Focus on the Semifinals - SD Prep Playoffs Hit Semifinal Round - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Focus on the Semifinals - SD Prep Playoffs Hit Semifinal Round

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© Dan Genzler, KSFY Focus on the Semifinals Blogger © Dan Genzler, KSFY Focus on the Semifinals Blogger

Four champions remain alive as the semifinal round of the playoffs begins this weekend. Championship berths at the DakotaDome are at stake in 11AAA and 11AA on Friday night. The same case holds true on Saturday when title game berths are up for grabs in 11A, 11B, 9AA, 9A and 9B. The gridiron will be smoking this weekend.  

Champions that remain alive include 11A Dell Rapids, which has a 14-0 playoff winning streak going but face #1 Madison on the road; 11B Winner, which hosts hot Canton with a 22-game winning streak on the line; 9AA Deubrook, which has a six-game playoff winning streak and will try to get a little revenge after losing to Arlington, 34-20, in the season opener; and 9B Harding County, a team that has the task of knocking off the unbeaten and top seed Hamlin on the road. A total of nine teams remain unbeaten including Sioux Falls Lincoln (9-0), Madison (10-0), Winner (10-0), Howard (10-0), Leola-Frederick (10-0), Wolsey-Wessington (10-0), Hamlin (10-0), Avon (10-0), and Wall (10-0). Something has to give as Leola-Frederick hosts Wolsey-Wessington in a 9A semifinal with Avon and Wall meeting at Avon in 9B.  It should make for a very interesting weekend.

KSFY Sports Prognasticating Trio Breakdown – So, how did we do in the first two rounds? As we head into the semifinals, I have the overall lead with a 62-6 mark, followed by sports director Eric Thorstensen at 61-7 and Matt Peterson at 58-10. Here is a breakdown. Both Thor and I were perfect in the quarterfinal round with a 20-0 mark. Matt finished 18-2. In 11-man, my record is 31-1 while Thor is 30-2 and Matt, 28-4. In 9-man, both Thor and I are 31-5 with Matt at 30-6. As for my three-year plus picking mark, it improves to 220-20 or .916. This is the first go-around for Thor and Matt.

Preview of South Dakota Prep Football Playoff Semifinals

11AAA, Friday, Nov. 8

#5 SF O'Gorman (4-5) @ #1 SF Lincoln (9-0), HWF  

At Stake – Sioux Falls Lincoln puts up its #1 ranking, unbeaten record and top overall seed in the playoffs. The Pats defeated O'Gorman, 51-20, at the President's Bowl. However, the Knights defeated Lincoln, 29-15 in the 2012 regular season finale.

Coaches – Steve Keueter, SF O'Gorman, 274-80-1; Aaron Beavers, SF Lincoln, 109-56; 68-48 @ Lincoln.

In the Playoffs – Sioux Falls Lincoln defeated Rapid City Stevens, 42-7, while O'Gorman defeated Rapid City Central, 27-13.

NotesSioux Falls O'Gorman comes in with two straight wins and need a victory over #1 Lincoln to salvage a .500 season. The Patriots are 9-0 for the first time in school history (8-0 in 1972 but lost in game nine, finishing 10-1) and the class's most dominant team in 2013. The Knights are led by the rushing duo of sophomore Luke Fritsch (140-779-9 TDs; 24-56-261) and Matt White (171-795-6 TDs). Eion Donelan (57-226-4 TDs) provides a spark on the perimeter. However, White was hurt last week and his status is up in the air. Sioux Falls Lincoln is led by running backs Caden Quintanilla (199-1,530-23 total TDs), who has 19 100-yard rushing games, 3,369 yards and 50 TDs in his career, and Matt Wagner (27-239-5 TDs). QB Connor Burchill (75-146-1,098-12 TDs) will try to shake off a bruised knee in the opening round. He has had a week to prepare and heal. He throws to an electric group of receivers in Trevor Naasz (25-383-2 TDs). Dylan Bartow (16-235-5 TDs) and Nickel Meyers (13-203-5 TDs). Lincoln, which has averages 418 yards per game in total offense, has a 382-to-122 point edge over opponents. The Pats, which are seeking a second playoff title (2008), defeated O'Gorman, 51-20, in week two. O'Gorman, which has won eight 11AA titles, has been outscored by opponents, 190-to-171.

Our Picks – Thor: Lincoln Matt: Lincoln Genz: Lincoln.

#3 Brandon Valley (7-2) @ #2 SF Roosevelt (8-1), HWF

At Stake – Roosevelt will look to move to 9-1 and a spot in the first-ever 11AAA title game. Two years ago, the Rough Riders won the 11AA title (31-17, SF Washington) to go along with titles in 2007 and 2006. Brandon Valley defeated Roosevelt, 34-20, in the semifinals of 11AA a year ago. The Lynx have made nine overall playoff championship appearances, including a year ago, with six titles with the last coming in 1998 (28-21 over Brookings).

Coaches – Chad Garrow, Brandon Valley, 73.26. Kim Nelson, SF Roosevelt, 44-11@ Roosevelt, 244-119 overall.

In the Playoffs – Roosevelt defeated SF Washington, 28-20. Brandon Valley defeated Aberdeen Central, 42-14.

Notes: #2 SF Roosevelt picked up a sixth straight win with 28-20 first round playoff win over SF Washington as Taryn Christion (110-912-14 TDs rush.; 125-181-1,637-16 TDs) threw for 356 yards and the emerging WR David Mulbah (31-744-7 TDs) had 233 receiving yards. Seth Bjordal (82-514-6 TDs) is also a factor in the backfield. Receivers Chase Vinatieri (38-504-2 TDs) and Tanner Hennings (24-426-5 TDs) offer other weapons for Roosevelt, which owns a 320-to-102 scoring differential. They face Brandon Valley, a team they beat 30-0 in the season opener. BV, which has 264-to-143 scoring margin, has made substantial improvement since that opening week of play. The Lynx are led by QB Jake Comeaux (145-231-1,652-20 TDs), and a talented receiving corps, including Drew Reinschmidt (40-576-7 TDs), A.J. Garrow (43-309-5 TDs; tied for 5th all-time with 128 career receptions), and Alex Wilde (25-455-6 TDs). Cam Holmes (105-631-6 TDs), one of the state's fastest players, leads the rushing attack. This sets up as a shootout Friday night at Howard Wood Field.

