Looking ahead at the high school football playoffs

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — 11B and 9-man classes are just 16 days away from the start of the 2021 playoffs. The state’s three largest classes, 11AAA, 11AA and 11A will begin a week later on October 28.

Week seven saw some important games that had an impact on the current standings.

Rankings have nothing to do with the teams actual standings. The standings are based on the seed points of each team.

11B and 9-man teams start their playoffs on Thursday, October 21, which makes that a good place to start.


Winner is the lone undefeated team in class 11B, which is a big reason they sit a top the standings.

The Warriors have played four of the top eight teams in the 11B standings, which is certainly the key reason they are nearly three seed points ahead of the rest of the teams.

Groton Area owns a 6-1 record as the Tigers are sitting second in the 11B standings.

The Tigers have wins over #3 Aberdeen Roncalli and #9 Redfield.

However, Groton’s lead is less than a point over Aberdeen Roncalli, Sioux Valley, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan, St. Thomas more and Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/ Sanborn Central.

Each team still has two games yet to play, but if the playoffs started today, here is what the matchups would look like.

11B Playoff Matchups if the Playoffs started today
#1 Winner vs. #16 Lead-Deadwood
#2 Groton vs. #15 Deuel
#3 Aberdeen Roncalli vs. #14 Beresford
#4 Sioux Valley vs. #13 Wagner
#5 Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan vs. #12 Hot Springs
#6 St. Thomas More vs. #11 McCook Central/Montrose
#7 Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/ Sanborn Central vs. #10 Elk Point-Jefferson
#8 Mt. Vernon/Plankinton vs. #9 Redfield

If these playoff matchups were true, there would be a lot of fun matchups in class 11B.

A regular-season rematch for Groton and Deuel, a high-powered defensive matchup between Mt. Vernon/Plankinton and Redfield, plus several other great games.

I think the game to watch in this scenario could be the McCook Central/Montrose vs. St. Thomas More game. Both of these teams are traditional powerhouses in 11B and it would certainly be a fun contest.


Despite being unranked, Lyman sits atop the 9AA standings via seed points.

The Raiders are 5-1, with four of their wins coming to teams with a .500 record or better. Plus, their lone loss was to unbeaten, 9A Wall.

Hanson is the state’s lone unbeaten team and that’s the reason they sit second in the standings.

From there, just one point separates third-place Parkston and seventh place Platte-Geddes.

Hamlin, Ipswich and Florence/Henry all sit in that one-point margin.

With two games left to play, here is how the 9AA playoffs would look if they started this week, as opposed to starting on October 21.

9AA Playoff Matchups if the Playoffs started today
#1 Lyman vs. #16 Elkton-Lake Benton
#2 Hanson vs. #15 Bon Homme
#3 Parkston vs. #14 Stanley County
#4 Hamlin vs. #13 Lemmon/McIntosh
#5 Ipswich vs. #12 Garretson
#6 Florence/Henry vs. #11 Canistota/Freeman
#7 Platte-Geddes vs. #10 Leola/Frederick Area
#8 Timber Lake vs. #9 Chester Area

If these matchups hold true… there will be some fun playoff games!

Three-time 9A defending champion Canistota/Freeman made the move up to 9AA, but they sit at number 11. That is a low seed for a talented team. No question the Florence/Henry vs. Canistota/Freeman game would be superb.

Garretson is another tough team that sits at a lower seed, which would make for a fun contest against Ipswich.

Then a 6-1 team vs. a 4-2 team! Timber Lake vs. Chester Area would certainly feature a high-powered first-round contest.


There are an impressive four unbeaten teams in class 9A, making the race for the title wide open.

The Wall Eagles are the only 7-0 team, which is what has them atop the standings.

Herreid/Selby Area, De Smet and Howard are all right there as well.

Warner and Kadoka Area have played tough schedules. They are just 3-3, but still own a 42.500 seed point average.

Despite the fact that the playoffs are 16 days away, here is a look at what the first-round matchups would look like.

9A Playoff Matchups if the Playoffs started today
#1 Wall vs. #16 Kimball/White Lake
#2 Herreid/Selby Area vs. #15 Northwestern
#3 De Smet vs. #14 Britton-Hecla
#4 Howard vs. #13 Burke
#5 Warner vs. #12 North Central
#6 Kadoka Area vs. #11 Oldham-Ramona/Rutland
#7 Wolsey-Wessington vs. #10 Phillip
#8 Castlewood vs. #9 Gregory

There are certainly a handful of intriguing first-round matchups in 9A. With Canistota/Freeman (last year’s state champion) moved up to 9AA, there will be a new 9A champ this season.

5-1 Castlewood finds themselves at home vs. a talented Gregory team. Then you have the 9B defending champion, Wolsey-Wessington, who would host a talented Phillip team.

Those two matchups standout, but there is no doubt the other games would be really fun to follow.


There is just one unbeaten team left in class 9B and they sit atop the rankings and atop the standings.

Faulkton Area, Gayville-Volin, Potter County and Dell Rapids St. Mary all sit separated by just over one seed point.

Most teams still have two games left, but there are a few teams with just one game left.

Here is a look at the 9B playoffs matchups if the playoffs were going to start this week.

