Breaking down the First Round of the 11B and 9-Man Playoffs

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s hard to believe that nine weeks of high school football have come and gone this season. With the arrival of week ten, comes the first round of the 11B and 9-Man playoffs.

The state’s three largest classes will play their final regular season games on Thursday, but it’ll be the first round of playoffs for the other classes.

In past seasons, the sixteen teams that reached the playoffs were the top four teams from each region. After the first round, they would reseed the eight remaining teams to create the quarterfinals.

2021 will be different as the top sixteen teams will be seeded via seed points as 1-16.

KELOLAND Sports will have coverage of more than a dozen games from week ten of high school football, including eight playoff contests. Make sure to watch the KELOLAND SportsZone on Thursday, October 21 at 10:15 p.m. on KELO-TV.


CLASS 11B

11B Playoff Bracket – Courtesy SDHSAA

The 11B playoffs are headlined by defending champion and the lone unbeaten this year, Winner. The Warriors have been stellar this season as they have cruised through their schedule. They’re averaging a 43 point win in their games this season. A 28-0 win over Mount Vernon/Plankinton is their closest outcome for the Warriors.

#2 Sioux Valley, #3 Mount Vernon/Plankinton and #4 Groton Area appear to be the main contenders to the top-seeded Winner, however, there are some other teams and matchups to keep a close eye on in the first round.

The most intriguing matchup of the first round has to be #9 McCook Central/Montrose vs. #8 Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central. The two teams have not crossed paths yet this season, but Thursday’s meeting will be one to watch. The Cougars are scoring nearly 32 points per game, while the Blackhawks are allowing just 12 points per contest. One of those will have to give on Thursday.

#10 Hot Springs is 7-1, but will play their toughest opponent of the year, on the road… #7 Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan. This game has some interesting questions behind it as the Seahawks are a little lower seeded than normal, but that doesn’t take away from the tradition they have. They’ll be a tough team to beat and Hot Springs will have their hands full against B-E/E.

The two other games that draw some intrigue are #5 Elk Point-Jefferson vs. #12 St. Thomas More and then #6 Aberdeen Roncalli vs. #11 Redfield.

Elk Point-Jefferson is 6-2 and has played some impressive offense this season. The Huskies are scoring nearly 40 points per game this season. Can the STM defense slow down the Huskies? The Cavaliers are allowing 18.5 points per game, but Thursday’s contest will challenge that for sure.

The Aberdeen Roncalli vs. Redfield game should be fun! These two teams met back on September 10 and Roncalli cruised to a 30-6 win over the Pheasants. However, Redfield has the one thing that helps in every playoff game… defense. Redfield is tied for the seventh best scoring defense in 11B. They’ll need that as they go on the road to Aberdeen.


CLASS 9AA

9AA Bracket – Courtesy SDHSAA

Check out that 9AA bracket! There are some very good games in the first round, but there are three that stand out above the rest.

The most intriguing game has to be #8 Chester Area vs. #9 Platte-Geddes. The defending 9AA champions are taking on the Flyers who have been sharp all season. They nearly knocked off top-seeded Hanson three weeks ago. Both teams are only allowing 12 points per game defensively, but the question will be, can Platte-Geddes slow down a Flyer offense that is scoring nearly 38 points per game?

How about that 7 vs. 10 matchup? Hamlin will host Garretson. Hamlin is the defending state runner-up in 9AA, but the Blue Dragons are battled tested. They were ranked early in the season, but narrow losses to Hanson, Howard and Canistota/Freeman took the Blue Dragons out of the rankings. Their most recent loss to Chester Area was 63-14 and seemed uncharacteristic of what we’ve seen. One thing to keep in mind is that Garretson is one of the two teams to beat second-seeded Parkston. The fun matchup will be Hamlin defense (15 PPG) against Garretson’s offense (35 PPG) led by Dylan Kindt.

The last game that really jumps out is the Florence/Henry vs. Canistota/Freeman matchup. The Pride are the defending 9A champions, but have struggled with their loaded schedule. That Canistota offense has still boomed to 35 points per game this season. However, they’ll meet an even more impressive offense. Florence/Henry is scoring 41 points per contest, which is fourth best in 9AA.

