Confident Platte-Geddes squad aims to prove it belongs in state title scene

Platte-Geddes' Jackson Neuman (15) weaves through the Parkston defense during a game on Oct. 16 in Platte. (Matt Gade / Republic)

PLATTE -- When Bruce Hanson applied for the job as head coach for Platte-Geddes, he thought the program head potential, it just might take a while

Three years in, the Black Panthers are one game away from a perfect season and the Class 9AA state championship.

Platte-Geddes has amassed 11 wins this season, two more than the school’s previous five seasons combined since leaving its co-op with Dakota Christian.

Newfound success has brought a swagger to the fourth-seeded Black Panthers and that confidence is not about to waver heading into today’s tilt with No. 2 Hamlin at 11 a.m. in the DakotaDome.

“We believe in our guys,” Hanson said. “When I took this job two years ago, that was probably the most difficult thing to change. I don’t think they had a lot of people that believed in them in the community and the school. We wanted to change the mentality and let the kids know we believed in them.”


Platte-Geddes has a reason to be confident after taking down defending state champion Viborg-Hurley in the semifinals and holding standout Angel Johnson to 41 yards on 12 carries after taking his first touch 53 yards for a touchdown.

The Chargers offer another steep challenge with running back Jackson Noem, who has rushed for 2,062 yards and 30 touchdowns this season. Hamlin (11-0) can also take pressure off Noem with a passing attack led by Xander Sheehan, who has thrown for 890 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions.

“(Noem) is a great player, we’ve faced great players before, but we don’t think they’ve faced a team like us -- we don’t think they’ve faced a defensive line like us,” Hanson said. “We’re hoping we can contain them, do our jobs and hopefully slow him down a little bit.”

While Noem has accounted for 53% of Hamlin’s rushing attempts, the Black Panthers have put together a diverse offense. Jackson Neuman has run for 1,065 yards and 11 scores on 125 attempts and Grayson Hanson has 700 yards and 12 touchdowns on 101 attempts.

Bruce Hanson firmly believes that either player could have topped 2,000 yards if singularly featured, but Platte-Geddes also has a capable passing attack to create even more balance, as Kelby Vanderwerff has thrown for 1,250 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions.

“Defenses can’t key on one person,” Vanderwerff said. “There’s a lot of weapons on offense, so it makes it a lot harder to prepare for (more than) one person.”

Two explosive offenses could lead to an offensive-oriented game in the element-free DakotaDome, which returns as host of the state football championships after a one-year hiatus in Brookings due to renovations.

Having grown up watching state championship games on television and even attending some in person, Vanderwerff will be able to make dream of playing inside the Dome come to fruition.


“My friends and I go every year and last year after we lost to Viborg-Hurley, a couple of us went up and said, ‘Next year this is going to be us, let’s make it happen,’” Vanderwerff said.

What To Read Next
Get Local