South Dakota Gridiron Report: Four undefeated teams stand strong in Class 9A
A web-exclusive look at the top stories in high school football this week
The undefeated teams in Class 9A football are drawing some attention late in the season.
Herreid/Selby Area and Wall each got to 7-0 on Friday night, with the Wolverines winning 56-6 against Sully Buttes and Wall taking apart White River 57-0. Howard and De Smet, both 6-0, were idle this week, enjoying well-earned weeks off.
With four of the 21 teams in Class 9A still undefeated — the most of any class in the state — each appears to be stiff competition heading to the postseason.
The Wolverines from Herreid/Selby Area have looked impressive, logging 52.8 points per game in their victories this season, and likely have a craving for returning to the championship game after a second-place finish in 2019.
Wall has eked closer to the top of nine-man football in South Dakota, posting a 34-5 record in the last four regular seasons. But the barrier to more success has been in the playoffs, including home losses when East River teams have made the trip out to Wall. Last season, they were 9-0 before Warner traveled west and ended the Eagles season in a 26-0 contest.
Howard has the chance to be among the biggest movers in Class 9A seed points before the end of the regular season on Oct. 15, with games at Garretson and at Hanson, which are two of the top teams in Class 9AA. The Tigers have passed a couple of tough tests already with flying colors, defeating Canistota/Freeman and Chester Area.
For De Smet, it’s hard to say anything without pointing out their defense, which hasn’t allowed a score since its 30-20 win over Wolsey-Wessington on Aug. 20. They’ve outscored opponents 250-0, although none of those teams currently have a winning record. The Bulldogs will get one more good test next week with 5-1 Castlewood visiting on Thursday, Oct. 7, and then the Dakota Valley Conference championship week on Oct. 15.
Seven weeks in, it’s hard to pinpoint a favorite in this class, which should make for a fun postseason. This conversation can’t be had without considering who else is out there in Class 9A, including the aforementioned Castlewood Warriors, Wolsey-Wessington likely lurking as a tough team, along with Warner and Gregory at 3-3, with the Monarchs pulling down a big win over previously undefeated Florence/Henry on Friday.
As we’ve discussed earlier this season, there’s a seed-point bonus of one full point for finishing undefeated, which could be a big asset in deciding the top-four seeds and home-field advantage in these classes.
Also new in 2021 is the elimination of regions, meaning the entire nine-man and Class 11B field will be seeded 1-through-16, eliminating the chances of seeing Warner and Castlewood in the first round, or a mixture of De Smet, Wolsey-Wessington and Howard tangling in the first round.
Roosevelt over Jefferson: Roosevelt takes down Jefferson for its second win of the season. This game was circled in the big-school class because of the splitting up of the territory on the west side of Sioux Falls and the move of Rough Riders’ former starting quarterback Taylen Ashley over to the Cavaliers. In the first meeting, the always tough Riders’ got the upper hand Friday, racking up a season-high 49 points.
Beresford stymied the Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan offense in a 23-7 win on Friday night. The Watchdogs blanked the No. 2 Seahawks in the second half, handing BEE its second loss of the season. Both teams now sit at 4-2.
No. 3 Sioux Valley edged No. 4 Elk Point-Jefferson 34-28 in a clash of Class 11B ranked teams on Friday night. Once again, the Big East Conference has shown to be a tough place to play each week, with MCM and BEE also in the league. The Cossacks continue to hold firm toward the top of 11B, and the Cossacks seem bound to move up in this week’s media rankings.
Let’s recognize some of the outstanding performances from Week 7 of South Dakota high school football:
Marty Gohn scored all four touchdowns for Wolsey-Wessington in its win over Gregory. He ran the ball 22 times and picked up a total of 119 yards in addition to his rushing touchdowns.
Gavin Gordon went 9-of-16 passing for three touchdowns, all to receiver Cody Miles who finished with six catches for 138 yards. Gordon finished with 203 through the air, along with a rushing touchdown to cap off a Class 11B road victory.
Yankton’s Cody Oswald delivered in all facets in a 45-0 shutout of Mitchell. Oswald had two receptions for 29 yards and two touchdowns, along with a 47-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Three we’re waiting for
Here’s three games on next week’s schedule we’re fired up for:
Castlewood at De Smet (Thursday): It was mentioned up above but this is another proving ground game in Class 9A. Castlewood had a nice win a few weeks ago over Hamlin and a victory over the Bulldogs would be a nice coup, but De Smet’s defense will have a lot to say about how much the Warriors are able to accomplish on offense.
Hanson at Canistota/Freeman: Class 9AA No. 1 Hanson remains undefeated after taking down Chester Area, but has a big matchup awaiting them next Friday. The reigning 9A state championships, Canistota/Freeman, is looking for its first signature win after winning three of its last four games.
West Central at Vermillion: A pair of 4-2 teams meet with Class 11A seedings surely on the line. Vermillion has been the upstarts of the year in the class, earning an impressive 33-28 win over Dell Rapids on Friday night.
How ‘bout these plays!?!
Brandon Valley quarterback Lucas Slack gave the defensive back no chance to make a play, dropping an absolute dime for this 24-yard touchdown to Dylan Langerock.
Westbound and touchdown! Sioux Falls O’Gorman defensive back Henry Theobald got a convoy to the end zone after picking off a pass and returning it 54 yards for six.