Sioux Falls Jefferson won its first football game in program history last Friday, Aug. 27. This program is the city's fifth high school to have a team at the 11AAA ranks.

Head coach Vince Benedetto, who was West Central’s head coach from 2018 to 2020, accepted the Jefferson job back in December. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, he wasn’t able to officially meet with his players until June. The team didn’t receive its helmets until two days before the first day of practice, so they borrowed Sioux Falls Roosevelt’s helmets to attend a SDSU football camp. That was the one opportunity this team had to put pads on all summer.

“It’s been a lot of work, some difficulties at times,” Benedetto said. “But this is my dream job. I’ve always wanted to be a high school head football coach and if you're going to be a head football coach in South Dakota, being a head coach at one of the Sioux Falls schools is where you want to be.”

Sioux Falls Jefferson opened the season against a formidable opponent in Sioux Falls Washington and Benedetto said winning that game made the tough road that Jefferson went through to get the program up and running, all worth it.

Jefferson beat Washington 17-14, which was a great, early test for this young football team. Washington’s season ended last year in the Class 11AAA state quarterfinal round on a walk-off touchdown by Sioux Falls Lincoln. Washington returned the majority of their starters, specifically defensively and Bendetto believes they could be one of the best defenses in the state.

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Jefferson on the other hand, has a roster that only consists of five players that played varsity last season.

“Our five starting offensive lineman and pretty much our front seven on defense had never played a varsity football game before,” Benedetto said.

The five players with varsity experience are quarterback Taylen Ashley, safety Beau Giblin and wide receiver Griffin Wilde, all from Sioux Falls Roosevelt, along with safety London Kolb and Robert Hutchinson, both from Sioux Falls Lincoln.

Sioux Falls Jefferson Taylen Ashley
Sioux Falls Jefferson Taylen Ashley

Despite taking some talent from some of the local high schools, Jefferson will be continuously challenged all season long.

“Coming from West Central and Class 11A, it was very similar where you knew every week was going to be a battle,” Benedetto said. “But here it’s just a different level. Going from playing Washington to Brandon Valley, who’s really been as a program, probably had the most success out of anyone in the last three years so it will be good to see how we matchup against those guys and find out where we are.”

Benedetto said having more kids, more athletes and more depth is the glaring difference from a year ago with West Central.

“The offense we ran at West Central, the ball went through 3-4 guys at the most,” Benedetto said. “At Jefferson, I have at least 5-6 guys I want to get the football to. We’ve got really talented kids and coaching here is very similar to coaching a Division II football program. That’s the type of work we’re putting in and that’s what makes it fun.”

Jefferson travels to Brandon Valley for its first ever road game on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m.

Eye-opening victories

Here’s some victories that got our attention on Friday night:

Howard continues to put up big numbers offensively: Howard racked up 584 all-purpose yards to get its third win of the season. Two of Howards wins were shutouts by at least 49 points. Howard has scored at least 49 points in each game and scored at least five touchdowns in each game.

Hanson goes into bye week with a dominant performance: After two wins in close games marked by adversity to open the season, Hanson broke through and showed why the Beavers are regarded as one of the top teams in Class AA with a shutout victory over Irene-Wakonda 48-0.

The Pirates rushing attack controls the pace: Avon earned another victory lead by its running game, putting up 390 yards. Avon had 343 in week one of play, giving this team 11 rushing touchdowns on the season in two games.

Game balls

Let’s recognize some of the outstanding performances from week two of South Dakota high school football:

Aberdeen Central’s Sam Rohlfs got it done through the air and on the ground Friday night. Rohlfs went 14-of-22 passing for 309 yards and three touchdowns to go with 73 rushing yards and two more scores, as the Golden Eagles took down Yankton, 40-28.

Gregory’s Rylan Peck gets a game ball for the second consecutive week after another do-it-all performance. Peck went 7-of-11 passing for 171 yards and three touchdowns, while adding 132 yards and a touchdown on 11 rushing attempts. Gregory defeated Burke 34-6.

Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan’s Riley Endres didn’t need many touches to make his mark on Seahawks’ runaway win over Parker. Endres needed just five carries to churn out 121 yards and two touchdowns, as BEE won, 42-6.

Canistota/Freeman’s Tage Ortman might have been on the losing sideline Friday night, but his performance was impressive nonetheless. Ortman went 17-of-26 passing, racking up 272 yards and four touchdowns for the Hawks. Canistota/Freeman was beaten by Howard, 59-28.

Vermillion’s Jack Kratz needed just one half to put up one of this week’s best rushing performances. Kratz ended his night with 11 carries for 80 yards, but scored all four of his rushing touchdowns in the first-half, as the Tanagers’ earned a 28-6 road win over Chamberlain.