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2018 SD High School Football Preview - 11A

Class 11A Preview

 

Class 11A has been dominated with dynasties in the past two decades. Madison is fresh off of back-to-back-to-back titles. Plus, 19 of the last 22 titles have been claimed by either West Central, Dell Rapids or Madison. This season there could be a break in the clouds, a glimmer of hope for the rest of the class, a chance for several teams to shake it up. 

Class 11A

1. DAKOTA VALLEY

Last year Dakota Valley went under the radar despite reeling off eleven wins in a row before finishing runner-up to Madison in the championship game. There are some key pieces that return to the Panthers as well as some new players who are ready to make an impact at the Varsity level. There are not necessarily a lot of returning starters for DV but they rotated numerous players last year and have the depth again this year to use several experienced athletes.

IMPACT PLAYERS

Nate Rice and Sam Chesterman did much of the damage in the running game last year and are back as seniors to pile up more yards. Dakota Valley rotates their backs and uses several different ball carriers and they have others they can depend on like Eric Johnson who will step in this season. Cole Schulz, Jake Likness and Jevin Kratz were all impact players last year and will be leaders again this season as receivers. Liam Tureaud, Casey Voichahoske, Mitchell Kistner, Cole Reinhardt, Alex Hanshaw and Johnny Tureaud are just a few up front who make this team a favorite in the trenches in any game they play.

KEY GAMES:

This year two big games against Dell Rapids (8/24) and West Central (10/5) are both on the road, then they end their season with a huge home game against Tea Area on October 18th (both teams could be unbeaten at that point in the season). 

BOTTOM LINE

It was a close call to put Dakota Valley at number one this preseason. Madison, Tea Area and St. Thomas More could all make a claim on that spot throughout the season. I believe that head coach Jeff VanDenHul will have this team purring after implementing a new offensive system last year, “This will be our second year running this offensive system.  We will be able to hit the ground running, spend less time teaching verbiage and the basics,” said VanDenHul. That comfort on offense combined with a more favorable schedule than Tea or Madison, makes the Panthers a strong favorite in each game they play this year. However, once the playoffs start they’ll have to find another gear in order to get to the next level as a state champion. Players like Jevin Kratz, Casey Voichahoske, Sam Chesterman and Nate Rice will have to bring the leadership for this team to end up at number one.

PREDICTION

9-0

2. TEA AREA

Last season the Titans had a veteran line and young playmakers, this year that is reversed, the playmakers come in with experience while the line has a couple of holes to fill.  Last season Tea started 5-0 but the schedule got the best of them down the stretch, as they lost five in a row including a season ending scoreless effort against Madison in the playoffs. This year nine starters are back for the Titan offense and eight starters on defense. 

IMPACT PLAYERS

 

Quarterback, Hunter West will be a second year starter for this Titan offense. He threw for 980 yards and 10TDs last year and should have enough weapons in the passing game like, Cade Clayberg and Trevor Cox to lap those numbers this year. Carter Slykhuis was THEE breakout athlete of 2017 in the state. He put up 1,024 yards rushing (team record) with 11 TDs and had 442 yards receiving with 6 TDs. He was a dominant on special teams and defense as well. Slykhuis will be one of the hardest players to shut down this season. Kaleb Joffer is one of three returning offensive linemen with starting experience for the Titans. He is especially explosive on defense where he returns for his fourth year starting up front (51 tackles, 11 TFL, 5 sacks, 2 FF, FR). Wyatt Powers, Wyatt Van Tol, Nathan Ochsner, PJ Parmalee and Troy Ljunggren round out one of the best front sevens in the class. This will give Tea a much-improved defense which should help decreast the 21 points per game they allowed last year. By the way, Tea has another big weapon with Kade Stearns coming back as a four-year starter at kicker.

KEY GAMES

 

They start the season hosting West Central and then hit the road to play St. Thomas More. They were able to get those two last year but those should be tougher to get this season. They have another gauntlet in the second half of the season as they finish out the regular season with a trip to Dell Rapids (9/28), then go home to play Madison (10/5) and SF Christian (10/12) and close out the season against Dakota Valley (10/18).