Our Picks – Thor: Roosevelt. Matt:  Roosevelt. Genz: Roosevelt.

11AA, Friday, Nov. 8

#4 Harrisburg (4-5) @ #1 Pierre (8-1), 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 8

At Stake – Harrisburg advanced to the 11A title game a year ago and now face the opportunity to make it to their first-ever 11AA title game. However, they have to defeat Pierre, the top-ranked team in the class, which has been dominant all year, losing just a 29-26 road decision to Yankton. Pierre, which will host the semifinal, is seeking its first-ever title and second championship game appearance (1998, 44-6 L to SF O'Gorman).   

Coaches – Jayson Poppinga, Pierre, 8-1. Brandon White, Harrisburg 26-16.

In the Playoffs – Pierre defeated Brookings, 59-18. Harrisburg over Huron, 27-20, OT.

Notes: Harrisburg will be a long-shot on the road against top-ranked Pierre. However, Brandon White's crew play tough defense and have a strong rushing attack led by Christian Trainor (72-363-4 TDs) and Joseph Kabambi (179-787-5 TDs), who had 119 yards rushing and two TDs, including the game-winning OT score in the 27-20 win over Huron in the opening round of the playoffs. QB Shaye Slaughter (83-181-943-5 TDs) runs the Tigers offense. The Tigers, which has won 3-of-5 games, has scored 125 points this season. This is Pierre's first meeting with Harrisburg. The Governors have been 11A's top team all season in rolling up an 8-1 record. Senior Alex Gray (114-196-1,762-18 TDs passing; 94-432-9 TDs) directed Pierre to a 59-19 opening round win over Brookings by throwing for 216 yards with two TDs and a TD run. Gray is one of the state's top players and is the team's resilient leader, fighting off a stress fracture to play and lead every week. Ethan Case (76-585-6 TDs' 30-395-TD rec.) had 142 yards and two TDs runs in the opening round win... Other key personnel for Jayson Poppinga's Pierre team include Garrett Pochup (23-584-6 TDs rec.), Shay Reinke (18-303-2 TDs rec.), Jace Jerome (86-428-2 TDs rushing) and the dynamic Austin Christopherson (26-476-8 TDs), who has 10 total TDs, including both a punt return (41) and a kickoff return (95) for a score. The Govs, which only have a 29-26 loss to Yankton, own a 310-to-140 point differential and have three straight wins. A win over Harrisburg sends the Governors to their second-ever playoff title game (44-6 loss to O'Gorman, 1988).

Our Picks – Thor: Pierre. Matt: Pierre Genz: Pierre

#3 Yankton (5-4) @ #2 Watertown (6-3), 7 p.m.

At Stake: These two teams met Oct. 4 with Yankton rallying for a win. Now, these two ESD rivals meet in the same venue (Watertown) with a trip to the DakotaDome at stake. Yankton has made 11 total championship appearances with six titles, but haven't captured it all since 2002 (35-14 over Sioux Falls Washington). Watertown hopes to add a third title to go with their last one in 2001 (Brookings, 18-0) and the 1996 title (34-6 conquest of Yankton). They will battle for a 11AA title shot, albeit in a class reshaped due to the move to seven classes this year.

Coaches: Steve Svendson, Watertown. Arlin Likness, Yankton, 116-51 at Yankton and 234-82 overall.

In the Playoffs: Yankton over Mitchell, 48-12. Watertown defeated Douglas, 54-7.

Notes: Yankton, which has won 4-of-5 games after a 1-3 start, will head to Watertown for a showdown with the Arrows. On Oct. 4, Yankton rallied for a 17-7 win over Watertown. Like that one, this game is in Watertown. The Bucks, which own a 255-to-221 point edge, opened the playoffs with a 48-12 win over Mitchell. Yankton's big-play pass-oriented offense is directed by QB Mason Strahl (90-163-1,350-12 TDs), who has a connection with senior wide receiver J.J. Hejna (55-1,034-9 TDs). Yankton will look to Jordan Lightner on the ground after losing Levi Davis to injury earlier this season. Lightner had two rushing TDs against Mitchell. A key weapon for the Bucks is kicker Reed Sawatzke, who has made 9-of-13 field goals and 23-of-25 extra points. Watertown will look for a little revenge with Yankton after the earlier loss. The Arrows, which own a 250-to-176 point differential, have won four straight games since the loss to Yankton. In the opening round of the playoffs, they ousted Douglas, 54-7. Senior Shay Bratland (216-1,304-15 TDs; 12-320-4 TDs rec.) along with Gray of Pierre and Hejna of Yankton are prime candidates for offensive player of the year in 11AA. Bratland is fast, strong and a big-play weapon for Steve Svendson's team. Under center will be QB Logan Gabriel (64-139-1,036-11 TDs), whose favorite target is Jess Poppen (21-344-5 TDs). Poppen is also a weapon with his leg, hitting 4-of-5 field goals and 26-of-29 extra points.

Our Picks – Thor: Watertown. Matt: Watertown. Genz: Watertown.

11A, Saturday, Nov. 9

#4 Dell Rapids (8-2) at #1 Madison (10-0), 3 p.m., CST

At Stake: Dell Rapids, a three-time defending champ, puts up a 14-game winning streak in the playoffs, which began in 2010. The Quarriers, the #4 seed, will try to head to the Dome for the 4th straight year but face a stiff challenge #1 Madison, which is unbeaten for the first time ever in the playoff era. The Bulldogs, which upended the Quarriers, 39-12 earlier this season, are looking for their first-ever title.

Coaches: Steve Hansen of Dell Rapids, 133-64. Max Hodgen of Madison, 19-16.

In the Playoffs: Madison defeated Milbank Area, 55-0; Vermillion, 54-11. Dell Rapids defeated Sisseton, 34-12; and Belle Fourche, 42-6.

