need to be able to run the football better, especially in the red zone. BV's defense is very aggressive and plays sound football." Obviously Pierre wants to get back to winning, which happened five straight times prior to the Yankton setback. In the season opener, Pierre dispatched Watertown, 35-24, in a tough road test. Then, the Governors handled 11AAA Rapid City Central, 28-14, before rolling to a 48-7 win over then #2 Mitchell. They recorded a 16-14 win over then 11AAA #3 O'Gorman, 16-14, on the Knights' home field. After an open week, Pierre defeated Huron, 44-12. The Governors are in their toughest stretch of the season as they look to continue their march to what they hope will be the school's first-ever state title. Led by senior QB Alex Gray, Pierre has averaged 370.33 yards in total offense (2,222 total yards), including 1,049 on the ground (149.9 ypg). The Govs offense is run ably by Gray, described by first-year head coach Jayson Poppinga (5-1) as a smart leader with great character. So far in 2013, Gray has completed 69-of-111 passes for 1,173 yards and 13 TDs. He also has 68 carries for 364 yards and six TDs. Gray, who took over as starting QB for Pierre late in his sophomore season, has had an extremely productive career. His numbers include 234 carries for 1,097 yards and 13 TDs while completing 152-of-319 passes for 2,806 yards and 33 TDs. In other words, he has accounted for 48 TDs and produced 3,903 yards in total offense. His value is significant to the Governors' success. "Alex is the ultimate team player," said Poppinga. "For the past 4 weeks he's been playing on a stress fracture in his foot. He could have sat out a couple weeks hoping it would get better, but he didn't want to let his teammates down." Besides Gray, the Pierre backfield features Jace Jerome (67-328-2 TDs) and Ethan Case (25-216-2 TDs). In the receiving game, the Govs feature receiving targets such as the explosive senior Austin Christopherson (17-347-7 TDs), who caught four TDs in the win over Huron. Christopherson also has a 95-yard kickoff return and averages 16.5 per punt return. Other pass catchers include Case (19-310-TD), Garrett Pochop (18-309-3 TDs) and Shay Reinke (11-214-2 TDs).
Brandon Notes: When the season opened, Brandon Valley head coach Chad Garrow knew he had a young team that needed time to grow and develop. The talent was evident but it was a group raw and unpolished as evident in a 30-0 loss to #2 SF Roosevelt in the season opener. Now after six games, the Brandon Valley squad has won five straight in a 5-1 start as they face 11AA's top team Pierre in an important road tussle for both teams. "We knew it would take a little time for this team to come together," said Garrow. "With just two starters back and a young QB (Jake Comeaux), time was needed for him and many other newcomers on offense to become familiar with the speed of varsity level competition," he said. Well, it seems as if they are passing the test. A week ago, the Lynx dismantled Aberdeen Central, utilizing both an explosive attack along with a defense that produced two defensive scores. "We had a good night," said Garrow. After the loss to Roosevelt in the opener, BV has defeated Huron, 46-13; Yankton, 42-25; Brookings, 16-7; Washington, 56-14; and Aberdeen Central. In those wins, they have a 202-to-80 point differential. The Lynx, which average 33.7 ppg, is led by Comeaux, a junior who has thrown for 1,220 yards with 16 TDs passes. He has completed 102-of-158 passes with eight interceptions. Comeaux throws to a talented group of receivers, including three guys with 20 or more receptions. They include Drew Reinschmidt (28-435-6 TDs), senior A.J. Garrow (25-177-4 TDs), who has 111 career receptions (7th all-time in South Dakota), and Alex Wilde (20-365-4 TDs). Riley Franzen (14-108-TD) is another talented receiver. Cam Holmes (73-405-4 TDs) is the primary ball carrier. In total, BV has accumulated 1,771 yards in total offense on 318 plays for 295.2 yards per game. Of that total, they have 509 yards rushing and 1,262 passing yards. Another Lynx weapon is kicker Devan West, who has made 24-of-25 PATS and 4-of-5 field goals, including a 52 yard boot. In addition, the defense is making life tough on opponents, allowing just 92.8 yards rushing, including 3.1 yards per carry, and 250 total yards per game. The Lynx have 14 sacks, nine interceptions and six fumble recoveries, led by Lucas Lunstra (38T, 3 TFLs), Andrew Sorensen (37T, 2.5 TFLs, int., def. TD), Wyatt Winter (29T, int., 2 FR), Peter Choudek (24T, 7 TFLs, three sacks) and Erik Ode (21T, 8 TFLs, 2.5 sacks). With Pierre next on the schedule, BV has to play another solid game as they try to keep the pressure on Roosevelt for the #2 seed in the 11AAA playoffs. "Gray is a good quarterback and someone we have to keep in the pocket. He is really dangerous when he is running and moving away from the pressure," said Garrow. "It is important that we are good on special teams, shut down their rushing game and make them one dimensional. Then, being on the road, it is important to get out early," he said.
