Blog

2018 SD High School Football Preview- 11AA

CLASS 11AA PREVIEW

Since South Dakota moved to a seven-class system in 2013 the title hunt in 11AA has been very exciting. This season there are some newcomers ready to make a statement in the class, mixed with some experienced squads ready to take it to the next level.

CLASS 11AA

1. MITCHELL 

The Kernels are coming off of a 6-3 in which they had to deal with some injuries to key players, this year they have eight starters back on offense and seven starters back on defense and should be an improved team which makes them the team to beat in my eyes amongst a tough group in Class 11AA. Head Coach Kent Van Overschelde doesn’t see his team as the favorite in the class but is still excited for the possibilities this season, “We are excited about the season, but working every day to get better has to be a priority for our three-year starters and our new guys fighting for a chance to earn some field time.  We are working to get better, staying healthy, and being at our best at the end.”

IMPACT PLAYERS

Quarterback Kiel Nelson goes into his senior season as one of the most experienced players in the state. Nelson, a dual threat QB, threw for 719 yards last year with six TDs and ran for 676 yards and six TDs. Carson Max is one of the premier athletes in the state, he battled through some injuries last year and still managed 506 yards on 63 carries. On defense Max is a beast, he led the team in tackles despite missing time. Max is a two-time all-state selection and ready for a big senior season. Drew Kitchens filled in nicely last year at running back. He led the team in carries (207), yards (907) and TDs (11) rushing last year. Mitchell has three starting offensive linemen back (Carter Max, Tegan Alm, Mitch Schladwieler) and a couple of pass catchers (Zach Mohr and Koby Larson) which make their offense go. On defense four of Mitchell’s top five tacklers return to the field. Levi Winne, Dylan Krogman, Carson Max, and Max Schoenfelder are among the eight returning starters on defense.

KEY GAMES

They’re all big games this year but there are a couple that could be huge. September 14 Mitchell visits Howard Wood Field to take on Sioux Falls Washington in what could be the top teams in 11AA and 11AAA at the time. Last season Mitchell lulled down the stretch with a tough pocket of games in October. This year they visit Pierre and then come home to play Harrisburg to kick off that month.

BOTTOM LINE

Mitchell has some star power with Carson Max, Carter Max, Kiel Nelson, Drew Kitchens and Levi Winne leading the way. That’s a lot of talent, but the Kernels will need to get depth from their younger players and get improved play up front in order to stay at number one this season.

PREDICTION

8-1

2. PIERRE 

The Govs climbed back to the top last season behind a great quarterback and some very good play all over the field. Despite losing some studs the Governors have some great talent ready to take over. Head Coach Steve Steele is ready to get started, “We have every expectation of contending to defend our title. We have a good core back from last year but obviously lost some very big pieces. If we can stay healthy, and get some young guys to step up quickly, we should be in good shape.”

IMPACT PLAYERS

The big question entering camp is who will pick up where Peyton Zabel left off? Jack Maher has some experience at quarterback but is so versatile he may be used in other capacities. Junior, Garrett Stout is a viable option at quarterback as well. He only threw a few passes last season but was also second on the team in receiving yards so he could be used in multiple ways. Sophomore, Maguire Raske is a strong armed athlete who plays running back but could be ready to take snaps as well. It will be a tough decision coming in the next month or so for Steve Steele. No matter who’s taking snaps the other two figure to be impact players in the offense in a different position. Jace Wersmann and Grey Zabel are both back on the O-Line which gives them a great start. Defensively, Gage Gehring is one of the best in the state at middle linebacker. Nathan Schabel and Gunnar Gehring return to start in the trenches.

KEY GAMES

Last season Pierre lost just one game in class and it was a game that was split into two different games because of weather delays. Two of three of their toughest games are at home this year when they take on Harrisburg (8/25), and Mitchell (10/5). They finish the season with two 11AAA games when they visit Howard Wood Field to take on Roosevelt and then host Aberdeen.

BOTTOM LINE

This team has a lot of question marks as far as who will play what position, but I think they have the answers for those questions as well. Great athletes and a great scheme to match will give the Governors enough firepower to contend. By the time the playoffs hit they’ll be in peak shape to contend for another title.

PREDICTION

7-2

 

3. HARRISBURG

The Tigers have come close the past two years with trips to the dome but coming up shy. They were all over the place last season, winning big and losing big but they found their groove in the playoffs and made a run to the dome. Brandon White will have a lot of new names to work with this season with just three starters back on offense and defense but they will definitely have some new talent who will work their way up the depth chart.

IMPACT PLAYERS

The defense features some of the best players in the state starting with All-State selection Cole Teigen at defensive back. Brady Schultz and Jacob Larsen also are back to start on D. The past couple of years we’ve gotten used to talking about Hunter Headlee and Jack Anderson, this year Jack Rabern could become the focal point of the offense. Rabern is one of the fastest pure athletes in the state. Jhei Roewart could be a dangerous weapon in the passing game, but we’re still not sure who will get the nod at quarterback. Nathan Tuttle seems to be the front runner but Jack Teigen, Ethan Rollinger and Jacob Just all will be in the mix as well.