Notes: Dell Rapids, which has a 76-to-18 scoring margin over two opponents in the playoffs, own a 612-to-171 scoring margin in 14 straight playoff wins. The Quarriers seem to catch fire when the playoffs hit with 10 games in that run over 40 points, including 8-of-last-nine. Dell Rapids, which has a 260-to-129 scoring margin this season, have generated 3,027 yards in total offense with 2,617 rushing yards (261.7 per game), led by 2012 Joe Robbie MVP  Riley Schmidt (115-928-6 TDs; 9-182-5 TD receiving, TD pass), who had a career best 233 yards rushing in the win over Belle Fourche. Brett Nichols (84-748-11 TDs) and Jacob Huewe (47-379-4 TDs) also big roles in the backfield. Tanner Solberg (18-58-315-7 TDs) directs the offense at QB. The Quarriers get it done at the start of the game (108-to-34 point edge in the 1st Q) and after halftime (65-to-7 points edge in third quarter).  On defense, Zach White (35.5T, 4.5 sacks, 10.5 TFLs, FF), Matthew DeNoon (34.5T, 2 sacks, 8.5 TFLs, FF), and Andrew Wiebenga (35T, 7 TFLs, 3 FF, 1.5 sacks) are the leaders. Top Class A seed Madison, which has a 419-to-108 point edge, look to extend their season record to 11-0. In week two, they defeated Dell Rapids, 39-12, in Madison. The Bulldogs, which averaged 218.4 rushing yards and 156.4 through the air (374.8 overall), have a 109-to-11 scoring margin in the playoffs. The Bulldogs are chasing their first ever state playoff football title. QB Jacob Giles (85-151-1,526-11 TDs), who leads the offense. The ground game is keyed by senior Rush Milne (185-1,212-30 TDs; 9 rec., 187 yards, 2 TDs), who has 26 carries for 301 yards and eight TDs with four receptions for 109 yards and two TDs in the 2013 playoffs. Preston Nordling (30-651-5 TDs) and Carter Kasuske (28-376-2 TDs) lead the receiving corps. Madison, which has 16 interceptions, including three pick-sixes, has allowed just 178.7 yards per game, including only 93.6 rushing yards. Nordling, who has two interception returns for TDs, is dangerous on punt returns with 13 returns for 279 yards and two TDs. On defense, Tyler Currey (90T, 10.5 TFls, sack, int.), Dexter Nowstrup (35T, 13.5 TFLs, two sacks, FR), Bradyn Steffen (46T, 9 TFLs, 3 sacks, 2 int.) and Jordan Unterbrunner (45T, 9.5 TFLs, 2 sacks and 2 FR) lead the Bulldogs.

Our Picks – Thor: Madison. Matt: Madison. Genz: Madison.

#3 West Central (8-2) at #2 Hot Springs (9-1), 5:30 p.m., MT

At Stake: Hot Springs will try and advance to the DakotaDome for the first time in school history but face a tough challenge with #2 ranked and #3 seed West Central, which travels west to meet the Bison. West Central is seeking a 14th championship appearance in 11A and a state-best 12th title.

Coaches: Kent Mueller, West Central, 96-27. Ben Kramer, Hot Springs, 42-33.

In the Playoffs:  Hot Springs received a first round forfeit from Little Wound and then rolled past Chamberlain, 51-0. West Central opened with a 54-0 win over Cheyenne Eagle Butte and then defeated Tea Area, 47-7.

NotesHot Springs, which received a forfeit from Little Wound in the opening round and rolled past Chamberlain, 51-0, in the quarterfinals, is on quite a run with nine straight wins. The Bison lost to 11B #3 St. Thomas More, 35-15, in the season opener and then turned things around. They have put together an overall 382-to-81 scoring margin. During the run, Hot Springs hasn't allowed more than 14 points in any game (28-14 win over Custer) and have held six opponents to seven points or less with three shutouts. The Bison are led by senior running back Jake Oberpriller (151-1,370-17 TDs; Career – 309-2,561-31 TDs) on the ground.  Senior Justin Harkless (25-77-418-8 TDs; 54-265-5 TDs) directs the offense. Others in the offensive mix include Jared Harkless (27-279-3 TDs rushing; 6-163-2 TDs receiving), Grady Egly (42-312-4 TDs rushing) along with receivers Cole Berkley (9-150-2 TDs) and Eriq Swiftwater (12-142-3 TDs).  The Bison, which are making their second straight 11A semifinal appearance (49-25 loss to Dell Rapids in 2012), have totaled 2,760 yards in total offense, including 2,342 rushing yards on 299 carries with 29 TDs. Egly (77T, 2 int., 2 sacks) and Swiftwater (73T, 6 int., 8 sacks, 2 def. TDs) lead the Hot Springs defense. West Central, which owns a 411-to-82 scoring margin this year, has won five straight when they own a 138-23 scoring edge, including a 101-to-7 edge in the first two rounds of the playoffs. West Central, which last won an 11A title in 2007, and have a 9-5 record in the playoffs over the last five plus seasons. After being hurt in the 24-21 loss to Madison, senior QB Noah Matson (27-40-336-6 TDs; 12-69 rushing) is back in the lineup, completing 4-of-8 passes for 57 yards and a TD in the quarterfinal win. Joining Matson in the backfield is a dynamite trio of backs include Cody Bussell (93-706-9 TDs), Cole Tirrel (83-799-16 TDs) and Cody Miller (81-505-10 TDs).  In the last three games, Tirrel (427) and Bussell (329) have a combined 766 rushing yards and 12 TDs. On the season, West Central has rolled up 3,080 yards in total offense, including 2,599 rushing yards and 481 passing. They have been a shutdown defensive group, allowing just 182.7 total yards per game. The Trojans have allowed just 90 yards rushing, including four times holding an opponent to 20 yards or less. Six times, they have held an opponent under 200 yards and just one opponent (Madison, 428) has cracked 300 yards in total offense.

Our Picks – Thor: West Central. Matt: West Central. Genz: West Central.

11B, Saturday, Nov. 9

#5 Canton (9-1) at #1 Winner (10-0), 6 p.m. CST

At Stake: Defending state champion Winner will put up a 22-game winning streak when they host Canton with a berth in the 11B title game at stake. While the exact status of the series is unknown, the last time these teams played was a 49-17 win over Winner in 2011 in the second round of the playoffs. In both Canton's championship runs, they had a date with Winner. In 2006, Canton defeated Winner, 35-6, in a semifinal game at Winner (9-2 that season) before defeating Dell Rapids, 27-20 in the 11A title game. In 1986, they defeated Winner, 14-7, in the state title game at the DakotaDome. So, these teams have a history. 

Coaches: Rich Lundstrom, Canton, 60-47; Dan Aaker, Winner, 104-29.

