The first two games of any football season can be problematic to call. What we as fans think are the best teams at the beginning of the season often end up being overrated, and the teams that end up on the top of the heap often don’t reveal themselves until 3-4 weeks into the season. That’s the point at which we realized that Canistota was for real last season. Before that point, they had smoked a few Cornbelt also-rans, but until they skirted past Hanson, the potential of the Hawks wasn’t known. After the following week, when they routed a ranked White Lake/Plankinton squad, the state knew just how good that group was.
Last year’s Canistota Hawks is just one of many examples of this phenomenon. It happens almost every season in class 11B (see: Fliers, Flandreau, and Tigers, Mobridge-Pollock last season). Tri-Valley has given the first inkling that this season, rolling past Canton and Garretson. So far, we haven’t really seen it in many other squads in other classes yet. We’ll know for sure in a few weeks.
SIOUX FALLS SCUFFLE, ROUND 2
1. Sioux Falls Roosevelt (2-0) at Sioux Falls Lincoln (2-0)
Both teams won in dramatic fashion at last week’s President’s Bowl, and face each other as the state’s top two teams this week. While the game won’t quite have the pageantry that last week had, both teams absolutely know that this game could put the winning team on the championship track. The Rough Riders will bring their spread attack at the Patriots’ defense with Mikal Smith and quarterback Scott Tyler running the ball at the ends of the line, while Lincoln will give the Riders’ defensive backfield a workout with their aerial attack that went off for 400 yards against Washington. Both defenses held their opposition’s rushing games in check last week (Roosevelt gave up 152 yards, but at only 3.4 yards per rush again O’Gorman, which is a very strong performance). That means this game will hinge on the passing of both teams – More to the point, can Roosevelt contain Alex Schultz, Trey Naasz and Josh Kunzman? I could see this game going either way, but I fear that the Riders won’t be able to shut down the Patriot passing machine.
THE PICK: Lincoln gets another big fourth quarter and they get by the Riders.
2. Sioux Falls Washington (1-1) at Sioux Falls O’Gorman (1-1)
This year’s Dakota Bowl features the Washington Warriors, who had their 27-game winning streak snapped with literally no time remaining in last week’s game, playing against host O’Gorman, whose final drive ran out of gas at the 15-yard line in their effort against Roosevelt last week. More importantly, the losing team will have started their season 1-2, which is very uncharacteristic of both teams in recent years. So how does each team win? Containing the Knights’ wing-T offense requires a strong defensive line and quick linebackers that swarm to the ball, both of which the Warriors possess. As for stopping the Warriors, stopping running back DaVonte Clay is priority one. That’s easier said than done. Clay ripped the Patriots’ defense for 145 yards and a touchdown on the ground last week. O’Gorman has stepped up to the challenge many times before, and this is their big gala event this season, which is a game the Knights don’t normally lose.
THE PICK: Because it’s the Dakota Bowl I’m giving the Knights the nod.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD?
3. West Central (2-0) at Dell Rapids (1-0)
The West Central Trojans and Dell Rapids Quarriers have been arguably the best two teams in class 11A for the past three seasons. Whereas it used to be all West Central had to do was show up and methodically dismantle their opponents, the tables have turned somewhat and the Quarriers are doing that to their opposition now. These teams last met in the semifinals last year, and while the final score of that game read 32-28 in favor of the Quarriers, the game was more decisive than that sounds. Dell Rapids never lost the lead in that game, and the teams spent the second half trading touchdowns. Dell Rapids comes back with their extremely fast running backs in both Channing Barber and running back Zach Barber, and the big powerful bowling ball known as fullback Cole Langer. West Central has asserted their power running game in the first two weeks of the season, with an offense that has been mostly plug-and-play over the years. A big win by either team will put the rest of the state on notice, but this game will likely be much closer, as close as the playbooks both teams run.
THE PICK: I like what West Central is doing this year but Dell Rapids is just too good. Quarriers win by 6.
4. Tea (2-0) at Vermillion (0-2)
The Tea Titans have done something they haven’t done since moving to the 11-man ranks this week. They’ve started receiving votes to be ranked in class 11A. This week, Clay Clayberg brings his fast-improving football team to the Dakota Dome to face a struggling Vermillion Tanagers team in a game that will be on our air Friday night. Quarterback Corbin Lawler gives the Titans the ability to pass the ball effectively to keep opponents on their toes but he’s only seen limited duty because of an injury. Sophomore quarterback Taylor Roeman has filled in nicely. They have multiple options in the running game including running back Chase Deckert. The Tanagers’ problem from 2010 of falling behind early and not being able to recover has manifested itself again this season, which doesn’t bode well against the Titans this week. They’ll need to organize their plethora of running backs especially playmaker D’Andre Fore and be able to contain the Titans offense early to give them a chance at winning the game late. I have a feeling a lot of teams would be 0-2 if they started out with West Central and South Sioux City on their schedule.
