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Mitchell's Matt Larson makes 11AA all-state team; Jones gets honorable mention


Capital Journal

After a record-breaking season that culminated in the school’s first state title on the gridiron, the Pierre Governors saw a fitting close with a heavy presence on the Class 11AA all-state team.

The Governors featured a class-leading nine players selected to the all-state team, as well as an honorable mention, capping off their history-making season. The Governors’ counterparts in the state title game, Watertown, featured seven selections and two more honorable mention nods.

Harrisburg featured three selections, Brookings, Yankton and Huron featured two selections, while Douglas, Mitchell, Spearfish and Sturgis each had one selected. Mitchell junior Matt Larson was the lone Kernel who made the list.


  • Quarterback: Alex Gray, Pierre, 5-10, 180 pounds, senior.

Gray assaulted the Governors’ record books in 2013 as his 2,329 passing yards broke Scott Rislov’s school record for most in a season.

  • Running back: Shay Bratland, Watertown, 5-10, 205 pounds, senior.

The senior halfback became one of South Dakota’s elite during the 2013 season when he amassed 1,565 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns during the 2013 season.

Bratland also caught four touchdowns to go along with his 12 catches for 329 yards.

  • Running back: Jonathan Kabambi, Harrisburg, 6-0, 205 pounds, junior.

Kabambi was the leader of a tough stable of Harrisburg running backs, accumulating 922 yards and nine touchdowns on 243 carries. Kabambi’s rare mix of power and explosiveness gave opponents fits in 2013 and should continue to do so in 2014.

  • Fullback: Tyler Kleinsasser, Huron, 5-11, 190 pounds, senior.

He carried the ball 70 times for 322 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and four touchdowns.

  • Wide receiver: J.J. Hejna, Yankton, 6-4, 200 pounds, senior.

Hejna was electrifying for the Bucks with 63 receptions for 1,205 yards and 10 touchdown receptions. The senior was a threat down the field with 19.1 yards per catch.

  • Wide receiver: Austin Christopherson, Pierre, 6-1, 180 pounds, senior.

Despite drawing much attention from opposing defenses, Christopherson led the Governors with 11 touchdown receptions, along with 571 receiving yards off 32 receptions.

  • Tight end: Shay Reinke, Pierre, 6-1, 180 pounds, senior.

Reinke caught 30 passes for 395 and two touchdowns over the course of the season, giving Alex Gray another reliable target in the passing attack.

  • Tackle: Brandon Swenson, Pierre, 6-1, 250 pounds, senior.

The Governors had some holes to fill within their offensive line to begin the season, but Swenson provided some much-needed stability to the group.

  • Tackle: Nate Johnson, Watertown, 6-3, 220 pounds, senior.

Johnson was a two-way starter for the Arrows as he not only played left tackle, but he also accumulated 50 tackles and nine sacks over the course of the past two seasons.

  • Guard: Kyle Veitz, Pierre, 6-0, 225 pounds, senior.

Veitz was a two-way starter for the Governors as he also accumulated 12 tackles and three sacks on the defensive side of the ball.

  • Guard: Kolton Michalski, Watertown, 5-10, 235 pounds, senior.

He helped anchor an offensive line that had a 1,500-yard rusher and advanced to the state title game.

  • Center:Lucas Kobat, Watertown, 5-10, 215 pounds, senior.

Kobat was the leader of the Arrows’ offensive line that helped the team reach the state championship game. He was a two-year starter for the Arrows.


  • Defensive end: Andrew Bressler, Spearfish, 6-1, 225 pounds, senior.

Bressler was the highlight of the Spearfish program’s first year in the 11AA Class as he was the team captain and a two-way starter for the Spartans.

  • Defensive end: Trace Scott, Pierre, 6-0, 195 pounds, junior.

Scott transitioned to the defensive line in 2013 and made that move a seamless one with 34 tackles, eight of which accounted for losses of a total of 37 yards.

  • Defensive tackle: Aric Birkeland, Huron, 6-0, 240 pounds, senior.

Birkeland was one of the Tigers’ top players in 2013, posting 31 tackles to go along with two sacks. The senior also netted six total tackles that resulted in a loss of yardage.

  • Defensive tackle: Vasiliy Stefanyuk, Harrisburg, 6-1, 230 pounds, junior.

The junior accumulated 55 tackles to go along with seven sacks and 14 tackles for negative yards.

  • Linebacker: Stetson Lippert, Sturgis/Brown, 5-10, 175 pounds, senior.

The three-year starter had 79 total tackles along with 2.5 sacks and a fumble forced.

  • Linebacker: Cody Shepardson, Brookings, 6-1, 220 pounds, senior.

He accumulated 53 tackles. The senior made a bevy of big plays during the season as he had one interception, three sacks and nine tackles for a loss.

  • Linebacker: Mitch Koehn, Watertown, 6-2, 215 pounds, senior.

Kohn was a tackling machine for the Arrows in 2013 as the senior accumulated 58 total tackles. Koehn also played a big part in Watertown’s pass rush as he had 3.5 sacks while rushing off the edge.

  • Linebacker: Adam Holmstrom, Harrisburg, 6-1, 180 pounds, senior.

Holmstrom totaled 52 tackles and nine tackles for a loss as he led the Tigers’ linebacking corps.

  • Defensive back: Tyler Madler, Brookings, 5-10, 185 pounds, senior.

Madler collected five interceptions and 20 tackles over the course of the season.

  • Defensive back: Jesse Poppen, Watertown, 6-4, 180 pounds, senior.

The senior had four interceptions, and he also had a defensive touchdown for the Arrows while playing safety.

  • Defensive back: Ethan Case, Pierre, 5-10, 170 pounds, senior.

Case led the Governors with three interceptions and six pass breakups, and he also made 48 tackles during the 2013 season.

  • Defensive back: Matt Larson, Mitchell, 5-10, 160 pounds, junior.

Larson solidified Mitchell’s secondary throughout the season, tallying 42 solo tackles and 92 total tackles for the Kernels. The junior also had two interceptions and a fumble recovery, along with two touchdowns in 2013.

Special teams

  • Kicker: Garrett Pochop, Pierre, 5-10, 155 pounds, senior.

The senior made nine field goals in 2013, along with 44 extra points. Pochop scored a total of 125 points throughout the year, as contributed in all facets of Pierre’s state title run.

  • Punter: Trevor Jutting, Watertown, 5-10, 215 pounds, senior.

Jutting helped the Arrows win the field position battle throughout the 2013 season, averaging 33.03 yards per punt. The senior’s punts were only returned for an average of 2.27 yards per return, thanks to his terrific hang time.

  • Special teams player: Tanner Termansen, Yankton, 6-0, 165 pounds, senior.

He returned 16 kickoffs for a total of 220 yards, including one return for a touchdown.

  • Long snapper: Jared Maciejczak, Douglas, 6-4, 275 pounds, junior.

Maciejczak made his long snapping duties look easy for Douglas as he didn’t have one bad snap throughout the season. Maciejczak had an average .73 snap time, and he made all of Douglas’ punt protection calls.

Honorable mention

Tanner Weaver (Sturgris), Ethan Jones (Mitchell), Kody Kracht (Sturgis), Lucas Morrison (Huron), Aaron Murphy (Douglas), Steven McKee (Yankton), Graham Protexter (Pierre), Christian Trainor (Harrisburg), Cody Cook (Harrisburg), Lane Sawatzke (Yankton), Harrison Jones (Watertown), RJ Helsper (Brookings) Joe Foley (Watertown).