BOTTOM LINE

 

Last season the tale of two seasons didn’t tell the whole story of this team. They weren’t as good as their 5-0 start but weren’t nearly as bad as their five game losing streak. Look for Carter Slykhuis and Hunter West to help this offense become much more consistent this year while their experienced defense, led by Kaleb Joffer, will emerge as dominant. Tea should have their sights set on a trip to the dome this season despite a very tough schedule. I really wanted to rank them number one but their tough schedule will hand them at least one loss which will probably keep Dakota Valley at number one this season.

PREDICTION

8-1

3. MADISON

The Bulldogs have been 11A’s elite team over the past three seasons. It feels funny not having Madison slotted as the top team in the state, however with the loss of some of the best players this program has ever seen, it will make things harder for the Bulldogs to get a fourth consecutive title.  

IMPACT PLAYERS

 

Tyler Tappe takes over for Josh Giles at quarterback. Tappe played sparingly in a reserve role last year as a sophomore. He’ll have Thomas Gors and Jacob Unterbrunner as his main weapons on offense. Gors ran for 380 yards last season and Unterbrunner made some big plays collecting 368 yards receiving with four touchdowns last season. In all, there are still five starters that return to this offense including last year’s lineman of the championship game, Johnny Ricke. However, the loss of Jadon Janke, Jaxon Janke and Josh Giles leaves some huge shoes to fill on offense. On defense, Doyle Brown and Caileb Reilly are among the best in the class. Brown averaged 8 tackles per game last year with a team leading 20 tackles for loss. Nolan Johnson and Jarett Lurz also will play big parts on D for the Dogs.

KEY GAMES

 

This Madison team has a lot of new impact players which could make it difficult to get out of the gate. Four of their five toughest games are on the road this year. They’re tested with a road game against an improved Milbank team on August 24. Then they get another tough road game two weeks later against Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan. Again in October they’ll hit the road for two more tough games with Tea Area (10/5) and Dell Rapids (10/18).

BOTTOM LINE

 

Head Coach Max Hodgen has done a fantastic job coaching at Madison. They’ve become an elite program during his tenure. He’ll have to continue the excellent leadership job in order to make Madison a title contender. They have one of the toughest schedules in the state. If Tyler Tappe, Thomas Gors and Jacob Unterbrunner can make some big plays this year they’ll have a chance to be at the top.

PREDICTION

8-1

4. St. Thomas More

 

St. Thomas More has been the team to beat out west for a long time. This season they definitely have a rebuilding year with the loss of some serious talent, but the up and coming junior class is one of the best they've had.

IMPACT PLAYERS

 

The 6’6” junior quarterback, Ryder Kirsch will have more of a leadership role this season being the starter from day one. The rest of the main offensive weapons for St. Thomas More will be new this year. Look for Jay Neugebauer, Grayson Skinner, Dillon Woods, Riley Olson, Michael Eastmo, Michael Gylten, and Thomas Maguire to all be impact players for the Cavs this year. A stocked junior class will set the tone for this team.

KEY GAMES

 

The Cavaliers open the season with home games against Spearfish and Tea Area before hitting the road to take on West Central and Sturgis. The second half of the season should belong to the Cavaliers as their young quarterback and team start to get rolling. Their final game at Todd County will be a tough one to end the year with.

BOTTOM LINE

 

This team could gain a lot of confidence from a quick start. Ryder Kirsch was inserted into the starting lineup mid-way through his sophomore season and he helped lead them to some big wins. The supporting cast is young but talented for the Cavaliers. They’ll be a solid team this year but watch out for a title run next season.

PREDICTION

8-1

5. MILBANK

 

Adolph Shepardson made the move to Milbank as the Athletic Director and Head Football coach. Last season Milbank fought hard to a 6-3 regular season before losing in the semis to Madison under long-time coach Jeremy Tostenson. This season the Bulldogs have seven starters back on offense and five on defense.