KEY GAMES

The season starts with a great matchup on the road in Pierre then doesn’t get any easier with a home game against Sioux Falls O’Gorman. These two games will set the tone for the first half of the year. Then things get tough at the end of the season with a road game in Mitchell and a home game against Yankton. Both will be critical for playoff seeding.

BOTTOM LINE

It may take a couple of weeks for the Tigers to hit full potential, but head coach Brandon White thinks they could get there, “We feel if we can everyone going in same direction, we can be competitive and hopefully make a run in the post-season.” They may start the season 0-2 but don’t count them out. Defense will keep the Tigers in games and look for Jack Rabern to emerge as a star on offense.

PREDICTION

6-3

 

4. YANKTON

Significant changes in Yankton create some questions for the Bucks this year. Crane-Youngworth Field will look a lot different this year with brand new turf covering the playing surface and the head coach will also look different with long-time head coach Arlin Likness stepping down as Brady Muth takes over. The changes on the field will be noticeable as well, but the Bucks do bring back seven starters on offense and five on defense.

 

IMPACT PLAYERS

Rex Ryken has a chance to re-write the Yankton Bucks all-time receiving records during his senior season. Ryken is a threat anywhere on the field to make a big catch and turn it up field. He’s also arguably the best defensive back in the state. It will be interesting to see how Coach Muth uses his athletic ability to create mismatches. Caid Koletzky will continue to pick up most of the rushing yards for Yankton and All-State punter Mike Drotzmann can also make big plays at wide out. Senior quarterback Ethan Wishon has the arm talent to divvy up the ball to Ryken and Drotzman on the outside and he also has the benefit of four offensive linemen with starting experience back. Donovan Bain is the team’s top returning tackler at inside linebacker.

 

KEY GAMES

The Bucks open their season with back to back games on their brand new turf against Brookings then Pierre. Then they follow that up with potentially their two toughest games of the season, a road game in Mitchell and a home game against Roosevelt. The second half of the season includes two games against 11AAA teams.

BOTTOM LINE

I could see several outcomes to Yankton’s season. It’s really hard to predict how the team will play with a new head coach, several new starters and a very challenging schedule. Head Coach Brady Muth on the team’s challenge replacing a hall of fame level coach, “We as a (Coaching) staff will need to wrok hard to help our team through this change.  Our kids have been great through the transition and our staff has a great understanding of the expectations and tradition at Yankton.” I think Yankton will get it figured out. They do have one of the top players in the state and have had a very strong offseason, which makes them a wild card in each game they play.

PREDICTION

4-5

 

5. HURON

The Tigers are another team in the ESD that seems to show improvement year after year but their record doesn’t always reflect their elevation. Huron has eight starters back on offense and nine on defense as Head Coach Michael Schmitz prepares this team for another season.

IMPACT PLAYERS

Jett McGirr has played parts of each of the last two seasons at quarterback. As he enters his senior year he’s shown signs of command that could make him a top playmaker in the class. Blake Larson and Jaren Schlye are also in the mix to compete at QB. The Tigers will rely on the playmaking ability of Chipper Shillingstad. Despite Chip’s 5’5” frame he’s able to zip in and out of tacklers on offense and has become a tremendous defensive back with five picks last year. Kobe Busch, Bruce Steffen and Gabe Rieger are all potential All-State players back on offense while Cooper Fryberger and Walker Shiltz come back to lead an experienced defense.

KEY GAMES

The Tigers will need to swing in the standings with key games against Harrisburg (9/7), Yankton (9/21), and Brookings (10/18)

BOTTOM LINE

“We have revamped our offense, defense, and special teams. Fitting scheme with the kids we have. This season is looking to be positive within the AA ranks.” Teams like Huron make my job tough to make predictions. They have some star power and a lot of experience back, but they’ll need to stay healthy with a shallow roster. I know it’s not very bold but I could see them finishing toward the top or the bottom of the class.

PREDICTION

3-6

 

6. BROOKINGS

The Bobcats started last season winning two of their first three but then went on a seven game skid. They’d like to erase that season and look forward to a fresh start this year. Seven starters in the fold give the Bobcats some weapons with experience.

IMPACT PLAYERS

Parker Beers led the Bobcats with an 800 yard rushing season last year with 8 TDs. He heads into his senior year as a third year starter for Brookings. Head Coach Lee Schmidt will probably look to Jacob Schoon to quarterback this team, he’s a good athlete who could bring balance to this offense with his arm. However, Tanner Shepardson (Jr.) and Jackson Krogman (So.) are also vying for that starting QB spot. Gus Miller and Tucker Christie anchor a strong offensive line. Sam Lehman and Justin Devine are back in the defensive backfield with Jay Szafryk and Wes Gehring on the D-Line.

KEY GAMES

The opener with Yankton has become an annual classic. This season they march into Yankton to test the new look team. They finish the season with three of four of their games on the road against two Triple-A teams and two rivals (Harrisburg and Huron).

BOTTOM LINE

“We will be a much improved team overall. Many seniors have played and struggled through the last two years and their effort this summer indicates they want to accomplish more and reach a higher level of competitiveness,” said Head Coach Lee Schmidt. It will be tough for that higher level of play to be reflected in their record. They’ll have to get some big road wins in order to reach that next level. They could match last year’s two-win season and still be a much-improved team.