Inside Slant: Can Pierre slow down the BV pass-based offense, which has caught fire? Will BV be able to slow down Alex Gray, a dual threat, who can make big plays both running and throwing? How big is the home-field advantage for the Governors?
Coaches: Jayson Poppinga, Pierre Riggs, 1st season, 5-1; Chad Garrow, Brandon Valley, 15th season, 71-25, .739.
Series Records: Since 2004, Brandon Valley holds a 9-3 series advantage over Pierre. A year ago, the Lynx won twice, including a 42-27 win in the regular season and 41-17 in the playoffs. Overall the Lynx has won three straight (35-14 in 2011) with Pierre's last win a 28-7 win in 2010.
Bottom-line: After suffering a first loss a week ago, Pierre will be back home as they try to tie BV for the ESD title. The key for Pierre will be slowing down the BV attack. The Governors need to establish the ground game, which will be tough against a tough defense. BV would also like to run the ball but in a pass-happy offense, they need to play ball control and limit turnovers. This game should be a battle into the fourth quarter.
Who Will Win? Brandon Valley takes a 27-21 decision.
11AAA #1 Sioux Falls Lincoln (7-0) at 11AAA Sioux Falls Washington (3-4), HWF, Fri., Oct. 18
At Stake: #1 Sioux Falls Lincoln will look to continue its unbeaten season when they face defending big class champion Sioux Falls Washington, which is off to a 3-4 start. The Warriors have had a frustrating season and will look to put together their best game of the season against the Patriots, the top team in the new 11AAA class. Lincoln needs a win to secure the #1 seed in the class.
Lincoln Notes: Lincoln is treading on history, trying to become the first Patriot team to go unbeaten in the regular season during the playoff era (since 1981). In fact, the top-ranked Patriots are 7-0 for the first time since going 8-0 in the 10-1 season of 1972, a span of some 41 years. The 1972 team, which included the likes of Steve Elliot, Matt Kiger and Randy Beck, suffered just one loss to Sioux City East in week nine. It was also Bob Otto's last season at the helm. They shut out both O'Gorman (14-0) and Washington (12-0). Back to present – this version of Patriots football has been the top team in Class 11AAA. They are focused on continuing their drive to the second-ever playoff championship (2008). "We continue to get better," said veteran head coach Aaron Beavers of his unbeaten squad. "We (just) need to get some players healthy but that is common with all teams at this point of the season." In 2013, the Patriots have dominated to a tune of a 297-to-108 point differential, which breaks out to 42.42-to-15.42 ppg. Lincoln has recorded 35 points or more in five of seven games, including three over 50. They opened the season with a 55-19 decision against Rapid City Central and followed up with a 51-20 verdict over city rival O'Gorman. In week three, they knocked off preseason #1 Roosevelt, 35-28. Since then, they have defeated Watertown, 56-28; Brookings, 28-7; Rapid City Stevens, 49-0; and Harrisburg, 23-0. Lincoln's offense has been going great guns this season, producing 2,900 yards in total offense or 414.28 per game. A large chunk of that yardage has come through a rushing attack, led by senior Caden Quintanilla, who has 170 carries for an 11-man best 1,132 yards and 17 TDs. Quintanilla, who has 17 100-yard rushing games (2nd all-time), has surpassed 1K in rushing for the second straight year. He has 2,972 career rushing yards (430 carries) and 45 TDs (4th all-time). Quintanilla has been the central figure in a rushing attack that has 1,971 yards rushing or 275.9 per game. The Patriots have totaled more than 275 yards rushing on four times, including a high of 352. In five of seven games, they have gone over 400 yards in total offense with a best of 479. Leading the offense is senior QB Connor Burchill (55-114-808-9 TDs; 33-173-TD). Besides Quintanilla, senior Matt Wagner (24-197-4 TDs) and junior Luke Heitkamp (16-106-2 TDs) have added strength and depth to the backfield. The receiving corps include senior Trevor Naasz (20-321-TD), senior Dylan Bartow (13-158-4 TDs), Wagner (10-98), senior Caleb Rector (9-152) and Nickel Meyers (8-157-4 TDs). The defense has been solid with 17 sacks, nine interceptions and eight fumble recoveries. Both Levi Foss and Paul Thanel have three interceptions while Dylan Arntz has six sacks, 5 TFLs and 21 tackles. Wagner, who has 150 tackles, 19 TFLs, 8.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries in his career, has been a rock at linebacker with 48 tackles, 8 TFLs, two fumble recoveries and two sacks. Senior Taylor Salava has 39 stops and 5 TFLs. With city rival Washington on the docket, Beavers knows the play upfront is the key to success this week and moving forward. "We must be able to control the line of scrimmage. It (winning) all comes down to the big boys upfront," said Beavers. "Our defense is playing very well--fast and tough. We must continue to play good defense if we want to expand our season after the regular season," he said. "As for Friday, this game will come down to who wants it more."
