Class 9AA all-state football: Back-to-back champion Gregory lands five
Back-to-back state champion Gregory landed five players on the Class 9AA all-state team, selected by the South Dakota High School Football Coaches Association.
The Gorillas, who went 12-0 for the second straight season, led all teams with five players selected, including three-time all-stater Jayd VanDerWerff and repeat selection Andy McCance. The other three Gorillas were senior Cade Fortuna and juniors Tyler Murray and J.J. Beck.
"It's a tribute and an honor. I wish we could've got a couple more," Gregory head coach Brian Allmendinger said. "I'm not trying to sound selfish, but this team and these players accomplished 24 straight wins and back-to-back state championships in Class 9AA, one of the toughest classes in South Dakota. That says something and those kids deserved it."
Runner-up Irene-Wakonda had the second-most players selected with four, while Miller/Highmore-Harrold and Garretson each placed three players on the team.
In total, 24 players were selected for the all-state team, while 15 players were named honorable mention. There were 18 seniors and six juniors selected, with Deuel's Preston Homan joining McCance and VanDerWerff as a repeat selection.
Below is a short look at each of the selections:
Andy McCance, Gregory
A two-time all-state selection, McCance was instrumental in leading the Gorillas offense, which averaged 47 points per game. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior totalled 82 total touchdowns (40 passing and 42 rushing). He went 117-of-185 passing for 2,578 yards, while rushing for 1,137 yards in 2017 and finished the year holding 10 school records. Gregory head coach Brian Allmendinger praised McCance's leadership and outstanding arm. "He carves us up during practice too, when he's on the scout team," Allmendinger said. "Our (defensive backs) are pretty good and he carves us up."
J.J. Beck, Gregory
One of six juniors on the all-state team, Beck racked up 496 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while adding 296 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He recorded a school record 147 tackles in 2016 as a sophomore and was honorable mention last year. "He's also an excellent blocker," Gregory coach Brian Allmendinger said. "He makes all pass protection calls and has great hands."
Diontae Lymm, Garretson
Lymm was one of the Blue Dragons' top playmakers, averaging 15.5 yards per carry, while racking up 1,070 yards and 10 touchdowns. The 5-foot-10, 155-pound senior did not play during his junior season but helped Garretson to a 7-3 record. "Diontae made big play after big play in the running game," Garretson head coach Chris Long said. "He ran hard and showed great vision running the football."
Karst Hunter, Miller/Highmore-Harrold
One of the state's top dual-threat quarterbacks, Hunter did plenty of damage on the ground. The junior rushed 131 times for 1,007 yards and 10 touchdowns, while going 119-212 passing for 1,710 yards and 16 touchdowns with nine interceptions. M/H-H head coach Will Castle called Hunter a "fearless competitor."
"He's the most coachable kid I've ever had," Castle said. "He's driven and the hardest worker I've been around."
Brenden Sokolowski, Irene-Wakonda
At 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, Sokolowski was a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He finished his season with 76 catches for 1,105 yards and 12 touchdowns, helping lead the Eagles to the state championship game. "He has the ability to make catches in a crowd and he can break a long play at any time," I-W head coach Brent Mutchelknaus said. "He does a great job of running after he has made the reception."
Jayd VanDerWerff, Gregory
A three-time all-state selection, VanDerWerff was a four-year starter for the Gorillas, helping them win three state titles. Despite being hampered by injury, VanDerWerff recorded 735 yards receiving on 32 catches and 15 receiving touchdowns, while rushing for 368 yards on 57 carries and three rushing touchdowns. Allmendinger said the future South Dakota State University player was a strong leader and had excellent character. "He may be the best athlete in Gregory High School history," Allmendinger said.
Kory Peters, Kimball/White Lake
Peters did a little bit of everything in helping the WiLdKats reach the state semifinals and finish with a 6-5 record. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior had 57 carries for 461 yards and 10 touchdowns, while adding 24 catches for 340 yards and five touchdowns. On defense, he racked up 73 tackles and had one interception, while kicking for eight touchbacks.
KWL head coach Dale Taylor praised Peters, a three-year starter, for his versatility. "Kory is an athlete that I wish we could have at every position," Taylor said. "We played him at tight end at the beginning of the year and then moved him to fullback. That is when our year turned around."
Cade Fortuna, Gregory
A two-year starter for the Gorillas, Fortuna blocked for an offense that averaged 9.74 yards per play and 47 points per game. Gregory head coach said Fortuna played with a broken wrist in the 2017 season and praised Fortuna's work ethic. "He's an example of a kid who works hard to overcome a lack of natural ability," Allmendinger said.
John Roe, Hamlin
At 6-foot-4 and 272 pounds, Roe paved the way for an offense that gained 2,698 yards of offense and finished the season 8-1. A three-year, two-way starter for the Chargers, Roe recorded 58 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, five sacks and three forced fumbles. Hamlin head coach Jeff Sheehan called Roe a true leader. "John has great quickness and that allows him to get to his blocks and maintain them until the whistle," Sheehan said. "He has been a great two-gap player for us on defense."
Dakota Johnson, Garretson
Johnson was a stalwart of the Garretson offensive and defensive lines this season and he helped the Blue Dragons achieve a 7-3 record. Johnson recorded 40 tackles on defense. "Dakota has a great football mind," Garretson head coach Chris Long said. "He gets the game and makes everyone better."