IMPACT PLAYERS

The Bulldogs have four offensive linemen back with starting experience this year with Jake Karges (825 yds, 13 TD) in backfield with Max McCulloch and Riley Gauer ready to burn up the passing game at receiver. Jake Sandvig has played some quarterback and returns to start in the defensive backfield.

KEY GAMES

Last season all three of the team’s losses were on the road. This year those tough games are going to be played in Milbank where they’ll be ready. The season starts against Madison with Dakota Valley in the middle of the season and Dell Rapids, Sisseton and Tri-Valley down the stretch.

BOTTOM LINE

This team has several players who will be in their third year of starting. That should work in their favor if they adapt to Coach Shepardson’s new program with new expectations.

PREDICTION

6-3

6. WEST CENTRAL

West Central missed the playoffs last year with a 3-6 mark. That shows how competitive their schedule was. This year should be equally as tough. This year they bring back 7 starters on both sides of the ball as they try to turn that record around.

IMPACT PLAYERS

Broc Halderman comes into the season as a third year starter at quarterback. They’ll get big contributions from Cooper Maras, Matt Zeig,  Haldeman on offense. Up front West Central figures to have a lot of talent with Layton Davis, Truman Dick, Josh Livermore, and Jason Zacharias. The Trojan defense should be much improved with the return of Jackson Miller, Mitch Edberg, Carter Healy, Maras, Livermore, Aaron Johnson, and Connor Swanson.

KEY GAMES:

Every game on the schedule is a key game for the Trojans, but a good start is especially important with road games at Tea and Winner. September 8th they open at home with St. Thomas More followed by Dell Rapids the following week.

BOTTOM LINE:

Even if West Central lives up to their potential they could easily have a losing record with this tough schedule. They’ll have to dominate at the line of scrimmage with a talented line and get some big plays from their running backs. All things considered I believe the Trojans return to the playoffs and get back to a winning record.

PREDICTION:

5-4

7. DELL RAPIDS

Steve Hansen stepped down as the head coach for Dell Rapids after leading the Quarriers to a run of success the town has never had before including five state titles. Jordan Huska takes over the program after assisting under Hansen and playing for Dell Rapids a decade ago. There is still continuity on the staff with Huska taking over and many of the same assistants still in place. Last year the Quarriers went 7-2 and lost a crazy game to St. Thomas More in the playoffs to end their season. This season just one starter is back on offense with six players on defense who have starting experience.

IMPACT PLAYERS:

The offense figures to run through Nick Boever who returns to the backfield. Boever ran for over 6 yards per carry and scored six touchdowns as a junior last season. The rest of the impact players will be defensive studs, Eddie Price, Logan Heim, Kenyon Shellum, Zeb Schumaker and Logan Ellingson. There is a solid group of juniors coming up to add depth for the Quarriers.

KEY GAMES:

Like much of the teams at the top of 11A, there are key games each and every week. They’ll start the season at home against Dakota Valley and Vermillion to set the tone. They also have West Central, Tea Area, Milbank and Madison on the schedule.

BOTTOM LINE:

This team will take a few weeks to find continuity on offense. Defensively they’ll be fine, in fact the D may have to step up and make some big plays in order for the Quarriers to challenge for a winning record.

PREDICTION

5-4 

 

8. TODD COUNTY

Todd County went 7-3 last season with a playoff loss to Milbank to end their season. They have some playmakers back to improve on a disappointing end to the year but will need to step up their line play to be a true contender.

IMPACT PLAYERS:

The run-first team ran with Mark Rogers front and center last year. He missed a couple of games at the end of the year which really hurt their offensive flow. Rogers gained 1367 yards with 16 TDs in 2017 averaging 10.9 yards per carry. Josh Rowland had some huge games as well. He ran in seven TDs and caught 36 balls for 600 yards and 8 more TDs. Bryant Burnette played some quarterback last year and should be ready again this year. Four of the Falcons top five tacklers are back this year including Rowland, William Marshall, Rogers and Lancer White Feather.

KEY GAMES:

Dakota Valley will be a huge measuring stick on August 31st in North Sioux City. They end the year wit another huge battle against St. Thomas More.