Washington Notes: Coming off the school's third state title and sixth straight championship game appearance, the start to the 2013 season has been disappointing for the Sioux Falls Washington Warriors. SFW is 3-4 with just 108 points scored this season. They have allowed 150 and now have two losses in three games, including a heart-breaking 13-9 decision to Rapid City Central on Friday. It was the first loss by a Warriors team to RCC since 2006. In the setback, Washington had seven turnovers despite a 213-to-175 edge in total yards. The Warriors held RCC to 37 rushing yards while rolling up 164. In facing adversity, approaching matters from a "glass half-full perspective" always seems to have merit. Opportunities arise during a season when a course change can be made. That is situation before this group of Warriors, who can open some eyes if they put it all together against cross-town rival Lincoln. To that to happen, first-year head coach Chad Stadem knows that Washington needs to stop making mistakes, including turnovers. "We need to play mistake free. We can't afford the costly turnovers or miscues that we have had in games like these this year," said Stadem of the match up with Lincoln. "We need to have some breaks go our way this week. Lincoln is a solid team. They play very well with one another on defense and they rally to the ball very well. Offensively, they can mix in some power football and they are very good at it," he said. While the Warriors have struggled on offense, Stadem says his team is making solid improvements, especially in the run game. In three of the past four weeks, Washington has put up more than 200 yards rushing (218, 225, 206) and had a solid 164 last week, including 148 from leading rusher Luke Reiter. The passing attack still needs work as they have yet to throw a TD pass and have not cracked 100 yards in passing offense in a game all season. "Offensively, we have been showing the improvements up front that we thought we would be having by this time of the year," said Stadem. "We have come a long way." Reiter has been the main weapon on offense with 105 carries for 696 yards and six TDs. Dan Marlette has 45 carries for 189 yards and two TDs while Logan Raabe has 34 carries for 139 yards and two TDs. Overall, the Washington rushing attack has generated 1,206 yards (4.53 per carry avg.) or 172.3 yards per game. Sophomore QB Jack Schelhaas has started all seven games, completing 36-of-83 passes for 308 yards. He has added 60 yards rushing. Raabe also has 11 catches (63 yards) and Nate Weberg, 10 (97 yards). The defense is led by Marlette, who will attend NDSU to play for the two-time defending champion Bison. Marlette has accumulated 45 tackles, int., FR, 12 TFLs, 5.5 sacks for a team that has 22.5 sacks overall. For his career Marlette has 171 tackles, 9.5 sacks, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Zac Freese (34T, 3 int., FR), Max Sturdevant (32T, 9 TFLs, 4 sacks), A.J. Beck (32T, 1.5 TFLs, 2 int.) Matt Schievelbein (27T, 5.5 TFLs, 2 sacks), Caleb York (27T, 6TLs. 2 sacks), and Trey Crisp-Peterson (23T, 4.5 TFLs) are others part of a defense, which has played decent but with a few lapses. "Defensively we have had good moments of solid play," said Stadem. "We just need to put a complete game together on both sides for us to get this win."
Inside Slant: Can Washington slow down Quintanilla? Will Washington be able to limit turnovers and control mistakes that have plagued them this season? Will the Warriors find a way to make a special teams play? Will the Lincoln offense continue to pound opponents into submission?
Coaches Records: Chad Stadem, 1st year at Washington, 10th overall, 3-4 (74-34); Aaron Beavers, 10th year at Lincoln, 66-48 (112-56).
