SOUTH DAKOTA GAMES OF THE WEEK
1. Tri-Valley (4-0) at Dell Rapids (4-0)
So far, Dell Rapids has been exactly what we thought they would be this season, though didn’t exactly score many style points last week in their win over Madison. Tri-Valley was has been a pleasant surprise, and has thus far proven they can be one of the best, if not the best team in South Dakota this season.
As for this game, it represents one half of Dell Rapids Homecoming Week (Both Dell Rapids schools have homecoming on the same night) and this game should be a doozy. Dell Rapids has been without the services of junior fullback Cole Langer since groin injury in the first quarter of the Quarriers’ game against West Central two weeks ago, but even without Langer, Dell Rapids still has one of the fastest teams I’ve ever seen, and their defensive aptitude has been the best in the state thus far this season. Tri-Valley, on the other hand decided to change things up against Flandreau last week. They implemented a speed snap offense in which they sprinted out of the huddle and snapped the ball very quickly to keep the Fliers defense on their heels throughout the game. It worked well enough to wear down the Flandreau defense in the second half, but Dell Rapids is a little deeper of a team. Team health will be a key in this game, but even more than that, this game will ultimately be won in the trenches. I expect the team who makes the fewest turnovers to win.
THE PICK: I think Dell Rapids will force more turnovers and hence win this game by one score.
2. Hanson (2-2) at Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan (2-1)
Before Canistota put together the near-perfect nine-man team, this represented a game that usually decided the Cornbelt championship. Even though that isn’t the case this year, I’ve been to several games between these teams, and this one truth rings very clear – These two teams do not like each other on the football field. At all.
Now, don’t let Hanson’s record fool you. The Beavers started in much this same fashion two years ago, put it all together in the second half of the season, and ended up winning a state championship. Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan gave Canistota all they could handle, and Hanson will have to deal with another set of speedy backs in Jace Connor, Anthony Huber, Kendall Lindeman and Ryan Hanks. Hopefully Hanson learned a thing or two about defending such a team from the blowout loss they took last week against Canistota, or this could be a very long night for the Beavers.
THE PICK: Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan is a complete team with a bigger line. That will prove to be the key for their third win of the year. Seahawks by two scores.
RENEWING A RIVALRY
3. Harrisburg (3-1) at West Central (3-1)
Any time these two teams step on the same football field, it’s usually a pretty good football game. This iteration will be no different, and it will be our High School HD Game of the Week. The Harrisburg Tigers visit Hartford coming off a loss to the 11AA Huron Tigers, in which they turned the ball over too many times and couldn’t figure out how to move the ball in the red zone. That fact and film won’t be lost on the West Central coaching staff, who have won several state championships knowin
g how to exploit every mistake their opponents make. They’ll need to do that against Harrisburg while running their Wing-T misdirection offense with their amazing precision to avoid the fate they suffered last season. Harrisburg will come
at the West Central defense likely throwing the ball early and often, as that has been a historically valid way of beating the West Central defenses (Just ask Sisseton, who knocked off the Trojans in the first round two seasons ago with this type of game plan). Expect some runs from Thomas Hudson to keep the Trojans defense honest as well. The truth is, while the Trojans are still a very good team, playing West Central doesn’t strike fear into their opposition the way it once did, and this stands to be a very well played game.
THE PICK: Really this game could go either way, expect the game to be won on the last possession. I’ll take the Harrisburg Tigers by just a point or two.
WEST RIVER GAME OF THE WEEK
4. Custer (4-0) at Belle Fourche (3-0)
The Broncs have had some excellent teams over the past few years, getting great production from running back Francois Barnaud and quarterback Jake Walker. Both of those fine players graduated, and now Austin Kudlock and Tate Tybo are lining up behind quarterback Chris Dschaak and a very big offensive line, which has powered the purple and white to a 3-0 start.
The Custer Wildcats, on the other hand, have been quite a surprise, not only winning their first four games, but doing so in impressive fashion, outscoring their opponents 154-30. They now face the most difficult part of their schedule, and they’ll need the type of stingy defense that scored three touchdowns last week to navigate through their toughest Black Hills Conferece opponents.
THE PICK: Custer has been a surprise but they won’t surprise Belle Fourche. Give me the Broncs by 10.
NORTH DAKOTA GAMES OF THE WEEK
- Fargo Shanley (2-2) at Wahpeton (4-0)
In another big Region 1 game in Class AA, Fargo Shanley goes up against Wahpeton. The Huskies are having a great comeback year after going 2-7 last year. They’ve moved to #1 in the writers poll after beating Valley City and Central Cas. Zane Medhaug has been a great running back for the Huskies as they’ve got out in front of region one, but their schedule gets tough in a hurry starting with the Deacons this Friday. Shanley got back on track beating Kindred in overtime last week. The Deacons are never an easy game but they’re improving.
THE PICK: Wahpeton will win a nail-biter
2. Cavalier (5-0) at Hillsboro (4-1)
This could be the stumbling block between Cavalier and a perfect season. Alex Hartz has been the key to a great Cavalier start. The Burros of Hillsboro have stumbled once this year in a big loss to North Border. They came back strong shutting down Central Valley last week. The Burros will ride the leadership of Brandon Otto as they try to stop the Tornadoes on their homecoming. This Region 2, 9-man matchup will go a long way in seeding for the playoffs.
THE PICK: Give me Cavalier, their strong program continues to impress I like the Tornadoes to pull away in the second half.
3. Valley City (2-2) at Kindred (2-1)
The Valley City Hi-Liners went from a 2-0 start and being ranked to 2-2 and being tied for last in the region. They need a Class AA East win and a win against Kindred would be sweet. It’s homecoming week for the HiLiners and they will be ready. Kindred moved as high as number two in my power rankings but an overtime loss moved them out of the paper-thin margin between the top teams in the class. Austin Dahlgren leads a team with an improved offensive line. If they get a win here it will mean a lot for coach Kittleson and the Vikings.
THE PICK: Kindred will spoil Valley City’s homecoming with a big win.
4. Grand Forks Red River (3-1) at West Fargo (1-3)
At the beginning of the year you might have predicted these two records to be reversed but Grand Forks Red River has put together a nice little run of three wins. If you look at common opponents this game might confuse you. West Fargo lost to Fargo Davies while Red River handled Davies, but West Fargo just beat Williston last week while Red River lost a close one to Williston earlier in the year. The fact is that these two teams are very similar and are both contenders in the east despite a first glance at the records. I expect a hard fought game and an improved West Fargo team to challenge the Riders. But in the end Red River will show that they are a serious challenger in the east.
THE PICK: Red River in a close one.