The first few weeks of the football season are ripe with fundraising bowl games. Last week featured Brandon’s Pigskin Classic, as well as the Hub City Bowl in Aberdeen. This week, the 20th President’s Bowl will take place in Sioux Falls, and the Mount Rushmore Bowl will be played in Rapid City. The day before the Sioux Falls public schools put on their football showcase, the So-Dak Prairie Bowl, which features some high-ranking nine-man squads will be played at Howard Wood Field. In North Dakota some of the 9-man teams are ready to play their third game already. The AAA teams are trying to establish their position in a wide open field. Let’s get to this week’s games to watch :
(Live on Midco Sports Network HD channel 622)
Sioux Falls O’Gorman (1-0) vs. Sioux Falls Roosevelt (1-0)
These teams have had a very good rivalry dating almost back to Roosevelt’s opening their doors in 1991. This will be the latest in a very good string of great football games this Saturday. While both teams easily dispatched their opponents last week, we did hear O’Gorman head coach Steve Kueter say that his team needs to be able to run the ball better.
If the Knights heed Kueter’s request the Riders are in for a tough afternoon. O’Gorman rolled up over 400 rushing yards on the legs of fullback Sam Steffl, and wingbacks Jordan Hermanson and Flynn Donelan. The kernel of truth in Kueter’s statement might be that comparatively speaking; the Knights’ linemen are undersized in this game. Be that as it may, these guys can still block and use their speed and agility to open holes for the backs. Roosevelt handed the Knights a loss last year in a game they don’t normally lose – the Dakota Bowl. They did it with a speedy, swarming defense, and this game will be no different. The outcome of this game will hinge on whether the Rough Riders can plug the holes the Knights open and whether they are ready to stop the inevitable play action deep pass the Knights like to throw once the rushing game is established. THE PICK: O’Gorman is just too refined they win by about 10.
Sioux Falls Washington (1-0) vs. Sioux Falls Lincoln (1-0)
Both of these teams won their games last Saturday night, and did so with an impressive style. The worry about the Warriors going into this season was their defense. Eight new starters dotted the defense and that inexperience could leave some holes. That was quickly dispelled when they held Rapid City Central, who was considered class 11AA’s best west river team, to a mere 71 yards of total offense and only five first downs. I don’t care who they’re playing, that’s an incredible performance. The Warriors will need every bit of that defensive talent to show up in Saturday’s nightcap when they face the aerial attack that Sioux Falls Lincoln is sure to bring. The Patriots made it look so very easy against Rapid City Stevens last week, racking up 550 yards of total offense, which included 318 passing yards, and wide receiver Trey Naasz is only two receptions short of being second on the list of all-time career receptions in South Dakota (Currently, 2nd is Devin Tohm of Sisseton, with 146, and 1st is Allan Schmaltz of Rapid City Central with 153). We couldn’t learn a lot about the Patriots’ defense in last week’s blowout, but they’ll need to be a lot better than they were in last season’s semifinals, or we could be headed for a very high scoring game. THE PICK: I’m tempted to take the Pats but I think Washington will prevail. (Check back later in the season when these two potentially match up in the playoffs for part two, it could be a different story).
A NINE-MAN CELEBRATION
Hanson (1-0) vs. Avon (1-0)
This game will kick off the SoDak Prairie Bowl in Sioux Falls, and features two of the biggest rivals in the nine-man game in South Dakota. Neither team had much trouble beyond the first quarter of their openers last week, but it’s a safe bet both teams will be fully cocked and loaded for this tilt on Friday. Hanson was part of a three-part Cornbelt conference state title sweep last season. The first lesson here is thus – Even though the Beavers may have lost several starters from a state championship team, head coach Jim Haskamp always has his team ready for a game, and ready to compete. The second lesson is, the last time Hanson had lost several starters after a state title was two years ago, and Avon smacked the Beavers in the jaw at this very event. This is to say that Avon will be ready for this game would be a huge understatement. With Nick Poppe leading this team for the second season at quarterback, and Duffy Ducheneaux, Joe Bertus and Jackson Powers running the ball, it will be the defenses that ultimately decide this game. THE PICK: Avon looks to be better but I have a feeling that the Beavers pull it out. I’ll take Hanson by six.
Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan (1-0) vs. Canistota (1-0)
The evening game of this year’s SoDak Prairie Bowl features the other two legs that completed the Cornbelt state championship sweep last season. The Seahawks suffered major hits to their starting lineup from their team, including running back Jordan Connor, whose 4182 rushing yards in his four years of playing rank fifth all-time amongst nine-man running backs. That didn’t stop them from steamrolling over Freeman last week behind the rushing of quarterback Jace Connor and running back Anthony Huber. They’ll need to be extremely quick and tough to avenge the 46-2 loss they suffered at the hands of the Canistota Hawks last season. Canistota, on the other hand, looked as if they’d never stopped playing after last year’s state championship run, where they proved to be the best nine-man team in the entire state. The players playing now are playing at their current level due in no small part to the fact they had played in Sioux Falls junior football programs, where they played the higher competition there until they got to high school. It looks like it has paid off in spades, and will continue to do so – Canistota is every bit the team they were last year, only with a few new parts. THE PICK: I like Canistota big in this one
SD WEST RIVER GAME OF THE WEEK
St. Thomas More (1-0) at Winner (1-0)
The public has so far been very much divided on this game, as they should be. These two teams have played some of the best games that have happened to the west of the Missouri River. This game looks to be no different, and features a glitzy, passing shotgun spread offense of St. Thomas More against the methodical, ball-control double wing rushing attack of Winner. Winner has the defensive backs to stand up against the Cavaliers’ receivers; but will More have the speed and physicality to stop the Warriors’ rushing attack? This should be a close game, but as with any game of this nature, taking care of the ball will be paramount, and the team winning the turnover battle will likely win. THE PICK: Winner will be the winner here.
Week two in North Dakota
CAN THE WDA REPEAT THEIR DOMINANCE?
Bismarck Century (1-0) vs. West Fargo (0-1)
The WDA has really shown their superiority over the EDC with big wins in week one. Bismarck Century leapt over a couple of teams to the #2 spot in my power rankings. They showed their mettle with a convincing win over the state champion Fargo South. Century's Ben Kraft looked solid with 122 yards and a touchdown in week one and fullback Dylan Leutz added 84 yards in just four carries. The success is due to the control of one of the best offensive lines in the state. Conrad Schwarzkopf will continue to lead that line as they match up against the West Fargo Packers. West Fargo will try to ramp up their running game which accounted for just 24 yards in their opener against Bismarck. Look for them to feed Alex Spacek to try to make a dent in the Patriot D. THE PICK: Century in another blowout of WDA over EDC
Devils Lake (1-0) vs. Mandan (1-0)
Devils Lake goes on the road again in their quest to field a competitive AAA team. Coach Jay Schneider and the Firebirds got off to a great start with a nice win at Jamestown last week. We’ll see if Nathan Mertens can repeat his five touchdown performance (2 rushing; 3 passing) against a much stingier Mandan defense. The Braves not only pose a tough defense they showed what they can do on offense by putting up a 60-burger on Grand Forks Central last week. Devin Coyle led the offense with a nice week passing and running. He piled up over 200 yards in the air connecting with Aaron Janz four times for 147 yards and two touchdowns. The key for Mandan will be to establish their running game with Seth Westby to fuel Coyle’s passing attack. THE PICK: Mandan serves up another big win
Lisbon (1-0) vs. St. Mary (0-1)
Lisbon is poised to make a run up my power rankings this year. They got out to a great start by beating Milnor-North Sargent. They do not yet appear in the sports writers rankings but if they win this one it will be tough to keep them out. St. Mary lost their first contest of the year to Wahpeton in a very physical game but yet they do appear in the rankings. I think Lisbon will earn some respect with a win. St. Mary will be able to rack up some points but I don’t think they’ll be able to stop Lisbon. THE PICK: Lisbon in a close one
Wyndmere-Lidgerwood (2-0) vs. Edgeley-Kulm (2-0)
Edgeley-Kulm might be one of the surprises in 9-man football. They've put up 67 points in two games this season. Tallen Berg is running off to a good start for them. But Wyndmere-Lidgerwood looks like they could be the best 9-man team in the state. Jeff Illies, just a junior has run the ball with a vengeance. The difference is that he's run after the catch from Adam Bell who has been as accurate as any nine-man quarterback that I've seen. Bell has tallied nine passing touchdowns in two contests. Look out for this Wynd machine as they try to elevate to an impressive 3-0 start. THE PICK: No one will get in the way of Adam Bell and this offensive machine this game Wnydmere-Lidgerwood wins big.