Series Records: SF Washington leads, 32-18. The Warriors have won 8-of-11 since 2005, including a 32-7 win in the regular season in 2012. Two years ago, Lincoln won, 37-36, in the regular season to end the Warrior's 27-game winning streak. Later in 2011, Washington won the playoff encounter, 42-7. In 2010, Washington won twice, 39-12 and 42-0 (playoffs). In 2009, the Warriors took a 49-21 decision. During 2008, the teams split with Washington winning the regular season game, 41-22, but Lincoln defeating the Warriors, 27-20, in the AA title game. Washington also recorded wins in 2007 (24-7) and 2005 (15-13) while Lincoln won 31-14 in 2006.
Bottom-line: Lincoln has answered the bell in every game this season. They will again feature a strong rushing attack, led by Quintanilla. The Patriots can also inflict damage in the passing game and will likely make a play or two against Washington. The Warriors will pound the ball, utilizing Reiter and Marlette, and will also take some looks downfield by throwing the aerial.
Who Wins? Lincoln stays unbeaten with 34-14 win.
11AAA #4 Sioux Falls O'Gorman (2-4) vs. 11AAA #2 Sioux Falls Roosevelt (6-1), HWF, Fri., Oct. 18
At Stake – This rivalry matchup between #2 Roosevelt and #4 O'Gorman features two of the top programs in the top class. It is a rivalry that has been controlled by O'Gorman, although Roosevelt has had the upper hand with four wins in the past five games. Roosevelt needs a win to secure the #2 seed in the 11AAA playoffs. O'Gorman needs a win to try and avoid their first losing season in a long time.
O'Gorman Notes: Sioux Falls O'Gorman had high hopes as the season opened. It was a team coming off a 7-4 season and a berth in the semifinals. With 22 letter winners back, including a combined 10 starters, things looked promising. Unfortunately, the Knights have been plagued by injuries and inconsistent play on offense. As O'Gorman meets #2 Roosevelt, they are focused on ending a three-game losing streak, when they have been outscored, 67-48. Veteran head coach Steve Keuter is seeing progress with his team, which is getting back some of its injured players. "Some of them (starters) are starting to come back which helps us," said Keuter, the active wins leader in South Dakota. "Our offensive line has been coming along and we are seeing improvement on defense," said Keuter. O'Gorman opened the season with a 34-9 win over Rapid City Stevens at McEneaney Field. After a 51-20 loss to Lincoln, they defeated another city rival, Washington, 28-10. Since then they have fallen to three straight 11AA opponents, including 11AA #1 Pierre, 16-14; 11A #3 Watertown, 29-20, at home; with a 22-14 setback on the road to #2 Yankton. Perhaps the toughest loss was the Watertown game, which the Knights led, 20-0, in the first half. O'Gorman, which has had winning seasons every year since a 5-5 mark in 1997, is led by talented sophomore QB Luke Fritsch, who has 81 carries for 545 yards and six TDs. He is 17-of-42 for 196 yards passing but hasn't thrown a TD. Keuter likes the production of Fritsch. "He has come a long way in a short time," he said. "We think he will be one of the best ever to play here." As is normal, the Knights have always thrived through its running attack. This year, they have 325 carries for 1,699 yards and 18 TDs, or 283.17 rushing yards per game. They are averaging 54 carries per game. Senior Matt White, who has 783 career rushing yards, leads the team with 624 yards on 121 carries and six TDs. O'Gorman also has Jaden Holzer (29-144-2 TDs), Ben Briggs (21-130-2 TDs) and Aiden Hart (19-111) in the backfield. O'Gorman, which has won 101 games over the 10 plus seasons and owns eight big-class playoff championships, is focused on ending their losing streak. "(Roosevelt) plays defense well so we have to find a way to move the ball. Then on defense, we have to try to contain them."
