South Dakota Gridiron Report: New season provides much to celebrate in opening week

A web-exclusive rundown of the top stories from the opening week of the high school football season

South Dakota Gridiron Report

Welcome back, high school football. Good to have you around once again.

The return of football in South Dakota on Friday nights is welcomed in these parts, and it also means the return of this feature: the South Dakota Gridiron Report, where we run through the top stories from the week that was in prep football in our state.

Before we do that, allow us to do a little self-promotion. Friday night’s coverage included the debut of the Mitchell Republic’s Gridiron Spotlight game, which includes livestreamed coverage of a Mitchell-area football game. We were at Hanson at Parkston, which turned out to be a terrific game decided in the final minutes with the Beavers emerging as 24-16 winners. It was supplemented by regular coverage of the game, as well.

It is something we are excited about, bringing a quality product to viewers and subscribers and putting a spotlight on high school teams that have great stories to share.

“Our company continues to look for ways to add value for our digital members. In a place like Mitchell, that means more robust sports coverage, including livestreaming. Readers who care about local sports will now find everything they need on the Mitchell Republic website,” said Kirsten Stromsodt, who serves as executive editor of Forum Communications Company, which owns the Mitchell Republic.


A replay of Friday’s coverage is available below. We hope you have the chance to tune in this season.

Let’s run through what else garnered attention on Friday night:

Hey, great kick

Jenna VanHolland made a name for herself in a big way on Friday night.

VanHolland, a 5-foot-5 junior soccer player participating in her first high school football game, drilled the game-winning extra point in overtime to carry Garretson over Viborg-Hurley 43-42 on the road in Viborg, knocking off the Class 9AA No. 5 Cougars.

As KELO-TV wisely detailed prior to Friday’s game , VanHolland is Garretson’s first female football player in school history and has the kicking job because of the quality of her abilities, regularly drilling 35-yarders in practice.

VanHolland hit a few extra points earlier in the game Friday but opportunity presented itself in the extra session after Viborg-Hurley broke the 36-all tie with a touchdown but didn’t convert on the two-point conversion. An ensuing Blue Dragons touchdown and VanHolland’s kick through the uprights set off the celebration mobbing her at midfield.


It was a tremendous kick by the junior to carry Garretson to a massive road win. And extra credit to head coach Chris Long and a nine-man program willing to put faith in its first-time kicker to win the game in overtime, as well.

READ: South Dakota High School football scores, Aug. 20

Three eye-opening victories

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

  • De Smet wins on a neutral field over Wolsey-Wessington: A battle of No. 1 and No. 2 in Class 9A and these two programs, in particular, was going to get a lot of attention, the 30-20 Bulldogs victory is a big early season indicator of where things stand in the class. Playing the game in the big stadium in Brookings was a nice touch, as well, so kudos to De Smet for organizing the move of a home game to play at South Dakota State’s Dykhouse Stadium. Also hats off to Kalen Garry, who found himself on SportsCenter’s Top 10 list on Friday night for this touchdown catch.

  • The Seahawks’ stand vs. Sioux Valley: Both Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan and Sioux Valley have had the type of consistency in Class 11B a person could set their watch to, so it was great to see the two teams play another classic. There were three lead changes in the last 8-plus minutes, and a defensive stop on the final drive to carry BEE to a 20-16 win. It’s pretty easy to foresee this game as a rematch in November in the playoffs.

  • Gayville-Volin rolls at Dell Rapids St. Mary: Preseason predictions are good for banter among fans and media, but all credit to the Raiders for taking it to Dell Rapids St. Mary in the opener, a 42-6 road victory over the Class 9B No. 1 Cardinals. It was hardly a fluke: G-V was up 36-0 at halftime and scored the first 42 points of the game.

Check out our coverage of the Class 9AA showdown in Platte between Platte-Geddes and Canistota/Freeman

Game balls

Let’s recognize some of the top accomplishments from the opening week of the high school football season:

  • Jackson Bauld touched the ball just 10 times for Burke on Friday night (nine rushes, one catch) but scored twice and had 190 yards from scrimmage to help the Cougars to a convincing 40-14 road win at Irene-Wakonda.

  • Hats off to Jim River winning its first game as a co-op and its first game as an 11-man team with a solid victory at Flandreau Friday, 32-13. Treyton Sayler had 109 yards and two touchdowns in a win for the Trappers, who are comprised of players from Scotland and Menno.

  • Carson Kirwan had five touchdown runs in Castlewood’s 40-7 win over North Central in nine-man action on Friday. Kirwan accounted for 274 rushing yards on 15 carries, and four of those touchdowns came in the first half. As a team, the Warriors had 346 rushing yards, having the 6-foot-3, 185-pound junior account for nearly 80% of the team’s rushing yards.

  • Florence/Henry wasn’t that interested in moving the sticks on Friday night. Instead, the focus was on touchdowns. They had just five first downs but scored 40 points — all in the first half — thanks to touchdowns of 75 and 43 yards on touchdown runs by Ashton Hanson, plus a 90-yard touchdown pass from Tegan Sumner to Ethan Paulson as part of a 40-6 win over Deubrook Area in White.

  • The touchdowns came in bunches on Thursday in Harding County/Bison’s 46-0 victory over Dupree. Cayden Floyd had three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving), while Keegan Hett and Cade Martian each had two rushing touchdowns.

  • It came in a loss but quarterback Cole Prunty had two rushing touchdowns on Friday for Parkston, including a 95-yard scoring scamper that cut through the heart of the Hanson defense. It is the third time since the start of the 2020 season he’s had a run of at least 95 yards, which also includes a 99-yard touchdown run.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at
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