SD High School Football Semifinal Preview

Here's a snapshot of each semifinal game on Friday November 5, 2021


#5 Lincoln (6-4) at #1 Harrisburg (10-0)

Previous Meeting: 9/10        Harrisburg won 35-28


Points Per Game:                   31.2

Points Against Per Game:      24.8

Key Players:

Tate Schafer: 158-257 (61.4%), 2,031 yds, 19 TD, 15 INT

Gabe Gutierrez: 9 TD, 74 tkls, 14 TFL, 3 blocked punts

Jack Smith: 50 rec, 680 yds, 7 TD

Angel Jurshge: 191 rush, 914 yds, 10 TD

Keys to the game:

Avoid turnovers and come out in the second half strong.


Lincoln finished their first interception-free game last week against Washington in their quarterfinal win.



Points Per Game:                    44.8

Points Against Per Game:       21.3

Key Players:

Jacob Knuth: 141-215, 2,235 yds, 25 TD, 4 INT (11 rushing TD, 1 receiving TD)

Gavin Ross: 226 rush, 1577 yds, 18 TD

Cade Larson: 101 tackles,

Ayden Viox: 12 sacks

Andrew Walter: 38 rec, 648 yds, 6 TD

Lincoln Carlson: 45 rec, 812 yds, 6 TD

Carter Bahrenfus: 4 DEF INT

Keys to the game:

Be a four-quarter team. The Tigers have often gotten out to slow starts but been able to have a big second half to get the win. As the games get harder and harder that will be more and more dangerous. The last two weeks they’ve been ahead at halftime, they’ll need to continue that trend.


Have scored at least four touchdowns in every game this year.


#5 O’Gorman (6-4) at #1 Brandon Valley (9-1)             

Previous Meeting: 9/17          Brand Valley won 13-10


Points Per Game:                   32.5

Points Against Per Game:      16.5

Key Players:

Bennett Dannenbring: Last 5 games 84-113 (74.3%), 1460 yards, 20 TD

David Alpers: 56 tkls, 9.5 sacks, 23 TFL

Payton Hage: 36 rec, 643 yds, 10 TD

Maverick Jones: 107 rush, 656 yds, 9 TD

Manny Struck: 25 rec, 405 yds, 3 TD

Keys to the game:

Run the ball consistently and keep Peyton Carroll and Sam Scholten in check.


The Knights have outscored opponents 109-44 in the first quarter.   



Points Per Game:                   24.5        

Points Against Per Game:      14.2

Key Players:

Peyton Carroll:  29 rec, 438 yds, 3 TD

Ryan Doll: 5 sacks, 2 FR (TD)

Noah Thompson: 6 PBU, INT

Dominic Tucker: 6 sacks

Christian Jepperson: 10 TFL, 6 sacks, 2 FF

Jordan Johnson: 187 rush, 1109 yds, 13 TD

Keys to the game:

They must get pressure on the quarterback. Must find a way to make two or three big plays on offense.


When Brandon Valley gave up 43 points to Harrisburg two weeks ago that was the first time they’ve allowed 30 or more points in any game in four years. (November 3, 2017 in the semifinal game against Roosevelt the Lynx gave up 41 points.) 



#4 Yankton (6-4) at #1 Tea Area (10-0)

First ever meeting 


Points Per Game:                   34.7        

Points Against Per Game:      18.0

Key Players:

Rugby Ryken: 154-257 (60%), 2101 yds, 26 TD

Cody Oswald: 34 rec, 492 yds, 11 TD; 4 DEF INT

James Stewart: 7 sacks; 5 rushing TD

Cameron Zahrbok: 34 rec, 499 yds, 4 TD

Tyler Sohler: 36 rec, 521 yds, 8 TD

Gavin Swanson: 146 rush, 755 yds, 7 TD

 Keys to the game:

Quick decisions on offense, if they play fast and execute penalty and mistake-free they can keep up. Defensively Yankton must limit big plays and win on first down. 


Won four of their last five games. Rugby Ryken threw for 329 yards and 6 TDs in their playoff win over Mitchell. This is their first game ever against Tea, but coach Brady Muth went against them as an assistant on Irene-Wakonda in 9-man and when he was at Bon Homme in 11B.


