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Alcester-Hudson

Last year’s 4-6 slate was deceiving for Alcester-Hudson, which peaked toward the end and finished in the quarterfinals of the Class 9B state playoffs. It marked the fourth consecutive postseason for Coach Brian Haak’s program.

Now in his 15th year, Haak will again turn to the running game in hopes of an improved record and a deeper playoff run. Junior quarterback Eli Skoglund, a 6-1, 180-pounder, rushed for 499 yards and eight touchdowns while classmate Jadon Micke, a running back, carried for 181 yards and two touchdowns.

Two more juniors, running back Trevor Stene and wide receiver C.J. Carlson, will also figure into the Cubs’ offensive scheme. Junior Blake Hummel (6-3, 210) and senior Connor Sogn (5-10, 170) are returning offensive line starters while seniors Kaden Teunissen (6-5, 300) and Jett Farrel (5-9, 170) also lettered while playing the same position.

Considering the fact that Alcester-Hudson plays nine-man football, the above-mentioned offensive linemen will also play defensively. Carlson and Stene are leaders at linebacker while Skoglund and Micke are returning starters in the secondary.

Beresford

Blake Peterson is one of those players who Beresford Coach Scott Ebert describes as one of the eager ones who’s ready to change the culture of the program. Peterson is a returning Big East/Dakota XII Conference selection from a squad that a year ago, posted a 2-5 record.

Peterson, a 6-4, 235-pound junior tight end/defensive end, has already received offers from South Dakota State, South Dakota, Iowa State and Minnesota. He’s one of seven returning starters for the Watchdogs, including 6-2, 160-pound senior quarterback Sam Nelson, who has four other skilled-position teammates coming back, including 6-3, 215-pound senior tight end Parker Goblirsch, senior running back Hunter Borah and junior running back Beau Van Gelder along with junior wide receiver Jack Antonson.

Offensive/defensive linemen Caleb Carnes (6-3, 220) and Jack Fitzgerald (5-11, 190), a pair of seniors, also return as starters. Beresford has good lineman size in newcomers such as seniors Zaine Wagner (6-3, 220) and Taylor Heeren (6-0, 210) while depth at both positions comes from juniors Zach Erickson (5-11, 190), Andrew Jensen (6-0, 190) and Carson Johnson (6-0, 190).

Joining Peterson, Carnes and Fitzgerald as returning defensive starters are defensive backs Borah, Nelson and Antonson along with linebacker Goblirsch. Carter Kennedy, a 6-2, 220-pound junior linebacker and sophomore linebacker Brad Christenson have impressed Ebert in preseason drills.

Bon Homme

Victories in four of the final five regular-season games propelled Bon Homme to the Class 9-AA state playoffs, but a 6-4 season ended with a 42-37 first-round loss to Mount Vernon-Plankinton. Eight returning starters on offense and seven on defense are included on a team which has one of 9-AA’s best quarterbacks, Bryce Schieszinski.

Schieszinski enters his third year as a starter with career totals of 3,344 yards passing and 39 touchdowns. Three tight ends experienced starts a year ago, juniors Joey Slama (8 catches, 195 yards) and Josh Schmidt (5 catches, 34 yards) along with sophomore Josh Crownova (2 catches, 14 yards). Senior wide receiver Colin Adams (7 catches, 118 yards) also returns as a starter for Coach Byron Pudwill’s Cavaliers along with 6-foot, 200-pound offensive lineman Cole Hartman.

Bon Homme will need to rely on underclassman talent on both offensive and defensive lines. Senior David Hassing (6-1, 200) is a newcomer, but there’s good size with juniors Cole Kniffen (5-11, 210) and John Kubal (6-3, 180) along with sophomore Cole Bares (6-1, 190).

Cole Hartman, a 6-foot, 200-pound junior and Josh Crownova (6-4, 170) are the Cavaliers’ lone returning defensive line starters while senior Tim Hajek (30 tackles) and Kaleb Crownova (39 tackles) return at linebacker. Sciezinski (48 tackles) enters his third year as starting defensive back while Slama (19 tackles) and senior Colin Adams (4 interceptions) will each mark their second year as starters in the secondary.

Canton

A quarterback battle is brewing at Canton between junior Scott Peterson and sophomore Kayden Verley. The winner will have good skill position players behind him and the goal to lead Coach Rich Lundstrom’s squad back to the Class 11A state playoffs after a two-year absence.

