Last week I highlighted the big boys getting it done on the offensive line in North Dakota. This week we’ll take a look at the road graters in South Dakota. Linemen more than any other unit depend on each other and work together. So I’ll rank the top team units as well as point out some top individuals. In Class 11AA there are a lot of very good units. It’s hard to pick one as the best but I like to make lists and I’ll make a case for the Washington Warriors line. This unit returns four of their five starters. True they’ll miss their cornerstone Derek Farniok, but Zach Ferdinand and Max Koehn (SF Washington) lead an experienced and talented group. Sioux Falls Lincoln’s front line is just a step behind the Warriors. Antonio Burks and Logan Denny (SF Lincoln0 will be mainstays for the Patriots. Denny is as talented as anyone in the state. Cole Vietor comes from O’Gorman to add to the Pats depth and strength in the trenches. Speaking of O’Gorman their line is nothing to laugh at. Dustin Haffeman (SF O’Gorman) leads an undersized and inexperienced line. But the Knights always feature a great blocking scheme and seem to get the holes open when they need to. Jake Weber (Rapid City Central) is one of the strongest linemen in the state. Blake Lohr (Watertown), Dalton Wangerin (Mitchell), John Kovaleski (SF Roosevelt), Kellen Soulek (Yankton) and Leland Murren (Brandon Valley) are other offensive line powers across the state. In Class 11A the top line goes to the Tigers in Harrisburg. Jakob Hertel and Derek Tutlte (Harrisburg) both return to start on a very deep and skilled line. Dakota Valley also brings some talent back with Taylor Tenapel leading a group of three returning starters. Will Mart (Vermillion) hopes to get the Tanagers line stabilized enough to make them a contender again. In Class 11B we find some of the best linemen in the state. Winner’s unit takes my top spot with three returning starters and a tradition of size and athleticism. These guys love to run block and are versatile enough to give the Warriors time to pass too. Austin Moser and Austin Schroder (Winner) are outstanding. Thad Johnson (Tri-Valley) and Ethan Sorenson (Beresford) are two of the best individuals around. It’s too bad the linemen don’t get much publicity or these two would be high school household names. Deuel doesn’t finish high in the standings but with their front line they have a chance to make some noise. St. Thomas More’s squad doesn’t feature a lot of seniors except on their line. Look for this undersized unit to help carry the Cavs. Curt Boeke and Dalton DeBoer (Deuel) will give d-lines fits. Tyler Krcil (Wagner), Jon Schwab (Roncalli), Chad Stoterau (Garretson), Shayne Gottlob (McCook Central/Montrose), and DJ Johanson (Flandreau) are individual standouts. In the 9-man game the linemen are often overshadowed by the quick backs. But the three-man units are very important and have to be especially quick to be successful. Canistota’s line could be the best example of this. Zack Hofer (Canistota) returns to give his team an open hole on any play. Tyler Decker, Jason Van Winkle and Eric Tiezen (Canistota) give the Hawks options with their tough play up front. Hanson’s unit is not far behind. Jordan Craig (Hanson), Jacob Bartscher, and Alex Kayser are the reason Reid Smith will have a big year for the Beavers. Dillon Freuthenal (Estelline), Chase Monson (Clark/Willow Lake), Chris Kelly (Viborg-Hurley) and Tyson Rosenboom (Colman-Egan) also need to get recognition for their play on the line. These are just a few of the many non-playmaker play-creators in the state of South Dakota. No list is complete without your feedback, post a comment and tell me who else should be included.
Check back later this week for game previews as football gets underway (YES!)
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