It was a banner year for the Mitchell High School football team in 2016 and the achievements continue to roll in after the school’s first playoff-era state title.
Nine Kernels have been named to the Class 11AA all-state football team, as selected by South Dakota Football Coaches Association.
Mitchell led all Class 11AA teams with nine players, while Pierre had five players and state runner-up Harrisburg had four selections.
“The key to winning a championship is having talented players,” Mitchell head coach Kent VanOverschelde said. “For us to have that number of players and the quality of players recognized by the all-state team, is an indication of their capabilities and our team’s strength.”
The Kernels had three offensive lineman honored with Bryce Geraets (guard), Alex Klingaman (center) and Spencer Mohr (long snapper), while fullback Carson Max and running back Spencer Neugebauer were also named.
“On the offensive line, you can’t select them all, but they had all-state type performances throughout the year,” VanOverschelde said. “To have Carson recognized is attributed to the success of our team and the performance of the team. The fullback was the catalyst for helping make plays for Spencer and for Sam (Michels). It’s great to be noticed when you are bringing your hard hat and going to work every day.”
Defensively, Sam Michels (defensive back) and Cody Reichelt (linebacker) were honored, while Seth Paulson (kicker) and Jed Schmidt (special teams player) rounded out Mitchell’s all state honorees.
“Seth is a great example of a kid taking advantage of an opportunity and running with it,” VanOverschelde said. “Jed continued to improve each week. He was consistently in the right place and that’s a mark of a good athlete.”
Here is a capsule look at each player on the Class 11AA all-state team:
Quarterback — Peyton Zabel, Pierre: The junior quarterback led the Governors to a 5-6 record and the 11AA semifinals. He went 162-of-312 passing for 2,252 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Zabel added 76 carries for 281 and four rushing touchdowns.
Fullback — Carson Max, Mitchell: Mitchell’s sophomore blocking back helped pave the way for an offense that averaged 45 points per game. On the ground, Max had 36 carries for 184 yards and two touchdowns.
Running back — Spencer Neugebauer, Mitchell: The senior speedster was the Kernels No. 1 leader this season. Neugebauer earned his second first-team all-state selection after posting 42 total touchdowns in 2016. He rushed for 2,191 yards and 38 touchdowns and added eight catches for 204 yards and four touchdowns.
Running back — Branson Taylor, Douglas: A senior running back, Taylor led Douglas with 1,896 rushing yards and added two catches for 43 yards for a total of 15 touchdowns this season. He finished his prep career with 2,482 rushing yards.
Wide Receiver — Brad Dean, Pierre: The senior wide receiver was a constant threat for Pierre this season. Dean helped the Governors reach the semifinals with 64 catches for 995 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Wide Receiver — Jaxon Rosencranz, Spearfish: The Spartans’ senior wideout hauled in 24 passes for 461 yards and helped Spearfish reach the Class 11AA semifinals. He added 77 tackles, four interceptions and had 17 carries for 56 yards.
Tight End — Joe King, Pierre: A senior, King grabbed 28 catches for 357 yards and four touchdowns as Pierre reached the semifinals and finished with a 5-6 record. On defense, King had 74 tackles, six tackles for loss, one sack and two forced fumbles.
Tackle — Ty Paulsen, Pierre: Protecting the Pierre offense, Paulsen helped the Governors reach the semifinals. Pierre head coach Steve Steele said Paulsen played on the hardest spot on the offensive line and “did a great job helping the offense.”
Tackle— Eddie Miller, Brookings: Tagged as Brookings’ MVP by head coach Lee Schmidt, Miller has been a huge part of the Bobcat offensive line the past three seasons. In his senior season, Miller played on both sides of the line, recording 31 tackles and five tackles for loss. Miller will continue his football career at South Dakota State University.
Guard — Bryce Geraets, Mitchell: A senior and three-year starter for the Kernels, Geraets helped Mitchell claim its first state championship in the playoff era. Geraets helped Mitchell’s offense average 392.5 yards per game and rush for 341.7 yards per game.
Guard — Brendan Rotert, Spearfish: As a senior guard, Rotert helped Spearfish reach the Class 11AA semifinals. He blocked for an offense that racked up 3,310 yards on the season. He added 57 tackles on defense for the Spartans.
Center — Alex Klingaman, Mitchell: The Kernels’ steady center helped Mitchell to a 11-1 record and the school’s first playoff era state championship. Klingaman, also an all-conference selection, helped the offense average 45 points per game.
