I love making lists, it forces me to evaluate players, talk to coaches, and really dive deep into high school football. Even after all that research it’s impossible to put a definitive list together that everyone can agree on. With that in mind here is my conversation starter of top players in the state. Today I’ll start with Class 11AAA and work my way through a list of top players by all classes in 11 Man football and the top players in 9 Man football. Be sure to check back on the blog for more lists.
1. Canyon Bauer, Sr. WR SF O’Gorman
Canyon can affect a game like no one in the state. He can line up at multiple positions and create mismatches. Last year he caught 51 passes for 853 yards and 8 touchdowns and he had even more yards and touchdowns in his sophomore season when he was healthier. He ran the fastest 40-yard sprint at the Power Riggs Combine last April. Bauer committed to a scholarship from SDSU this summer passing up preferred walk-on offers from Iowa and Minnesota.
2. Tupak Kpeayeh, Sr. RB SF Washington
Tupak is creating a legacy at Washington. He’s won a state title each and every year he’s been on the varsity roster and he has gained 3,740 yards which puts him first on the school record list and 8th for a career in 11-man football. He needs 1,565 yards to tie the all-time record set by Jason Leber in 1992.
3. Grant Treiber, Sr. OT SF Lincoln
Grant used his birthday as a platform to select Iowa State as his future college home. Treiber received many FBS offers including, Oregon, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Vanderbilt. Treiber brings a great mix of size, speed, reach and quickness to his left tackle position. He said once he put his mind to getting stronger and putting the work in the weight room the big-time offers started flying in. The six foot-seven senior will continue to dominate this season.
4. Jayden Johannsen, Sr. QB SF Washington
The senior quarterback has started since he was a freshman and has yet to lose a game. Johannsen is also among the career leaders in state history with 4,103 yards. Jayden has spent the summer touring campuses and getting college offers but he’s ready to focus on leading the Warriors to a fourth straight title this season.
5. Michael Norman, Jr. WR RC Stevens
At 6’3” 190 pounds with 4.8 speed, Michael Norman is a weapon at wide out for the Stevens Raiders. But beyond the measurable he’s a physical blocker who can also go up and get the ball. He caught almost a touchdown per week as a sophomore last year and had some big games.
6. Adam Kusler, Jr. OLB SF Roosevelt
Adam Kusler had a big time sophomore season for the Riders last year. His breakout performance against Pierre where he made 2.5 sacks by himself put him amongst the best defensive players in the state. He is a quiet leader who already has drawn interest from FCS schools before his junior season.
7. Tyler Feldkamp, So. WR Roosevelt
Tyler saw some action on the varsity squad as a freshman and made the most of it. He caught 29 passes for 427 yards and six touchdowns in limited duty. He had a huge game in the semis against Brandon Valley with five catches for 94 yards and he made two touchdowns including one for 70 yards. Feldkamp will get star treatment in coverage this year.
8. Blake Holden, Sr. LB/FB Watertown
Holden was a destructive force on defense for the Arrows last year. He made enough of an impression to get scholarship offers from South Dakota and South Dakota State before choosing the Coyotes. The 6’3”, 240 pounder is back to make an impact for the Arrows this fall.
9. Hunter Merkley, Jr. RB/DB SF Lincoln
This speedster for the Pats is hard to tackle whether he’s on special teams, running back or receiver. He’s coming off of a fantastic track and field season where he excelled in the long jump. He’ll be one of the most versatile weapons in the class this season.
10. Aaron Kusler, Jr. LB SF Roosevelt
Aaron Kusler had an injury-riddled sophomore season which held him down on this list, but expect a big junior year from the 6’2” 200 pounder with speed.
11. Garrett Determan, Sr. WR Watertown
Garrett is known for his speed but it takes more than straight line speed to be a great receiver. Determan has the ball skills and the route running to be one of the best in the class. But what he does best is make explosive plays downfield.