SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It may be hard to believe, but there’s just two weeks remaining in the 2023 high school football season.
The state semifinals are set for this Friday as 28 teams battle for 14 spots in their respective state championships.
The state title games are set for Thursday, November 9 – Saturday, November 11.
State Championship Schedule:
|Date & Time||Championship|
|Thursday (Nov. 9) – 10 a.m.||Class 9B|
|Thursday – 2 p.m.||Class 9A|
|Thursday – 7 p.m.||Class 9AA|
|Friday (Nov. 10) – 10 a.m.||Class 11B|
|Friday – 2 p.m.||Class 11A|
|Friday – 7 p.m.||Class 11AA|
|Saturday (Nov. 11) – 7:30 p.m.||Class 11AAA|
But before we get to a weekend full of state title games, we’ll have a Friday night full of semifinal action.
Here’s a look at each semifinal contest:
#1 LINCOLN VS. #4 BRANDON VALLEY
The top-seed is 11AAA will put their unbeaten record to the test Friday when Lincoln meets Brandon Valley.
To no surprise, the Patriots own the top scoring offense and defense in the class. It’s led by their 53 points per game offense.
Lincoln has scored at least 55 points in each of the last six games.
On the other side of the field, Brandon Valley is seeking their fourth straight victory. The Lynx have won seven of their last eight games, averaging a 34 point margin of victory in those wins.
However, the question is… can the Lynx beat the red hot Patriots?
Brandon Valley has a ton of size on both sides of the field. If they can find a way to have success at the line of scrimmage, while also possessing the football, it’ll give them a chance to slow down the high flying Pats.
Lincoln will look to use the same strategy they’ve done this season. Stop the run and force the other team to be one dimensional.
#2 HARRISBURG VS. #3 O’GORMAN
The other 11AAA semifinal is a rematch of quite the contest from two weeks ago.
Harrisburg and O’Gorman own the second and third best scoring offenses in 11AAA, but that didn’t show up in their last meeting.
The Tigers outlasted the Knights 19-17 in a defensive thriller. That gave both teams a 7-2 record (at the time) giving Harrisburg the semifinal home game.
The key to watch in this game is which teams weapons will rise up to the occasion in the playoffs.
Harrisburg has several key players who add to their team such as Tytan Tryon, Sam Knuth, Max Carlson and that’s just to name a few.
O’Gorman matches well with names such as Hayden Groos, Maverick Jones, Henry Theobald and Ryland Satter.
These guys are just a few of the players who will be key in Friday’s semifinal, where the two very evenly matched teams will battle for a spot in the 11AAA state title game.
#1 PIERRE VS. #4 WATERTOWN
An 11AA semifinal in the state’s capital city, seems like an annual tradition. The six time defending state champs are seeking a record seventh straight title.
Pierre owns the top scoring offense, defense and scoring margin in 11AA, thus is why they’re the top seed in the class.
The Governors have been led by Cade Kaiser. The dual threat quarterback has 36 total touchdowns this year with 29 through the air and 7 on the ground.
Standout wide receiver Jett Zabel has 945 yards and 17 touchdowns receiving this year.
Their opponent will be the Watertown Arrows, who are back in the semifinals.
Watertown is 7-3 this year. Their three losses have come at the hands of the three teams seeded above them in Pierre, Tea Area and Yankton.
The two teams met back on September 22 with the Govs jumping out to a 28-7 halftime lead. Pierre would roll to the 49-20 win, thanks to 425 total yards and five total scores from Kaiser.
#2 YANKTON VS. #3 TEA AREA
Tea Area advanced to their first ever 11AA state championship game in 2021, following a semifinal win over Yankton, 35-28.
Now, nearly two years later, the Bucks are set to host Tea Area with a spot in the title game up for grabs.
Pierre has been the clear cut number one team this season, having won two tight contests over both Yankton and Tea Area.
Yankton solidified themselves as the second seed, following September’s 37-26 win at Tea.
Outside of that outcome, the numbers would say that the two teams are quite even.
Tea Area is scoring 35 points per game, while allowing 19 defensively. Yankton is putting up 34 points per contest, while defensively they’re allowing 15.
Those numbers are quite similar and that’s not surprising as the two teams prep to play in one of the more highly anticipated semifinals this season.
#1 DELL RAPIDS VS. #4 SIOUX FALLS CHRISTIAN
Friday will be a rematch of last year’s 11A semifinal. Sioux Falls Christian came up to Dell Rapids last year and challenged the Quarriers, but it was Dells who pulled away for the 44-26 win.