Roosevelt Notes: With the playoffs just around the corner, Roosevelt head coach Kim Nelson believes his #2 ranked Rough Riders are making progress and playing the kind of football that was expected for this experienced and talented group. As it is said, "Proof is in the pudding." Well, there is some proof with this group of Rough Riders. Since a third-game setback to Lincoln, his team has been dominant with a 173-to-27 point differential in four straight wins. Roosevelt stands 6-1 with an overall margin of 261-to-75. "We are improving each week and looking to peak at playoff time," said Nelson. In the season opener, the preseason #1 Rough Riders handled Brandon Valley, 30-0, overcoming a sluggish start to put the game away in the third quarter. They handled Washington, 30-7 in week two before dropping a 35-28 decision to Lincoln in a #1 vs. #2 match up at Howard Wood Field. After that loss, they have caught fire with wins over Rapid City Central, 49-13; Aberdeen Central, 42-13; Mitchell, 38-7; and Rapid City Stevens, 44-0. In those four games, they have won by at least 29 points. The Rough Riders have generated 2,742 yards in seven games or an average of 391.71 yards per game in total offense. Junior quarterback Taryn Christion, who is arguably the best player in the top class, has totaled 93 carries for 710 yards and 12 TDs while completing 94-of-150 passes (63%) for an 11-man best 1,402 passing yards with 16 TDs and just five picks. Christion is already passing many of his statistical season totals of a year ago (99-170-1,566-11 TDs passing; 140-647-11 TDs rushing). In his career, the junior has completed 193-of-320 passes for 2,968 yards and 27 TDs with 223 carries for 1,357 rushing yards and 23 TDs. In other words, he has accumulated 4,325 yards in total offense and a combined 50 TDs. Helping Christion in the backfield is senior Seth Bjordal with 62 carries for 439 yards and five TDs. The receiving corps are led by Chase Vinateri, who ranks second in 11-man with 33 catches (436 yards, 2 TDs), along with Tanner Hennings (20-359-5 TDs), speedy David Mulbah (15-458-5 TDs) and Ryan Benson (13-196-3 TDs). With arch-rival O'Gorman next, Nelson knows the game will be decided upfront. "Anytime you play O'Gorman you must focus on stopping the run," he said. "They are spreading the ball around a lot and when they pass, it is usually when you least expect it. Our defense has been playing well but we have not playing a rivalry game, like O'G, in a long while."
Inside Slant: Will O'Gorman being able to establish their running attack against a solid Roosevelt D-front? Can Christion continue to come up with big plays, both on the ground and through the air? Will Fritsch continue to sparkle as the O'G QB? Will Fritsch and White find some space to run?
Coaches Record: Kim Nelson, 34 seasons, 5th at Roosevelt, 43-10 (242-119 overall); Steve Keuter, 36th season, 35th at O'Gorman, 272-79-1.
Series Records: Series Records: O'Gorman leads the all-time series (started in 1991), 24-6. A year ago, Roosevelt took a 19-7 regular season decision against the Knights. O'Gorman won the initial 14 games of the series but Roosevelt has won four of the past five contests. The Knights are 5-3 in playoff matchups between the rivals. Here is the rest of the games by year: 2011 – RHS 19 OG 14, RHS 23 OG 16 (playoffs); 2010 - OG 28 RHS 27 (playoffs), RHS 12 OG 9; 2009 -- OG 7 RHS 0, OG 37 RHS 26 (playoffs); 2008 -- OG 24 RHS 17; 2007 -- OG 14 RHS 7; 2006 -- OG 21 RHS 14, RHS 28 OG 21 (playoffs); 2005 -- OG 24 RHS 14, OG 14 RHS 6 (playoffs); 2004 -- OG 14 RHS 3, OG 14 RHS 7 (playoffs); 2003 -- RHS 14 OG 7; 2002 -- OG 12 RHS 7; 2001 -- OG 41 RHS 15; 2000 -- OG 22 RHS 21; 1999 -- OG 20 RHS 14; 1998 -- OG 21 RHS 6; 1997 -- OG 28 RHS 9; 1996 -- OG 54 RHS 0; 1995 -- OG 38 RHS 14; 1994 -- OG 34 RHS 7; OG 41 RHS 7 (playoffs); 1993 -- OG 35 RHS 21; 1992 -- OG 14 RHS 0; 1991 -- OG 48 RHS 14; OG 20 RHS 0 (playoffs).
Bottom-line: This is a tough matchup for O'Gorman, which faces an experienced and explosive Roosevelt squad that features the state's top quarterback. O'Gorman will pound the ball and then look for some openings in the pass game. Lincoln moved the ball on Roosevelt on the ground. So, O'G, which has always had one of the state's most productive rushing attacks, will grind it out and try to control the line of scrimmage. This is a rivalry game and anything can happen – and has. Still, Roosevelt is the better team and they don't want to give up their #2 seed as they shoot for their second big class title in three seasons and fourth overall.
Who Will Win? Take Roosevelt, 34-13.
