Howard paces Class 9A all-state football picks with five

Howard, Herreid/Selby Area, DeSmet and Wall — all of which were undefeated entering the state semifinals — each had five selections to lead the team and accounted for 20 of the 28 selections

From left, Howard's Kaden Hofer, John Callies, Ty Beyer and Jace Sifore walk out for the coin toss prior to the Class 9A Championship game on Thursday, Nov. 11 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. All four, plus Atticus Darnell, were named to the Class 9A all-state team. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

After winning the state title for the first time since 2014, the Howard Tigers had five players named to the Class 9A high school football all-state team, as selected by the South Dakota Football Coaches Association.

Howard, fellow state finalist Herreid/Selby Area and semifinalists DeSmet and Wall — all of which were undefeated entering the state semifinals — each had five selections to lead the team and accounted for 20 of the 28 selections, including all but one on the offensive side of the ball. Castlewood was the only other team to have multiple honorees with two.

Carson Kirwan (Castlewood), Ty Beyer (Howard), Cedar Amiotte (Wall) and Blair Blasius (Wall) repeat as Class 9A all-state selections, as a quartet of Herreid/Selby Area players — Brenden Begeman, Chance Gregg, Trevor Sayler and Trey Sayler — as well as Wolsey-Wessington’s Marrion Gohn were Class 9B all-state honorees a season ago and made their way onto the Class 9A roster this season.

Ty Beyer was named the Class 9A team’s All-American and slotted in at linebacker just as he did a season ago, but his impact wasn’t limited to the defensive side for Howard. The senior set the Tigers’ single-season record with 158 tackles (115 solo) and had one interception, adding more than 1,000 yards of offense and 12 touchdowns.

“[Ty’s] our best player at linebacker and running back,” said Howard coach Pat Ruml. “He was a tenacious hitter on defense and lead blocker on offense.”


Backfield mate and fellow senior John Callies is classified as a “workhorse and a leader of our team” by Ruml for the past two seasons. Callies churned out more than 1,150 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns and was named most valuable player and most outstanding back in the state title game.

Howard's John Callies runs past Herried/Selby Area's Brenden Begeman in the Class 9A State Championship on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

Paving the way for the likes of Callies and Beyer, junior Kaden Hofer was chosen to occupy one of the offensive lineman positions. Hofer and the Howard line helped the Tigers rush for more than 3,900 yards this season.

“Kaden is our best interior offensive lineman,” Ruml said. “We ran behind him and [Jace] Sifore 75% of the year.”

Howard defensive end Jace Sifore (75) stares down the line of scrimmage ahead of a play against Oldham-Ramona/Rutland on Aug. 20, 2021, in Howard. (Luke Hagen / Republic)

When Sifore, the all-state tight end, wasn’t serving as a blocker in the rushing attack, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound South Dakota State football commit was busy turning nearly every other reception into six points. Sifore caught 19 passes for 433 yards and nine touchdowns.


“[Jace is] just a great blocker and catches the ball with such ease,” Ruml said. “He has great agility for a big man, played center last season and moved to tight end this year.”

Atticus Darnell rounded out the Howard selections, joining Beyer on defense as a defensive lineman. Darnell, a junior, had 72 tackles, seven sacks and three fumble recoveries this season.

“Atticus dominated his side of the ball,” Ruml said. “He's an option destroyer. Most teams ran his way, away from Sifore, and he made the plays.”

Burke quarterback Ben Witt (5) carries the football and prepares to handoff to running back Taron Serr (23) during a nine-man high school football game against Corsica-Stickney Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 in Burke. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

Burke senior Taron Serr, an honorable mention all-state player a season ago, was named to the team this season as an offensive athlete. Serr had 123 carries for 791 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns and totaled 18 touchdowns in all.

Area honorable mention players in Class 9A included Burke senior Bryce Frank and Gregory junior Kade Stukel.

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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