In the Playoffs: Canton defeated McCook Central/Montrose, 50-0, and upset #1 Aberdeen Roncalli, 34-13. Winner defeated Bon Homme, 34-8; and Tri-Valley, 18-16.

Notes: If Canton goes to the 11B championship, certainly they will have earned it. No doubt Canton is hot as they meet defending champion Winner on Saturday night. The C-Hawks, which hasn't lost since a 21-14 loss to Parkston in week two, has won eight straight games, knocking off another unbeaten team, top-ranked Aberdeen Roncalli, in the quarterfinals at Swisher Field in Aberdeen. The C-Hawks are putting on their traveling shoes as they will log over 800 miles (460 miles round trip to Aberdeen and 350-mile round trip to Winner) in two weeks. Canton, which owns a 388-to-89, scoring differential, has recorded five shutouts in seven games, making the C-Hawks one of the most dominant teams in 11B. Canton has a 297-to-33 scoring margin since Sept. 27. The C-Hawks, which seek a first title since 2006 (27-20 over Dell Rapids) and second overall (1986, 14-7 over Winner), are led by QB Cody Majeres (96-680-17 TDs; 27-44-526-5 TDs; Career – 264-2,015-39 TDs rushing; 57-108-962-8 TDs passing), who had 135 yards rushing and five total TDs (four by rush), including a 103-yard interception return, in the win over Roncalli. The C-Hawks also feature running backs Gabe Dolen (119-813-10 TDs; Career – 225-1,410-13 TDs), Jake Ablett (83-618-6 TDs; and Tanner Broughton (75-484-6 TDs; Career – 121-802-14 TDs), along with tight end Eli Ripley (13-247-2 TDs).  On defense, Dolen (76T) Bryce Schroedermeier (4 int., 70 yards, def. TD) and Broughton (15 TFLs) lead the way. Winner, which is seeking a 6th five playoff title, also will try and extend a 22-game winning streak when they host Canton. If the Warriors advance, they will break the school mark, shared with the 1980-82. It would also rank 15th on the all-time 11-man consecutive wins list. To reach the semifinals, Winner used a late defensive stand to turn back Tri-Valley, 18-16. Clinging to a two-point lead, the Warriors stopped Tri-Valley on a 4th and one play from inside Winner's 40-yard line. In fact, Tri-Valley led 16-12 before the Warriors had a long scoring drive to take the lead on a run by Nathan Galbraith. This season, Winner has a 204-to-38 ppg margin over the past five opponents, and a 359-to-84 points per game differential overall this season.   A program that is defined by power running and shutdown defense, Winner has generated 3,541 total yards in offense, 3,248 coming on the ground or an attack that goes to the run 92 percent of the time. Trace Meyer (137-1,237-17 TDs), Sam Naasz (79--662-6 TDs), QB Nathan Galbraith (60-425-8 TDs; 12-33-293-3 TDs), Tyrel Haley (25-231-4 TDs), Nick Hossle (30-211-4 TDs) and Riley Frazier (22-204-TD) are the key players on offense. Winner has six players with at least 200 yards rushing. On defense, the Warriors have accumulated 29 sacks, 14 interceptions and 78 TFLs, led by  Jay Brandis (31T, 8 sacks, 14.5 TFLs), Kray Krolikowski (24T, 7 TFLs, and 6.5 sacks), Shayden Drey (41T, 2 sacks, 11 TFLs) and Meyer (36.5T, 3.5 TFLs).

Our Picks – Thor: Canton. Matt: Canton. Genz: Canton.

#3 Parkston (9-1) at #2 St. Thomas More (9-1), 5 p.m. MT

At Stake: St. Thomas More and Parkston meet on Saturday in a semifinal that should be a tough, physical defensive battle. Both teams can put up the points but feature shutdown defenses. Both have lost just once – to #2 ranked and #1 seed Winner. Parkston fell, 14-7, at home while St. Thomas More dropped a 30-13 decision in Winner. Parkston and St. Thomas More will meet for the first time. Interesting scenario, if St. Thomas More and Winner prevail in the 11B semis, they will have a rematch in the Dome. Same holds true if Parkston and Canton are victorious. Winner defeated STM, 30-13, while Parkston took a 21-14 win over Canton. By the way, both teams are seeking their first ever playoff championship.

Coaches: Eric Norden, 20-24. Wayne Sullivan, St. Thomas More.

In the Playoffs: Parkston defeated Wagner, 38-8; and Custer, 34-6. St. Thomas More has a 54-0 win over Red Cloud and a 34-0 victory against Redfield-Doland.

Notes: Parkston, which has a 246-to-54 scoring margin and five shutouts, will do what they always do, pound the rock and play tough defense. It has worked in nine of 10 games this season. The Trojans, which are seeking a first title but have runner-up finishes in 2002 (Clark, 27-18) and 1991 (Hamlin, 38-6), are led by the dynamic QB/WR Wes Dvorak (65-362-6 TDs) along with a powerful running group that includes Mitch Heisinger (102-614-5 TDs), Miles Semmler (105-611-10 TDs), along with Brady Reiff. Parkston has another weapon back in senior running back Chase Stoebner, who broke his leg in the first half of the first game and was out until playing a few downs in the win over Redfield-Doland. He was expected to be the main back at the start of the season so as he gets more reps in practice and games, good things can be expected of him. The Trojans, which generated 348 of 150 total yards on the ground in the win over Custer, has made running and stop the run its mantra. Since a 14-7 loss to Winner, they have five straight wins, including three shutouts. They have allowed a total of 15 points. Parkston, which has a 72-14 point edge in two playoff wins, has allowed only double digits twice – loss to Winner and a 21-14 win over Canton in week two.  St. Thomas More heads to the 11B semifinals after rolling to an 88-0 margin in two playoff wins. Matt Eastmo (96-167-1,673-23 TDs) leads an explosive St. Thomas More squad, which has only a 30-13 loss to Winner on the road. Riley Scherr (68-585-14 TDs rushing; 17-371-5 TDs) and Caleb Skinner (58-409-9 TDs rushing; 19-253-3 TDs) are dual threats out of the backfield while Jacob Henderson (37-819-12 TDs) is one of the state's top receivers. STM, which has a 347-to-83 scoring margin, has won five straight. STM has generated 3,820 yards in total offense, including 1,737 yards in passing and 315 carries for 2,083 yards and 30 TDs. On defense. Cavaliers have 26 sacks, 13 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries. Cole Thurness (3 FR, 2 int.), Andrew Montoya (24T, 6.5 sacks) and Henderson (28T, five sacks, 3 TFLs) lead the defense. The Cavaliers have finished runner-up five times as they seek a first title. Those title games losses include 11B losses in 2004, Howard, 29-8; 2005, Aberdeen Roncalli, 20-14; 2006, Aberdeen Roncalli, 27-13. The 11A losses include West Central, 51-13; and Milbank, 34-20.