9AA #1 Arlington (7-0) at 9B #5 Dell Rapids St. Mary (5-1), Dell Rapids, Friday, Oct. 18
At Stake: For the second time in two weeks, top-ranked 9AA Arlington faces a test from a tough 9B squad. This time, #5 Dell Rapids St. Mary will provide a serious challenge to Arlington's unbeaten mark. Both teams have a mascot, called the Cardinals, and both wear similar colors. And, both like to pound the ball and play physical defense. So, what happens Friday?
Arlington Notes: Arlington, which was 9-2 and a semifinalist in 9A a year ago, has moved up a class and handled all challenges to this point. Despite some injury issues in the backfield, junior QB Andrew King has been one of the best quarterbacks in the 9-man ranks as he has led his team to seven straight wins. His numbers point out his solid work. King has 68 carries for 371 yards and 10 TDs while hitting 34-of-64 passes for 754 yards and 10 TDs. "Andrew King has been fantastic for us through all of our injuries. He has been the only backfield player who has been a constant and he has been what our entire offense has revolved around the past few weeks," said head coach Steve Gilbertson, whose team is gunning for the top seed in 9AA. "He just makes plays." With one game left in the regular season, the Cardinals have been the best team in 9AA, rolling up a 289-to-120 point edge. In the opener, Arlington knocked off last season's 9AA champion Deubrook, 34-20. Since then, they have defeated Estelline, 60-14; Oldham-Ramona/Rutland, 52-16; Lake Preston, 39-8; Elkton-Lake Benton, 36-28; DeSmet/Iroquois, 38-14; and Castlewood, 30-20. Overall, Arlington, has produced 2,609 yards in total offense (372.7 per game), including 1,834 rushing yards (260.0 per game) on 253 attempts. The Cardinals rushing attack includes Luke Weber (61-543-2 TDs), Alex Heuer (23-235-3 TDs), Nathan Parker (38-323-5 TDs) and Tanner Lemme (29-191-4 TDs). "Our progress has been slowed by the lack of continuity due to players missing games due to injuries. We have inserted younger kids and they have performed admirably. They have kept us on the winning track," said Gilbertson, who knows that Dell Rapids St. Mary is will be a tough test. "Defending St. Mary will be a tall order. I don't know if we can stop them. We must at least contain them, and keep our offense on the field as much as possible," said Gilbertson. "They have a very good run game that executes. We must limit their opportunities, force 3rd and long situations and make them play outside their comfort zone. Our defensive line must match up well and dominate the line of scrimmage."
Dell Rapids St. Mary Notes: Dell Rapids St. Mary is a team on an offensive roll. With two games to play, the 9B #5 Cardinals have a 304-to-120 point differential in a 5-1 start. The only loss by St. Mary is a 40-38 setback to 9AA #4 and defending champ Deubrook, 40-38, when they just ran out of time. This season, St. Mary has scored at least 38 points in all six games. They have wins over DeSmet/Iroquois, 40-14; Castlewood, 60-32; Oldham-Ramona-Rutland, 58-14; Colman-Egan, 60-6; and Estelline, 48-14, with the only loss to Deubrook. St. Mary has rolled up 2,367 yards in total offense or 394.5 per game. Head Coach Ross Flemmer runs a run-based attack which has generated 2,066 yards on the ground or 344.33 per game. Four times they have had at least 300 yards rushing in a game and twice has gone over 400 yards. It has been a turnaround season for the Cardinals, just 3-6 a year ago. However, more aptly, this team is back to doing what it normally does – win. The 2012 season was the first team since 2005 (5-5) not to put together a winning season. In fact, DRSM has compiled a 75-24 mark since 2004 with three 10-win seasons and a playoff mark under head coach Ross Flemmer. With 9AA #1 Arlington headed to town, the Cardinals must play better than in recent weeks. "We are in need of getting better this week. I feel we have been at a standstill for a few weeks," said Flemmer. "We need to stop Arlington's power run game and handle their play action passing. They have one of the best QB's in the 9-man ranks (Andrew King). We will have to try and slow him down," he said. In truth, Arlington may have to try and slow down the Cardinals express. QB Wes Heinricy (10-19-198-5 TDs) operates the Cardinals attack, which has been without junior All-Dakota Valley conference selection most of the season (3 carries 20 yards). However sophomore Josh Brown and senior Ben Bunkers have been solid for the Cardinals. Brown has 87 carries for 1,004 yards (11.5 yards per carry) and a team-high 19 TDs while Bunkers has 72 carries for 553 yards and eight TDs. Jacob Glazier has added 190 yards (22 carries) and two TDs. Bunkers (4-86-2 TDs) and Jared Scholten (4-56-TD) have been the primary targets in the passing game. The Cardinals will try to grind it out vs. Arlington. They can pass it but not on a frequent basis. The Cardinals' pass game has had more than 50 yards just once all season. "Both Josh and Ben have stepped up for us when Noel Hansen was hurt. They are having great seasons," said Flemmer. While the offense has been stellar, the Cardinals defense has allowed 20 points per game. They must step up on Friday night against Arlington. "The defense is getting better," said Flemmer. "We just have to keep progressing and paying attention to details." DRSM's defense, which has 8.5 sacks, six interceptions and seven fumble recoveries, is led by Christian Schnieders (30T, FF, FR), Bunkers (19T, 2 int., FR), Brown (25T, 2 int., FR), Leon Maxwell (33.5T, 4 sacks) and Scholten (38T, int., FR.).
