Area prep football regular season has one final flurry of action on Thursday before the attention turns to the playoffs next week.
This week's Focus on Five will look at some key matchups in South Dakota as well as an Iowa rivalry matchup between #8 Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley (7-1) and 11-man power Central Lyon-George/Little Rock (6-2). The South Dakota prep contests include an ESD battle between 11AA #5 Harrisburg (3-4) and 11AAA #3 Brandon Valley (5-2) In addition, 11A #2 West Central (5-2) will travel to battle Tea Area (4-3) while 11B #5 Parkston (6-1) will face off with rival Bon Homme (14-7), which has won five straight games. In addition, 9AA #1 Garretson has a tough road test against 9B Canistota (3-4), a three-time defending 9-man champion.
Playoff Reminder: After games end on Thursday, getting ready for the playoffs which open Tuesday with first round games in all three 9-man classes as well as 11A and 11B. A week from Thursday (Oct. 31), the quarterfinal games in 11AA and 11AAA will be held. Quarterfinals matchups for 9-man classes, 11A and 11B will be Monday, Nov. 4. The semifinals for 11AA, 11AAA will be held on Friday, Nov. 8 while the 9-man, 11A and 11B semis will be held on Saturday, Nov. 9. Championship games are scheduled for Nov. 14-16 at the DakotaDome. Get all that - better get one of those smart phones - with a smart calendar - to manage your schedule.
How'd I Do? For the fourth straight week, I was 3-2, which pushed my season total to 21-18. As a result, my overall record improved to 231-61 (.794) in regular season and playoff contests. This week, I will go Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley, Brandon Valley, Garretson, Parkston and West Central.
Just a reminder. When the games end Thursday 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 #5 Harrisburg (3-4) at 11AAA #3 Brandon Valley (5-2) Brandon, Thursday, Oct. 24
At Stake – Both Harrisburg and Brandon Valley are looking to end the season on a winning note as they play their regular season finale. Harrisburg has won 2-of-3, including a big win over Yankton last week. Meanwhile, Brandon Valley had a five-game winning streak snapped against 11AA #1 Pierre. The Lynx are looking for a rebound win at home.
Harrisburg Notes: At the season's start, Harrisburg Head Coach Brandon White was under no illusions – his team's move up to 11AA would take patience and hard work. Harrisburg, which won three state titles and appeared in eight title games in 11B and 11A, has been in a year of transition. After a 1-3 start, the Tigers have responded with two wins in three games, including conquests of a pair of ESD teams in Brookings (16-7) on the road and Yankton (26-18) at home. "Our team has been getting better each week," said White, whose team returned just one starter on offense and only a few on defenses from the 2012 team that made it to the 11A finals. "We knew it would take some time. We are very pleased where we are right now. But we have a long way to go. We just hope to continue to keep improving and hope to be playing our best football as we go into the playoffs," he said. Clearly winning is ever-present for White and his program, which makes sense given that since 2004, the Tigers have put together a 63-31 record, including 13-9 in the playoffs. In that span, they have had five seasons with at least eight wins and advanced to two title games along with three semifinals. In total, they accumulated 2,451 points (26.07 peg) and allowed 1,415 (15.05 peg). The home win over Yankton was a big notch on Harrisburg's belt. After a season opening win over Sturgis (12-2), the Tigers lost three straight close games by a combined 13 points. Then, the Tigers went into Brookings and took a 16-7 win over the Bobcats. A week later, they gave 11AAA #1 Lincoln a lot of problems before falling, 23-0, at Howard Wood Field. In that game, the Tigers held the Patriots scoreless in the first half. They followed that solid effort by beating Yankton as the Tigers used tough defense and a ground attack produced 264 yards on 54 carries. Senior Christian Trainer had 16 carries for 119 yards while Jonathan Kabambi had 23 totes for 100 yards. On the season, Trainer has produced 308 yards on 51 carries with two TDs as the teams inside guy. Kabambi has had several big games, rolling up 650 yards on 135 carries with two TDs. White believes his offense, specifically his run game, has come a long way, noting the contributions of his upfront guys and the play of his four running backs -- Kabambi, Trainor, along with senior Adam Holmstrom and sophomore Jacob Klemme. "We know we have to be able to run the football to be successful," said White. "Our kids have really bought into the smash-mouth style. The guys in the trenches have been a huge reason for our success. They are playing at a high level. The goal is to be as nasty as possible up front and our motto up front is to win the play." With Brandon Valley next, White knows his team has to be physical, mentally strong with a mission of ball control and ball security. "If we can accomplish those things, we like our chances of being in a position to win the game at the end. We know we have our hands full but we are confident that if we control the things we need to control we should be right there," he said. It helps that his Tigers' defense is playing shutdown defense. While they are giving up some yards, they are tough when pressed. "Our defense is playing at the highest level I have seen since I took over. We are flying around and playing together. It is extremely fun to watch them go at it right now."
