SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Four weeks have come and gone in the 2022 South Dakota high school football season. 11B and 9-man schools have just five weeks left as the classes begin to sort themselves out.

Plenty of football action happened this past weekend and we’re going to take a look at what we learned through the seven classes.

11AAA

Jefferson sits atop the 11AAA poll for the third straight week, following a 30-13 win over #3 Lincoln.

The Cavaliers looked sharp in their victory as they raced out to a 30-0 lead at halftime. The defense and offense were nearly perfect in the first half.

Sioux Falls Jefferson – 2022

Running back, Nelson Wright, rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone. However, he’d leave in the second quarter with an injury and he wouldn’t return to the contest.

That proved to be an issue. Jefferson didn’t score in the second half, but they didn’t really have to either. With a four-score lead, the Cavs showed less urgency.

Wright has been a rock for Jefferson through three games. He’s rushed for over 100 yards in each of the contests. We’ll see how long he’s unable to play and how that’ll affect the Cavs.

Lincoln was unable to run the ball effectively on Saturday and that forced them to throw. The passing game couldn’t find the chunk plays that they normally find as the Cavs kept everything in front of them.

The Patriots got in a 16-0 hole before they could even blink on Saturday. A better start will be key for this team going forward.

On that note, Jefferson has now raced out to big leads in each of their three games.

#2 O’Gorman

O’Gorman is coming off their first loss of the season, as they suffered a 44-41 setback to 11AA #2 Tea Area. Two things stick out about the loss for the Knights.

The first thing is something we probably already knew… Bennett Dannenbring can play! He threw for 482 yards in the loss, and it was raining for most of the contest. We knew he could play, but seeing him have to play wire-to-wire for the first time this season, he really shined.

The second thing is more of a concern for the Knights. They allowed Tea Area to rush for 300 yards. While the Titans have the ability to rush well against any team, it’s still a concern anytime a defense gives up 300 yards on the ground. That’s something the Knights will have to tighten up going forward.

#4 Harrisburg

The final team we’ll discuss in 11AAA is Harrisburg, who appears to be adjusting well to the loss of 23 seniors from last season.

Not to mention, the Tigers lost their standout running back, Gavin Ross in the first half of their season opening game.

Harrisburg has now won back-to-back games and their defense has really been impressive. The Tigers have allowed just 14 points of offense over the last two games, while their offense posted 56 points.

Anytime you lose that many players, it’s nearly impossible to hit the ground at full speed the next year, but the Tigers have quickly found their footing and they are quietly becoming a team to keep a close eye on in 11AAA.

They’ll face a big test on Friday when they host Lincoln.


11AA

Pierre is still the top team in 11AA, but Tea Area’s impressive win over O’Gorman, earned them one first place vote.

#1 Pierre

Pierre beat Mitchell, 50-6 on Saturday, but we honestly didn’t learn much.

Lincoln Kienholz dominated against the Kernels, but that’s nothing new. The future Washington Huskie threw for 388 yards and six touchdowns.

We also saw Jack Merkwan have another great game, but again, there’s little surprise there. He had five catches for 212 yards and a touchdown.

It’s still clear in 11AA, that Pierre is the favorite, but they may have some company for a second straight season.

#2 Tea Area

As mentioned above, Tea Area rushed for 300 yards in Friday’s win over O’Gorman. Anytime you can rush like that against a team from 11AAA, it’ll catch people’s attention.

Blake Thompson was a nearly unstoppable force for the Titans. He rushed for more than 150 yards, while also collecting two interceptions on the defensive side of the ball.

The Titans certainly made people turn their heads with their victory.

For those who are curious, Pierre hosts Tea Area on Friday, October 14 at 7 p.m.

#3 Yankton

Yankton sits at number three, as they are coming off a dominant 41-7 win over Watertown.

The Bucks are now 3-0 and they’re winning by an average of 37 points per contest. That’s quite the resume against Mitchell, Watertown and Spearfish.

Led by quarterback, Rugby Ryken, the Bucks are pouring points onto the scoreboard.

However, we’re looking to learn a lot come Friday evening. Yankton travels to Pierre to play the Govs on Homecoming.

This will be the biggest test to date for both Yankton and Pierre.


11A

11A has West Central still atop the rankings, but Dell Rapids sits right behind them at number two.

#1 West Central

West Central’s Justin Zirpel – SR Quarterback

West Central is now 3-0 on the season, but it hasn’t come easy. After a 43-point win over Custer to open the year, the Trojans have earned a pair of three-point victories.

The second half offense, particularly in the fourth quarter. The Trojans scored 14 points to help knock off Madison on Friday, 28-25.

The Trojans have now scored 27 points in the fourth quarter alone over the past two games. That ability to score late is certainly a big reason West Central is unbeaten.

#2 Dell Rapids

Dell Rapid sits at number two in the rankings as they are also 3-0.