Tea Area

Points Per Game:                   46.0        

Points Against Per Game:      10.9

Key Players:

Chase Van Tol: 92 rush, 764 yds, 9 TD

Jaxon Weber: 66 rush, 692 yds, 13 TD

Cael Lundin: 72-112 (64.3%), 1227 yds, 18 TD, 4 INT

Klayton Sattler: 37 rec, 697 yds, 13 TD

Reis Kirschenman: 5 sacks, 13 TFL

Jackson Smythe: 52 tkls, 13 TFL

Keys to the game:

Stay injury-free. The bumps and bruises mounted toward the end of the season; the Titans are back to full strength but need to stay that way to maintain their dominance.


Currently on a 21-game winning streak and are 8-1 in the playoffs in the last four seasons!


#7 Aberdeen Central (4-6) at #3 Pierre T.F. Riggs (8-2)                

Previous Meeting: 10/15        52-35 Pierre Won


Aberdeen Central  

Points Per Game:                   25.4        

Points Against Per Game:      29.2

Key Players:

Sam Rohlfs

Karson Carda:

Alec Voegele:

Jacob Merxbauer:

Keys to the game:

They need to retain possession on offense. Keep Lincoln Kienholz for Pierre from making the big play. The Golden Eagles must play a physical game.


An assistant coach for Aberdeen Central, Justin Briese, gave one of his kidneys to his stepdaughter earlier this year. Now that's a team player!!!



Points Per Game:                   30.6

Points Against Per Game:      20.6

Key Players:

Lincoln Kienholz: 156-286, 2849 yds, 35 TD, 5 INT (10 rush TD)

Jack Merkwan: 45 rec, 1103 yds, 15 TD

Gavin Stotts: 81 tkls, 10 TFL

Jaden Flor: 16.5 TFL

Chase Carda: 9.5 sacks

Keys to the game:

The Govs have to contain Rohlfs, and tackle Carda the first opportunity. Offensively they must take what the defense gives them sometimes and not always go for the big one. 


As a Junior, Lincoln Kienholz now owns season and career passing yardage school records. He is just 3 TDs from the touchdown records as well. Jack Merkwan is 85 yards from the season receiving school record and broke the season touchdown record this year as well.



#4 Dell Rapids (7-3) at #1 Madison (10-0)         

Previous Matchup:  10/8        Madison won 35-7


Points Per Game:                    29.1

Points Against Per Game:       18.3

Key Players:

Austin Henry: 56-118, (47.5%) 1037 yds, 13 TD

Landon Ruesink: 126 rush, 673 yds, 11 TD; 19 rec, 425 yds, 8 TD

Brayden Pankonen: 5 Interceptions, 3 Def TD

Keys to the Game:

Execution, execution, execution. The Quarriers have done a better job in the last three games of executing on defense and offense, they’ll need to continue to do their thing to have a chance against Madison.


Since Dells lost by 28 to Madison, they’ve averaged 36 points per game and yielded 9.3.



Points Per Game:                    34.1

Points Against Per Game:       9.3

Key Players:

Nate Ricke: 119-211 (56.4%) 1750 yds, 13 TD, 3 INT; 540 yds rushing, 13 TD

Peyton Wolf: 33 rec, 490 yds, 3 TD

Mickale Dohrer: 32 rec, 453 yds, 3 TD

Trey Smith: 120 tkls, 14.5 TFL, 2 INT, FR, 3 sacks, 9 rushing TD

Cam Buchholtz: 9 sacks

Mike Peters: 6 INT

Kadin Hanscom: 5 INT

Keys to the Game:

The Bulldogs have to be ready for a different look from Dell Rapids. They need big play from their defensive line to take care of the run so the secondary can do their job in the pass.


Quarterback Nate Ricke has been consistent this year. He’s been between 143 yards and 212 yards passing each and every week.

#7 Milbank (7-3) at #3 Vermillion (7-3) 


Points Per Game:                    27.6

Points Against Per Game:       11.8

Key Players:

Bennett Schwenn

Kaden Krause

Karson Weber

Keys to the Game:

Match Vermillion’s physicality and limit the Tanagers big play ability on the dome turf.


Have given up just two touchdowns in the last 14 quarters. They’ve also completed just 12 passes in the last four weeks but have won them all.


