Jandy’s Preseason Top 5 Class 11A
Dell Rapids is the defending state champs and they're going to rely on an offense with some key guys back. Dells comes in with some leaders from last year's title team including their quarterback Jack Henry who has verballed to SDSU. Coach Jordan Huska is excited for that but even more importantly they have some consistency up front too. "The thing that's really overlooked is we bring back three really key offensive linemen for us, and that's just as big as anything." Six starters are back on offense and 7 on defense. Mason Stubbe and Sutton Williams join Jack Henry in the backfield behind a big offensive line featuring Ethan Kringen, Ryan McDaniel and Kale Evans. Treyse Eastman was an all-state performer in the defensive backfield and leads a very deep defense this season. The Quarriers aren’t a lock at number one but they’re in the best shape of anyone starting the season in the class.
The Chargers went 7-4 last season but played some of their best football in the second half. Head coach Jared Smith wants to build off that but knows there’s some work to be done in the trenches, “The keys to a successful season will be our ability to run the football and stop the run, on defense. We will have a young and inexperienced line on both sides of the ball that will need to grow together as a unit in order to be successful.”
They should be solid at the skill positions. New starting quarterback Lincoln Prins has made good progress and Johnny Skyberg, Brayden Witte, Britton Mulder and Cole Snyder are just a few of the key playmakers that return. The Chargers have an inexperienced line but have a bright spot at center with junior Lincoln Semchenko. On defense six starters return including Kade Van Egdom, Kaden Van Otterloo and Jacob Congdon.
The Trojans took a huge leap forward last year earning a spot in the championship game. They start with a good foundation entering this season, “We played a lot of juniors last year, now those seniors need to fill the shoes of those we lost off of last year’s team,” said Coach Chris Hernandez. Gavin Pischke and Ashton Engen return to anchor a big offensive line. Crew Heier, Jesse Jost, Aiden Bartmann and Layton Johnson all return experience at the skill positions. Junior, Caden Alfson, may get a chance to play quarterback. He’s been the starting catcher on the baseball team since he was a freshman. Defensively West Central has more to fill. Crew Heier is one of the top players in the class and will lead from the defensive line. Chet Carda and Jude Jarding return as starters as well. “We need to play fast, force turnover and force field goal attempts,” said Coach Hernandez.
The Bulldogs dipped to a 4-6 record last year under first year head coach Joe Bundy. But they have the pieces in place to return toward the top of Class 11A. Madison has 7 starters back including junior quarterback Ben Brooks who could emerge as one of the top players in the state. Eli Barger, Andrew Comes, Carson Wolf and Shane Veenhof will all be key receivers in the offense. Ryan Morse and Israel Ouverson are back up front. “We will need to have guys step up to and take leadership roles on the team,” said Coach Joe Bundy. “We’re a little more experienced at wide receiver and Quarterback but will have new players at running back and offensive line.” Parker Johnson is an all-state lineman to lead on defense. He’s started his entire high school career. The tough schedule comes at Madison fast this year but come October the Bulldogs should be in the running.
Lennox has a new Head Coach this year, Shawn Flanagan takes over the Orioles after coaching at McCook Central/Montrose. Flanagan commented on the upcoming challenge, “I’d say the competition [of 11A], staying healthy, learning a new offense and defense. It's the first year and the kids have been adapting really well.” Boston Katzer is slated to start his junior year at quarterback for the Orioles. Katzer is familiar with Coach Flanagan’s up-tempo system as he too comes over from McCook Central. Boston Katzer was 154-252 1980 yds, 21 TD as a sophomore. They have all-state receiver Porter Ihnen to make big plays. They also have some more big targets to pass to through the air. Look for Lennox to continue the upward trend this season.