Brandon Notes: After a five-game winning streak ended in a loss at 11AA #1 Pierre, Brandon Valley will now look to rebound against 11AA#5 Harrisburg in a home regular season finale. The Lynx struggled on offense a week ago, producing just 44 total yards. "Pierre played us tough and their defense was really good," said BV head coach Chad Garrow. But, as he told his players on Sunday, they couldn't worry about that game too long because the team had work to do to get ready for a tough Harrisburg team and look to continue to improve as they prepare for the playoffs. "We learned a lot last week – mainly that we have to get better at the run game. So, we spent a lot of time this week on that. At this point in the year, you have to be able to run," he said. And it is doubly tough given that Harrisburg features a shutdown defense that gave fits to 11AAA #1 Lincoln two weeks ago, holding the Pats scoreless in the first half. Then, last week, an explosive Yankton offense struggled against the Tigers, finding problems in the red zone. "Defensively, they (Harrisburg) are solid," said Garrow. "On offense, they don't make a lot of mistakes, so we have to be ready. We need to control the ball and compete hard and we will be fine." Clearly BV is a team still growing up after graduation last year sapped the team of many standouts. QB Jake Comeaux and the offense are still developing and have had good success, albeit the struggles in losses to Pierre and the opener to Roosevelt (30-0). "Defensively, we did a good job last week, especially when Pierre had the ball inside our green zone (30-yard line). We just need to do a better job of getting off the field on third down conversations." To this point, 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 28.9 points per game is led by Comeaux, a gifted junior who has thrown for 1,247 yards with 16 TDs passes. He has completed 111-of-179 passes with 11 interceptions. Comeaux throws to a talented group of receivers, including three guys with 20 or more receptions. They include Drew Reinschmidt (30-442-6 TDs), senior A.J. Garrow (31-195-4 TDs), who has 117 career receptions (7th all-time in South Dakota), and Alex Wilde (20-365-4 TDs). Riley Franzen (14-108-TD) is another talented receiver, who may also see some carries in the backfield (13-82-0 TDs). Cam Holmes (82-429-4 TDs) is the primary ball carrier. In total, BV has accumulated 1,815 yards in total offense on 354 plays for 259.3 yards per game. Of that total, they have 526 yards rushing and 1,289 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 101.0 yards rushing, including 3.3 yards per carry, and 259 total yards per game. The Lynx, which have 14 sacks, nine interceptions and seven fumble recoveries, are led by Lucas Lunstra (47T, 3 TFLs), Andrew Sorensen (50T, 3.0 TFLs, int., def. TD), Wyatt Winter (34T, int., 2 FR), Peter Choudek (26T, 7 TFLs, three sacks) and Erik Ode (27T, 8.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks).
Inside Slant: Both teams will employ tough, shutdown defenses, so can the offenses on either side get some traction and move the ball? Will Harrisburg's Trainor and Kabambi find running room against the tough BV front? Will BV regain its offensive mojo and move the ball? How important will home field be to the Lynx?
