The usual suspects are lining up at the top of 11B again. Winner or Bridgewater-Emery has been in the championship game for the past six years. This season there is some new blood that would love to crash the party but the old favorites are strong as usual.
Jandy’s Preseason Top 5
The Warriors are used to winning. Last year they captured another title and won’t sneak up on anyone this year. Winner has the task of replacing four all-state performers, but they have one of their largest classes with 16 seniors this year to help with that. Coach Trent Olson thinks they have some work to do to get the same type of leadership they had last year but he has a strong defensive line to build around, “We return four guys who played a lot of football upfront last year, they’re all very talented kids.”
Look for Charley Pravecek to lead an experienced defensive line. Another strength, as always, is a full crop of backs on offense. Blake Volmer should step up at quarterback with Kaden Keiser toting the rock most often. But don’t be surprised to see big games from Riley Orel, and Aiden Barfuss as well as several other talented backs.
2. Sioux Valley
The Cossacks put together a very good 9-2 season last year. Despite losing the player of the year in 11B they should be primed for another breakout year. Five starters return on offense and six on defense. Head Coach Dan Hughes has the pieces to put together a winning formula, “We look forward to playing fast, tough defense. Our kids are very smart, physical, and humble.”
Sioux Valley is very good at quarterback. Parker Puetz has become even stronger, and he’s always been a hard worker. The All-State QB has several targets and will likely throw the ball more in this his senior season. Last year the Cossacks averaged just over 8 passes per game. Damien Danziesen, Carson Christopherson and Layson Lucas should all be viable targets in the passing game. McKade Rentsch is the leading returning runner, he gained 754 yards last year. Defensively Jakob Ziegler, Dylen Milton, Justin Blackledge, and David Knutson all return and will be leaders on that side of the ball.
The Seahawks are always in the mix come playoff time. Head Coach Jeff Van Leur stresses blocking, discipline and tackling and that always seems to shine through at the end of the year. BEE has a lot to replace from their runner-up team a year ago but don’t worry they’ll be just fine.
They have five all-staters to replace and an additional all-state, Koby Kayser returning. Kayser set a school record last year with 178 points scored on 29 touchdowns. He had five TD games twice last year. He leads a strong group of players returning to the fold this year. Kaden Klumb is another important leader at quarterback for the Seahawks. There will be a lot of seniors who must step up as well as newcomers up and down the field who need to play big-time roles for this team if they want to be in championship contention again this year.
4. Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central
After a 7-3 run last year all arrows are pointing up for the Blackhawks. Nine starters return on offense with 10 more on defense. This is a team that’s been undersized and young the past couple of years and this year they’ve grown and are experienced. “This team made vast improvements in all facets of the game last season,” said Head Coach Corey Flatten. “We hope to bring a physical brand of football to our opponents but must avoid injuries to reach our potential.”
Two all-state players are back for the Blackhawks in Clay Olinger (RB/DB) and Quinten Christensen (OL/DE). Olinger had 10 legit pass breakups and always snuffed out the opposing team’s top receiver. Christensen the future Jackrabbit, was in on 5.5 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss and has the versatility throughout his career to play multiple positions on the field. Tryce Slykhuis is a senior quarterback who is a dual-threat out of the backfield.
5. St. Thomas More
I guess 7-2 could be considered a down year for Head Coach Wayne Sullivan and the Cavs. They are in a much better spot this year as they enter fall camp. “We will be young, but we will compete for every play,” said Coach Sullivan. Despite their youth, they have five returning starters on both offense and defense. Jed Sullivan has proven worthy as the starting quarterback and Matt Larson is ready to come into his own at running back this season. Other key contributors include Kellen Weber, Logan Hilt, Trey Herrbolt, Lee Neugebauer, Kaden Peterson, Chase Donnelly, Jake Matthes, Layton Spratte and Tyson Durham.
The Tigers surprised a lot of teams in 11B last year with a 9-1 charge deep into the playoffs. Four starters are back on offense and five on defense but they’ll have to replace some of their biggest playmakers in school history. Look for Holden Eisemann to take over at quarterback this year. Trent Schmiechel, Ashton Pfitzer, Brady Bauer, Cole Wellner, and Aiden Schoenhard are keys to making the offense rev up as they did in 2020. But it’s a defense that could be the key this year, “We definitely lost a good group of seniors but have key players returning at each position on defense,” said Head Coach Paul Goehring. “I feel the defense will be the strong part of our team, and our offense will be more balanced from last year. We have a good group of young kids ready to step up for the challenge.”
