The third week of the South Dakota football season was quite telling in many ways. It told us that;
1. Sioux Falls Washington is definitely the team to beat in Class 11AA, and will win more games with their suffocating defensive play rather than offensive prowess;
2. With all respect to Yankton, Pierre and Brookings the ESD is Brandon Valley's, with everyone else battling for second;
3. Avon is definitely not the team they were in the past few years;
4. The west river teams might be at an all-time low this season, except for maybe Winner.
The rest we’ll just have to pick up on the way. We move then, to a set of four game previews from the South Dakota slate.
1. Tri-Valley (3-0) at Flandreau (3-0)
The Tri-Valley Mustangs have started their defense of the class 11B title with three straight wins, but face their toughest test of the season to date this week as they head into Flandreau to play the Fliers, who have also amassed three impressive wins to start the season. Tri-Valley has been working on with their offensive line all season, and it showed last week in their game against Elk Point-Jefferson. Tri-Valley ran for a staggering 553 yards in last week’s game, 251 of which came from halfback Logan Koopman.
What Tri-Valley will have to worry about is their defense, which has been a little weaker than the past two seasons. That is especially true against Flandreau’s triple option offense that piled up 405 yards rushing last week in the SoDak Prairie Bowl.
Both teams had the luxury of having their games in hand last week by halftime which allowed them to rest their starters for Friday’s game.
These two teams have played some very close games in the past few seasons, and this one will be no different. Expect the ball to stay on the ground most of the time and for Flandreau to send the Mustangs back to Colton with their first loss by six.
2. Kimball/White Lake (3-0) at Gregory (3-0)
Despite playing in the class 9AA title game last year, the Kimball/White Lake Wildkats have very quietly started the new season with three decisive wins. Quarterback Jesse Taylor and running back Trevor Reinesch, who both played in that title game last year, lead the Wildkats. That experience should be huge in this week’s game in Gregory. The Gorillas have made a much bigger splash to open the 2012 season, first by quarterback Jaden Bartling’s 410 total yards two weeks ago, then accomplishing what few teams have been able to do in the recent past – hand Avon a huge defeat. Make no mistake – KWL is a very good football team, but Gregory has come together and appears to be on a mission this season. We take the Gorillas at home by 7.
A STREAK ON THE LINE
3. Hanson (3-0) at Canistota (2-0)
Canistota got all they could handle from Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan last week, escaping the SoDak Prairie Bowl with a 16-8 win as a fourth down pass fell incomplete. A quick look at the schedule and results and you might think Canistota has come back to earth beating Howard by four and B-E/E by just eight. But I believe that points more to the fact that Howard and Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan are improved. The Hawks have allowed three touchdowns in the two games they’ve played, and this should play to their advantage against the heavy-running team from Hanson County. The Beavers have allowed a few touchdowns in their first three games, but their double wing offense has made up for that by scoring 90 points in their three games. This game in essence will be irresistible force vs. immovable object, but I think Canistota is simply the more complete team and shouldn’t have much trouble winning this game, and extending their winning streak to 27 games. Hawks by 24.
4. Brookings (2-1) at Pierre (2-1)
Two teams that have emerged as contenders in the second layer of the ESD square off at Hollister field this Friday. One of them will come out of the game as a legitimate contender for the ESD title.
Pierre has been impressive the last two weeks beating Huron 40-13 and Aberdeen 37-7. Their second halves have been dominant with a 57-0 advantage through three weeks. They’ve done that with a wide open offense featuring Junior quarterback Alex Gray who has hit his receivers for big plays all season. He averages 22 yards per completion this year. Senior backs Matthew Svendson and Austin Wagner have literally carried this team though. They’ve combined for 568 yards and four touchdowns in the first three games. Pierre’s one weak spot may be their pass defense. That’s what did them in against Yankton in week one.
Brookings has relied on Mikey Daniel through the first two games but last Friday Brandon Valley held him to just 52 yards as the Bobcats suffered their first loss 38-0. Daniel has rushed for 360 yards through three weeks. If Brookings is to get a road win against Pierre they’ll have to get quarterback Kaleb Vig enough time to throw the ball down the field. Pierre will be keying on Daniel but will need to hold Vig and Bobcat receivers Dayton Bender, Zach Page and Tyler Madler in check. I think the Govs shut down Mikey Daniel and hold the Bobcats passing in check and win by 14.