Our Picks – Thor: Parkston. Matt: St. Thomas More. Genz: Parkston.

9AA, Saturday, Nov. 9

#4 Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan (9-1) at #1 Gregory (9-1), 7 p.m. CST

At Stake: Two teams familiar with each other will crack helmets on Saturday night. A year ago, Gregory edged past Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan, 36-34, in the opening round of the playoffs. This time, the #1 ranked and top-seeded Gorillas will host BEE with a trip to the 9AA title game at stake.

Coaches: Brian Allmendinger, Gregory, 34-23. Jeff VanLeur, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan, 222-100.

In the Playoffs: Gregory over Stanley County, 29-0; and Menno-Marion, 43-12. Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan defeated Deuel, 50-0; and Hill City, 49-8.

Notes: Gregory has rebounded from a loss to Avon (34-14) in week two in a big way by winning nine straight games and earning the top seed and #1 ranking. Hurt by injuries early in the season, Gregory is a healthy squad as they face Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan. In its history, the Gorillas have made eight championship game appearances, including winning the 11B title in 1998, but are looking for their first-ever 9AA title. They are hoping this is the year. A year ago, Gregory was 9-2, falling in the semifinals to Deubrook, 44-37. As they head into a second straight 9AA semifinal, they are again 9-1 and dominant. They have put together a 412-to-126 scoring advantage in 10 games, scoring at least 40 points or more in six games. The Gorillas have built a 225-to-32 scoring edge over the last five games. They are led by Kurt Braun (150-940-14 TDs rushing: 37-of-79-956-15 TDs passing), who could become the second straight Gregory QB to put together the rare 1,000-yard passing and rushing double. He needs just 44 passing yards and 60 rushing yards to reach that mark, which was met by Jared Bartling (80-of-140-1,570-26 TDs passing; 161-1,825-22 TDs in 2012) a year ago. Aside from Braun, other key offensive personnel include Derek Stukel (56-388-8 TDs), Paul Taggart (41-492-2 TDs), Jonah Beck (59-359-6 TDs) and Andrew Taggart (10 rec., 256 yards, 6 TDs; career – 27-629-13 TDs). Gavin Thomas (8-262-6 TDs – career – 23-587-11 TDs).  On defense, they are led by Brandon Warnke (96T, 11 TFLs, 2 sacks), Beck (79T, 12 TFLs), Scott Shoemaker (46T, 9TFLs, 4 sacks), and Brody Boes (37T).  Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan is also a program steeped in tradition and excellence. BEE has already won five titles and is focused on a sixth championship. BEE has come a long way from where the team was at the start of the season. The Seahawks lost their starting quarterback Jace Connor, a former Joe Robbie MVP, to injury after a summer work accident. Head Coach Jeff VanLeur, whose 222-100 career record ranks second among active coaching leaders nationally, installed Blake Bartscher at QB and senior has responded by completing 37-of-52 passes for 449 yards and four TDs with just one interception. He has also rushed for 479 yards on 69 carries and four TDs. His play is just one of the reasons for this team's success. They have a strong, physical defensive and offensive front plus a pair of 1,000 yards backs in Wade Miller and Jordan Grosdidier. The last time BEE had two backs over 1,000 yards (Kendall Lindeman, 197-1,913-27 TDs; Anthony Huber, 168-1,308-17 TDs) in 2011, the Seahawks won the 9AA title. This year Miller has 1,597 yards on 201 carries with 26 TDs (2,124 all-purpose yards) and Jordan Grosdidier has 1,026 yards on 141 carries and 15 TDs. The Seahawks have rolled up 383.3 yards in total offense, including 3,318 rushing yards (452 carries) and 48 TDs as they have built a 408-to-121 scoring margin. BEE does its damage in the first half, putting together a 108-to-28 margin in the first quarter and a 165-to-30 advantage in the second quarter. That is a 273-to-58 differential in the first half. BEE's defense is led by Tyler Myers (93T, 6 sacks, FR) and Camden Myers (90T, 14 sacks, 2 FR), J.D. Shape (83T, 3 sacks) and Ethan Riggs (79T, two sacks) and Bartscher (63T, 5 int., FR). Overall, they have 33 sacks, eight picks and 15 fumble recoveries.

Our Picks – Thor: Gregory. Matt: Gregory. Genz: Gregory.

#3 Deubrook Area (9-1) at #2 Arlington (9-1), 6 p.m. CST

At Stake: Deubrook Area will look to advance to the state title game for the second straight year. A year ago, Deubrook defeated Howard (now in 9A), 25-22, to win the title. Arlington, which won titles in 2004 (Gettysburg, 30-28), and 2005 (Stickney-Mt. Vernon, 39-14), will look to beat Deubrook for the second time this year. The Cardinals upset preseason favorite Deubrook, 34-20, in the season opener.   

Coaches: Steve Gilbertson, Arlington, 79-39. Adolph Shepardson, Deubrook, 50-66 overall, 29-4 @ Deubrook.

In the Playoffs: Deubrook defeated Clark/Willow Lake, 56-32, and Kimball/White Lake, 57-20. Arlington edged Webster Area, 22-20, and Elkton-Lake Benton, 28-23, in a pair of tough matchups.