The Fighting Cougars have seven starters back to try to improve on last year’s 5-4 record. They lose their all-state running back Jacobi Krouse. He was the main focus of the offense sometimes carrying the ball north of 40 times per game. This year look for MCM to spread it out a bit more. They have Gavin Gordon back at QB and Joe Loudenberg back as well.
Jacob Terry has this program on the way up. They have seven offensive starters and 9 on defense after a winning team last year. Noah McDermott is primed for a breakout season at quarterback. He threw for 812 yards as a sophomore last year. He has a big and seasoned line in front of him. On defense, Jacob Lichtenberg leads a solid team at DL. I will not be surprised to see the Huskies move up in the rankings this season. “Our team is filled with hard-working, blue-collar kids who know what it takes to be successful,” said Coach Terry. “We have had a great off-season and should be able to compete with anyone in 11B.”
The Cyclones are looking forward to a fresh start after a 4-5 season a year ago. First-year head coach Mike Garry has seven different players with starting experience and a lot of talent waiting to show what they can do. “We will need some guys to step into leadership roles once the season starts and lead the way for us both on and off the field,” said Coach Garry. “We have good size, good speed, and a lot of experience.” They make the move to 11B after playing 9-man football for several years.
Look for returning quarterback Trey Huber to ascend amongst the best players in the class. He’s a true dual-threat QB who threw for 695 yards and ran for 808 yards as a sophomore last year. Gage Burke should have a monster senior season at running back and has a solid line to run behind. Lucas Kannegieter is one of the leaders on defense. He made 89 tackles at linebacker a year ago.
The Fliers don’t have a winning track recently but they do have hope and show promise for this season. Nine starters are back for Head coach Derek Genzlinger as they try to turn the tide. “We return all our skills guys that were probably 95% of our offense last year,” said Genzlinger. “We have plenty of options to get the ball too and need to stay balanced on the offensive end. Defensively we return our top 5 tacklers from a year ago and the bulk of our starters. It starts up front with DE’s Tash Lunday and Chase Reed 2 of our top tacklers from last year.” Tanner Christenson leads the way at QB with Tathan Headrick, Ethan Hoffman and Lane Johanson toting the rock. Tasy Lunday may be the most athletic player on the team. He is a dominant defensive end and provides some big plays at tight end and receiver on offense.
Roncalli had a very young team last year and bring back some electric playmakers this season. Jackson Isakson the junior quarterback has continually improved and gives them a legit chance to move the ball downfield this year via the pass. They also return virtually all of their players who gained any rushing yards last year. Maddox May and Abe Kretchman will do much of the ball-carrying. Plus, Carson Helms, their leading tackler from 2020 is back on defense.
The Cardinals have enjoyed success in 9AA since Head Coach Dustin Hourigan took over, but now they move to 11-man football and the competition steps up even more. “Deuel will still feature a rush attack, but this group of athletes will allow us to be more versatile offensively,” said Coach Hourigan. The Cardinals return a veteran line behind 2020 All-Conference players Dalan Dahl, Jace TeKrony and Ty Lovre. They must replace the playmaking ability of Carter Hoffman from last year, but they have the pieces to explode on offense with All-Conference player Owen Quail. Also, Copper Schiernbeck, Nate Lovre, Zane Bingham, Carver Nothem and Trey Maaland could make big plays this year.
Groton has been a strong football school for years. They should have another contender this year with seven starters back. Kaden Kurtz is a senior QB who returns after missing most of last year with a knee injury. He has some great targets with Jordan Bjerke and Tate Larson as well as Jackson Cogley. Look for Pierce Kettering to get the largest share of carries this year as they replace all-stater Jaimen Farrell. Many of those same playmakers start on defense as well, plus they have Favian Sanchez who led the team in interceptions returning. Coach Wanner can’t afford to have an injury-plagued season like last year. He’s ready for a rebound season, “We must develop our offensive and defensive line and become more physical as a team. We need to obtain solid leadership from our Seniors and focus on getting better every play.”