Defensive end — Michael Chaffin, Spearfish: A two-way lineman for the Spartans, Chaffin recorded 28 tackles and five sacks, while helping block for an offense that recorded 3,310 yards. The senior’s hard work helped Spearfish reach the semifinals.
Defensive end — Tanner Johnson, Harrisburg: Another stout lineman for Harrisburg, Johnson had 32 tackles, four sacks, eight tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries. He finished with six sacks in his career and helped the Tigers make the state championship game.
Defensive tackle — Gage Anderson, Harrisburg: A senior defensive tackle, Anderson recorded 49 tackles, five sacks, nine tackles for loss and one fumble recovery for the Tigers. Harrisburg head coach Brandon White called Anderson the team’s “vocal leader.”
Defensive tackle — Joel Carpenter, Sturgis: The junior lineman finished the season with 52 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, two sacks, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He’s been a three-year all-conference selection and hasn’t missed a game in three seasons for the Scoopers.
Linebacker — Cody Reichelt, Mitchell: Mitchell’s defensive leader recorded 102 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and one fumble recover. On offense, he led the state champions with 11 catches for 251 yards and five touchdowns.
Linebacker — Sam Kretschmar, Huron: A senior for the Tigers, Kretschmar recorded 104 tackles and three sacks to help Huron achieve a 4-6 record. He was honored as an all-conference lineman, but Huron head coach Michael Schmitz said Kretschmar is “a better linebacker” and “impacts every play.”
Linebacker — Logan Warzecha, Harrisburg: The junior for Harrisburg, Warzech complied 83 tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and four interceptions. He played a crucial role on Harrisburg’s defense, helping the team reach the DakotaDome.
Linebacker — Jerod Boswell, Douglas: A senior captain for Douglas, Boswell recorded 134 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and 1.5 sacks. “His heart and soul came out in our defense,” Douglas head coach Dan Maciejczak said.
Defensive back — Sam Michels, Mitchell: Another Mitchell senior that played a vital role for Kernels. Michels had 32 tackles and four interceptions, while covering the opposing team’s top wide receiver. He also added 91 carries for 629 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, while sharing carries with Spencer Neugebauer.
Defensive back — Hyland Heinz, Huron: Huron’s senior leader recorded 30 total tackles and had one interception on defense, leading the Tigers to a 4-6 record. “Hyland is an extremely competitive and hard-working kid,” Huron head coach Michael Schmitz said. “He loves to hit in the running game and is a great tackler.”
Defensive back — Brock Harris, Harrisburg: The senior recorded 32 tackles, three tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries for the Tigers. He helped lead Harrisburg to the state championship game and was a two-year starter. “Brock plays very aggressive football and does not shy away from any contact,” Harrisburg head coach Brandon White said. “He has been a weight room leader.”
Defensive back — Jackson Bogue, Spearfish: As a senior defensive back, Bogue had 50 tackles, six interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He helped Spearfish reach the semifinals and added 1,081 yards rushing.
Kicker — Seth Paulson, Mitchell: In his first season kicking, the senior soccer player turned kicker made seven of nine field goals with a long of 44 yards. He went 68-of-71 on PATs and set a state record for points by a kicker with 89 points.
Punter — Kaden Hight, Pierre: Pierre’s senior punter averaged 39.2 yards per punt and had 16 punts pinned inside the 20-yard line. Kicking with both feet, Hight was a special teams weapon for the Governors, who reached the Class 11AA semifinals.
Special Team Player — Jed Schmidt, Mitchell: In his first full varsity season, Schmidt made an instant impact for the Kernels on special teams and in the defensive backfield. He led the team with seven interceptions and one defensive touchdown. The senior added six punt returns for 100 yards and one touchdown.
Long Snapper — Spencer Mohr, Mitchell: Another senior standout for the Kernels, Mohr was a crucial member of Mitchell’s offensive line that led a high-powered offense. Mohr was a steady player for three seasons and helped pave the way for an offense that scored 45 points per game.
Honorable mention: Seth Dikoff, jr., Douglas; Hunter Headlee, jr., Harrisburg; Jack Anderson, jr., Harrisburg; Jonah Rasmussen, sr., Harrisburg; Tanner Kippes, sr., Harrisburg; Tye Evers, sr., Huron; Chris Corbett, sr., Mitchell; Levi Stoltenburg, sr., Pierre; Erick Colman, jr., Pierre; Mike Lusk, jr., Pierre; Warrent Garreau, sr., Pierre; Spencer Sarringar, sr., Pierre; Mason Townsend, sr., Yankton; Casey Krejci, jr., Yankton.