Coaches: Brandon White, Harrisburg, 4th year, 25-15, .625; Chad Garrow, Brandon Valley, 15th season, 71-26, .731.
Series Records: The two schools have not played, based on available info.
Bottom-line: Harrisburg will look to establish Kabambi and Trainor early and often. Harrisburg wants to control the clock and hang onto the football. Brandon Valley will look to improve its running game but will spread out the Harrisburg defense, looking for cracks to exploit through its short passing game. The likelihood is that points will be at a premium. But, BV is home and they played really well in Brandon.
Who Will Win? Go with the home team – Brandon Valley takes a 19-7 win over Harrisburg.
Iowa 2A Central Lyon-George-Litte Rock (6-2) at #8 Boyden Hull-Rock Valley (7-1), Friday, Oct. 25
At Stake: As both teams vie for playoff positioning they will meet in a key 2A football game on Friday. Both teams are playing solid football and this game should be a physical, prep Iowa contest.
BHRV Notes: Head Coach Cory Brandt is pleased with the progress of his Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley team. After an 11-1 season a year ago, the Nighthawks were hit with heavy graduation losses. But winning is the norm with this standout program as a 56-13 record over the last five years indicates. This season, the Nighthawks have a 7-1 mark, losing only to Sioux Center, 19-0. "I am very proud of our young men with the way they have progressed through the season," said Brandt. "We started out this season with very few returning starters (five) and they have grown up in a hurry and have gotten better along the way." The Nighthawks opened the season with a 26-0 road win over Western Christian and then defeated Emmetsburg, 44-12. After their setback to Sioux Center, they have defeated Unity Christian, 49-0; #8 Spirit Lake, 31-8; Sheldon, 28-14; MOC-Floyd Valley, 42-0; and Cherokee-Washington, 55-6. In that five-game winning streak, they have a 205-to-28 scoring differential and have recorded two of their three shutouts this season. Leading the way for the Nighthawks is senior QB Andrew Van Ginkel, who has 111 carries for 941 yards and nine TDs while completing 50-of-104 passes for 1,013 yards and 13 TDs. He directs an offense that also features junior Omar Mejia (71-355-4 TDs; 10-237-TD rec.) and Zach Konz (37-104-TD) in the backfield and receivers Jerod Hansen (12-245-5 TDs), Kirk Postrollo (10-222-2 TDs) and Brady Moser (8-106-TD). On defense, Van Ginkel is the leader with 84 tackles, 12 TFLs, four fumble recoveries and four interceptions. Junior Trevor Zeutenhorst (60T, 9 TFLs, 2 sacks), Ashton Kooiker (51T, 6 TFLs, two sacks, 3 FR) and Jonathan Heitritter (34T, 11 TFLs, sack) are other key players on defense. With Central-Lyon/George Little Rock up next, Brandt knows is team faces a tough rival, who will be physical, and tough to stop. "We will have to play a very physical football game, take care of the ball, play great team defense, reduce penalties, and not give up the big play," said Brandt. "We will take what they give us run or pass and it will probably be a little of both. It is important for us to move the chains and get points at the end of the drives. We have to execute blocks and play good defense," he said.