Points Per Game:                    24.9

Points Against Per Game:       17.9

Key Players:

Mehki Sheffield: 18 rec, 396 yds

Zoan Robinson: 18 249 yds

Jack Kratz: 70-119 (58.8%) 930 yds, 7 TD; 178 rush, 964 yds, 17 TD

Keys to the Game:

Be ready for Bennett Schwenn and be ready for multiple offensive looks from an athletic Milbank team.


Jack Kratz is close to becoming a 1000 yard passer and rusher this season. Vermillion hasn't been to a championship game since 1999.



#5 ELK POINT-JEFFERSON (8-2) at #1 WINNER (10-0)

Previous Matchup: EPJ beat BEE 38-21 on 10/8


Elk Point-Jefferson

Points Per Game:    41.8

Points Against Per Game: 14.4

Key Players:

Ben Swatek: 103 rush, 787 yds, 17 TD; 56 tackles

Lucas Hueser: 96 rush, 779 yds, 18 TD

Devon Schmitz: 30 rec, 580 yds, 5 TD

Noah McDermott: 69-105, 1199 yds, 8 TD, 5 INT

Keys to the game:

EPJ needs to put together long drives. They must bend but not break on D and use their defensive line rotation to keep them fresh late in the game.


EPJ has outscored opponents 136-19 in the first quarter this year. The Huskies have had five 100 yard rushing performances over the last two weeks. In those two games they’ve rushed for 407 yards per game. This is the first time EPJ has made the semis since 2006 and the 3rd time ever making it this far. 



Points Per Game:                   52.5

Points Against Per Game:      8.1

Key Players:                           

Kaden Keiser: 65 rush, 568 yds, 13 TD

Aiden Barfuss: 60 rush, 653 yds, 9 TD

Riley Shippy: 23 rush, 474 yds, 5 TD

Riley Orel: 58 rush, 724 yds, 4 TD

Joey Cole: 22-33, 467 yds, 9 TD, 1 INT; 35 rush, 157 yds, 11 TD

Keys to the Game:

Winner can’t let down their guard. They must start quickly in this one. EPJ is a good first quarter team just like Winner.


Winner has won 32 of their last 33 games. This game features the two top scoring offenses in the class.




Previous Matchup:      Beresford won on 10/1 23-7



Points per Game: 23.6

Points Against per Game: 13.2

Key Players:

Tate VanOtterloo: 83-145 (57.2%), 1156 yds, 14 TD, 3 INT

Isaiah Richards: 41 rec, 612 yds, 8 TD

Peyton Fridrich: 130 rush, 637 yds, 8 TD

Ashton Tjaden: 33 tackles, 3 sacks, 7 TFL

Keys to the Game:

The Watchdogs will need to win the battle on the line of scrimmage and limit turnovers against a solid playoff team in BEE.


Last season Beresford won two games and they’ve turned it around this season. Their last playoff victory before this season was in 1992. Their last semifinal win was in 1987.



Points per Game:                    27.9

Points Against per Game:       17.8

Key Players:

 Koby Kayser: 167 rush, 1254 yds, 15 TD; 5 TFL

Kaden Klumb: 52-83, 813 yds, 14 TD; 68 tackles

Sutton Arend: 4 DEF INT

Keys to the Game:

The last time they played Beresford they gave up too many chunk plays including a 50 yard run to Tate VanOtterloo. They’ll also need to get Koby Kayser more involved early, he had just 10 yards rushing against Beresford, he has averaged 193 rushing yards per game during their current 3 game win streak.  


Koby Kayser averages 141 yards rushing per game in their 7 wins and 28 yards per game in their three losses.



#9 Platte-Geddes (8-2) at #5 Timber Lake (9-1)


Points per Game: 29.9

Points Against per Game: 13.4

Key Players:

Grayson Hanson: 1,100 yds rushing (7 ypc) 16 TD; 131.5 tkls, INT, 2 FR, 8 FF

Jackson Neuman: 454 yds rushing, 6 TD

Joey Foxley: 323 yds rec, 5 TD (in only 6 games)

Caden Foxley (INJ)

Dawson Hoffman: 45-100, 885 yds, 11 TD; 3 DEF INT

Keys to the Game:

The Black Panthers need to stay healthy and keep pounding the ball. They must continue their rallies to the ball and good open field tackling to keep Hank Kraft limited.