THE PICK: Tea wins but not by as much as many believe.
5. Gettysburg/Hoven (1-0) at Eureka/Bowdle (1-0)
Both of these rivals won their opening games last week. Gettysburg/Hoven jumped out to an early lead and held it to best Faulkton 24-14 on the shoulders of quarterback Tate Nafziger, who ran for two touchdowns, and then threw for two more. Mitchell Hinckley can pop off big runs to change things up as well. Gettysburg’s game plan has for a long time revolved around rushing the ball early and often, and then throwing the ball off of play fakes for big plays. Eureka/Bowdle took care of McLaughlin with ease in their opener, mostly on the rushing of Adam Weiszhaar, who gained 104 yards on 11 carries last week and scored three rushing touchdowns and added another on a kickoff return. As with any nine-man game, stopping the fastest player on the other team is paramount to victory. This game is no different, and has the rivalry factor to boot.
THE PICK: Adam Weiszhaar and Eureka-Bowdle wins with a big second half.
NORTH SOUTH RUNNERS
1. Fargo North (1-1) at Fargo South (0-2)
It’s homecoming week for Fargo South and they will need all the rallying and fan support they can get to stop their two game skid. This rivalry kicks off at 4:30pm.
They lost 35-7 to Faribault (MN) last week. The Bruin passing attack has been on track with Austyn Raftevold passing for 274 yards in the first two games leading the EDC throwing to his favorite target Jon Baune who has hauled in 228 of those yards. But the running game needs to get sparked for the Bruins to gain some stability. Aaron Green leads the team in rushing with just 82 yards, so look for South to try to right that ship this game. Fargo North did a great job holding Shanley’s running game in check last week yielding just 72 yards. Fargo North got their running game going with 306 yards between Peter Saintal and Kameron Giffey last week. They’ll need every bit of that running power to take down the defending champs in week 3.
THE PICK: I believe if South gets their running game going they will get their first win of the year. Bruins by 14.
HOW THE WEST WILL BE WON
2. Velva (1-1) at Stanley/Powers Lake (1-0)
If the Bluejays of Stanley/Powers Lake ever had a chance to get an impressive win it will be this game on Friday night at home against the defending state champion Velva Aggies. They rolled to an impressive 69-6 win last week. Last year the Bluejays got shut out against Velva, but that was the turning point last season. Since then they’ve reeled off six regular season wins in a row. This game would go a long way in giving the Bluejays some respect. Velva dropped their first matchup of the year 26-7 against Bishop Ryan in Minot. Then they came back with a strong 21-0 performance last week. This will be their first opponent in their own class this year and they are ready to make a run.
THE PICK: Velva wins a close one
3. Killdeer (1-1) at Hazen (2-0)
Killdeer has dominated the west winning six region titles since 2001. They got off to a bad start losing to a strong Dickinson Trinity team but bounced back with a 53-12 win over Standing Rock last week. This week another test looms large with an away game against Hazen. Lewis Keller is coming off of a three touchdown performance and will need to have another big game this week. Briar Boremann and Stetson Carr lead a potent running attack and Carr can also make plays with his arm. Hazen will try to extend their winning streak to three games against a tough schedule at home.
THE PICK: Hazen gets it done on the ground in a low scoring close game.
CLASSY CLASS AA
4. Kindred (1-0) at Lisbon (2-0)
The east region is off to a great start in Class AA. Six of the eight teams are undefeated so far. Lisbon and Kindred are both off to good starts. Lisbon has passed two tough tests in their first two games. They beat Milnor/North Sargent and St. Mary’s by a combined 42-19. That’s impressive but they’ll have to have their best game ready for Kindred who beat down Oak Grove in week one 39-7 and they rested last week. Kindred hits the tough part of their schedule with a road game against Lisbon then a home game against Shanley and then Valley City and Wahpeton. Kindred needs this one to stay in the East Region race.
THE PICK: Lisbon wins
5. Fargo Shanley (1-1) at Grafton (2-0)
Shanley will play their first game in Class AA this Friday after playing two close games against Fargo public schools. Their 20-game winning streak is over after losing to North last week so now they’ll focus on starting a new one. Tyler Rivard would like to get back on track after being held to just 37 yards rushing last week. Grafton is my number one team in Class AA and they’ll ride the high-flying attack of All-State quarterback Jake Hanson. They came out in week one and managed just 8 points but they shut out Park River. Last week they got warmed up with a 38-7 win over Rugby. They’ll have to get their passing game in gear to upset the defending champs.
THE PICK: Grafton shocks Shanley and wins with a big day from Jake Hanson.