CLGLR Notes: Until a loss last week to Sioux Center (35-0), Central Lyon-George/Little Rock Head Coach Toby Lorenzen liked what he had seen this year from the Lions. CL-G-LR, which returned just five starters from a year ago, had opened the season with a 35-13 loss to Class A #1 West Lyon but strung together six straight wins, including four shutouts. "We were having a good season but it took a turn for the worse last week vs. Sioux Center as we played our worst game of the season," said Lorenzen, who has guided the Lions to a 148 wins in his stellar career. "We have to put a better effort on the field, including playing more physical and making some plays." After the season-opening setback, the Lions defeated Western Christian, 28-9; Cherokee-Washington, 40-0; MOC-Floyd Valley, 49-14; Sheldon, 36-0; Estherville-Lincoln Central, 47-0 and Unity Christian, 50-0, before losing to Sioux Center. In all, they have compiled a 263-to-93 point differential. The 6-2 mark is solid for a young team. Still for a program that is 327-128 since 1966 with three playoff titles and five runner-up finishes, achieving high is the expectation. "We need to be able to move the ball on the ground but in a balanced approach," said Lorenzen. "We need to redeem ourselves this week," he said. Talented QB Pete Menage, who has completed 49-of-99 passes for 872 yards with 10 TDs (just five interceptions) and has 409 yards rushing on 69 carries with five TDs, ably directs the Lions offense. Jesse Heinrichs (77-588-9 TDs) and CJ Roths (56-453-9 TDs) handle the ball toting chores in the backfield. At wide receiver, the Lions are led by Roth (16-245-TD), Tanner Ver Steeg (9-192-4 TDs) Nic Lutmer (10-122) and Heinrichs (7-182-4 TDs). CL-G-LR's defense is led by Brent Klinkenberg (54T, int., FR), Lutmer (50T, 3 TFLs, 3 sacks), Roths (41T) , Heinrichs (40T, FR, int.) and Grant Metzger (36T, 4 TFLs, 3 sacks).
Inside Slant: Both teams feature talented QBs who make big plays – so who makes it happen down the stretch? Can both teams establish the run while mixing in some play action?
Coaches Records: Toby Lorenzen, 19th year, CL-G-LR, 148-56; Cory Brandt, B-H/RV, 126-60 (111-50 at BH/RV).
Series Records: Central Lyon/George-Little Rick has won six of the last 10 games in the series. Howver, the Nighthawks have two wins in a row, including a 28-7 verdict a year ago and a 27-13 conquest in 2011. The Lions' last win in the series occurred in 2010 by a 34-13 final.
Bottom-line: Both these teams have lost to Sioux Center but otherwise have been dominant forces in 1A. The Nighthawks are ranked #8 and the Lions are receiving votes in the Iowa polls. This should be a close, hard-hitting affair. Van Ginkel and Menage are both talented QBs and the teams have a number of electric skill players. This sets up as another hard-hitting, physical confrontation between rivals.
Who Wins? Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley prevails at home with a 24-14 decision.
11A #2 West Central (5-2) @ 11A Tea Area (4-3), Thursday, Oct. 24, Tea
At Stake: This game doesn't appear to have any playoff ramifications with both West Central (#1 in region 3) and Tea Area (#2 in Region 2) locked into spots already. It is simply a matter of two solid football teams looking to continue winning streaks. West Central has regrouped after some key injuries in mid-season to string together a pair of wins after a 23-0 loss to 11B #3 Canton. Tea Area has bounced back from two straight losses with a big win over Lennox and look to build some momentum heading into the playoffs.
