St. Thomas More
The Cavs are coming off of a 6-4 season in Class 11A. This year they move to 11B with nine, count ‘em, nine starters back. “With our returners and their experience, we are looking for a great season. We want to be fast and physical this year,” said Head Coach Wayne Sullivan.
Ryder Kirsch has been slinging the ball for Tommy More for a couple of years and heads into his senior campaign with the most tools he’s ever had. Kirsch threw for 1835 yards last year and 23 TDs. He’s in position to have an outstanding year. His top target Grant Huber caught 51 passes a year ago and he’s got Andrew Smith on the other side ready to return at receiver too. Nick Lembke and Ryan Wojcik will take care of the running game and four of the five big guys up front are back to bolster the run game. Defensively Jake Goble, Charlie Larson, Braden Barbier and Tommy Klapperich head up a stout front seven.
The Cavaliers have a tough schedule out of the gate with Hot Springs, Winner and Sturgis. If they can get through that gauntlet, they will be tough to beat. Their offensive firepower could be the top attack in the class. Wayne Sullivan has had several good teams make it to the dome, this one has a chance to do the same.
The Seahawks aren’t satisfied until they get the job done. The last two years they came up just short of that goal. This year Jeff Van Leur’s crew has a lot of firepower back and should continue their tradition of contending for a title.
Brady Hawkins has been a luxury at quarterback for the Seahawks. He’s a top notch overall athlete who continues to get better and better at throwing the ball. Last year he completed 59% of his passes for 1286 yards and 22 TDs while adding 732 yards and 9 TDs on the ground. Look for Grant Andrews to share the load in the running game with Jonah Hofer.
The Seahawks have successfully made the transition from 9 man to 11 man and are now a perennial fixture in the 11B playoff hunt. Brady Hawkins could be the most explosive player in the class and has a chance to lead his team back to the dome for the third straight season.
MVP has been knocking on the door for several years. This season they have a chance to bust through as an elite 11B team. Head Coach Brent Olson guided the Titans to a 9-2 record last year and were upended just short of the championship game with a disappointing loss to BEE. This year’s group of seniors is one of the best this team has had in decades.
It starts with the human bowling ball, Jesse Hastings. He makes this team go when he gets on a roll. The future NDSU Bison wants to make his senior season memorable. Last year he ran for 1468 yards and 25 touchdowns through an injury plagued season. Hunter Pranger is a leader on defense and is back to man the linebacker spot.
MVP will have to plug some holes at QB and the line, but they have good numbers of underclassmen to go with a strong senior class to get it done. They get a huge test on September 13 at home against BEE, if they stay healthy they can play with anyone in the class.
Dan Aaker is used to getting the most out of his team and they’re used to playing deep into the playoffs. Last season was a solid season at 7-3 that icluded a quarterfinal exit against the eventual champs. This year they have a chance to get back to a deep playoff push with a lot of talent returning.
Brady Fritz didn’t pass a lot last year but showed he can make big plays with both his arm and his feet as a sophomore. Now that he enters his junior season he could emerge as one of the most dangerous players in the class. He’s got some receivers like Joren Bruun who can go up and get the ball and if you add in the usual backfield that features several capable running backs like Trevor Peters, Phillip Jorgensen and Sam Kruger, the offense looks much more explosive. On defense Preston Norrid, Oscar Pravcek headline a nasty bunch ready to continue the tradition of Winner defense.
There is no reason Winner should have another “Down” season. The one tricky part is their enormously competitive schedule. But most of their tough games are at home which is huge for the Warriors. Winner should be fully back this year.
The Cossacks took a dip in their record last year, but the experience they gained will pay dividends this year. Head Coach Dan Hughes has a very strong sophomore and junior class as well as some good leaders in the senior class to bring the Cossacks back into contention.
Parker Puetz didn’t throw much as a freshman last year but made some big plays that showed his potential. He’ll be back with more confidence as a sophomore this year. Running back, Jaxton Schiller, is one of the many juniors who should make a big impact. Schiller also made some huge plays as a receiver last year. Lane Vanderwal is a big senior target who was a big play receiver averaging 29.4 yards per catch last season. Carson Christopherson is just a sophomore but has shown the potential to be dominant on defense along with Connor Logan and Ashton Bultje.
The Cossacks could be a year away from contending for a title, but they’re surely back on the radar as a top team. They’ll need to focus on getting balance on offense and protecting the ball better to prevent turnovers that cost them a year ago.
Others to Watch
Seven starters return to last year’s 6-4 team. Hot Springs has a little momentum as they transition to Class 11B. Coach Ben Kramer said, “We graduated a great group of Seniors. But we have the guys to fill the holes this year and we need to get them up to speed early. We need the leaders to establish themselves over the summer and get to work.” Look for the Broncos line to have their way against the competition with four starters back up front.
The Golddiggers are coming off of a successful campaign in which they got a lot of contributions from underclassmen. That bodes well for their chances to keep momentum moving forward. Max Johnson is back at QB with their leading rusher Jordy Stulken returning as well. Charlie Hanel leads an improving defense. Put it all together and Lead-Deadwood has a solid chance to hang out in the rankings this season.
Would have been a great 9-man team but moved up to 11B. Braden Holland is back at QB with Coby Reetz able to carry the ball. Sterling Rausch will lead a tough Bearcat defense with a lot of depth behind him. They’ll be able to compete just fine at their new level but won’t be able to get too far in the playoffs.
Coming off a 6-4 year they should be able to show even more improvement. They graduated just three seniors and have their main playmakers back. This could be one of the surprise teams in the class.
Top 11 Players in Class 11B
- Nash Hutmacher, Chamberlain
- Ryder Kirsch, St. Thomas More
- Jesse Hastings, Mt. Vernon/Plank
- Brady Hawkins, BEE
- Max Baloun, Redfield/Doland
- Brady Fritz, Winner
- Grant Huber, St. Thomas More
- Jonathan Doeden, Groton Area
- Dylan Gabriel, Stanley County
- Jaxton Schiller, Sioux Valley
- Caden Halsey, Mobridge-Pollock
Others to Watch
- Bradley Christensen, Beresford
- Phillip Jorgensen, Winner
- Trevor Peters, Winner
- Sterling Rausch, Webster Area
- Coby Reetz, Webster Area
- Jordy Stulken, Lead-Deadwood
- Lane VanderWal, Sioux Valley