Notes: Defending 9AA champion Deubrook (9-1), which has won six straight playoff games, has totaled 3,535 yards on 378 carries and 54 TDs this season with more to come. The Dolphins, which have 4,380 yards in total offense (438.0 per game) have totaled 113 points in two playoff wins, building their overall ppg total to 474 for the season, or an average of 47.4. They have allowed 212 points or 21.2 per game. In Deubrook, it is again a "Case of Riley." A year ago, Ryan Knudson (230-2,434-40 TDs) rolled up big yardage and led the Dolphins to the school's first-ever title. Now, Pigskin Preview cover athlete Riley Hanson's (201-2,269-29 TDs), a member of that title-winning team, has been electric, compiling, 2,269 yards and is 250 yards away from the 9-man all-time single season rushing record. He also has 3,024 all-purpose yards. This season, Hanson has recorded 186 yards or better in nine games, rushed for over 300 yards twice and recorded six games over 200, including the last five. He has had 361, 306, 280, 256, 245 and 211 yards rushing this year. In the past five games, Hanson has 1,298 yards (280, 211, 306, 256, 245) on 111 carries with19 TDs. His career numbers include 288 carries for 3,025 yards and 44 TDs rushing; 49 receptions for 927 yards and eight TDs; 34 kickoff returns for 1,171 yards and 32 punt returns for 812 yards. He has had eight kick/punt returns for TDs in his career. Those totals give him 6,047 all-purpose yards, a level not reached very often. In addition, he has scored a combined 60 TDs with 380 career points. Deubrook is far from a one-man show as converted all-state WR Dustin Trooien has had a big year at QB, completing 47-of-93 passes for 719 yards and 11 TDs with just one interception. He has 87 carries for 610 yards and 10 TDs. Dalton Kruse (42-365-4 TDs), Trent Johnson (12-165-3 TDs receiving) and Jason Berndt (11-154-3 TDs receiving) are other contributors. The Dolphins' defense has 15 sacks, six interceptions and 18 fumble recoveries, led by several players including junior Mads Esbensen (85T, 2.5 sacks, FR), senior Kevin Thibodeau (72T, FR), junior Evan Sheffield (77T, 2 sacks), seniors Quinn Peterson (90-T, 2 FF, FR) and Clayton Dahl (86T, 5 sacks, 2 FF), who was the 9AA SDHSFBCA Lineman of the Game in last year's championship. Trooien also has a team-best five interceptions. Arlington, which owns a 369-to-201 scoring edge, has been involved in four straight tough games, including a hard-fought 22-20 win over Webster Area in the first round of the playoffs and a 28-23 win over Elkton-Lake Benton in the quarterfinals.  The Cardinals are led by Andrew King, a dual threat, who has been a steadying influence all year for the Cardinals team. The junior QB has completed 43-of-73 passes for 936 yards and 12 TDs while rushing 98 times for 626 yards and 13 TDs. Arlington, which has been hurt by injuries in the backfield this year, has had a major contribution from sophomore Luke Weber, who has rushed for  1,025 yards on 135 carries with eight TDs. Tanner Lemme is another key player for the Cardinals offense. Arlington will attempt to duplicate what they did in the season opener, beat Deubrook, and end their title reign.

Our Picks – Thor: Deubrook. Matt: Deubrook. Genz: Deubrook.

9A, Saturday, Nov. 9

#4 Wolsey-Wessington (10-0) at #1 Leola-Frederick (10-0), Leola, 6 p.m. CST

At Stake: Both of these unbeaten teams are focused on a trip to the DakotaDome and the 9A championship game. Wolsey-Wessington is 10-0 for the first time in the playoff era while Leola-Frederick has one title as Frederick in 1982. Leola-Frederick is the top seed and Wolsey-Wessington is #4. This will be a hard-fought matchup in 9A's final four. Both teams will look to pound the ball but the defenses on both sides are tough.

Coaches: Gordon Hooks, Wolsey-Wessington. Marty Morlock, Leola-Frederick.

In the Playoffs: Leola-Frederick bounced Viborg-Hurley, 56-6, and Lemmon-McIntosh, 38-0. Wolsey-Wessington rolled past Colome, 51-6, and Alcester-Hudson, 61-35.

Notes:  In the 61-35 quarterfinal win over Alcester-Hudson, 9A #3 Wolsey-Wessington (10-0) rushed for 528 yards on 56 carries with seven TDs. Those totals were season highs for the Warbirds in all three categories. The performance against Alcester-Hudson is in sync with their performance on the ground this season. Wolsey-Wessington has rushed for 4,102 yards on 384 carries with 51 TDs through 10 games - all wins - this season. In 2013, the Warbirds have gone over 400 yards rushing in a game eight times in 10 games and are averaging an unreal 410 yards rushing. The Warbirds have a pair of 1,000-yard backs, who if they make it to the Dome could both crack 2K rushing, which would be an extraordinary accomplishment and a rare feat. QB Lorenzo Williams has 139 carries for 1,656 yards and 20 TDs while completing 25-of-48 passes for 470 yards and seven TDs. Both he (20-220-3 TDs) and Ryne Johnson (32-273-4 TDs) have over 200 yards rushing in the win over Alcester Hudson. As for Johnson, he now has 178 carries for 1,933 yards and 26 TDs on the season. With 67 yards, he will join Riley Hanson of Deubrook (2,269) and Luke Loudenburg of Howard (2,099) as 2K rushers in South Dakota this season. With those latest totals, Johnson has 481 carries for 4,473 yards and 59 TDs in his career. Johnson has rushed for 100 yards or more in all 10 games this season and has 23 for his career. Johnson is the only active player in South Dakota with three straight 1,000-yard seasons (129-1,025-15 TDs, 2011; 108-1,181-16 TDs, 2012; 178-1,993-26 TDs). In addition, he has 5,175 all-purpose yards. The Warbirds. Wolsey-Wessington's defense, which has compiled a class-best 43 sacks, has 12 interceptions and five fumble recoveries. Leading the Warbirds on defense will be junior Cole McGehee, who has 153 tackles, 20 TFLs, while Alex Babcock (84T, 14 TFLs), has 14 sacks. Freshman Dylan Hines (84T, 14 TFLs) has eight sacks. Leola-Frederick will look to go to 11-0 when they face unbeaten Wolsey-Wessington. The Titans are the top seed in 9AA and have been dominant in 2013. Leola-Frederick, directed by head coach Marty Morlock, has put together a 459-to-55 points per game margin, including 94-to-6 in the playoffs. The Titans have scored 38 points or more in every game except a 12-7 road win over Potter County. They have four games with at least 50 points and have recorded three shutouts in the last four games. In the last six games, Leola-Frederick has not allowed any team more than six points while building a 306-to-18 scoring margin. The Titans are unbeaten, led by running back Logan Weisser (87-864-12 TDs; 17-372-9 TDs), QB Dane Campbell (50-104-962-18 TDs) and wide receiver Dereck Podoll (23-405-7 TDs).  The Titans also feature George Lapka (61-479-6 TDs) and Carson Hertel (47-243-4 TDs). This is a team that has generated 3,487 yards in total offense, including 2,533 yards on 402 carries rushing (43 TDs). Defensively, they have been stellar, allowing just 55 points or 5.5 per game. They have accumulated 14 interceptions, 18 fumble recoveries and 32 sacks with four defensive TDs, all by Dereck Podoll, who has 55 tackles, 13 sacks, four interceptions (2 def. TDs) and four fumble recoveries (2 def. TDs), putting his name in the running as the top defender in 9A this season. Other key defenders for the Titans include Austin Hoerner (66T, 2 sacks, 3 FF, FR) and Nathan Sumption (74T, sack, 2 FF, 2 int.).

