SD Class 11AAA
This class came down to three players in who could legitimately make a claim as the most valuable or the top player. I considered guys like Cade TerVeer of Brandon Valley and Isaac Struck and Canyon Bauer for O'Gorman, and Jayden Johannsen and Logan Uttecht and Will Farniok of Washington and Nick Hoekstra and Mason McCormick for Roosevelt but the three that rose to the top are: Seth Benson and Tupak Kpeayeh of Washington and Braiden Petersen of Brandon Valley.
But the player of the year is... Seth Benson.
He could have played quarterback or receiver but like he did as a freshman and sophomore, but the team needed him at linebacker and he came through in a huge way. He's a true captain, in fact Coach Stadem said he may be the best leader he's ever had. There were games he'd have to make 15 plus tackles to get the job done. Seth Benson goes sideline to sideline like few can because of his combination of speed and power.
SD Class 11AA
This class was actually hard to pick. I think you had a lot of outstanding players who maybe didn't get as much attention because their team's success wasn't there like Rex Ryken of Yankton and Joel Carpenter of Sturgis and Trevor Severson of Douglas and Mitchell had an outstanding group again but it really came down to the top players from the top teams.Hunter Headlee and Jack Anderson of Harrisburg and the player of the year Peyton Zabel of Pierre.
Peyton Zabel put up some monster numbers in this Pierre offense that was geared to throw. The 6-6 quarterback went over 2700 yards and 30 TDs in the air plus he was a threat to run the ball as well. Not to mention playing through an injury to lead his team to a state title.
SD Class 11A
Madison got a lot of attention in this class. My finalists included Josh GIles, Jadon Janke and Jaxon Janke of the Bulldogs. I also considered Carter Slykhuis of Tea Area. The top player(s) go to the Jankes.
Jaxon and Jadon Janke
were outstanding. How can you seperate Jadon and Jaxon Janke? These brothers are beasts on the field on both sides of the ball. They can jump, run, break tackles and anything else you ask them to do. They're unbelievable. Jadon Janke moved to almost exclusively running back this year. He looked very comfortable with that move. He ran for 8.2 yards per carry and gained 1250 yards. he ran in 18 TDs and was an absolute ball hawk on defense too. His twin brother Jaxon did the receiving... he caught 50+ balls and took almost half of them to the house. Both were huge factors in the three consecutive titles that Madison won.
SD Class 11B
This class especially featured the backs that powered their teams. All four semifinal teams have a finalist in my group. Jamin Arend of Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan, Daymein Lucas of Sioux Valley, Parker Nelson of Sioux Falls Christian and John Witte of Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/ Sanborn Central.
Jamin took over for Cole Gassman after he got hurt in the second game of hte year and boy did he take over. Arend ran for 7.5 yards per carry with 20 TDs and took his team all the way to the dome. Then you have Daymein Lucas of SIoux Valley who took the class by surprise a little bit. They just kept winning and winning and running over teams in the regular season and Lucas was the reason. Lucas kept reeling in 200 + yard games and ended up with 26 TDs on the year. He played a lot of quarterback earlier in his high school career but became quite the feature back this season. Then Parker Nelson burst onto the scene. He is lightning fast and he showed it time and time again. How about John Witte of Woonsocket Wessington Springs Sanborn Central? Not only did he lead his team in tackles and tackles for loss he gained 1775 yards and 26TDs for the Blackhawks. But the winner of the player of the year in this class goes to...
He truly carried his team on his back getting the ball 40 times in the title game to give Sioux Falls Christian a state title.
SD Class 9AA
This class had as much top end talent as any class. You could put these guys against any class and they'd size up just fine. So I had trouble paring this list down to four but here goe. Karst Hunter of Miller/Highmore-Harrold, Trey King of Irene-Wakonda, Andy McCance and Jayd Van Der Werff of Gregory. Karst Hunter made his mark this year. Great dual threat QB who took Miller to the semis something that hadn't been done for a long time. He ran and threw for over 1000 yards each, he had such and impressive season for the Rustlers. Then you have Trey King who had outrageus numbers. Get this folks... He ran for 1871 and threw for 2519. Yes he did that. He ran for 34 TDs and threw 27 more not to mention he came up with 9 picks on defense. Hard to believe anyone was more valuable to his team than that. Andy McCance maybe didn't have the same type of opportunity to put up numbers like that because his team would get the mercy rule wins so quickly. But he still managed 2,578 yards and 40TDs with only 2 INTS all year and those were both at the dome. Also had 1141 yards rushing with 18 TDs. Jayd Van Der Werff was clearly one of the top players as well. He missed some time this year so his stats won't reflect the kind of year he had but Jayd was not only a great defender but the top running and receiving threat for the Gorillas. But the award goes to..
He throws a great ball and wil make a great passer at the next level.
SD Class 9A
There wasn't one standout in this class just like there wasn't one team who stood out but there is a lot of talent here to talk about. Let's start with Jacob Cihak of Avon. The Pirates haven't had a dominant runner in a while but Cihak brought that back for them. He gained 1415 yards and 23 TDs in the regular season. Stanley Haskins Junior blossomed in his sophomore season as the go to guy for Birtton-Hecla. He only had 11 rushing attempts in the first three games before taking over at tailback. He ended up the year with 1394 yards and 19 TDs. Scott Jolley of Canistota is another guy who went over 1400 yards rushing. He was listed at quarterback but played much of the year at halfback. Jolley was tough to bring down. Howard had a trio of tough running backs who led them all the way to the semis and will have a lot of power back next year. But the player of the year is...
he was the big play player for the Jags. Whenever they needed a huge play Plamp was there. over 1000 yards rushing and almost another 1000 receiving with 27 TDs. He averaged over 30 yards per reception and over 10 yards per carry.
SD Class 9B
Class 9B had two undefeated teams in the finals and my final list is comprised of players from those teams. Bodee Groos of Colman-Egan helped transform the CE Hawks into champoins. He was the Joe Robbie MVP in 2016 and led his team to another title run this year. He only played 21 quarters of football in the regular season yet still managed over 1000 yards rushing and almost 1000 passing. Bodee is great on defense as well. Cousin Kade had a big year as well. Kade was an outstanding returner with great breakaway speed. He ran for 798 yards and 18 TDs on his was to an MVP in the 9B title game this year.
Then there's Devan Kleven who is another dual threat QB. He led an offense that would mow opponents down the field. He had some huge games to lead Sully Butes to an undefeated regular season and a trip to the dome. But the winner in this class has gotta be
Not only for his Offense at QB but his defense. He was truly in on every big play this year.