West Central Notes: West Central, which began the season as the preseason favorite in 11A, has rebounded from some key injuries and a two-game losing streak, to piece together a two-game winning streak heading into a key 11A matchup with Tea Area. The Trojans are looking to improve to 6-2 as they headed into the playoffs on Tuesday. Head Coach Kent Mueller likes how his group of players has rebounded from a mid-season slump. "I believe we are making progress and are moving toward the play-offs as a team that is steadily improving since we experienced some of the challenges we faced in the middle of our schedule with injuries and players moving to different or new positions," said Mueller. "Our depth has continued to improve." West Central opened the season with a 49-6 win over Dakota Valley and then defeated Vermillion, 53-0, and Lennox 51-6. After a loss to #1 Madison, 24-21, in which starting quarterback Noah Matson was lost due to injury, the Trojans dropped a 23-0 decision to 11B #3 Canton. With Jace Hanisch taking over at QB and getting comfortable in the position, the Trojans halted the two-game slide by defeating Dell Rapids, 35-7, ending a five-game losing streak to the 3-time defending 11A champs. Then last week, the Trojans hammered Milbank Area, 56-0. As a result, they have won the last two games by a 91-7 advantage. Overall, they have a 264-66 points edge against opponents. West Central's vaunted double wing offensive attack is led by an explosive and deep backfield that includes Cody Miller, who has rushed for team-best 471 yards on 70 carries with six TDs. Cody Bussell has 61 carries for 371 yards and five TDs and the third member of the dangerous trio is big-play artist Cole Tirrel, who has 53 carries for 375 yards and nine TDs. Tirrel has scored several ways this year, including by run, receiving, punt return and interception return. The West Central defense has allowed just 140 total yards in the last two games and has held five opponents to 225 yards or less. Tirrel has 20 tackles and three interceptions to lead the defense. Brayden Swartout, who had a 42-yard interception return for TD last week against Milbank, has 32 tackles while Miller has 30 tackles and a sack. Mueller knows his team faces another big challenge with Titans. They will have to play well to prevail, he says. "To beat Tea, we must try and avoid giving up big plays and allowing them to score quickly," he said. "Special Teams will once again be pivotal, as Tea's strength is definitely their speed and quickness."
Tea Area Notes: While Tea Area has been a little up and down this season, head coach Craig Clayberg is pleased with the improvement of his team. Tea Area, which was 5-4 a year ago, sits 4-3 with a momentum-building 44-13 win over Lennox last week. "We have progressed as I thought we would," said Clayberg. "We had a minor setback with our loss to Dakota Valley. I think that we are close to playing our best football right now and that is where everyone wants to be at the end of the season." To this point, Tea Area has put together several solid games as a 209-to-89 point differential attests. They have defeated Elk Point-Jefferson, 46-6 Vermillion, 41-0; Sisseton, 41-0, and Lennox. The Titans lost to Dell Rapids, 15-0; Dakota Valley, 21-6, when six players were gone to the soccer championships, and a heart-breaking 34-31 defeat to #1 Madison. In that battle with Madison, the Titans rallied from a 20-0 deficit to take a late 31-27 lead in the fourth quarter before the Bulldogs pushed across a TD in the final minute. Tea Area has been solid on offense with 2,284 yards in total offense or 326.3 yards per game. Led by Gunnar Ensz (52-585-11 TDs), the rushing attack has produced 1,584 yards or 226.3 yards per game. Cooper Hansen 35-385-5 TDs) and QB Taylor Roeman (75-279-6 TDs) have been other factors in the rushing attack. Roeman (40-95-700-6 TDs) has been an efficient and productive QB. He has been responsible for the team averaging 100 yards in passing per game. Tarin Smallfield (14-258-4 TDs), Brett Herr (9-167-TD), Hansen (7-140-TD) along with Ensz (6-77) have led the receiving corps. On defense, Clayberg's troops are led by Hunter Irvine (61T, 4.5 TFLs, 2 FR), Garrett Welsh (58T, 4.5 TFLs, 3.5 sacks), Smallfield (54T, 2.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, int., FR), Roeman (51T, 2 int., FR) and Ensz (36T, sack, FR). In total, the Titans have recorded 27.5 TFLs, 13 sacks, intercepted nine passes and forced 11 fumbles. The group has recorded two shutouts and held five opponents to 15 points or less. With a date against West Central, Clayberg sees a very tough challenge ahead. "West Central is a very good football team. They are well-coached, disciplined, and execute well," said Clayberg. "We need to come out and play all four quarters of the game and not turn the ball over. We need to execute in all areas."
Inside Slant: Will Tea Area find offensive balance and avoid turnovers? Can West Central's dynamic backfield trio make big plays as is the norm? Will Hanisch continue to progress as the QB for West Central? Will Tea Area find some big plays in the pass game, which has hurt West Central in previous games this season?
Coaches Record: Craig Clayberg, Tea Area, 4th year, 20-17, .541; Kent Mueller, West Central, 10th (24th overall), 93-27, .775 (89-15, .856 at WC)
Series Records: This is the first matchup between the two 11A schools.