Platte-Geddes has had 9 different starting lineups this year because of injuries.


Timber Lake

Points per Game:                    39.8

Points Against per Game:       9.6

Key Players:

Hank Kraft: 1719 yards, 22 TD

Kedrick Martin: 118 yards passing TD last week

Jayce Lawrence: 8 tackles last week

Keys to the Game:  

The Panthers must be able to stop the P-G run game. Timber Lake hasn’t played as tough a schedule as PG so they’ll have to stay in the moment and not get taken out of their game. PG is bigger so TL will have to win the short pass game and create with yards after the catch.


Timber Lake won in the quarterfinals on a 44-yard pass to Hank Kraft as time expired. The last time TL made the semis was 2018 when Hank’s cousin Tucker Kraft was there.


#11 Canistota/Freeman (6-4) at #2 Parkston (8-2)



Points per Game:                    32.2

Points Against per Game:       24.8

Key Players:

Tage Ortman: 104-184, 1581 yds, 20 TD, 11 INT

Will Ortman: 28 rec, 425 yds, 10 TD

Tye Merrill: 15 rec, 159 yds; 49.5 tackles

Isiah Robertson:  137 rush, 689 yds, 9 TD

Keys to the Game:

The Pride must control the edges on defense and avoid turnovers on offense. All year they’ve been fluid on offense except when they’ve had big turnover problems.


Canistota/Freeman had the toughest schedule in Class 9AA with a .613 winning percentage for their opponents.      



Points per Game:                    35.7

Points Against per Game:       17.2

Key Players:

Cole Prunty: 159 yards, 3 TD last week

Brayden Jervik: 108 yards rushing last week


Keys to the Game:

Last week they didn’t have to pass to get the win against Garretson. This week they may have to find a couple plays downfield to break the game open.



Cole Prunty had several big games this year but exploded against Wolsey-Wessington for 260 yards and four touchdowns in the first round of the playoffs.



#4 De Smet (10-0) at Herreid/Selby Area (10-0) 


De Smet

Points per Game: 46.8

Points Against per Game: 7.1

Key Players:

Last week vs. Warner

Colt Wilkinson: 3/9 for 61 yards and 1 interception; 12 tackles

Kalen Garry: 11 rushing attempts for 252 yards and 4 rushing TD's. (72, 52, 51, 56 yard TD runs) ; 9 tackles

Rett Osthus: 1 reception for 17 yards. 2 rushes for 26 yards and 1 rushing TD (22 yard TD run) 91 return yards

Tory Holland: 2 catches for 44 yards


Keys to the Game:

They will have their toughest challenge of the year in stopping the run. They’ll need to use the versatility of their offense to keep putting pressure on the HSA defense.



Kalen Garry averages nearly 20 yards per carry this season for the Bulldogs. This year the Bulldog D has given up the fewest points in 9A (71) but they’re still shy of the 2003 Bulldogs gave up just 11 points during the whole season.


Herreid/Selby Area

Points per Game:                    52.7

Points Against per Game:       14.9

Key Players:


Brenden Begeman: 177 rush, 1586 yds, 23 TD, 34 rec, 570 yds, 9 TD; 12 INT, 3 FF

Chance Gregg: 15 TFL

Trey Sayler:121 tackles, 18 TFL, 4 INT; 144 rush, 1042 yds, 13 TD

Tray Hettick: 106-163 (65.0%), 1701 yds, 26 TD, 3 INT

Trevor Sayler: 127 tackles, 13 TFL, 3 FF

Keys to the Game:

Both teams are very good at running the ball, whomever creates the most turnovers will have the advantage.



The Wolverine defense is called the “Nasty Nine”. They’ve created 39 turnovers so far this year and many games were over by halftime.  


# 3 WALL (10-0) at #2 HOWARD (10-0)



Points per Game: 44.6

Points Against per Game: 8.8

Key Players:

Burk Blasius: 66-100 (66%), 1151 yds, 15 TD, 1 INT; 61 tackles

Cedar Amiotte: 95 rush, 978 yds, 14 TD; 20 rec, 370 yds, 3 TD; 5 DEF INT

Mason Heath: 55 rush, 413 yds, 10 TD

Keys to the Game:  

The Eagles must stop the run and match Howard’s physicality. Wall needs to play well on third downs on both sides of the ball. On offense they need to be confident and use their balance to move the chains.