Matthew Roth, Irene-Wakonda
Roth led the Irene-Wakonda defense, recording 101 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, four sacks and two fumble recoveries as the Eagles reached the state championship game. He also was a key cog for an offense that produced more than 4,300 yards of offense. "Matthew anchors our line in the middle," I-W head coach Brent Mutchelknaus said. "He has played against much bigger linemen all season long and has done a great job of shutting down the running lanes allowing our linebackers to do their job."
Jack Jones, Miller/Highmore-Harrold
Helping the Rustlers reach the state semifinals, Jones totaled 81 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. "Jack is an all-out effort kind of kid," M/H-H head coach Will Castle said. "Many teams had to double-team him and many times that wasn't enough. He was a disruptive force on the D-line and a huge key to our offense."
Tristen Bent, Webster Area
Bent controlled the line of scrimmage for Webster Area, recording 81 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, two sacks and 70 quarterback hurries. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior has started for two seasons helped the Bearcats to a 6-3 record this season. "Tristen is the heart and soul of our team," Webster Area head coach Tanner Christensen said. "He was one of two players who were starters for us coming back this season and he is a born leader."
Preston Homan, Deuel
Homan is a two-time all-state selection for the Cardinals, who finished this season 5-4. Homan led the Deuel defense with 79 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, nine sacks, one forced fumble, two pass deflections and one blocked punt. Deuel head coach Matt Rosdahl said Homan didn't just rely on his 6-foot-5, 235-pound frame, praising his attitude and leadership.
Tyler Murray, Gregory
At 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, Murray wasn't the most intimidating linebacker, but that didn't stop the junior from making plays and helping the Gorillas win back-to-back state titles. Murray recorded 79 tackles, three sacks and 17 tackles for loss.
"He's a quick inside linebacker," Gregory head coach Brian Allmendinger said. "He's consistently in the opposing backfield."
Brady Albrecht, Parkston
Albrecht was a three-year starter for the Trojans, who finished their first season in Class 9AA at 4-5. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior recorded 88 tackles, one interception, four fumble recoveries and had one blocked kick and was called Parkston's most versatile player by head coach Eric Norden. "He's a hard worker and he flies to the ball," Norden said. "He's the best tackler we had."
Kaleb Crownover, Bon Homme
Recording 66 tackles, two interceptions, four fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown, Crownover led a Bon Homme defense that posted four shutouts. Bon Homme head coach Byron Pudwill said Crownover would always be the first player down the field on kickoffs to make the tackle. "He was a super football player," Pudwill said. "Kaleb always made big plays on defense."
Jack Konechne, Garretson
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior totalled 102 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, one interception and one defensive touchdown for the Blue Dragons, who went 7-3. "Jack is the one guy that made this team go," Garretson head coach Chris Long said. "He's the hardest worker we had and made everyone better."
Trey King, Irene-Wakonda
As Irene-Wakonda's top playmaker, King led the Eagles to a state championship game appearance, rushing for 1,871 yards and 34 touchdowns, while passing for 2,519 yards and 27 touchdowns. The junior added 61 tackles, nine interceptions, four forced fumbles and one defensive touchdown. "Defensively, he is assigned the opponent's most dangerous player to defend and is a sure tackler in the open field," I-W head coach Brent Mutchelknaus said. "He is very coachable and only has to be told things one time."
Bryce Scieszinski, Bon Homme
Scieszinski, a three-year starter for the Cavaliers, led Bon Homme to a 7-3 record, recording 55 tackles and two interceptions. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound senior totalled more than 6,000 passing yards yards and 65 touchdowns in his career as quarterback and Bon Homme head coach Byron Pudwill noted he would help draw up scout team plays after watching the opponent's game film.
"His guy was always covered," Pudwill said. "You never had to worry about his responsibility. He was a great team leader for Bon Homme."
Jon Wilhelmsen, Baltic
Wilhelmsen pinned five punts inside the opponent's' 20-yard line and made a 38-yard field goal to push Baltic to a win over Garretson. "He loves kicking and he's a hard worker," Baltic head coach Alan Baskerville said.
Tate Gale, Irene-Wakonda
As Irene-Wakonda's senior kicker, Gale recorded 11 touchbacks, while going 41-of-45 on extra-point kicks and making three field goals with a long of 35-yards. "Tate has a strong leg, but can also do all of the pooch kicks and onside-style kicks," I-W head coach Brent Mutchelknaus said. "He was instrumental in helping to maintain good field position against opponents."
Henry Mullaney, Miller/Highmore-Harrold
The 6-foot, 155-pound senior Mullaney did plenty for the Rustlers this season, hauling in 43 catches for 620 yards and seven touchdowns, rushing for 450 yards and six touchdowns and scoring two defensive touchdowns on fumble recoveries. He recorded 78 tackles, four interceptions and was a four-year starter for M/H-H. "Henry is a great athlete who could play any position on the field," Rustler coach Will Castle said. "He turned into a playmaker for us on both sides of the ball."
Spencer Schultz, Menno/Marion
Schultz did a little of everything for the Razorbacks, going 40-of-89 passing for 602 yards and nine touchdowns, while rushing for 239 yards and two touchdowns. He added 16 catches for 525 yards and six touchdowns, while added 53 tackles, 25 tackles on punts and not missing a snap on 103 attempts.