Inside Slant: Can Dell Rapids St. Mary find a way to contain Arlington's Andrew King? Will this game turn into a shootout? Will Arlington slow down Brown and Bunkers?
Coaches: Steve Gilbertson, 12th season, 77-38, .670. Ross Flemmer, Dell Rapids St. Mary, 15th season, 105-31, .772.
Series Records: The two 9-man programs have met five times since 2005 with Arlington owning a 3-2 edge. Arlington defeated DRSM, 58-6 in 2012 and has wins of 48-22 in 2006 and 50-8 in 2005. St. Mary recorded a 46-22 win in 2011 and a 42-14 victory in 2010.
Bottom-line: Dell Rapids St. Mary is a powerhouse rushing machine. They keep grinding and making huge plays in the rushing attack, especially by Brown and Bunkers. They will need those two to play big in this matchup with 9AA #1 Arlington, which has a talented QB in Andrew King and a group of talented back, some that are back are missing time due to injuries.
Who Will Win? Tough call. Arlington will pull out a 38-33 win.
11B #5 Parkston (5-1) @ 11B Redfield-Doland (6-1), Redfield, Friday, Oct. 18
At Stake: With six straight wins, Redfield-Doland will host #5 Parkston in the Pheasants' biggest test in several seasons. Redfield-Doland has only a 37-20 loss to top-ranked Aberdeen Roncalli (6-0) in the season opener. Parkston has only a loss to Winner and has defeated Wagner in a tough road test earlier.
Redfield-Doland Notes: Redfield-Doland, under the direction of head coach Keith Gall, has completely turned things around in 2013. After an injury-riddled 2012 season ended 1-7, the Pheasants have become one of the best teams in 11B. Redfield-Doland picked up its sixth straight win with a 37-0 win over McCook Central/Montrose on Friday as Landon Rohlfs had 21 carries for 155 yards and TDs of 61, 1 and 8 yards. The Pheasants, which has shut out two straight opponents, own a 256-to-106 scoring differential as they face a huge test with Parkston this week. Gall is impressed and pleased with his team's progress this year. "We returned most of our team on both sides of the ball but lost the first game of the year to Roncalli," said Gall. "We had some success moving the ball versus Roncalli but were beaten by big plays and on special team. But, I feel the team learned how to win during our second game at Sisseton and have continued to compete and execute at a higher level each week," he said, noting Redfield-Doland is on the longest winning stretch since at least the 1970s. In their six-game run, the Pheasants have defeated Sisseton, 41-26; Milbank, 34-13; Groton, 21-14; Chamberlain, 48-16; Tiospa Zina, 55-0; and McCook Central/Montrose, 37-0. They have been a run-based unit, with 223 carries for 1,444 yards (206.28 per game) and 16 TDs. They also have 449 passing yards for a total offense output of 1,893 yards or 270.42 per game. The ground attack is led by Rohfls, who has 128 carries for 841 yards and 13 TDs. Jake Baloun has added 72 carries for 587 yards and five TDs while Collin Klebsch has 24 carries for 149 yards and a TD. The offense is directed by QB Kyle Stover (22-54-527-7 TDs; 11-35 rushing). At wideout, Ephram Albrecht (14-389-7 TDs) is a big play performer, who averages 27.1 yards on punt returns (14-379), and has one return TD. Baloun also has a punt return for a TD. The defense is led by Rohls (45T, 10 TFLs, sack), Baloun (35T 7 TFLs, sack), Tyler Masat (42T, 6 TFLs, FF) and Sully Masat (26T, sack). Albrecht (22T, TFL) has five interceptions for a team with nine overall along with six fumble recoveries and nine sacks. With their biggest test this week, it will be comfortable for the Pheasants to play their biggest game in years before the hometown faithful. Gall knows his team has to work toward a "clean game" which means limiting the penalties and mistakes. "If we can do that, we have a chance to compete against anyone in our class. It will be important to stop their running game and contain (Wes) Dvorak from making freelance big plays. "We have to tackle and control the ball using our ground attack," said Gall.