Bottom-line: Expect to see a lot of points in this one, unless weather somehow intervenes. Both teams have standout skill players who make it a regular habit of making big plays. Special teams certainly will play a role. This should be a shootout in a game both sides want.
Who Will Win? Look for West Central to prevail, 35-31.
9AA #1 Garretson (7-0) at 9B Canistota (3-4), Thursday, Oct. 24, Canistota
At Stake: Garretson will try and hold onto the #1 spot in 9AA and stay unbeaten when they face three-time 9-man champ Canistota on the road. It will be a difficult trip for the Blue Dragons, who face a proud Hawks team that has faced a trying schedule and will try to close the regular season with a big win.
Garretson Notes: In a year of transition, the Garretson Blue Dragons have re-stoked their magic at the 9-man level. For the past 15 years, Garretson was a part of 11B (47-34 record) until the move to 9AA this year, fostered by declining enrollment numbers. Blue Dragon faithful can recall some special years in the 9-man ranks, when from 1985-97, they won two 9A state titles (1990, 1991) and had two runner-up finishes (1989, 1997). In 2013, Garretson is again on a path to the DakotaDome, sitting 7-0 and #1 in 9AA. "We are happy with the progress our team has made to this point in the season," said first-year head coach Kevin Steckler. "Every one of our players has improved, which has led to the overall success of the team," he said. Garretson has been impressive in the seven straight wins by piecing together a 276-to-74 point differential this season. Along the way, they have defeated every opponent by at least 18 points, including a 42-20 win over 6-1 Alcester-Hudson and a 26-8 decision over a 5-2 Parker team. The Blue Dragons attack is led by QB Jesse Brockhouse, who has excelled in his first year under center. He has completed 15-of-31 passes for 170 yards and three TDs with 103 carries for 539 yards and five TDs. He also has a 92-yard kickoff return for a score. In the backfield, Brockhouse has a pair of talented teammates, including junior Matt Johnson, who has 136 carries for 836 yards and 11 TDs. Austin Matthiesen has 84 carries for 809 yards and seven TDs. Matthhiesen also has 10 receptions for 160 yards and three TDs. Johnson leads the defense with 52 tackles while Matthiesen has 41 and Brockhouse, four interceptions. Steckler knows that the team faces a difficult opponent in Canistota, which has a proud tradition with three straight 9-man state titles. "They (Canistota) are very sound and disciplined with their schemes so we will have to execute at our highest level to put points on the board. Offensively they create so many problems because of their multiple formations and the diversity of plays they will run out of those formations, recognizing our keys based on their formations and shifts will be crucial for us to slow them down," said Steckler. "Canistota is battle-tested. They may have four losses, but the combined record of the teams, who have defeated them is 24-5. We will have to be mentally and physically tougher. It's no secret we run the ball…that's what we hang our hat on. We know our strengths and we will play to them."
