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The final days of the high school football regular season are here, with just two regular season weeks remaining. And while some of the championship chases have crystallized with at least an idea of who the top teams are, I have quickly developed my favorite class in South Dakota high school football this year. That would be Class 9AA.
WINNER — The Winner High School football team has what so many other teams covet: balance. With a multi-faceted rushing attack and a passing game that is precise and efficient, it's no wonder that the Warriors have won their last 18 games and stand as the top-ranked team in Class 11B. And the attack starts in the hands of quarterback Drew DeMers. "Drew is a big deal," said Winner coach Dan Aaker. "He's a very unselfish player and he just makes great decisions. He gives us the ability to throw and to run. You can see what he can do when he gets sometime."
PARKSTON—The top team in Class 11B, the Winner Warriors, looked the part on Friday night. The Warriors scored 40 points in the first half and ran up 428 yards of offense against their rivals from Parkston in a 48-16 victory on Friday in Parkston. It was a balanced performance for the defending state champions, rushing for 243 yards and passing for another 185 yards, as Kayleb Brozik scored four times in the first half, including three touchdown passes from quarterback Drew DeMers.
Big night. Big crowd. Big win for the Mitchell Kernels volleyball team Tuesday. In front of a near-capacity crowd at the Mitchell High School gym on the team's "Kill Cancer" night, the upstart Kernels continued their hot streak of late, sweeping District 3AA rival and No. 5-ranked Huron in three sets, moving to the top of the District 3AA standings. Set scores were 25-18, 25-21 and 25-22. In each of the first two sets, the two teams traded the lead back-and-forth frequently but the Kernels emerged on top each time.
The last few years for the Mitchell High School volleyball team had been difficult, with a just a few wins each year. It was a young team learning how to play volleyball against some of the best teams in South Dakota. But the Kernels have come of age, surging through the opening half of the season to an 12-4 record and gaining consideration in the most recent Class AA poll of the South Dakota Sportswriters Association. What has been the difference for the Kernels? Experience counts, coaches say.
At the end of play on Tuesday, the Chamberlain boys golf team has a goal of where it would like to be on the Class A state meet leaderboard at Hart Ranch Golf Course in Rapid City. And more importantly, what type of trophy they will be holding. Cubs coach Chris Caldwell said his team has had a goal of being a state championship team since the squad's three seniors were sophomores. Now, they're on the brink of having more success, in pursuit of the school's first state boys golf championship at the two-day event starting today.
PARKSTON — Jacob Lee was running through the scouting report on himself recently, breaking down each aspect of his golf game. Irons: "Not too bad." Driver: "Iffy," he said, laughing. But for the Parkston junior golfer, his game starts and ends with the putter. "I would have to say the putter has been something I've been doing pretty well with, especially over the last few months," Lee said. "Just the ability to make a par putt when I need it the most lately."
From time to time, Mitchell coach Deb Thill says, the Kernel volleyball team "rides the rollercoaster," where they play well in one set and struggle in the next. But the rollercoaster was mostly good to the Kernels on Tuesday. Mitchell won the first two sets of their Eastern South Dakota Conference match with Brandon Valley and ran away with a four-set victory over the Lynx at the Mitchell High School gym. Set scores were 25-19, 25-22, 20-25 and 25-13, as Mitchell improved to 7-3 on the year and 6-3 in the ESD.
The Chamberlain Cubs were right where they wanted to be at the end of the Region 3A boys golf tournament Monday: on top. Led by a second-place individual finish with Danny Sazue's round of 74, the Cubs had all four of their scorers within 12 shots of each other and fired a team score of 323 to win the region title at Lakeview Golf Course in Mitchell.
BURKE—Kray Person has put in the time to become one of the state's best cross country runners. That's meant about 40 miles a week of training, something he does year-round for both track and cross country for the Burke/South Central. And from there, his natural ability can take over. In the words of his coach Laurie Kenzy, the confidence in the Cougars' junior comes in the runner's focus.