Focus on the Playoffs – KSFY Sports "Experts" Make Picks
With the regular season over, South Dakota High School football teams in 9-man and 11-man ranks now set their sights on winning the "second season" and eventually earning a trip to the DakotaDome in mid-November.
In addition to the controversial move to a seventh class this year, South Dakota prep football has also some playoff schedule changes. Due to a three-round scenario for 11AAA and 11AA, those two classes don't open play until Halloween Night on Thursday (Oct. 31). Meanwhile the other five classes (9AA, 9A, 9B, 11A, and 11B) will open first-round play on Tuesday night (Oct. 29).
After the opening round this week, the second round will include quarterfinals for 9AA, 9A, 9B, 11A and 11B on Monday. Nov. 4. The 11AAA and 11AA semifinals will be played on Friday, Nov. 8. The following day (Saturday, Nov 9), the semifinals for 11A, 11B, and 9AA, 9A, and 9B will be held. The championships are set for Nov. 14-16 at the DakotaDome. Here is the schedule for championship weekend - Thursday, Nov. 14 – 9A, 11 a.m.; 9AA, 2:30 p.m.; 11A, 7:30 a.m.; Friday, Nov. 15 – 9B, 11 a.m.; 11B, 2:30 p.m.; 11AA, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16 – 11AAA, 7:30 p.m.
In this year's Focus on the Playoffs blog, KSFY Sports Director Erik Thorstenson, sports anchor Matt Peterson and me will make picks of all the games. Picking all the games is a first for Thor and Matt. Let's see who wins this friendly prognosticating competition. In the playoffs the last two years, I have a combined mark of 158-14 or a .918 percentage.
Along with a "Quick Take" of favorites and darkhorses in each class, here is our picks --
11AAA – Quick Take – Favorites: #1 SF Lincoln (8-0) heads into the 11AAA Playoffs as the favorite with #2 SF Roosevelt (7-1) right on their tail. The Patriots, which seek a second playoff crown (2008), are 8-0 for the first time since 1972, own a 340-to-115 scoring differential and has won 7-of-8 games by 43 points or more. The Rough Riders, which lost to Lincoln, 35-28, in the regular season, have won five straight games and own a 292-to-82 scoring edge over opponents, including a 113-14 run in the last three wins. Roosevelt owns three championships, including crowns in 2006, 2007 and 2011. Last year's champ SF Washington (3-5), a three-time champ that has appeared in six straight championship games, will try and knock off Roosevelt in the first round. Darkhorse: Brandon Valley (6-2), which has won six playoff titles (3 in 11AA – 1998, 1998, 1989), was second a year ago and could cause headaches for the favorites.
Our Picks --
#8 R.C. Stevens (2-6, 39.375 playoff points) at #1 Lincoln (8-0, 57.25), 4:30 p.m.
Thor: SF Lincoln. Matt: SF Lincoln. Genz: SF Lincoln
#5 O'Gorman (3-5, 45.625) at #4 R.C. Central (4-4, 47.0)
Thor: SF O'Gorman. Matt: Rapid City Central. Genz: SF O'Gorman.
#7 Washington (3-5, 44.125) at #2 Roosevelt (7-1, 54.125), 7:30 p.m.
Thor: SF Roosevelt. Matt: SF Roosevelt. Genz: SF Roosevelt.
#6 Aberdeen Central (3-5, 44.875) at #3 Brandon Valley (6-2, 51.625), 7 p.m.
Thor: Brandon Valley. Matt: Brandon Valley. Genz: Brandon Valley.
11AA – Quick Take – Favorite: Pierre, which seems their first-ever title, finished the regular season, 7-1, and control the top seed in the 11AA playoffs, which open Thursday. Pierre heads to the playoffs with a 241-to-121 point differential and has been top-ranked for eight straight weeks. Darkhorse: Watertown (5-3), which has three straight wins, and Yankton (4-4), which defeated Pierre, 29-26, two weeks ago, could surprise. Watertown has won titles in 2001 and 1996 while Yankton has six playoff titles (2002, 1998, 1995, 1994, 1984, 1982). However, this isn't the old 11AA but a reshaped one that doesn't include the Sioux Falls or Rapid City schools as well as Aberdeen Central.
