1. Dakota Valley (5-0) at Dell Rapids (4-1)
The Dakota Valley Panthers have run off five straight victories in impressive fashion, the latest being a 36-0 rout of Vermillion in which their defense held the Tanagers to only 14 yards of total offense. They’ve got the unenviable task of attempting to slow down the blazing speed of the Dell Rapids Quarriers. At last report, fullback Cole Langer is still out with a groin injury, but Zachary and Channing Barber have more than picked up the slack with the help of Riley Rinehart, but the Barber brothers still accounted for 315 of the Quarriers 360 rushing yards on the night.
But Dakota Valley has weapons too. Running backs Tanner Lambert and Landon Johnson have been racking up yards and touchdowns this season, while quarterback Brock Bergmann gives the Panthers’ offense a viable passing game. Still, this game will come down to the defenses, something that has cracked on the Quarriers’ side this season.
THE PICK: I like Dell Rapids especially at home. They will get a test from the Panthers but the Quarriers will prevail by two scores.
2. Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan (4-1) at Kimball/White Lake (5-1)
This class 9AA tilt is between arguably two of the top teams in the class. The Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan Seahawks are a team that has played really well, and were able to give Canistota their best game of the season so far, which accounts for their only loss. Their I-formation and single wing offense, paired with a swarming defense is led by backs Anthony Huber and Kendall Lindemann, while Jace Connor ties the huddle together at quarterback. Kimball/White Lake has won games with their stout defense and ability to hold the ball for long periods of time by using several backs to keep the defense off balance. This seems to be the type of game where the team that’s able to hold the ball longest will win, and one where one big play could be enough to put a team over the top.
THE PICK: Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan is head and shoulders above the rest of the competition in 9AA and will win in convincing fashion.
3. Yankton (5-1) at Sioux Falls Washington (4-2)
The Yankton Bucks unfortunately didn’t make as much noise as they would have liked last week against Sioux Falls Roosevelt. They try to turn things around this week on the road when they head to Sioux Falls to face the Washington Warriors. Yankton head coach Arlen Likness told the Yankton Press & Dakotan that speed won and the Bucks weren’t able to capitalize on the Riders mistakes last week. They better be ready for another dose of speed this week. With weapons like running back Davonte Clay, quarterback Jon Hander, with Nate Gerry and Patrick Fiala in the receiver spots. Those tools will make things extremely difficult for the Bucks if they get going early. Yankton must come up aces on defense and get to the ball extremely quickly, as well as possess the endurance to keep up with a Warrior offense that often goes without a huddle to bounce back from a hard defeat last week.
THE PICK: Jon Hander is maturing right before our eyes and will lead the Warriors to another second half victory.
4. Sisseton (3-2) at Aberdeen Roncalli (2-4)
While the records of these teams aren’t exactly impressive as they’ve been the past few seasons, either team could be a sleeping giant come playoff time. This game will be the first of a doubleheader on our live broadcast Friday night, and Roncalli head coach Terry Dosch has a message for those who have already written his team off this season.
“Mark Twain once said, ‘The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated,’ when everybody reported that he was dead. Maybe people are looking at us and thinking we lost everything but the kitchen sink.”
Aberdeen Roncalli is still a very good and storied program and can still pick themselves up even though they’ve been knocked down a few times this season. Roncalli is just five points away from being a 4-2 team.
Sisseton, on the other hand, was good enough to knock off rival Milbank last week 28-7 behind the rushing of Casey Goodhart, Brandon Labatte and Tanner Stapleton. Both programs have a mutual respect for each other, and this is a big game from both sides of the fence.
THE PICK: I think Sisseton is secretly one of the best teams in the class and they will run the ball effectively to beat Roncalli.
1. Wahpeton (5-1) at Grafton (6-0)
Grafton has a chance to virtually seal up the number one spot in the east with a win over the Huskies. Jake Hanson leads a powerful offensive attack but surprisingly the Spoilers defense has been outstanding.
Wahpeton has turned the page after their lone loss to Shanley and looks focused and ready for the challenge in Grafton, but the Spoilers give me no reason to think that they’re not the top team in AA. Zach Burns continues to run the ball to offset Jake Hanson’s passing game. It will take a huge effort for the Huskies to control the game running the ball to upend the number one Spoilers.
THE PICK: I like Grafton to put up another 40+ point performance and beat the Huskies.
2. Divide County (7-0) at Mott-Regent (6-1)
Divide County Maroons have their toughest battle of the year going on a 6 hour bus ride to play the high powered Mott-Regent Wildfire.
Divide County is coming off of a game they dominated on the ground gaining 600 total yards, including over 200 yards rushing by Isaac Jacobs. The Maroon defense has been outstanding but Coach Bob Brown knows stopping Mott-Regent will be a big challenge. Now they must try to stop Chad Mosbrucker and McCahen Schwietzer as they pass the ball all over the field.
If the Maroons pick up a win here it will legitimize their undefeated season and make them a true title contender.
THE PICK: I think the high-flying aerial attack of the Mott-Regent Wildfire will outweigh Divide County’s running game.
3. Bottineau (6-0) at Carrington (5-1)
Despite Bottineau’s perfect record their play hasn’t been perfect. They’ve found themselves in the middle of a lot of dog fights this year. Last week they edged Beulah 18-15.
Casey Murphy and Seth Abaurrea have fueled a strong running game and a great defense (3 shutouts on the year) for Carrington. The Cardinals need this one to get back into the battle for the West Region title. Carrington has five straight wins and will have to keep playing well to knock off Bottineau.
THE PICK: This game could go either way but I think Bottineau will find a way to win in the end.
4. Bismarck (6-0) at Mandan (6-0)
This game is the most anticipated game on the rest of the regular season schedule for me.
Bismarck continues to roll up teams on offense and shutting them down on defense. Quarterback Ben Joliffe played well last week and should be full strength in the passing game as they target Devin Schirado. But we all know that junior running back Layne Johs powers the Demons offense.
Mandan has yet to be tested this year. Their closest game was a 28-7 win over Minot on September 16th. They’ve put up 40+ points in each game except that one. Their triplets of Devin Coyle, Aaron Janz and Seth Westby have built the most explosive offense in the state. But the defense has played well too. They held their opponents to single digits four times and they look to contain a young Demon backfield.
THE PICK: You could convince me otherwise, but I’ll take Bismarck to stay undefeated as they put up a great defensive performance. Bismarck 28 Mandan 20.