Top-ranked Colome looking to return to state title game
COLOME — The bullseye is firmly planted on the back of the Colome football team and head coach Kevin Keiser and his team know it.
Colome was voted the top-ranked team in Class 9A football in the South Dakota Sportswriters Association preseason poll, which was released Tuesday.
Keiser said he and his squad are proud of the ranking, but are focused on getting better as the season goes on.
“Any time when you get a preseason No. 1, that automatically puts a target on you,” Keiser said. “It’s an honor to be there, and I think that kind of speaks to the tradition that Colome has had the last two years in football, but kids have been pretty good about it.
“We are going to struggle at the beginning of the year because we lost a lot of kids, and we have some younger kids filling in. But I think as the year goes on we will be more competitive.”
Last year, the Cowboys finished 10-2, falling in the Class 9B state championship game to Harding County 50-20 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. Colome lost five starters to graduation — linemen Cohl Ratermann and Paul Temple, running back/linebackers Andrew Odden and Brandon Hauf and defensive back/running back Brady London have all since departed.
Shouldering the bulk of the load this season for the Cowboys will be quarterback/defensive back Terrance Kinzer. The 6-foot-1 senior returns after earning a first-team all-state selection last year. He recorded 118 tackles and six interceptions to go along with 500 passing yards, 1,607 rushing yards and 37 offensive touchdowns.
“We are going to rely on Terrance a lot,” Keiser said. “We will look to him mostly for leadership and making the other kids accountable. We don’t expect him to carry the ball for us every time, but we do expect him to make some plays for us and he will.”
Kinzer has also drawn interest from Division I Football Championship Subdivision top 10 teams North Dakota State University and South Dakota State University.
Filling the void left by the five seniors is not the only unknown thing for Colome. The Cowboys also moved up a division from last season and will be playing at Class 9A.
“In years past, I think some of the best schools have come out of 9B, so I don’t think it will affect us,” Keiser said. “Sometimes the best teams are 9AA, sometimes they are 9B and sometimes they are 9A. You never know because it just depends on the year.”
Keiser added there were some strong teams at Class 9A which he said will have good seasons. He listed fourth-ranked Potter County and third-ranked Howard, who moved down from 9AA after a state title appearance last season, as good teams to look out for. Keiser also said Hanson, which received votes in the sportswriters poll, is a team to watch out for this season.
With the bump up to 9A, Keiser is excited to face new teams Colome hasn’t face in a long time.
The Cowboys face new opponents in Edgemont, Platte-Geddes, Andes Central and Lower Brule to name a few.
Colome begins its march toward the 9A state playoffs Friday when it hosts Gregory at 7 p.m. in Colome. The Gorillas defeated Colome 48-20 last year in Gregory and are the second-ranked team in the Class 9AA preseason poll.