This year, the Chargers will try to play upset as they meet the only unbeaten team in the class.
Dell Rapids is 10-0, led by an offense which is scoring 45.2 points per game. That’s 10.5 points better than any other team in 11A.
SDSU commit quarterback, Jack Henry has been outstanding, plus he has a load of weapons in Mason Stubbe and Cole Ruesink, just to name a few.
Sioux Falls Christian is coming off a tight win over Dakota Valley, 24-13.
The Charger defense is allowing 12.7 points per contest this season, which is tied for the best in 11A. That side of the ball will face their toughest challenge, but it’ll also be the opportunity that SFC needs to hang in Friday’s game.
#2 WEST CENTRAL VS. #6 LENNOX
Lennox was the only team to claim an upset win in the state’s three largest classes, but now they draw annual power, West Central.
The two teams are almost polar opposites offensively.
The Trojans are posting 33 points per contest, third best in 11A and they do so mainly via the run. Running backs Chet Carda and Jesse Jost pace their ground game, while quarterback Caden Alfson adds a passing threat when needed.
Lennox on the other hand scores 27 points a game. That ranks fifth in 11A, but the near majority of their scoring comes through the air.
Quarterback Boston Katzer has established himself as one of the top throwers in the state, especially given the number of times that his arm is put to the test.
Wide receivers Porter Ihnen, Drake Mikkelsen and Trey Gerdes help fuel that passing attack.
The two teams met just three weeks ago and West Central ran away with the contest, cruising to a 36-6 win. However, the weather was windy, rainy and cold, the opposite of what a passing game has success with.
The weather is set to be nice, but Lennox will still need to find a way to slow down the Trojan ground game.
#1 WINNER VS. #4 ELK POINT-JEFFERSON
From a DakotaDome thriller to a semifinal battle… we could be in for a treat come Friday.
Elk Point-Jefferson slipped past Winner 21-14 in last year’s 11B title game and now they’re meeting for a spot in this year’s championship.
The Warriors were one of two teams to remain unbeaten through the regular season, however Sioux Valley’s loss in the quarterfinals gave way to Winner being the only loss-less team.
Winner had a statement win four weeks ago, knocking off 11A #2 West Central 28-0… on the road! Including that contest, the Warriors have won four straight without allowing a point and outscoring their opponents 142-0.
Elk Point-Jefferson suffered their only loss of the year to Sioux Valley, but since, they’ve rattled off seven straight wins, allowing just 8 points per game defensively.
Despite having a solid defense, they aren’t the best in 11B. To be exact, EPJ is fifth best in the class, while Winner, who hasn’t allowed a point in more than a month is the best scoring defense, allowing just 4 points per game.
#6 HOT SPRINGS VS. #10 RAPID CITY CHRISTIAN
Hot Springs has been impressive this year and there are three key reasons why.
- The Bison are scoring 43.5 points per game, top in 11B.
- They have one loss. That came to 11A #1 Dell Rapids. Hot Springs led that game for a while and fell in the final seconds, 20-14.
- The Bison were the only team to defeat Sioux Valley, following their quarterfinal upset. Hot Springs cruised to a 49-13 win last week.
While all of those help make the Bison a tough team in 11B, it doesn’t change the fact that their closest 11B outcome was against Rapid City Christian.
Hot Springs defeated St. Thomas More 31-7 on September 16. That is their second closest outcome in a win this year.
Rapid City Christian played Hot Springs to a 23-13 game, holding the state’s best offense to nearly half of their average.
The Comets own the second best scoring defense in 11B, it’s a big reason they’ve been able to collect back-to-back upset wins.
We’ll see how the battle test Comets can handle the red hot Bison come Friday.
#1 PARKSTON VS. #4 HAMLIN
9AA has featured a powerhouse of teams, but there will be a new champion as Hamlin knocked off Wall last week.
Now, the Chargers are set to play Parkston, a team that has shown true dominance in their 10-0 run so far this season.
The Trojans own the second best scoring offense and the top scoring defense and scoring margin in the class.
Of all the teams to have a better scoring offense, it’s Hamlin who is posting 45.7 points per contest.
Now that scoring offense will cross paths with the defense of Parkston who hasn’t allowed a point since September 8, has only given up 20 points all season and is allowing just two points a contest.
The Trojans had their closest outcome in that September 8 game, when they beat Hanson 16-6. Since then, they’ve outscored their opponents 280-0.
Can Hamlin turn the tides?
First, the Chargers will look to break the scoreless streak, by putting points on the board. Then, it’ll come down to building consistency on both sides of the ball, which has been the exact recipe Parkston has used this year.