PREDICTION

2-7

7. STURGIS

Sturgis continues to make strides as a team. Chris Koletzky didn’t win a game in his first two years as head coach but found a way to win three last season. Joel Carpenter graduated as one of the best players to play at Sturgis.  This year, that improvement should continue with six starters back on offense and four on defense.

IMPACT PLAYERS

Jay Krull was an all-state honorable mention last year and was named the team’s breakout player at their team awards celebration. This season he could be the top player for the Scoopers at receiver, safety and punter.  Senior, Gavin West is an improved quarterback who stands in at 6-3 in the pocket. Josh Fowler (Jr. SS/RB), Trevor Erienbusch (Jr. MLB), and Manny Gallosa (Sr. RB/LB) will supply leadership with experience at the varsity level.

KEY GAMES

If Sturgis is to improve again this year, they’ll need a signature win. They face Douglas, Rapid City Central and St. Thomas More on consecutive Fridays starting August 31st. If they can get a win or two in that span I will consider this season a success.

BOTTOM LINE

The Scoopers goals continue to climb as Chris Koletzky keeps improving this team. Look for Gavin West to help steady this offense at quarterback with Manny Gallosa and Jay Krull making some big plays as well. It’s going to be hard to replace a player of Joel Carpenter’s status but overall the Scoopers should be improved on defense as well.

PREDICTION

4-5

 

8. DOUGLAS

The Patriots went 5-4 last season before being knocked out of the playoffs by Yankton 37-13. They had some highlights with a three game winning streak to end the regular season as well as a huge momentum building win against Harrisburg on Septebmer 15th.   The Pats lose several key players from their winning season including Trevor Severson, Daniel Hand, Chance Sorensen and Justen Zbrabek. This season just eight seniors return to the roster with a hope to keep the Patriots moving in the right direction under the direction of Head Coach Dan Maciejczak.

KEY GAMES

Last season the Pats were 4-2 at home in the regular season this year they have five road games in the regular season. They’ll need to protect their house in Box Elder if they want to reach their goals.

BOTTOM LINE

Never count out Coach Maciejczak, but they graduated one of their best classes in recent memory. Douglas will have to get some production from their younger classes in order to keep their winning ways.

PREDICTION

2-7

 

9. SPEARFISH

Last season Head Coach Chad McCarty led a very young team to a 2-7 mark. The Spartans bring back many of those players this season as they hope to improve on that mark.

IMPACT PLAYERS

Jordan Brinson, Jacob Johnson and Tyler Barkley all played a part in the Spearfish offense last year. Brinson and Johnson will carry the running game while Barkley will try to keep some balance with the passing game.

KEY GAMES

They start the year out with St. Thomas More and Rapid City Stevens, two very good teams. Down the stretch they have three games against other Double-A Competition with Douglas, Huron and Mitchell.

BOTTOM LINE

I like what Coach McCarty has done with this program but a tough schedule could keep the Spartans record from reflecting their improvement.

PREDICTION

2-7

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH IN CLASS 11AA  

Parker   Beers

Sr.

Brookings

LB/RB

Jordon Brinson

Sr.

Spearfish

RB

Tucker Christie

Sr.

Brookings

OG

Michael Drotzman

Sr. 

Yankton

 

Manny Gallosa

 

Sturgis

RB

Gage Gehring

Sr. 

Pierre

FB/LB

Elijiah Jones

Sr.

Yankton

LG

Drew Kitchens

Sr. 

Mitchell

RB

Caid Koletzky

Sr.

Yankton

RB

Jay Krull

Sr.

Sturgis

TE/DE

Jacob Larsen

Sr.

Harrisburg

Jack Maher

Sr. 

Pierre

QB/TE

Carson Max

Sr. 

Mitchell

RB/LB

Jett McGirr

Sr.

Huron

QB

Gus Miller

Jr. 

Brookings

OT

Kiel Nelson

Sr. 

Mitchell

QB

Dylan Pourier

Sr.

Douglas

 

Jack Rabern

Jr.

Harrisburg

WR

Gabe Rieger

Sr.

Huron

OL/DL

Jhei Roewart

Jr.

Harrisburg

WR/CB

Rex Ryken

Sr. 

Yankton

WR/DB

Chipper Schllingstad

Sr. 

Huron

RB

Garrett Stout

Jr.

Pierre

QB/DB

Cole Teigen

Sr.

Harrisburg

DB

Jay Wilber

Sr.

Brookings

WR

Levi Winne

Sr. 

Mitchell

OL/DL

Grey Zabel

Jr.

Pierre

OL/DL

 

JASON ANDERA'S 2018 11AA PROJECTIONS

 

11AA

W

L

1

Mitchell

8

1

2

Pierre T.F. Riggs

7

2

3

Harrisburg

6

3

4

Yankton

4

5

5

Huron

3

6

6

Brookings

2

7

7

Sturgis

4

5

8

Douglas

2

7

9

Spearfish

2

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filed Under Football | Power Rankings | Varsity Sports | SD High School