Lemmon/McIntosh started to develop its identity four summers ago.
Its season came to an end with a 58-0 loss to Colman-Egan in 2016, so it decided to change part of its offseason program. The Cowboys wanted to become more physical and have more success against the East River teams that had ended their seasons in the past.
So, former coach Austin Fedderson brought Lemmon/McIntosh to South Dakota State University’s summer camp, and the Cowboys (5-0) have been going ever since.
“The physicalness we have right now is really good,” current coach Josh Anderson said. “When I took over this program, we always struggled when we went East River for playoffs.”
SDSU didn’t hold its summer camp this year due to COVID-19, therefore the Cowboys instead dedicated themselves in the weight room. They bulked up and have been playing with more physicality.
Now in his third year as head coach and 12th season in the program, Anderson knew before the season his offense could go touchdown-for-touchdown with the best 9-man teams in the state. He wanted his team to focus on improving defensively.
The physical Cowboys defense has four straight shutouts, as Mott-Regent (N.D.)’s 14-point Week 1 has been the only scoring they’ve allowed this season. In its latest 32-0 shutout over Timer Lake, Lemmon/McIntosh held the Panthers’ star running back Hank Kraft to under 100 yards and stopped Timber Lake inside the 10-yard line twice.
Anderson feels scoring a touchdown is inevitable at some point in a 9-man football game, but during the past four weeks, his team has defied that logic.
“The field is just too big not to (score a touchdown). Our kids have stepped up,” Anderson said. “One thing we say each week is, ‘Take pride in that Zero.’ It gives us a better chance to win. We’re pretty confident that our offense will put the ball in the end zone, but we have to do our job on the defensive side to keep teams out of the end zone.”
Its success starts with the quarterback pressure delivered by defensive ends Tell Mollman and Talon Trogstad. Mollman leads the team with 44 tackles and seven sacks, while Trogstad has 18 tackles and three sacks.
They wreak havoc at the line of scrimmage to create opportunities in the secondary. Led by Isaiah Portwood’s three interceptions, Lemmon/McIntosh has seven picks and four fumble recoveries this year. Matthew Mollman also has 39 tackles.
“I think them understanding the game and understanding where we want them to be (helps),” Anderson said about his experienced defense.
Lemmon/McIntosh still bends and gives up big plays at times, but it hasn’t been broken for four straight weeks. On the other hand, its offense continues to capitalize on big plays.
Cody Thompson is a 3.5-year starter, but unlike other quarterbacks in the state, he doesn’t play defense often. So, after drives, he and Anderson are able to break down the previous drive and add in-game adjustments.
He threw for seven touchdowns against Hettinger/Scranton (N.D.) and six touchdowns against Faith in back-to-back weeks. The 6-foot, 180-pound senior has completed 53.7 percent of his passes for 1,553 yards, 23 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also leads the team with 161 rushing yards.
“He understands the game really well. He consistently watches film, picking things apart,” Anderson said. “… Studies the game and understands the game really well. Really wants to be the best player in our class, and I think he’s one of the best.”
Last year, Lemmon/McIntosh had five players with at least 400 receiving yards. This year, Portwood leads the team with 634 yards and nine scores on 15 receptions, but Trogstad (299), Tanner Miller (234), Jacob Hetzel (189) and Matthew Mollman (144) all have at least 100 receiving yards. Trogstad and Hetzel both have four touchdown grabs, as well.
“We knew going in two years ago that these guys were going to be super athletic, so our goal was to spread people out, give them the ball in space and let them go make plays,” Anderson said. “We have a quarterback that can do that.”
Portwood rolled his ankle in the win over Timber Lake. Anderson said there’s a “99 percent chance” he won’t play this week at Harding County, but will most likely be available by the end of the regular season.
Getting him back for the postseason and being full strength would be an obvious boost for a team that’d be able to put nine athletes on the field at all times.
“When you can put nine athletes on the field in 9-man football, you’re going to win a lot of football games,” Anderson said. “We’re very fortunate we can do that.”
Mitchell Republic sports reporter Jeremy Karll
Howard hosts De Smet in key 9A contest
Three weeks after a heart-pounding win over Canistota/Freeman, Howard will play another key Class 9A contest Friday.
The No. 1 Tigers (5-0) host No. 4 De Smet (5-1) at 7 p.m. Friday in Howard. The clash will hold major playoff implications.
“It’s a big game for power points for us,” Howard coach Pat Ruml said. “Because with what we have left. We have ORR (Oldham-Ramona/Rutland) next week and then after that we have to play the conference champion from the other side. We have to play either Viborg or Hanson.”