Canton: I might look bad not picking Canton in the top five, they could easily become one of the top teams in the class. The C-Hawks went 5-5 last season with some disappointing losses. Coach Rich Lundstrom hopes to turn the pendulum back toward the top with a loaded roster. “We should be pretty good with a lot of experience back and some really good athletes,” said Lundstrom. Braxton Mulder will start at QB and have several talented receivers to aim for. Matt Anderson and Cain Wallner are among the top targets. Canaan McCracken is back at running back and Hunter Richmond, Chance Riley, Casey Sheridan and John Haloverson are all back up front.
Dakota Valley: The Panthers welcome Kenny Wilhite as the new head coach this season. He has experience playing football for the Nebraska Huskers and played professionally in the CFL. He takes over a team that went 6-4 last season with some key players returning like Jackson Boonstra at running back and wideout Trae Piel.
Beresford: What does Beresford have to do to get respect? They went 7-4 in ’21 and 8-3 last year, but still don’t land in the top five. This season four starters are back on offense and five on defense but Coach Scott Ebert isn’t worried about the rankings, we just wants consistent improvement. “We know that last season is in the past and this season provides a whole new set of challenges. Each and every week poses a challenge. We must take one game and one week at a time,” said Coach Ebert. Jack Stenen is a three-year starter at running back. Seth James, Cooper Nelson and Kohen Schurch all return to start on offense as well. The defense is solid with Robert Watkins, Ryan Sveeggen, Jax Fickbohm, Stenen, James and Schurch back.
Chamberlain: Not many people are expecting much from the Cubs who finished last season 2-7, however they have one of the most talented quarterbacks in the state healthy this year and they return over half their starters from last season. “I am really excited to see our offense this season as we have 10 returning starters with several senior leaders in key positions,” said Coach Jeff Rademacher. Cruz Soulek was sidelined almost the entire year last season due to injury but he’s back as a senior and brings a lot to the table. Sawyer Donovan, Devyn Anderson, Levi Miller, Dusty Rose and others will benefit from the 6-3 quarterback’s precision. Rayden Haak, Peyton Hora, Albert Borah, Blaze Knippling and Canyon Burkard all return up front giving the Cubs one of the biggest lines in the class. “It starts with the attitudes of everyone involved in the program,” said Coach Rademacher. “For us, we need to look forward and create consistency and build on that consistency. Moving to 11A we have a little more difficult schedule but to look back at the season and know we competed every game.”
Vermillion: The Tanagers have six starters back and a great foundation with a good mix of size and athleticism. Head Coach Tom O’Boyle will look to his experienced players to guide this team, “We have a young roster but with experience, depth in the lines is a question mark.” Hayden Christopherson will compete at quarterback. Zoan Robinson has been one of the top threats in the class over the past couple of seasons, he enters his senior year as a focal point of this offense. Rollie French and Connor Peterson are among the leaders on the defense.
Milbank: The Bulldogs took a small step back last season as they tried to regroup off a year in which they competed for a title. After a 6-game losing streak to start the year they turned it around by winning two of their final three games. “We should have good size upfront on both sides of the ball,” said Coach Brian Allmendinger. “I also like the experience younger guys got last season. We had at least four freshmen who saw significant playing time last year.” Garrett Mertens should see improvement at quarterback with his second season as a starter. Defensively they are deep but still young.
Custer: Russ Bailey takes over as Head Coach in Custer. They were a very young team last year and have a fresh look this year as Bailey takes over. Ryder Bailey and Roland Sedlacek return to help lead the way as the Wildcats make a run at improving.
Class 11A Preseason Player of the Year
Jack Henry, Dell Rapids
Jack Henry went 10-16 for 182 yards in the championship game last year. The senior is one of the most talented athletes in the state. He is verbally committed to SDSU to play QB next year. Look for Henry to open it up this season.
Players to Watch in Class 11A
Crew Heier, West Central
Porter Ihnen, Lennox
Parker Johnson, Madison
Boston Katzer, Lennox
Trae Piel, Dakota Valley
Zoan Robinson, Vermillion
Cole Snyder, SF Christian
Cruz Soulek, Chamberlain
Mason Stubbe, Dell Rapids
Cain Wallner, Canton