BOTTOM LINE:

Defense was the issue last year, but an improved offense could put up points on anyone. Todd County will be a tough team to beat but their line play will have to step up.

PREDICTION

7-2

9. BELLE FOURCHE

It’s going to be hard to look past Belle Fourche this year. They return 9 starters on offense and 10 on defense. After a 3-6 season a year ago the Broncs look to be much improved.

IMPACT PLAYERS:

Tate Hostetter, with Colby Nowowiejski competing for the starting QB position in Belle Fourche. Kelby Olson and Morgen Garrett will be the main running backs. Jesse Thybo, Tye Davis anchor an experienced O-Line and Bryce Nicholas comes back at TE being the leading receiver. On defense, Hunter Mitchell at nose returns after 77 tackles 27 for loss. Jaredon Dosch and Tater Fox are back at linebacker with a lot of other great returners.

KEY GAMES:

 Last season the Broncs got out of the gate at 0-4, this year they’re looking to avenge those games against Sturgis, Madison, Dell Rapids and Spearfish. They end the regular season with St. Thomas More and Douglas.

BOTTOM LINE:

Tate Hostetter, Colby Nowowiejski and Morgen Garrett are impact offensive players and with a much improved defense the Broncs should be able to turn this into a winning season.

PREDICTION

6-3

10. TRI-VALLEY

Last year's brutal schedule got the best of the Mustangs as they went 4-5, this year they'll reload with just 2 returning starters to try to get back to their traditional form.

IMPACT PLAYERS:

Caden Lamer, Mason Mathieu and Sajen Van Liere will be leaders for the Mustangs.

KEY GAMES: 

The middle of their season is extremely tough with Dakota Valley, Dell Rapids, West Central, SF Christian, Madison and Milbank consecutively.

BOTTOM LINE:

 The season sets up to be challenging, but there is hope for the future. Head Coach Steve Bazata knows success will have to be earned, "We return very few players with experience. We will be sophomore heavy. We hope to improve as the season goes on."

PREDICTION

3-6

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH IN CLASS 11A 

Doyle   Brown

Sr. 

Madison

LB

Sam Chesterman

Sr. 

Dakota Valley

RB/LB

Broc Halderman

Sr. 

West Central

QB/DB

Morgan Harkless

Sr. 

Hot Springs

WR/DB

Kaleb Joffer

Sr. 

Tea Area

OL/DL

Jake Kargas

Sr. 

Milbank

RB

Ryder Kirsch

Jr.

St. Thomas More

QB/DB

Jevin Kratz

Sr. 

Dakota Valley

TE/DL

Hunter Mitchell

Sr. 

Belle Fourche

NT/OL

Eddie Price

Sr. 

Dell Rapids

LB/QB

Caileb Reilly

Sr. 

Madison

TE/DE

Nate Rice

Sr. 

Dakota Valley

RB/S

Johnny Ricke

Sr. 

Madison

OL/DL

Mark Rogers

Sr. 

Todd County

RB/LB

Josh Rowland

Sr. 

Todd County

WR/DB

Carter Slykhuis

Sr. 

Tea Area

RB/DB

Jacob Unterbrunner

Jr.

Madison

WR/DB

Casey Voichahoske

Sr. 

Dakota Valley

OL/DL

Hunter West

Sr. 

Tea Area

QB/DB

Ray Williams

Sr. 

Lennox

DB/RB

Dillon Woods

Sr. 

St. Thomas More

OL 

Matt Zieg

Sr. 

West Central

LB/OL

 

JASON ANDERA'S 2018 11A PROJECTIONS

 

11A

W

L

1

Dakota Valley

9

0

2

Tea Area

8

1

3

Madison

8

1

4

St. Thomas More

8

1

5

Milbank

6

3

6

West Central

5

4

7

Dell Rapids

5

4

8

Todd County

7

2

9

Belle Fourche

5

4

10

Tri-Valley

3

6

11

Pine Ridge

6

3

12

Lennox

1

8

13

Vermillion

3

6

14

Hot Springs

1

8

15

Cheyenne-Eagle Butte

3

6

16

Little Wound

2

7

17

St. Francis Indian

0

9

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