Canistota Notes: Coming into the 2013 season Canistota was riding a 36-game winning streak, which ended in a loss to rival Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan in week two. Canistota has faced a tough schedule in what has to be a frustrating season after going 12-0 every year since 2010. The Hawks' losses have been to teams with a combined 24-5 mark. In the run, they have faced 9A #1 Howard (32-24 loss), 9B #2 Avon (44-24 loss) and 9AA #5 BEE (38-14 loss) as well as lost an overtime battle to an improved Menno-Marion team (34-28). Still, the Hawks have a 226-to-184 advantage and have featured an explosive offense through the season. The Hawks have defeated Hanson, 32-12; Mount Vernon/Plankinton, 48-12, and Freeman, 56-12. At the season's start, head coach James Strang knew he had a team facing a difficult schedule and the key was to look for improvement from his young team game-by-game. And, that has happened. Despite the 3-4 record, this Canistota team is dangerous and can rack up the points. "Our team has competed and work hard," said Strang, a first-year coach, whose team was hit hard by graduation after the 2012 championship season. "Our inexperience has shown but we are constantly learning through a tough schedule trying to improve week to week." Sophomore QB Shay Jolley has had a solid year, completing 55-of-93 passes for 953 yards with 11 TDs and just one interception. The rushing attack has generated 1,770 yards on 288 carries for 252.9 yards per game and 6.15 yards per carry. Senior Nick Hofer has been the leader in that ground attack, recording his first 1,000 yard rushing season with 134 carries for 1,001 yards and 10 TDs. He is also closing in on 2K rushing with 204 carries for 1,888 yards and 26 TDs in what has been a stellar career. Hofer, who has 33 career receptions for 848 yards, has compiled 3,664 all-purpose yards in his time as a Hawk. He has 282 career points, including 44 TDs and 18 conversion points. Junior Carson Hofer (65-400-6 TDs), sophomore Jerad Nielsen (22-142-2 TDs) and Jolley (61-189-TD) have also contributed to the rushing attack. Nielsen (27-444-7 TDs) has been Jolley's primary weapon in the pass game. Also making plays in the receiving game has been Hofer (11-287-3 TDs) and Jacob Buseman (8-134-TD). With a tough matchup with Garretson ahead, Strang knows establishing the running game is important and has always been a starting point with the Canistota offense. "We need to get all of our backs involved so that we can be successful. Our key the entire season has been to take care of the football and score in the red zone."
Inside Slant: Can Canistota establish the running game, mixing in play action passes to keep Garretson off-balanced? Will Garretson continue to find a way to make big plays with Matthiesen, Johnson and Brockhouse? Which defense stands tall on Thursday night? Can Nick Hofer break off some big plays?
Coaches: James Strang, Canistota, 1st season, 3-4. Kevin Steckler, Garretson, 1st season, 7-0.
Series Records: The two schools have never met.
Bottom-line: Garretson is on fire right now and may be the best in 9AA, which is full of loaded teams. The Blue Dragons have handled every challenge this season but face a difficult one when they head to Canistota. Still, Brockhouse, Johnson and Matthiesen have been electric all season and will make some plays Thursday night. Look for some big plays on both sides. Blue Dragons better be ready for a tough battle.
Who Will Win? Garretson will finish unbeaten with a hard-fought 22-16 win over the Hawks.
11B #5 Parkston (6-1) @ 11B Bon Homme (5-2), Tyndall, Thursday, Oct. 24
At Stake: Both teams come into the game hot. Bon Homme has won five straight and Parkston's only loss was to #2 Winner. Both teams will pound the ball at each other and play solid defense. This is a contest that has playoff positioning at stake. These two teams could very well match up again on Tuesday in the first round of the playoffs.
Bon Home Notes: Bon Homme, which was 4-5 a year ago, has had a turnaround season under the direction of veteran head coach Byron Pudwill, who is in his 11th season at the school. After losing to 11B #3 Canton, 36-21, and 11B #2 Winner, 15-9, in the opening two weeks, the Cavaliers have won five straight and momentum is building for the program, which has a long tradition of success, including a pair of state titles (1994, 1995) and one runner-up finish (1988). Pudwill says things are looking up for the program. "We have taken care of the ball with the turnover margin in our favor as of late," he said. "The running game has picked up considerably, and that is in large part due to our senior- led offensive line. The defensive has been playing very well, and have started clamp down on some of the things we were not taking care of at the beginning of the season. We are a plus four in the turnover margin in this part of the year." Senior QB Dakota Bodden has been one of the leaders for the Cavaliers offense, generating 1,070 yards in total offense. He has completed 33-of-93 passes for 329 yards with eight TDs (just two interceptions) while picking up 741 yards rushing on 100 carries and eight TDs. Junior Hunter Young (49-248-2 TDs) and freshman Chase Kortan (48-225-3 TDs) also contribute significantly to the backfield. The receiving corps are led by Kortan (12-227-3 TDs), senior Scott Wieseler (10-99) and Young (5-96) and senior Scott Van Winkle (3-29-2 TDs). On defense, Bon Homme has been tough and aggressive, led by the play of Weiseler (54T, sack, 2 int., FR), Levi Dockendorf (50T), Austin Kaul (48T, FR, def. TD) and Young (45T, three int., 2 FR). "We have a great group of seniors who have been crucial to our success," said Pudwill, who knows good defense and a solid rushing attack are keys to success. "As everybody knows, this time of year gets very cold, rainy, and snowy during the playoffs. In order to be successful in South Dakota you have to be able to run the football in late October and early November. Our goal is to play good defense and run the football every year. This creates a good physical and aggressive attitude during football games which leads to check marks in the win column." With Parkston next, the Cavaliers know they face a tough physical contest. "They have some players capable of big plays, and we need to do our best to keep them in check. The winner of this game will have the fewest turnovers and most rushing yards at the end of the game."