Our Picks –
#8 Brookings (3-5, 42.25) at #1 Pierre Riggs (7-1, 53.75), Thursday, 7 p.m.
Thor: Pierre. Matt: Pierre. Genz: Pierre.
#5 Huron (3-5, 42.625) at #4 Harrisburg (3-5, 43.375), Thursday, 7 p.m.
Thor: Harrisburg. Matt: Huron. Genz: Harrisburg.
#6 Mitchell (3-5, 42.625) at #3 Yankton (4-4, 45.500), Thursday, 7 p.m.
Thor: Yankton. Matt: Yankton. Genz: Yankton.
#7 Douglas (4-4, 42.25) at #2 Watertown (5-3, 49.125), Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
Thor: Watertown. Matt: Watertown. Genz: Watertown.
11A- Quick Take – Favorite – Madison (8-0), the top overall seed in the class, has been ranked #1 four straight weeks and finished the regular season unbeaten for the first time in school playoff era history. The Bulldogs are the most explosive team in 11A and already have wins over #2 West Central (24-21) and #4 Dell Rapids (39-12). Darkhorse: #2 West Central (6-2), the preseason favorite, has won three straight games by a combined 137-to-16 margin. West Central, which has built a 310-to-75 scoring margin this season, own the most playoff titles in playoff history, regardless of class, with 11 and are seeking #12. #3 Hot Springs, which finished second in 2003, is looking for a first-ever 11A crown. The Bison, which lost the opener to 11B #3 St. Thomas More, has a 329-to-81 scoring margin, including 288-to-39 over the last six games. Key an eye on three-time defending champ Dell Rapids, which enters playoff competition at 6-2 and ranked #4. They have gone 16-1 in the playoffs over the past five years with a 12-0 mark over the last three years.
Our Picks –
#4 Milbank Area (1-7, 38.0) at #1 Madison (8-0, 56.875), Tuesday.
Thor: Madison. Matt: Madison. Genz: Madison.
#3 Sisseton (2-6, 40.5) at #2 Dell Rapids (6-2, 50.5), Tuesday.
Thor: Dell Rapids. Matt: Dell Rapids. Genz: Dell Rapids.
#4 Vermillion (1-7, 39.375) at #1 Dakota Valley (5-3, 48.375), Tuesday.
Thor: Dakota Valley. Matt: Dakota Valley. Genz: Dakota Valley.
#3 Lennox (2-6, 40.125) at #2 Tea Area (4-4, 44.75), Tuesday.
Thor: Tea Area. Matt: Tea Area. Genz: Tea Area.
#4 Cheyenne-Eagle Butte (2-6, 36.75) at #1 West Central (6-2, 52.0), 5:30 p.m., Tuesday.
Thor: West Central. Matt: West Central. Genz: West Central.
#3 Todd County (3-5, 40.375) at #2 Chamberlain (4-4, 43.625), 5:30 p.m., Tuesday.
Thor: Chamberlain. Matt: Chamberlain. Genz: Chamberlain.
#4 Little Wound (2-6, 40.5) at #1 Hot Springs (7-1, 54.5), Tuesday.
Thor: Hot Springs. Matt: Hot Springs. Genz: Hot Springs.
#3 Pine Ridge (3-5, 44.375) at #2 Belle Fourche (4-4, 46.625), 7 p.m., Tuesday
Thor: Belle Fourche. Matt: Belle Fourche. Genz: Belle Fourche.