#2 PLATTE-GEDDES VS. #3 HOWARD
Platte-Geddes has flown under the radar this season. The Panthers are 9-1 this season, despite not finishing the year as a ranked squad.
They didn’t let that stop them as they’ve won nine straight games and outscored their two opponents in the playoffs 80-12. Their lone loss this season came to Parkston in the first game of the year, 46-0.
Howard is back in the semifinals following last year’s quarterfinal loss to Parkston.
The Tigers lost to Canistota in their second game, but they’ve rattled of seven straight wins, including an impressive win over Elkton-Lake Benton 28-8.
Parkston, Hamlin and Howard sit first, second and third in scoring margin for class 9AA, while Platte-Geddes is ninth.
The Panthers have quietly reached the semifinals as the second seed and they’re hoping that they can continue to play at that level come the Friday night lights.
#1 WARNER VS. #4 CANISTOTA
One of the top semifinal matchups has to be Warner and Canistota. This two teams are annual powers and now it’s a clash of some high powered offenses.
The two squads met in the quarterfinals a year ago. The Hawks had an early lead, but a late surge put Warner in position to win 48-31.
The Monarchs have been led by quarterback Hunter Cramer who is one of the top players in 9-man. He’s helped pace the second best scoring offense as Warner is putting up 46.3 points per contest.
Canistota also has a star QB in senior Tage Ortman. He’s been impressive all year, including a stellar performance in their 70-19 win over Gregory in the quarterfinals.
Many times in the playoffs, the defenses will show up limiting high scoring offenses, however I don’t foresee that happening. I think the two offenses will be on full display Friday.
#3 PHILIP VS. #7 DEUBROOK AREA
Deubrook Area threw a wrench in the 9A playoff bracket, following a 14-10 upset win over two-seed Alcester-Hudson.
Now, the Dolphins have their hands full going up against the unbeaten Philip Scotties.
Philip is scoring 50 points per game, which is top in the 9A. They’ve been led by a rushing attack that has tallied 2,462 yards, which is an average of 246 yards per contest.
Ryker Peterson has rushed for 1,005 yards and 18 touchdowns, while Layton Terkildsen has tallied 797 yards and 19 scores on the ground. They’ve built quite the two-headed monster in the run game.
Deubrook Area finished the regular season with a 5-3 record, but back-to-back wins in the playoffs over Estelline/Hendricks and Alcester-Hudson.
The Dolphins own the fourth best scoring defense in the class. They showed how well they can play in the quarterfinal win, now the challenge turns to the top offense in the 9A.
#1 AVON VS. #4 DE SMET
We’ve mentioned some high powered semifinals and the Avon vs. De Smet contest should be no different.
Both squads are 4-1 in their last five games. Statistically, the two teams have very similar offenses.
De Smet is scoring 38 points per game, while Avon is posting 37 points a contest. Those rank as the second and third best scoring offenses in 9B.
The main difference is on the other side of the ball. The Bulldogs allow 10 points per game, which is second best in the class.
However, the Pirates haven’t had as much success. They’re allowing 25 points per game, which is sixth best in the class.
Avon has lived a little more dangerously than your average top seed team. Of the top seeds in the other classes, Pierre has the second smallest margin of victory at 28 points per game.
The Pirates are below half that, averaging a 12 point victory this year.
#2 FAULKTON AREA VS. #11 POTTER COUNTY
When it comes to statistics, Faulkton Area may be the most dominant team in 9B this season… but now they’ve got to contend with the upset minded Potter County Battlers.
Faulkton Area owns the top scoring offense and defense, leading to the top scoring margin of 34 points per game.
Potter County on the other hand is one of the few teams left in the playoffs that has a negative scoring margin.
The Battlers entered the playoffs with a 3-5 record, but have cracked off wins over Dell Rapids St. Mary and Corsica-Stickney, sneaking them into the semifinals.
Potter County has had no trouble scoring, but their defense is 12th in scoring allowing 37 points per contest.
Faulkton Area will be the host squad Friday and they’re looking to stay unbeaten at home. The Trojans have been nearly unstoppable on their home turf.
KELOLAND MEDIA GROUP COVERAGE
KELOLAND will have highlights from nine of the 14 semifinals across South Dakota.
Those games and updated scores will be shown in the KELOLAND SportsZone on Friday, November 3 at 10:15 p.m.
You can also follow along with Friday’s semifinal scores in our Semifinal Scoreboard story on KELOLAND.com.
We’ll also have livestream coverage of both 11AAA semifinals games from Howard Wood Field and Harrisburg.