Parkston Notes: All season long, the Parkston Trojans have put their focus on executing their run-based offense while employing a shutdown defense. With just a 14-7 loss to #2 Winner, the results speak for themselves. Through seven games, they have recorded four shutouts, including two straight with a 21-0 win over Tri-Valley and a 30-0 road shutout of a hot Redfield-Doland squad last Friday. Earlier, they shutdown Groton, 21-0, and also recorded a 36-0 shutout against Elk Point Jefferson. In addition, they recorded a 30-12 win over Wagner and a 21-14 win over 11B #3 Canton. "We are playing good right now," said head coach Eric Norden. "We hope to keep developing and work hard throughout the rest of the season." Clearly, this Parkston squad is eyeing the big prize after going 7-3 a year ago and advancing to the second round of the playoffs. At 6-1, Parkston is doing what they felt all along they were capable of accomplishing – win at a consistently high. This season, Parkston is averaging 23.7 points per game and allowing just 5.7 ppg with a 166-to-40 point differential. On offense, the Trojans have compiled 1,946 yards in total offense or 278 per game. They are doing it primarily on the ground with 303 carries for 1,613 yards or 230.4 per game and 5.3 per carry. They also have 333 passing yards. On defense, they have limited opponents to just 1,253 yards or 179 yards in total offense per game. Leading Parkston's ground attack is junior Miles Semmler (68-428-8 TDs) along with Mitch Heisinger (70-298- 2TDs), Wes Dvorak (42-268-5 TDs), Brady Reiff (33-224-TD) and Andrew Semmler (27-144-2 TDs). Either Dvorak (13-27-105-TD) or Zach Scott (17-33-230-TD) takes snaps. Miles Semmler is the leading receiver (10-48) with contributions from the explosive Dvorak (6-116-TD), with Reiff (6-64) and Heisinger (5-70-TD) also providing key catches. With rival Bon Homme next, Norden and his Parkston team faces a big challenge, another of several tests this season. "Offensively, we need to establish the run game and control the line of scrimmage. On defense, we have to stop their big plays and keep their key guys from hurting us around the edges," he said.
Inside Slant: Will Wes Dvorak find a way to free-lance his way to a TD or big play? Can Parkston hammer away at a solid Bon Homme defense? Will Dakota Bodden find the way to make a big play against a defense which has been scored on in over two games? Which running attack gets the upper hand?
Series Records: In the last nine meetings, Bon Homme owns a 6-3 edge over Parkston, which has won the last two with a 28-7 win in 2012 and a 13-7 decision two years ago. Bon Homme's last win was a 39-0 victory in 2010.
Bottom-line: Those attending this game in Tyndall will be entertained to a slug-fest with the defenses giving up ground begrudgingly. Both teams will try and establish the run game but don't be surprised if a special team's play or a long pass results in points either way. This will be a physical battle – old school style.
Who Wins? Parkston prevails, 14-7, in a game that isn't decided until late in the fourth quarter.