11B – Quick Takes – Favorites: 11B sets up as one of the most competitive of the seven classes. Leading the class is unbeaten #1 Aberdeen Roncalli (8-0), which has recorded 50 shutouts, including four this season, since 2004. Ranked #1 since the preseason, Roncalli, which has won two championships, has run up a 362-to-40 point per game edge. Defending 11B champion Winner will be a tough out. The Warriors have won five titles and made 12 championship appearances. They own a state-best 20-game winning streak after going unbeaten for a second straight regular season. Winner has a 307-to-60 point differential, including 152-to-12 margin in the past three games. Darkhorses: Canton, which owns a 304-to-76 margin this season, is chasing their first title since 2006. They are hot with a 213-to-20 run over the last five games, all wins and four of them by shutout. Keep an eye on explosive St. Thomas More (7-1), which chases a first-ever title, as does Parkston, which is a hard-nosed, run-oriented, defensive-minded outfit.
#4 Groton Area (4-4, 46.375) at #1 Aberdeen Roncalli (8-0, 55.875), Tuesday.
Thor: Aberdeen Roncalli. Matt: Aberdeen Roncalli. Genz: Aberdeen Roncalli.
#3 Mobridge-Pollock (3-5, 46.875) at #2 Redfield/Doland (6-2, 52.75), Tuesday.
Thor: Redfield-Doland Matt: Redfield-Doland. Genz: Redfield-Doland.
#4 McCook Central/Montrose (4-4, 44.0) at #1 Canton (7-1, 55.125), 7 p.m., Tuesday.
Thor: Canton. Matt: Canton. Genz: Canton.
#2 Beresford (5-3, 47.5) at #3 Tri-Valley (3-5, 44.375), 7 p.m., Tuesday.
Thor: Beresford. Matt: Beresford. Genz: Tri-Valley.
#4 Bon Homme (5-3, 49.5) at #1 Winner (8-0, 59.375), Tuesday.
Thor: Winner. Matt: Winner. Genz: Winner.
#3 Wagner (4-4, 49.875) at #2 Parkston (7-1, 56.0), Tuesday.
Thor: Parkston. Matt: Parkston. Genz: Parkston.
#4 Red Cloud (5-3, 48.625) at #1 St. Thomas More (7-1, 56.5), 7:30 p.m., Tuesday.
Thor: St. Thomas More. Matt: St. Thomas More. Genz: St. Thomas More.
#3 Bennett County (7-1, 52.625) at #2 Custer (6-2, 54.5), Tuesday.
Thor: Custer. Matt: Custer. Genz: Custer.
9AA – Quick Take – Like 11B, 9AA is a hard one to pick. It is one of two classes without an unbeaten team (11AA). Favorites – Let's make all five ranked teams the favorites. Preseason #1 Gregory (7-1), which has been eight championship game appearances and won the 1998 11B title, seeks a first-ever 9-man crown. The Gorillas have a six-game winning streak, when they built a 285-to-56 scoring margin. #2 Arlington (7-1), which won titles in 2004 and 2005, has a 319-to-158 scoring differential in a dominate season. They advanced to the semifinals a year ago and have bigger thoughts this year. Deubrook Area (7-1), which has won seven straight games over a season-opening setback to Arlington (34-20), won their first-ever title a year ago. They are after #2 but open on the road against highly-successful Clark-Willow Lake (7-1). Garretson (7-1) lost for the first time last week (22-16 to 9B Canistota. The Blue Dragons, which moved to 11B to 9AA this year, has run of 9-man success from 1985-97, winning two 9A titles (1990, 1991). They are after their first-ever 9AA crown. Then, there is Bridgewater-Emery-Ethan (7-1). The Seahawks seek a sixth 9AA title in a season when they lost their starting QB before the season began. They ended Canistota's 37-game winning streak and only have a loss to Howard. Right now, BEE has a five-game winning streak and a 309-to-113 scoring differential.
Our Picks –
#4 Webster Area (5-3, 49.125) at #1 Arlington (7-1, 54.5), 7 p.m., Tuesday.
Thor: Arlington. Matt: Arlington Genz: Arlington.