Peterson could be the frontrunner, as he took a few snaps for the 4-5 squad, completing 60 percent of his passes for 100 yards and one touchdown. Verley, the C-Hawks’ kicker since seventh grade, is a versatile athlete who could line up at wide receiver or running back. Christian Beachler, a 6-6, 200-pound senior wide receiver, has been the squad’s leading receiver in each of the last two years while classmate Evan Schroedermeier is back after missing much of last year with injuries.

Seniors Alex Mastalir and Sam Hopper are the top running backs in camp while classmate Kyle Laubach will play fullback. Sophomore fullbacks Jarrett Smith and Shaeden Scheidt will also aid in blocking duties along with three offensive linemen who received letters last season, juniors Hunter Jacobson (6-0, 230) and Dylan Weihe (6-0, 210) along with sophomore Sam Stahl (6-0, 240).

Jacobson, Weihe and Stahl also experienced playing time as defensive linemen. Laubach is a returning starter at linebacker, a position where Mastalir, Hopper, Smith and 6-1, 220-pound senior Isaac Mauszycki played. Verley is a returning defensive back starter, while secondary depth is also provided by Schroedermeier, Peterson, Soderquist and sophomore Josh Lane, a transfer from Beresford.

Elk Point-Jefferson

Third-year Elk Point-Jefferson football coach Jake Terry hopes that record-setting attendance in summer football camps and the weight room will translate to success and an improvement in last fall’s 1-7 campaign where two of the defeats were by three points.

Logan Donelan, a 6-1, 185-pound senior quarterback, guided a flexbone option offense to averages of 151 yards passing and 122 yards rushing a year ago while winning all-Big East Conference honors. Senior running back Preston Fejfar provided 178 yards rushing and 81 yards passing. Jared Merkley is a physical 6-4, 175-pound receiver who will be complemented by junior Dalton Monahan who missed much of last season with an injury.

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Two seniors will play both ways on the Huskies’ offensive and defensive lines, tackles Alex Grasoff (6-5, 245) and center/defensive tackle Hunter Ewing (6-1, 210). Two more senior offensive linemen, Cash Hemmingson (6-1, 195) and Ethan Marx (6-1, 175) will play linebackers.

Elk Point-Jefferson returns two starting defensive tackles in seniors Garret Chicoine (5-10, 210) and Nathan Jones (5-8, 230). Seniors Caleb Hanson and Tyler Leif add to the linebacker depth on the 4-3 defense while Donelan, Fejfar and Merkley are returning starters in the secondary.

Lennox

The best way for Lennox to go is up after a 0-9 season of a year ago. With 6-1, 165-pound junior quarterback Zach Leisinger (984 yards passing, 5 TD passes) back along with his two best receivers, seniors Ethan Gilbert (412 yards receiving) and Holden Breck (312 yards receiving), Coach Matt Luze’s squad hopes to contend in the Dakota XII Conference.

Junior running back Ray Williams rushed for 118 yards last year. There’s good depth in the offensive backfield with senior Mitchell Messersmith along with juniors Tyson Stoebner and Clay Vinson. The offense also features 6-4, 200-pound senior tight end Cameron Bartmann and senior wide receiver Josh VanHouten.

Lennox will be paced on the offensive and defensive lines by six lettermen – seniors Addison Stubbe (6-1, 265), Kip Kuper (6-4, 210) and Marcus Metivier (5-10, 270) along with juniors Blayne Wallenstein (5-10, 195) and Brock Schroeder.

Breck (48 tackles), Gilbert (4 pass breakups) and Williams (45 tackles, 2 forced fumbles) each return as starters in the secondary. Stoebner and Vinson lettered as linebackers along with 5-10, 185-pound junior J.D. Halverson.

Sioux Falls Washington

Directed by head coach Chad Stadem, Sioux Falls Washington won a second straight Class AAA state championship while posting a 12-0 record. The chances look good for a three-peat as 10 offensive starters and eight defensive starters return.

Jayden Johannsen, a 6-3, 200-pound junior quarterback, passed for 1,963 yards and 21 touchdowns a year ago for a balanced pro-style offense that averaged 216.8 yards rushing and 216.2 yards passing. Both senior wide receiver Logan Uttecht (43 catches, 835 yards, 11 TDs) and junior running back Tupak Kpeayeh (1,632 yards rushing, 14 TDs) received all-state honors along with two senior linemen, center Will Farniok (6-3, 270) and guard Peyton Lester (6-0, 255).