Our Picks – Thor: Leola-Frederick. Matt: Leola-Frederick. Genz: Leola-Frederick.

#3 Potter County (9-1) at #2 Howard (10-0), 5 p.m. CST

At Stake: #1 Howard, seeded #2, puts up its unbeaten record against Potter County, which only has a 12-7 loss to 1A top seed Leola-Frederick. The Tigers are looking to head back to the DakotaDome, where they finished second in 9AA a year ago to Deubrook. Howard is one of two schools (DeSmet/Iroquois), which has won both an 11-man (11B, 2004) and 9-man title (9AA, 2009). Potter County is look to head back to the Dome for the 8th time in the playoff eras.

Coaches: Vern Smith, Potter County, 103-29. Pat Ruml, Howard, 47-16.

In the Playoffs: Howard defeated Hanson, 22-16, and New Underwood, 56-6. Potter County over Corsica-Stickney, 42-0; and Herreid/Selby, 44-30. 

Notes: For the first time since 1964, Howard finished unbeaten in the regular season and now have added two playoff wins. Howard, the 9AA runner-up a year ago, has rolled up 4,098 yards in total offense, including 3,702 rushing yards with 64 TDs, 60 on the ground. Howard, which survived a first round scare from Hanson (22-16) and then ran past New Underwood, 56-6, has generated 7,799 yards and 113 TDs rushing over the past two seasons. The Tigers have had nine gave over 300 yards rushing this season, including five over 400 and a season high of 559 in the season opener. Howard, which owns a 446-to-147 scoring edge in 2013, is led by junior running Luke Loudenburg (208-2099-37 TDs), who has rushed for 200 yards or more in 4-of-6 playoff games over the past two years. Loudenburg has had nine 200-yard games in the last 14 contests he has played, totaling 2,999 yards in that span. He now has 417 carries for 3,894 yards and 55 TDs in his career. Other key Howard players include Jordan Kuhle (79-940-11 TDs), Isaiah Glanzer (24-328-6 TDs) and QB Gunner Gilbertson (23-45-368-4 TDs). On defense, they are led by Bailey Neises (104T), Kaleb Haas (106T), Nick Pardy (105T) and Kuhle (85T). Thad Henkel has five sacks and Tanner Henkel has three. Howard has allowed just 114.7 rushing yards per game and 228.4 total yards. Head Coach Vern Smith, who reached 100 wins in a 56-0 win over McLaughlin/Wakpala on Oct. 18, and his Potter County squad, is looking for a return to the state championship game. Seven times they have reached a 9-man title game but unfortunately have left the DakotaDome short of championship hardware. The Battlers, which last played in a 9A title game in 2008 (37-8 loss to Avon), have just one loss to Leola-Frederick, 12-7. Potter County, which has compiled a 342-to-106 point differential, owns a six-game winning streak, including winning a playoff shootout in the quarterfinals over Herreid/Selby. The Battlers are led by senior QB Chayce Hall (85-722-9 TDs; 48-92-856-14 TDs), who also serves as placekicker (13-of-20 on PATs; 1-1 on FGs). Other offensive weapons include his brother Colton Hall (59-367-3 TDs; 3-59-TD receiving), Hayden Simon (68-353-5 TDs; 5-65 rec.), Mitch Hinckley (38-221; 12-147-3 TDs receiving), Luke Vogel (14-276-6 receiving TDs, 8 overall TDs) and Tanner Heuer, who has scored six TDs, two by rush, two by receiving and two by returns. He has 11 punt returns for 270 yards, including a 72-yard return and 92 yards in kickoff returns. Defensively, the Battlers look for leadership from Hinckley (106T, 2 sacks, int.) and Ryan Sundberg (92T, int., FR).

Our Picks – Thor: Howard. Matt: Howard. Genz: Howard.

9B, Saturday, Nov. 9

#4 Harding County (8-2) at #1 Hamlin (10-0), 3 p.m. CST, Hayti

At Stake: Hamlin puts up its #1 ranking, top overall seed and unbeaten mark against the defending champion Harding County. Both teams will pound the rock but expect passes to light the skies in Hayti.

Coaches: Jay Wammen, Harding County, 49-6. Jeff Sheehan, Hamlin, 69-35.  

In the Playoffs:  Harding County defeated Kadoka Area, 24-22, and South Central, 28-6. Hamlin rolled past Castlewood, 42-0; and Hitchcock-Tulare, 30-22.