9B Playoff Matchups if the Playoffs started today
#1 Avon vs. #16 Colome
#2 Faulkton Area vs. #15 Estelline/Hendricks
#3 Gayville-Volin vs. #14 Langford Area
#4 Potter County vs. #13 Jones County
#5 Dell Rapids St. Mary vs. #12 Corsica-Stickney
#6 New Underwood vs. #11 Faith
#7 Alcester-Hudson vs. #10 Sully Buttes
#8 Hitchcock-Tulare vs. #9 Harding County

The defending 9B state champion, Wolsey-Wessington, moved up to 9A, which means there will be a new champion in class 9B.

All eight games could be great contests, but the bottom four certainly standout, including the Hitchcock-Tulare vs. Harding County contest. 5-2 vs. 3-3 and two really talented teams meeting in the first round of the playoffs. No doubt it could be one of the many great contests in 9B and the rest of the playoffs.

A week after the 11B and 9-man playoffs begin is the beginning of the 11AAA, 11AA and 11A playoffs.


11AAA has its own unique seed point build. All games played against 11AAA teams count towards your record. Then the teams are placed in order of win percentage.

Brandon Valley and Harrisburg sit tied at a 100% win percentage as they are both unbeaten.

Then there’s a tie for third at 3-2 and a tie for sixth at 2-4.

There really is no way to break the tie for first and third as those teams have not yet played each other. The tie for sixth can be broken since O’Gorman defeated Roosevelt in their first game.

Jefferson and Lincoln will play each other this Saturday, while Harrisburg and Brandon Valley play in the final week of the season on Thursday, October 21.

For the time being, we’ll go in the order of the standings above.

11AAA Playoff Matchups if the Playoffs started today
#1 Brandon Valley vs. #8 Rapid City Stevens
#2 Harrisburg vs. #7 Roosevelt
#3 Jefferson vs. #6 O’Gorman
#4 Lincoln vs. #5 Washington

Each team has three games left, which means there can be a lot of shifting before the playoffs begin, but if these standings hold up, what a first round of games!

Rapid City Stevens held Brandon Valley to just 14 points in a close 14-0 loss to the Lynx in the first game of the season.

Harrisburg defeated Roosevelt 38-34 in an instant classic. The Rough Riders and Tigers each scored a touchdown in the final 70 seconds to determine the outcome.

Then O’Gorman vs. Jefferson… a game that hasn’t been played yet, but seeing O’Gorman’s strong defense go up against Jefferson’s high-powered offense would make for a fun game.

Finally… a rematch of last year’s walk-off touchdown for Lincoln that sent the Patriots past Washington in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.

That would be a fun slate of games in 11AAA.


There is one unbeaten team in class 11AA, Tea Area, who sits atop the standings.

There is one team with just one loss in 11AA, Pierre, so they sit second in the standings.

The trend continues with Brookings who is the lone team with two losses in 11AA, landing them third in the standings.

Just like 11AAA, these teams have three games left this season, which means there could be a lot of shifting to be done in the standings.

11AA Playoff Matchups if the Playoffs started today
#1 Tea Area vs. #8 Mitchell
#2 Pierre vs. #7 Aberdeen Central
#3 Brookings vs. #6 Yankton
#4 Watertown vs. #5 Huron

Top-ranked Tea Area is brand new to 11AA, but they continue to impress as they go throughout the season.

#2 Pierre vs. #7 Aberdeen Central would feature two of the state’s top quarterbacks in Lincoln Kienholz and Sam Rolhfs. The Golden Eagles have struggled the past few games, but they still have the pieces to play in a tight playoff game.

Brookings vs. Yankton would also be must-watch football as the Bobcats and Bucks feature two of the best squads in the state. The fact that this would be a quarterfinal matchup, would make it even more interesting for the semifinals.

Then you’d get another fun contest featuring the talented offense of Watertown vs. Huron’s fierce defense.

Similar to class 11AAA, it would be one fun quarterfinals.


The state’s lone unbeaten team, Madison, sits atop the rankings with 45.500 seed points.

Canton sits less than a point behind in second place.

Following that, it’s a dog fight for the rest of the rankings.

Three points separate Vermillion, West Central, Dell Rapids, Lennox, Sioux Falls Christian, Milbank and Tri-Valley.

With just 23 days left in the season, there is still time for a lot of the teams to move, but here is what the fun quarterfinal round would look like.

11A Playoff Matchups if the Playoffs started today
#1 Madison vs. #8 Milbank
#2 Canton vs. #7 Sioux Falls Christian
#3 Vermillion vs. #6 Lennox
#4 West Central vs. #5 Dell Rapids

Madison’s closest outcome this season was a 9-0 win over Milbank… what a rematch that would be. Milbank has played some strong defense this season and they would need it meeting #1 Madison.

Canton plays Sioux Falls Christian in two weeks, but for now, they are set to meet each other in the playoffs. Canton owns one of the state’s best defenses and it would be something fun to see them go up against a talented Sioux Falls Christian team.

Vermillion vs. Lennox. That game happened just two weeks ago with the Tanagers earning a 21-7, win over Lennox. A rematch, in the DakotaDome, would certainly make for a fun quarterfinal game.

Then, maybe the most intriguing matchup of the first round would be West Central vs. Dell Rapids. For the third straight season, it would be the Trojans vs. the Quarriers. West Central has won back-to-back quarterfinal games over Dell Rapids. (2019: WC 16 DR 13 — 2020: WC 16 DR 14) What a storyline it would be if they had yet another clash.

The playoffs begin on October 21 for 11B and 9-man, while the state’s three biggest classes begin on October 28.

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