Last year was a rebuilding season for the Titans. Coach Brent Olson likes his team’s makeup, “We need to continue the improvement we saw with our young team last season,” said Olson. “As always, limiting both turnovers and penalties will be key to our success.” Nine starters are back on offense with quarterback Reed Russ leading the way. Senior back, Lincoln Klooz, is primed for a big year carrying the ball. They not only have experience and size up front they also have depth.
Five starters return for Coach Scott Hybertson and the Pheasants this year as they make the leap up to 11B. “We do have a young team as well as going up a level,” commented Coach Hybertson. “As of right now, we have only 4 seniors so that will be where our leadership comes from. Those seniors are a good group and will have to build our team chemistry as leaders throughout the season.” Logan Bridges is back at quarterback and seniors Davin Fuller and Jaivyn DeBoer will provide some leadership.
There is hope in Redfield this year with 8 starters back on offense and six on defense. New head coach Masen Oltmanns takes over after Redfield went 3-6 last year. Easton Milar is back at quarterback with Mason Fey, Sean Domke, Collin Frericks and Seth Siebrecht ready to take lead roles on offense while Grady Fey, Troy Thompson, Keaton Rohlfs and Corbin Schwartz headline a strong defense. Coach Oltmanns is looking to continue the improvement in Redfield, “Major changes have been in Strength and conditioning as well as attitude and mindset. We look to be a physical and well-conditioned team.”
Quinton Cermak has been building this squad for the past couple of seasons. This year they could turn the tide with eight returning starters. “I like our returning upperclassmen,” said Cermak. “They have been through adversity and are committed to turning this program around.” The line is brimming with experience on both sides of the ball and with Tate Hoffman, Jaden Anderberg, Grady Aasby and Peyton McDonnell making plays they should be able to make some gains.
After a disappointing 2-6 season Kyle Kooima takes over as head coach for Lead-Deadwood. He’ll have six offensive starters back. “As a new head coach, just working to get to know the kids, developing relationships and building team chemistry,” said Kooima. He plans to implement a new system that always comes with some hiccups. However, Rocke Rainey and Sam Kooima are solid quarterbacks and they have several returning starters upfront.
The Ranchers have five starters back on offense and seven on defense. But it’s the sophomore class that might be the class that gives this team a boost. Head Coach Brett Eckert knows they’ve got work to do but thinks they can do it, “We are still incredibly young. Of the 25 players that we have on the roster, only 8 are juniors and seniors. We will still be undersized and not as strong as the upperclassmen that we will be playing against.” Despite the youth, there is some real hope for success in the future.
Class 11B Preseason Player of the Year
Parker Puetz, Sioux Valley
At a solid 6’3, 215, Parker is the most imposing player in the class. He is coming off his best season throwing the ball last year with a .624 completion rate and 15 touchdowns versus just three picks. He also stepped up his rushing totals with 324 yards on the ground with eight touchdowns. Not only is he the best quarterback in 11B, but he’s also is one of the best linebackers. Last season he averaged 6.2 tackles per game and recovered two fumbles. “We are going to get our work done and we’re going to have a lot of fun doing it,” said Puetz who’s looking forward to a big senior season.
Next 10 in 11B
- Quinten Christensen, Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central
- Jackson Isakson, Aberdeen Roncalli
- Koby Kayser, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan
- Kaden Keiser, Winner
- Lincoln Klooz, Mt. Vernon/Plankinton
- Matt Larson, St. Thomas More
- Tash Lunday, Flandreau
- Clay Olinger, Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central
- Charley Pravacek, Winner
- Corbin Wirkus, Baltic
More Big-Time Players in 11B
- McKade Rentsch, Sioux Valley
- Damian Danziesen, Sioux Valley
- Aiden Schoenhard, Mobridge-Pollock
- Treyton Sayler, Jim River
- Gage Burke, Clark-Willow Lake
- Trey Huber, Clark-Willow Lake
- Jed Sullivan, St. Thomas More
- Kaden Kurtz, Groton
- Owen Quail, Deuel
- Jacob Lichtenberg, Elk Point-Jefferson
- Noah McDermott, Elk Point-Jefferson
- Blake Volmer, Winner