#3 Deubrook Area (7-1, 53.75) at #2 Clark/Willow Lake (7-1, 53.75), Tuesday.
Thor: Deubrook Area. Matt: Deubrook Area. Genz: Deubrook Area.
#4 Menno/Marion (4-4, 44.0) at #1 Garretson (7-1, 53.0), 7 p.m., Tuesday.
Thor: Garretson. Matt: Garretson. Genz: Garretson.
#3 Parker (5-3, 48.0) at #2 Elkton-Lake Benton (6-2, 49.375), 7 p.m. at Elkton, Tuesday.
Thor: Elkton-Lake Benton. Matt: Elkton-Lake Benton. Genz: Elkton-Lake Benton.
#4 Deuel (4-4, 47.0) at #1 Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan (7-1, 53.375), 7 p.m. at Emery, Tuesday.
Thor: Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan. Matt: Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan. Genz: Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan
#3 Woon./Wess. Springs/Sanborn Central (5-3, 48.375) at #2 Kimball/White Lake (6-2, 50.125), Tuesday.
Thor: Kimball/White Lake. Matt: Kimball/White Lake. Genz: Kimball/White Lake.
#4 Stanley County (3-5, 41.875) at #1 Gregory (7-1, 54.875), 6 p.m., Tuesday.
Thor: Gregory. Matt: Gregory. Genz: Gregory.
#3 De Smet/Iroquiois (3-5, 43.375) at #2 Hill City (7-1, 50.375), 4 p.m., Tuesday.
Thor: Hill City. Matt: Hill City. Genz: Hill City.
9A – Quick Takes – Favorite – Howard (8-0), which was runner-up to Deubrook Area (25-22) in last year's 9AA title game, seek a second nine-man title (2009). They are just one of two programs (DeSmet/Iroquois) with a title in both 9-man and 11-man (2004, 11B). The Tigers, which are 8-0 for the first time since 1964, has a 368-to-125 scoring differential with five games over 40 points and four over 50. Darkhorses – Leola-Frederick (8-0), which won a title as Frederick in 9A in 1982 (34-15 over Gettysburg), is a team to watch. They have won eight straight and own a 365-to-49 scoring differential. In the last four wins, Leola-Frederick has a 202-to-12 margin over opponents. #3 Wolsey-Wessington finished the season unbeaten, have scored 40 points or more in seven of their eight wins, feature a pair of 1,000 yard rushers (Ryne Johnson, Lorenzo Williams) for a second straight year, and own a 360-to-78 point differential. However, they will be tested immediately as they open the playoffs against defending 9B champ Colome (6-2). Potter County is another team to watch, sitting 7-1 with just a 12-7 loss to Leola-Frederick. The Battlers seeks a first-ever state title but have seven runner-up finishes in the 9-man ranks.
Our Picks –
#4 Viborg-Hurley (4-4, 47.25) at #1 Leola/Frederick (8-0, 58.625), 6 p.m. at Leola
Thor: Leola-Frederick. Matt: Leola-Frederick. Genz: Leola-Frederick.
#3 Tri-State (4-4, 47.25) at #2 Herreid/Selby Area (6-2, 52.125), 7 p.m. at Selby, Tuesday.
Thor: Herreid-Selby. Matt: Herreid-Selby. Genz: Herreid-Selby.
#4 Hanson (3-5, 48.125) at #1 Howard (8-0, 57.875), 7 p.m., Tuesday.
Thor: Howard. Matt: Howard. Genz: Howard.
#3 Chester Area (4-4, 49.5) at #2 Alcester-Hudson (7-1, 55.125), Tuesday.
Thor: Alcester-Hudson. Matt: Alcester-Hudson. Genz: Alcester-Hudson.
#4 Corsica/Stickney (4-4, 47.75) at #1 Potter County (7-1, 55.75), Tuesday.
Thor: Potter County. Matt: Potter County. Genz: Potter County.