The biggest thing we learned from the Quarriers this week is the fact that they can score the football.

Dells put up 41 in a win over Hot Springs. That’s the third time this year they’ve posted at least 30 points in a game.

They’re currently scoring 39.7 points per game.

The Quarriers have plenty of speed and athleticism, especially at their skill positions and so it’s by no surprise that their offense has been sharp.

#3 Canton

Sophomore Wide Receiver – Cain Wallner throws a WR pass against Lennox

The final team that we’ll look at in 11A is the Canton C-Hawks.

They are now 2-1 on the season, but they’ve played a very challenging schedule to this point.

The C-Hawks have beaten Lennox (36-25) and Sioux Falls Christian (27-20). Those two teams have been receiving votes all season long in 11A.

Canton’s lone loss came at the hands of Beresford in a 7-6 decision. The Watchdogs are ranked fourth.

The C-Hawks may have played the toughest schedule this season and it doesn’t get any easier. In fact, Canton may have their toughest battle on Friday when they host #2 Dell Rapids.

The C-Hawks offense has been strong in two of their three games and they’ll need it to be tough on Friday, when they face the talented offense from Dell Rapids.


11B

The 11B rankings didn’t change one bit this week as Winner remains the top team in 11B, followed by Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan, Elk Point-Jefferson, St. Thomas More and Mt. Vernon/Plankinton.

#1 Winner

The Warriors took on a talented 11A team in Beresford last week, but Winner still earned a 22-0 win.

The Watchdogs were able to keep the Warrior offense in check, but the Winner defense continued their season of dominance.

Winner is still scoring 46 points per contest this season and their defense is allowing just eight points.

With talent like that, the Warriors may be unstoppable in 11B again. I’d still keep an eye on the other ranked teams however.

#2 Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan

When you lose your quarterback with an injury early in the season, how do you adjust? Simple, you just play suffocating defense.

The Seahawks haven’t allowed a single opponent to score more than once in a game this year.

Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan is allowing 3.8 points per game. That’s just a hair more than a field goal per game.

While the Seahawk offense has leveled off over the past three games, the defense is playing championship level and they’ll need to that over the next four games.

Their next four opponents have a combined record of 15-1 as they are set to play Sioux Valley, Winner, McCook Central/Montrose and Elk Point-Jefferson. That is an insanely tough schedule.

#3 Elk Point-Jefferson

Elk Point-Jefferson came into the season as one of the favorites to potentially dethrone back-to-back state champion, Winner.

The Huskies are 3-0 and coming off a bye last week. They have scored 155 points in three games, while not allowing a single point.

They’ve defeated Parker, Baltic and Sioux Valley by a combined score of 155-0.

Ben Swatek and Lucas Hueser are the two-headed monster at running back, that combine with quarterback Noah McDermott to build a loaded backfield.

Elk Point-Jefferson is playing some incredible football and they should be considered one of the more dangerous teams in 11B.

Teams to watch: Aberdeen Roncalli, McCook Central/Montrose, Mount Vernon/Plankinton and St. Thomas More are four teams that are currently undefeated.

That’s a total of seven undefeated teams in 11B through four weeks and that’s something to keep a close eye on.


9AA

There is a lot of talent in 9AA as the five teams in the rankings have a combined record of 18-2.

Howard, Wall, Hamlin, Elkton-Lake Benton and Freeman/Marion/Freeman Academy are the five teams that are still unbeaten.

#1 Howard

Statically, the Howard Tigers don’t have a top five offense or defense in 9AA and they rank 11th in scoring differential at just 11.3.

Part of that is the fact the Tigers have only scored 25 or more points in one game. They’ve played a challenging schedule, that saw them open the season with a trio of one score victories.

The first was against Hanson (20-12), the second against Canistota (21-20) and third against Kimball/White Lake (9-6).

The offense finally found its’ rhythm last week with a 59-26 win over Colman-Egan.

The biggest thing we learned about Howard is that their offense has the capability of pointing up points in bunches. That’ll be key for them as they prepare for a touch stretch of games.

The final four opponents for Howard have a combined record of 10-4. It’ll be a difficult stretch for the undefeated Tigers.

#2 Wall

Unlike Howard, Wall is at the top or near the top of every statistical category.

The Eagles own the top scoring offense and second-best scoring defense, while boasting the top scoring margin in 9AA at 46.3 points per contest.

Wall has scored at least 49 points in every game this season.

Led by running back, Cedar Amiotte and quarterback Burk Blasius, the Eagles are certainly a contender for the 9AA title.

#3 Hamlin

The Hamlin Chargers also own quite the impressive team stats. They have the top scoring defense in the state, as they’re allowing just 4.5 points per contest.

On the other side of the ball, they own the second-best offense in 9AA, scoring 47.3 points per contest. That’s a 42.8 point margin of victory per contest.

The Chargers have a young team this year, as they have just six seniors on the roster.