Notes: Hamlin, which has been top-ranked all season, features a strong rushing attack with arguably 9B's top defense. In rolling up a 437-to-72 scoring margin, Hamlin has generated 340.6 yards in total offense, including 285.6 rushing yards per game (388-2,856-46 TDs). The Chargers, which finished their second straight regular season unbeaten, now are 18-1 over the past two seasons. They have allowed just 7.2 points per game and recorded five shutouts. Led by 13.5 sacks from Alex Holzwarth (77T, 17 TFLs, int., 2 FF) and 10 from Tristen Leiseth (63T, 11 TFLs, 10 sacks), Hamlin has 37 sacks along with 75.2 TFLs, 12 fumble recoveries and 16 interceptions. Other members of the vaunted Hamlin defense include junior Brody Grantham (78T, 11 TFLs, 5 FR, 2 int.), Ryder Grantham (76T, 5 TFLs, 4 int.) and Dylan Reuer (six sacks). This is a team that is big and quick. The offense is led by B. Grantham (37-73-550-8 TDs, 2 int.; 130-1,069-13 TDs rushing) and Dusty Quiram (151-1,137-21 TDs), who have both gone over 1,000 yards rushing this season. Quiram, who totaled 345 carries for 2,626 yards and 40 TDs in his career, which includes back-to-back 1K rushing seasons. He has 3,434 all-purpose yards, including 1,360 this year. As for B. Grantham, he has completed 86-of-182 passes for 1,533 yards and 20 TDs with 222 carries for 1,542 yards and 25 TDs rushing. Aside from those two leaders, Hamlin also receives contributions from freshman Kale Stieg (62-325-5 TDs) and junior Austin Niemann (22-202-6 TDs rushing; 17 rec., 190 yards rec.).  One of four remaining champions (Dell Rapids, 11A; Winner, 11B and Deubrook, 9AA), Harding County continues to do what it does best – just win baby. While the Al Davis mantra isn't found in their locker room, this squad, led by head coach Jay Wammen has been winning for a long while. This season, they have put up an 8-2 record, which includes an opening game loss to Faith (26-14) and a 30-24 setback to Herreid-Selby. This season, they have compiled a 352-to-115 scoring edge and have six straight wins in the playoffs dating to the 2012 season when they were 12-0 and won the title with a 50-20 win over Colome. This team has averaged 345.9 yards in total offense, including 224.5 rushing and 121.4 passing. Junior QB Harvey Mollman has taken over the reins at quarterback and performed well, completing 43-of-80 passes for 1,015 yards with 13 TDs and just six interceptions. A converted receiver, he also has 34 rushes for 229 yards and three TDs and has five receptions for 84 yards and two TDs. Other key players on offense include senior running backs Reece Jensen (127-994-13 TDs), Steve Koch (78-505-5 TDs) and junior Windom Hewsom (52-373-9 TDs). Clayton Koch (22-546-8 TDs) is the main guy in the receiving game while freshman Jarett Jensen (12-177-2 TDs) has stepped up. Aside from explosive offenses, Harding County also fields a tough defense and this team is another example with 20 sacks, 15 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries. Leading the way is Hewsom (102T, 2 FR), R. Jensen (97T, 2 int., FR) Koch (124T, 3 sacks, 2 FF, FR, int.) along with Paul Boehringer (28T, seven sacks) and Max Teigan (37T, six sacks)

Our Picks – Thor: Hamlin. Matt: Hamlin. Genz: Hamlin.

#3 Wall (10-0) at #2 Avon (10-0), 3 p.m. CST

At Stake: Both teams brings unbeaten records and top five rankings into the game. They both can score and defend. Wall will try to get back to the DakotaDome for the first time since making the 2011 9A title game, then coached by Dennis Rieckman. This time they are in 9B and facing a team in Avon, directed by one of the most successful coaches in the state in Tom Culver, which has rolled through opponents. The Pirates have gone to four title game with the last one in 2011, a 9B final in which they fell to Waverly-South Shore, 58-24. Avon's last time was in 2008, a 9A title over Gettysburg, 37-9. Wall has won a pair of titles in 1990 and 1994.

Coaches: Tom Culver, Avon, 146-39, 133-30. Kent Anderson, Wall.

In the Playoffs: Wall defeated Faith, 34-0, and Faulkton Area, 28-12. Avon rolled past Scotland, 46-0, and the #3 ranked Dell Rapids St. Mary, 46-8.

NotesAvon, which owns a 461-to-93 scoring margin, has been a dominant program in 9B. The Pirates have scored 40 points or more in eight straight games, including a high of 70. They own wins over playoff teams South Central, Gregory, Dell Rapids St. Mary, Scotland and Canistota.  Avon is strictly run-oriented, using a wishbone offense to pound opponents into submission. Avon has averaged 46.3 points per game by generating 3,797 yards in total offense, including 3,651 yards rushing on 391 carries with 51 TDs. The rush offense averages 365.1 yards per game, led by senior standout Brandon Kocmich, who has 96 carries for 1,689 yards and 26 TDs (172-2,601-42 TDs in his career). He will be joined in the 1K club this year by Devin Tolsma, who has 79 carries for 983 yards and 13 TDs. In addition, QB Logan Mudder, who has completed 4-of-14 passes for 57 yards and two TDs, has 55 carries for 414 yards and six TDs. Kole Beeson (28-151-2 TDs) will also contribute. Head coach Tom Culver has called this one of his best teams ever, ranking along with the state champion 2002 squad. This Pirates groups makes plays in special teams, including three punt returns and one kickoff return for TDs. Avon is big and athletic along the defense and offensive front with speed and strength everywhere. Wall has been 10-0 several times as they head into matchup with Avon. The last time was 2011. Prior to that, Wall was 10-0 in 1989, 1990, 1994, and 1995, losing to Kimball in the last second seconds of that title game. Anderson, who left to coach Elk Point-Jefferson after the 1995-96 year, led them to titles in 1990 and 1994. This year's Wall team, which is much more balanced than the wishbone offenses of the 1990s, has been one of the most prolific offenses in prep football, rolling up a 463-to-118 point differential, or a 46.3 ppg to 11.8 margin. The team, which has generated 4,484 yards in total offense (448.4 per game), has total offense totals of 454, 446, 476, 595, 371, 307, 553, 529, 407, and 346. The Eagles' offensive attack is directed by steady senior quarterback Lane Blasius (99-148-1,758-23 TDs; 38-98-5 TDs rushing). The rushing attack has put up 2,597 yards, led by Carston Johnson (147-1,432-22 TDs), who has had a breakout season while Cade Kjerstad (78-478) shook off some early injuries to become a factor fro the Eagles. Trevor Anderson has had a record-breaking season at wide receiver, setting a new 9-man mark in receptions with 61 and tying the record for TDs with 17. He is little over 100 yards away from the yardage record as he has 1,111. Anderson, who is one of the candidates for player of the year in 9B, has 30 carries for 229 yards and also has hit of 5-of-7 passes for 129 yards and two TDs. In addition, he is one of the state's top placekickers, converting 44-of-50 PATs and hitting 3-of-5 field goals. While overshadowed by the offense, Wall's defense has shine, compiling 12 sacks, 13 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries. They are led by Les Williams (82T, sack, int., FR), Carston Johnson (37T, 4 int.) and Blasius (75T, sack, 2 int., 2 FR).

Our Picks – Thor: Avon. Matt: Avon. Genz: Avon.






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