#3 Colome (6-2, 49.875) at #2 Wolsey-Wessington (8-0, 55.125), Tuesday.
Thor: Colome. Matt: Wolsey-Wessington. Genz: Wolsey-Wessington.
#4 Newell (4-4, 46.125) at #1 New Underwood (6-2, 51.25), Tuesday.
Thor: New Underwood. Matt: New Underwood. Genz: New Underwood.
#3 Lemmon/McIntosh (5-3, 49.0) at #2 Philip (4-4, 49.125), Tuesday.
Thor: Philip. Matt: Philip. Genz: Lemmon/McIntosh.
9B – Quick Take – Favorites – Hamlin and Avon are both 8-0 and unbeaten after dominate regular seasons in 9B. Hamlin, which owns a 365-to-50 point differential, have recorded four shutouts. The Chargers, which has won four 11-man titles, is seeking its first championship in 9B. They are unbeaten in the regular season for the second straight year. #2 Avon, which has a point differential of 369-to-85, will seek a fifth 9-man title and an 8th championship game appearance. They are big, fast and physical and rolling with a 159-to-28 scoring margin in the last three games. Darkhorses: #3 Dell Rapids St. Mary, which has a 387-to-150 point differential, is a dangerous team, that relentlessly pounds the ball. The Cardinals, which were 3-6 a year ago, has a win over 9AA #2 Arlington (ranked #1 in 9AA when they played). They are seeking their first-ever 9-man title but has a pair of runner-up finishes (2009, 2002). #4 Wall (8-0) is an unbeaten team to keep an eye on. Wall, which won titles in both 1990 and 1994, own a 9-man-best 401 points. However, the Eagles open with #5 Faith (7-1), a team with a 308-to-75 point differential this year. It is probably best not to sleep on Harding County (6-2), which won their second 9-man title a year ago and look for a sixth overall championship appearance. Another dark horse is Canistota, which came into the season as a defending three-time 9-man champ, winning the 9A title the last two years and 9B in 2010. The Hawks' 37-game winning streak ended in week two. Canistota's four losses, including 9A #1 Howard, 9AA #5 Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan and 9B #2 Avon. Keep in mind, last Thursday, they knocked off 9AA #1 Garretson and champs go down hard.
Our Picks –
#4 Hitchcock-Tulare (6-2, 53.5) at #1 Eureka/Bowdle (6-2, 57.125), 7 p.m. at Eureka, Tuesday.
Thor: Eureka-Bowdle. Matt: Hitchcock-Tulare. Genz: Eureka-Bowdle.
#3 Waverly-South Shore (6-2, 53.625) at #2 Faulkton Area (6-2, 54.25), Tuesday.
Thor: Faulkton Area. Matt: Waverly-South Shore. Genz: Waverly-South Shore.
#4 Castlewood (4-4, 49.125) at #1 Hamlin (8-0, 60.0), Tuesday.
Thor: Hamlin. Matt: Hamlin. Genz: Hamlin.
#3 Langford Area (5-3, 52.25) at #2 Dell Rapids St. Mary (7-1, 54.125), Tuesday.
Thor: Dell Rapids St. Mary. Matt: Dell Rapids St. Mary. Genz: Dell Rapids St. Mary.
#4 Scotland (4-4, 47.125) at #1 Avon (8-0, 59.25), 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Thor: Avon. Matt: Avon. Genz: Avon.
#3 Canistota (4-4, 52.5) at #2 Burke/South Central (6-2, 54.625), Tuesday.
Thor: Canistota. Matt: Canistota. Genz: Canistota.
#4 Faith (7-1, 54.625) at #1 Wall (8-0, 58.5), Tuesday.
Thor: Wall. Matt: Wall. Genz: Wall.
#3 Harding County (6-2, 55.0) at #2 Kadoka Area (7-1, 56.375), Tuesday.
Thor: Harding County. Matt: Harding County. Genz: Kadoka Area.