Parkston Notes: In Parkston, head coach Eric Norden hopes his run-based, defensive-tough football team can continue to exhibit progress as the season moves toward the playoffs. It is a team that is eyeing the big prize after going 7-3 a year ago and advancing to the second round of the playoffs. With a 5-1 start and a #5 ranking in the KSFY-KWSN Broadcaster's Poll, the Trojans are enjoying the kind of season that was expected. This season, Parkston is averaging 22.7 points per game and allowing just 6.7 ppg (136-to-40 point differential). They have recorded two shutouts and suffered only a loss to defending 11B champion and #2 Winner (6-0). "We are doing pretty good so far," said Norden. "We need to keep improving as we finish out the regular season and look for a final push as the playoffs start." The Trojans opened the season with a 21-0 win over Groton Area and then defeated a talented Canton team, 21-14. Canton is now ranked #4 in the 11B poll, just ahead of Parkston. After that win, Parkston went to 3-0 with a 36-0 decision over Elk Point-Jefferson. They went on the road to defeat #5 Wagner, 30-12 before falling two weeks ago to Winner, 14-7. Last week, they were back on track with a 21-0 win over Tri-Valley. "Offensively, we have been improving through the season. We are getting a good push upfront and have been able to get some power going. Defensively, the line has done a great job of attacking gaps and never give up," said Norden. On offense, the Trojans have compiled 1,288 rushing yards on 252 carries for 5.1 per carry and 214.7 yards per game. With 313 yards passing, the Trojans have 1,601 total yards or 266.8 per game. They have been stingy on defense, allowing just 865 yards rushing on 218 carries and just 287 passing yards or 192.0 yards in total offense per game. For Parkston, games have been won in the first half where they own an 87-to-21 edge, including 36-to-7 in the opening quarter. Leading Parkston's ground attack is junior Miles Semmler (57-360-7 TDs) along with Mitch Heisinger (58-229-TD), Wes Dvorak (39-234-4 TDs), Brady Reiff (27-150-TD) and Andrew Semmler (16-100-TD). Either Dvorak (10-22-85-TD) or Zach Scott (17-33-230-TD) will take snaps. Miles Semmler is the leading receiver (9-51) with contributions from the explosive Dvorak (6-116-TD), with Reiff (6-64) and Heisinger (5-70-TD) also providing key catches. "All those guys – Wes, Mitch, Brady, Andrew and Miles – help the cement the crew we have. They all work together and help us put together a great team effort," said Norden. As for the defense, it has eight interceptions, including two by Andrew Semmler that he returned for TDs against Wagner. Heisinger leads the team with 70 tackles and has 5.5 TFLs along with a fumble recovery. Austin Bertram has 39 stops with 7 TFLs and two sacks while Reiff has 32 tackles and Lane Konrad, 31.
Coaches: Eric Norden, Parkston, 6th season, 16-24, .400. Keith Gall, Redfield-Doland, 45-41, .523.
Inside Slant: Does either team gain an advantage in the run game? Can Dvorak make one of his patented big plays? Will Rohlfs and Baloun find space to operate against a physical Parkston defense? Will Albrecht make a big play in special teams or in the passing game? Will defenses dominate?
Series Records: This is the first-ever matchup between Redfield-Doland and Parkston.
Bottom-line: This is a matchup of two teams that like to pound the ball and employ tough, physical play on both sides of the ball. With a home game and its biggest test of the season, the Pheasants are out to show they are a team that can play with the best in 11B. With a solid backfield (Stover, Rohlfs and Baloun) and a big-play receiver (Albrecht), Redfield-Doland has the weapons to cause problems. Parkston will stick with what has brought them to the party – pounding the ball, getting Wes Dvorak into space, and playing disciplined physical defense. Watch for a defensive or special team TD to play a factor.
Who Wins? Parkston takes a 21-14 win.