Two more senior offensive tackles return as starters, Ryan Vargas (6-2, 275) and Trevor Burkhart (6-3, 285). Three additional seniors experienced starts for a squad that outscored opponents 465-228, tight end Zach Heins (16 catches, 241 yards, 1 TD) along with receivers Trevor Schmidt (12 catches, 120 yards) and Shiloh Flanigan (7, 132, 1).

Senior linebacker Seth Benson also won all-state honors a year ago, leading Washington with 78 tackles and four fumble recoveries. Classmates Ben Schelhaas (70 tackles, 2 sacks) and Brody Etrheim (18 tackles) also started a year ago at linebacker while the secondary returns Schmidt (17 tackles, 1 interception), seniors Brock Walker (31 tackles, 2 interceptions) and Daniel Yanes (29 tackles) along with junior Nate Freese (30 tackles, 1 fumble recovery. Jack Wilson, a 6-2, 260-pound senior with 41 tackles and 2.5 sacks) is the lone returning starter on the defensive line.

Vermillion

The sky is the limit for Vermillion’s football team if it can stay healthy. Injuries were a factor in last season’s 1-7 slate where the offense averaged 11 points and 236 total yards per game.

Senior quarterback Riley Johnson accounted for nearly 1,000 yards total offense a year ago, passing for 815 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing for 148 yards and five scores. Classmate Ryan Pratt rushed for 496 yards and three scores while junior Mitch Dougherty added 145 yards on the ground. Considering the fact that five senior offensive linemen return – tackles Luke Girard (6-0, 239) and Brody Surrell (6-1, 225), guards Carl Fairholm (5-11, 206) and Dylan Larson (6-2, 181) along with center Cole Christopherson (6-0, 227), perhaps the offensive numbers will improve.

Junior running backs Justin Hall and Jacob Peterson, a pair of newcomers, could see carries in the Tanagers’ pistol spread offense. Senior wide receivers Matt Bierle and Gabe DeJong are two more newcomers for Coach Andy Homan’s squad along with tight end classmate Nate Brady.

Senior linebacker Brett Culver is Vermillion’s returning leader in both tackles (50) and tackles for loss (5). Dougherty (29 tackles, 1 tackle for loss) also returns as a defensive starter along with senior linemen Surrell (28.5 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 fumble recoveries), Larson (14 tackles, 1 sack) and Girard (11 tackles, 2.5 TFL) and senior cornerback Trey Hage (37 tackles, 2 TFL).

Yankton

A veteran group, which includes six returning offensive starters and nine on defense, will lead the way as Yankton tries to respond from last year’s disappointing 3-7 season that came after consecutive Class 11AA state titles in 2014 and 2015.

Veteran coach Arlin Likness hasn’t experienced difficulty in terms of motivating his veterans. Junior wide receiver Rex Ryken (32 catches, 495 yards, 7 TDs) and senior running back Ray Wermers come back for new quarterback Garrett Tennant, a 6-1, 185-pound senior in charge of running the double-wing pro style offense. Tennant has strength on his side, considering the return of four offensive linemen – senior left tackle Cole Diedrichsen (5-11, 225), junior left guard Elijah Jones (6-0, 215), senior right guard Reese Anderson (5-11, 240) and senior right tackle Jakob Larson (6-3, 250).

Tennant’s list of offensive targets include senior wide receivers Josh Galvan-Hofer, Matthew Kreitzinger and Ben Jurrens. Senior Tate O’Hara and junior Hunter Antrobus add to the Bucks’ running back depth while versatile lineman Lance Haak (6-0, 230) can play either tackle or guard.

Three of those offensive returnees also come back on defense, beginning with Ryken, a free safety who had 33 tackles, six interceptions and two pass breakups. Linebacker Wermers (22 tackles) and defensive end Larson (21 tackles) join a list of returning defensive starters that also include three linebackers, senior Casey Krejci (18 tackles) along with juniors Levi Wiersma (28 tackles) and Caid Koletzkey (11 tackles). Three others from the 3-4 defense also come back, 6-3, 340-pound senior nose guard Kobe Bowker (29 tackles) and two of his classmates from the secondary, Cameron Krejci (32 tackles, 10 breakups) and Oakley Palmer (28 tackles).

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