Keep an eye on the top teams in the first round. Hanson has been #1 all season, but they have Parkston, Ipswich, Lyman and several other teams right on their heels. Pending on those team’s outcomes, we could potentially establish a favorite in 9AA, but it may take more than a round or two.


CLASS 9A

9A Bracket – Courtesy SDHSAA

When you talk about a class with no favorite, I would say you’re talking about class 9A. They have the most undefeated teams in a single class as Herreid/Selby Area (9-0), Howard (8-0), Wall (8-0) and De Smet (8-0) are still unbeaten.

The four top teams in 9A are spaced out enough that they don’t play each other and they don’t have very many common opponents, so attempting to decipher which team could be a favorite, is nearly impossible. That is one thing to watch in the first and second round.

Outside of the top four, many should keep an eye on defending 9A runner-up Warner. They’ll get a tough Phillip team to open the playoffs, but they are a team that could make some noise. Other teams such as Gregory, Wolsey-Wessington, Kadoka Area and Castlewood are teams to watch for as well.

The three matchups that stand out the most in 9A have to be Kadoka Area vs. Castlewood, Gregory vs. Burke and Wolsey-Wessington vs. Oladham-Ramona/Rutland.

Of those three, the intriguing game should be the 6 vs. 11 matchup. Both Gregory and Burke sit at 5-3, but the battle to watch in this game will be Burke’s fifth-best scoring offense against Gregory’s sixth-best scoring defense. Burke is scoring nearly 40 points per game, but Gregory is allowing just 17 points per contest. One of those has got to give, and whichever one it may be, will probably lead to the winner.

The Kadoka Area vs. Castlewood should and could be a shootout. Each team is scoring 29 points or more per game this season and I don’t see that changing much when they meet on Thursday.


CLASS 9B

9B Bracket – Courtesy SDHSAA

It certainly appears that top-seeded Avon is the favorite in 9B after finishing the season as the lone unbeaten in the class. In fact, the next closest team has two losses.

However, the Pirates slip at all, there is a loaded field of talented teams right behind them. Faulkton Area, Dell Rapids St. Mary, Potter County, Hitchcock-Tulare and Gayville-Volin are some of those teams.

The three games that jump out in the first round have to include Alcester-Hudson vs. Sully Buttes, Corsica Stickney vs. Dell Rapids St. Mary and Avon vs. Estelline/Hendricks.

The 8 vs. 9 matchup jumped out the second the bracket was released. Two teams that are known for having talented football teams meeting in the first round certainly creates some excitement.

The Cubs have struggled on defense, but the Chargers have struggled on offense, but I’m more interested in the other side of the ball. Sully Buttes is allowing just 24 points per game, which makes them the seventh best scoring defense in 9B. Alcester-Hudson is posting 34.9 points per game offensively and that’s seventh best in 9B. The Cubs offense vs. the Charger defense… that’ll be fun to watch Thursday.

The 12 vs. 5 matchup could have some intrigue as Corsica-Stickney is scoring more than 22 points per game. When compared to DRSM, that’s just 5 points less per contest. However, the Cardinals have relied on their defense this season, allowing just 19 points per game, fourth best in 9A. The Jaguars will have to focus on defense and find a way to limit DRSM, if they can, they’ll have a chance to upset.

Many may wonder how much intrigue is built around 8-0 Avon vs. 1-7 Estelline-Hendricks. Well statistically, there isn’t a whole lot of intrigue, but Avon appears to be the favorite and I’m intrigued to see if they’ll start the playoffs off on the right foot. Estelline/Hendricks has shown some promising signs on offense, and the Avon defense is allowing more than 26 points per game. Can the Pirates improve that and pick up a big first round win? That’s what I’ll be watching for Thursday.


KELOLAND Sports will have coverage of more than a dozen games from week ten of high school football, including eight playoff contests. Make sure to watch the KELOLAND SportsZone on Thursday, October 21 at 10:15 p.m. on KELO-TV.

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