Wall has won five consecutive conference title and they’ve made the semis now three times in the past five years under Lex Heathershaw.



Points per Game: 43.8

Points Against per Game: 9.5

Key Players:

Taiden Hoyer: 38-66, 796 yds, 14 TD

Jace Sifore: 16 rec, 343 yds, 8 TD

Ty Beier: 77 rush, 816 yds, 9 TD; 145 tackles

Atticus Darnell: 6 sacks, 3 FR

John Callies: 119 rush, 967 yds, 14 TD

Karsyn Feldhaus: 59 rush, 568 yds, 12 TD; 3 DEF INT

Keys to the Game:  

Have to be able to control the line of scrimmage. They are a bigger team than Wall and need to show it early. 


Have won three state titles in school history and each in a different class. 2004 11-B 2009 9AA 2014 9A. Ty Beyer needs 10 more tackles to set the all-time record at Howard for a season. It's currently held by his Dad, Greg Beyer. 


#5 Dell Rapids St. Mary (6-3) at #1 Avon (10-0)

Previous Matchup: played 9/3, avon won 48-14

Dell Rapids St. Mary

Points per Game: 31.3

Points Against per Game: 17.8

Key Players:

Ty Brown: 91 rush, 711 yds, 6 TD

Nic Gaspar: 84 rush, 613 yds, 11 TD; 10 rec, 215 yds, TD

CJ Smith: 30-65, 508 yds, 5 TD

Gabriel Lindeman: 7 sacks, 3 FF

Jon Pica: 55.5 tackles, 3 FF, 2 FR

Keys to the game:

Physicality and the run game are imperative for the Cards. They need to throw the first punch and prove they belong early in the game.


The Cardinals started the year as a spread team but have transitioned back to a double wing team. Since then they have played much better going 5-1 down the stretch.



Points per Game: 50.8

Points Against per Game: 24.0

Key Players:

Brady Bierema: 168 rush, 1733 yds, 25 TD

Riley Rucktaeschel: 33-69, 595 yds, 14 TD; 65 rush, 569 yds, 13 TD; 79 tackles, 4 DEF INT

Lincoln Thury: 16 rec, 257 yds, 7 TD; 61 tackles, 11.5 TFL

Keys to the Game:

Avon must establish the run and win the time of possession. If Avon needs to throw they’ll need to execute in pressure downs.

Nugget: Brady Bierema, who is currently the team’s leader in rushing, was the student manager on the 2013 state championship team from Avon.


#3 Potter County (9-2) at #2 Faulkton Area (8-2)

Previous Matchup: 8/20 Faulkton won 36-18


Potter County

Points per Game:    41.6

Points Against per Game: 18.1

Key Players:

Grant Luikens: 98-199 (49.2%) 1514 yds, 17 TD, 5 INT; 148 rush, 934 yds, 21 TD

Cooper Logan: 94 rush, 460 yds, 14 TD; 105 tackles, 3 DEF INT

Drake Bassett: 26 rec, 455 yds, 3 TD

Alex Tanner: 100 tackles

Colt Wieseler: 8.5 sacks

Keys to the game:

They need to have balance on offense. In the opener they gained just 20 yards passing against Faulkton, since then they’ve passed for 160 yards per game.


The Battlers have 8 takeaways in their two playoff games.


Faulkton Area

Points per Game:                    38.2

Points Against per Game:       15.8

Key Players:

Parker Geditz: 87-144, 1256 yds, 15 TD

Simon Bowar: 98 rush, 883 yds, 12 TD; 75 tackles, 10.5 TFL

Garrett Cramer: 84 rush, 584 yds, 10 TD

Bennet Cassens: 40 rec, 216 yds, 3 TD

Hunter Niederbaumer: 20 rec, 472 yds, 3 TD; 10 sacks, 19.5 TFL

Keys to the Game:

Faulkton must cut the mental mistakes out. They are much more experienced than they were in the season opener against Potter County.

Nugget: Faulkton hasn't punted in the last two games.

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