Howard and De Smet represent two of the six teams in a stacked Region 2. Howard sits No. 1 in the region with 45.800 points, while Canistota/Freeman (4-1) is right behind with 44.800 points. De Smet is in third with 42.667 points.
Canistota/Freeman edged De Smet, 14-12, earlier in the season. Howard handed the Pride its only defeat, a 16-14 triple-overtime thriller on Sept. 11.
The Howard vs. De Smet winner will grab major seed points for playoff positioning.
“We want to sit at home for at least the first two rounds and to do that you have to win this football game,” Ruml said. “I think our guys know that and they appreciate the fact we get to play a good football team.”
Mitchell Republic sports reporter Ryan Deal
Deuel honors Zuehlke
The Deuel football team honored Britton-Hecla’s Trevor Zuehlke on Sept. 25.
Zuehlke spent months in the hospital after suffering a traumatic brain injury during an Oct. 18, 2019, game. He was put into a medically induced coma.
During the national anthem, the Cardinals were synchronized on the field and spelled out Zuehlke’s No. 10 on the field.
Games to watch
Class 11B No. 3 Sioux Valley (4-1) at Class 11B No. 4 McCook Central/Montrose (4-1), in Salem: Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan handed both teams their only loss of the season. McCook Central/Montrose bounced back with a 42-17 win over Garretson last week, while Sioux Valley has defeated Flandreau and Elk Point-Jefferson since the loss.
These teams played a tightly-contested game last year, with MCM holding on for a 37-36 win.
Jacobi Krouse has been the key to MCM’s offense, as he added another stellar performance against Garretson. He rushed for 379 yards and three touchdowns on 45 carries. In last year’s meeting, he carried the ball 33 times for 183 yards. Gavin Gordon has been a reliable passer, too.
Junior quarterback Parker Puetz threw for 246 yards and four touchdowns against the Fighting Cougars last year. His top target Jaxton Schiller also is back after an eight-catch, 144-yard performance that included two touchdowns.
Class 9A No. 3 Warner (5-0) at Class 9B No. 2 Langford Area (4-1): Both teams are coming off a bye week. Most recently, Langford defeated Northwestern, 52-8. Warner notched a 25-24 win over Ipswich/Edmunds Central, which handed Langford Area its only loss of the season with a 14-0 win.
The Monarchs have three shutouts this season and have scored at least 39 points in all but one contest. Langford has relied on its offense, with offensive outputs of 44, 41, 65 and 52 points guiding it to a one-loss start. Warner won last year’s meeting, 38-6.
Class 9B No. 4 Alcester-Hudson (4-1) at Class 9AA No. 5 Hanson (5-0), in Alexandria: Hanson’s original game against Parkston was called off due to COVID-19. The Beavers still get a chance to keep its undefeated start rolling against Alcester-Hudson.
Hanson gained 325 yards, including 208 on the ground, a week ago in a 42-0 win over Baltic. The rushing attack was led by Jackson Jarding (70 yards, TD), but Kade Waldera has also been an efficient quarterback this year. He threw for 117 yards and scored three total touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing). Hanson averages 42.8 points per game and allows 6.2 points, which includes two shutouts.
Alcester-Hudson’s only loss this year came to Dell Rapids St. Mary. Logan Serck is a dual-threat behind center with 747 passing yards and 639 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns. Meanwhile, Jovey Christensen has gained 335 yards on 44 carries and Alex Winquist has turned 27 carries into 241 yards.
Mobridge-Pollock's Cayden Eisemann finished with 275 passing yards and four touchdowns in a 43-22 win over Sisseton. Bryston Goehring caught for 112 yards and two touchdowns on four receptions for the Tigers. Anthony Tchida recorded 188 passing yards and two touchdowns for the Redmen.
Milbank’s Marshall Voeltz rushed for 283 rushing yards and three touchdowns in 46-14 win over Webster Area. Kaden Krouse added 177 passing yards and three total touchdowns.
Viborg-Hurley’s Angel Johnson rushed for 129 yards on five carries and scored three touchdowns in a 50-0 victory over Parker. Quarterback Blake Schroedemeier added 297 passing yards and seven touchdowns.
De Smet’s Kalen Garry finished with 186 rushing yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns in a 44-6 win over Castlewood.
Jacobi Krouse continued his stellar season, racking up 379 yards on 45 carries and three touchdowns in McCook Central/Montrose’s 42-17 win over Garretson.
Lyman’s Colton Collins rushed for 231 yards on 19 carries and had three touchdowns in a 48-12 win over Jones County/White River.
Corsica-Stickney’s Caden VanDrongelen erupted for 213 yards on 27 carries and had three total touchdowns in a 46-12 victory over Colome.