They haven’t played the most difficult schedule to this point, but that is set to change real soon. The next three opponents have a combined record of 9-1. That includes a pair of undefeated matchups on the road against Castlewood and Warner.

Hanson’s Jackson Jarding runs the rock against Parkston – September 9

Teams to watch: The top teams in the 9AA standings have a chance to make noise as the season continues.

That includes the three above plus Elkton-Lake Benton, Hanson, Freeman/Marion/Freeman Academy, Bon Homme, Ipswich, Parkston and Viborg-Hurley.

9AA has some incredible depth this season.

One game to note, Howard hosts Freeman/Marion/Freeman Academy on Friday in a battle of unbeatens.


9A

There are five undefeated teams in class 9A, but only four of them are ranked. Canistota is lone team in the rankings, that doesn’t own an undefeated record.

#1 Gregory

Gregory hasn’t played too difficult of a schedule this season. Their three opponents have a 2-8 combined record.

While their schedule hasn’t been too tough, the Gorillas have still run the table in style. Gregory is averaging a 32 point victory per game this year.

Over the next four games, the Gorillas will face a mixture of teams. Two of the teams are winless, but the other two, Parkston and Bon Homme, have a combined 5-2 record.

Gregory will get tested facing those two challenging teams who are both in 9AA.

#2 Warner

Warner is number two in 9A and they are receiving a first place vote. The Monarchs have one of the top defenses in the class as they’re allowing just 11 points per game.

Hunter Cramer first started at quarterback in 2020 and he’s only gotten better over the past two seasons. He was a freshman in 2020.

He’s one of 16 upper classmen on the Warner team this fall and that age has shown so far.

The Monarchs picked up a quality win a couple weeks ago over Ipswich. The game was tied at halftime, but Warner would outscore the Tigers 14-6 in the second half to earn the win.

Hamlin will come to town on Friday, September 30. There’s a potential for that game to be a battle of two undefeated teams.

#3 Castlewood

Castlewood checks in at number three in 9A. They’re 3-0 this season, including an impressive 20-14 win over De Smet in their season opener.

Castlewood football vs. Dell Rapids St. Mary

The Warriors are 3-0, thanks to a tremendous start to the season by junior quarterback, Lane Tvedt.

The QB has thrown for 413 yards and seven touchdowns, while rushing for 213 yards and six more score.

Castlewood has three running backs who have contributed this season, including Paul Everson, Quincy Thu and Jeremiah Wiersma.

While the offense is scoring 47 points per game, it’s the Castlewood defense that is the best in 9A. The Warriors are allowing just 6.7 points per contest.

They’ll get a challenge a week sooner than Warner, when Castlewood hosts Hamlin.

Teams to watch: Outside of the three above, there are four other teams to watch in 9A.

Lyman and Alcester-Hudson are the two other unbeaten teams, while Canistota and Harding County/Bison have each suffered at least one loss.

Alcester-Hudson travels to Chester Area, while Canistota hosts Elkton-Lake Benton. Both of those games will help tell the story this week in 9A.


9B

9B is one of the three classes in the state that has a unanimous number one ranked team.

#1 Herreid/Selby Area

54 points per game offensively and 6.7 points per contest defensively, that’s what the Wolverines have posted this season.

Herreid/Selby Area returned a lot of talent from their 9A runner-up finish last season.

Those returners include quarterback, Tray Hettick and running back Brenden Begeman, just to name a couple.

Begeman is one of the top players in all of 9-man football and he’s shown that so far this season.

The Wolverines have played a lighter schedule to this point, but it’ll get a lot tougher over the next two games.

Herreid/Selby Area travels to Ipswich and Sully Buttes. Those two have a combined record of 7-1.

#2 Hitchcock-Tulare

An aerial attack and the best defense in 9B, that’s what you’ll see from Hitchcock-Tulare.

Senior quarterback, Carter Binger has thrown for 690 yards in their four games. He’s tallied 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

Junior running back, Eric Salmen has been tremendous as well. He’s rushed for 475 yards and seven touchdowns, while averaging 7.1 yards per carry.

At the same time, the Patriots have allowed just 20 points to be scored over their four games. That five points per game average, makes them the top scoring defense in 9B.

Hitchcock-Tulare will host #4 Avon on Friday. They’ll travel to play #3 De Smet on October 7.

#3 De Smet

The Bulldogs lost their season opening contest to Castlewood, 20-14. Since then, they’ve picked up three wins by outscoring their opponents 146-15.

De Smet has had a number of players contribute this season including Gannon Gruenhagen, Gannon Gilligan, Trace Van Regenmorter, Britt Carlson and Kadyn Fast, just to name a few.

The Bulldogs have the third best offense in 9B, behind the two teams that are ranked above them. They’ll get a shot at Hitchcock-Tulare in early October.

That contest will certainly open up a clear favorite to contend with undefeated #1, Herreid/Selby Area.