There were plenty of reasons why Sioux Falls Washington completed a 12-0 season with its second consecutive state championship and many of them can be found on the Class 11AAA All-State football team.
Eight Warriors, four on offense and four on defense, spearhead the 26-member squad as selected by the South Dakota Football Coaches Association.
Washington honorees include junior center Will Farniok, the only repeat selection from the 2015 honor squad. Senior defensive backs Zack Bolden and Jack Bren, senior defensive tackle Dominick Warmbein, junior linebacker Seth Benson, junior guard Payton Lester, junior wide receiver Logan Uttecht and sophomore running back Tupak Kpeayeh also represent the Warriors.
The squad includes six players from runner-up Brandon Valley (Spencer Grage, Max Howard, Cade Terveer, Riley Schmeling, Alex Wickersham and Drew Jurgens) and four from Sioux Falls Roosevelt (Torren Devericks, Tyson Jahn, Nathan Varns and Carter Carstens).
Other honorees are Cam White, George Johnson and Jamin Wurtz of Rapid City Stevens; Chase Jacobs and Braiden Nelson of Aberdeen Central; Dane Stahl and Parker Schulz of Watertown; Sam Burnison of Sioux Falls O’Gorman; Ira Murphey of Rapid City Central and Cory Fichter of Sioux Falls Lincoln.
Jahn, Carstens and Bren were each honorable-mention selections in 2015.
• QB — Torren Devericks, Roosevelt: The 5-foot-9 senior led the Rough Riders to a 9-2 record and a semifinal appearance by completing 217 out of 333 passes for 3,162 yards and 32 touchdowns (all school records). He also added seven rushing touchdowns and was intercepted only six times.
“Most fun kid to coach,” said Roosevelt head coach Kim Nelson. “He worked extremely hard in the offseason.”
• FB — Sam Burnison, O’Gorman: The 6-0, 210-pound senior was a factor on both sides of the ball for the Knights, who finished 7-4. He rushed for 445 yards and nine touchdowns and also hauled in 11 passes for 76 yards.
“Sam was our team captain and our best all-around player,” said O’Gorman head coach Jayson Poppinga.
• RB — Tyson Jahn, Roosevelt: The 5-8, 185-pound senior provided 1,300 yards of total offense for the Rough Riders. He rushed for 901 yards and 16 touchdowns and also caught 34 passes for 399 yards and a touchdown. Finished his career with 1,714 yards rushing and 26 touchdowns and 67 receptions for 757 yards and four touchdowns.
“Tyson had a great weight room effort and will play some college football,” said Nelson.
• RB — Tupak Kpeayeh, Washington: The 5-9, 175-pound sophomore closed out a stellar season by rushing for 231 yards and three touchdowns in the Warriors’ 41-31 championship win over Brandon Valley. He finished the season with 1,666 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns.
“Tupak is a tough little runner who was our workhorse throughout the year,” said Washington head coach Chad Stadem. “He fit our offense well. He’s a good reader and his size allowed him to hide behind our huge offensive line.”
• WR — Logan Uttecht, Washington: The Warriors could also pass and the 6-2, 185-pound junior was a key target. He hauled in 43 passes for 835 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“Logan has the best ball skills I have seen at the high school level and is able to our jump many defenders for the ball,” said Stadem. “He is also able to run crisp routes without losing his speed.”
• WR — Nathan Varns, Roosevelt: The 6-0, 190-pound junior hauled in many of Devericks’ passes, 74 of them for 1,267 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
“Nathan is a big-play receiver who averaged more than 100 yards per game receiving for us,” said Nelson. “He is big, fast, strong and smart.”
• TE — Spencer Grage, Brandon Valley: As long as we’re speaking of big targets, we have to mention the 6-4, 220-pound Grage. He hauled in 41 passes for 505 yards and six touchdowns for the Lynx.
“Spencer is the best blocking tight end we’ve ever had and yet has very soft hands and makes a great target to throw to,” said Brandon Valley head coach Chad Garrow.
• OT — Max Howard, Brandon Valley: The biggest player on the All-State team, the 6-7, 350-pound Howard certainly helped the Lynx offense produce more than 4,000 yards of offense and better than 35 points per game this fall.
“Max has improved tremendously over the course of two years,” said Garrow. “His feet have gotten better and he is a very large offensive presence.”
• OT — Chase Jacobs, Aberdeen Central: The 6-6, 290-pound senior was a two-year starter on offense and a three-year starter on defense for the Golden Eagles, who compiled a 4-6 record this fall.
“He’s a great player, a great student and a great kid,” said Aberdeen Central head coach Mike Flakus. “He was a great leader and role model. He plays the game the way it is intended to be played.”
• OG — Dane Stahl, Watertown: The 5-11, 260-pound junior was the lineman the Arrows often chose to run behind and also excelled in pass protection for a squad that went 3-6.
“Dane is a very hard worker. He gives his all on the field and in the weight room,” said Watertown head coach John Hodorff. “He is a great leader and will be the leader of our team next season.”
• OG — Payton Lester, Washington: The 6-0, 235-pound junior wasn’t the biggest lineman for the Warriors, but certainly did his part in helping the team rack up more than 5,000 yards of total offense this fall.
“Payton is one of the more intelligent and toughest players at Washington,” said Stadem. “He is very athletic and maybe undersized as an offensive lineman, but is tough.”
• C — Will Farniok, Washington: The 6-3, 265-pound junior is well on his way to becoming the fourth Farniok brother to play big-time college football, following the footsteps of Tom (Iowa State), Derek (Oklahoma) and Matt (Nebraska).
“Will is a very athletic and intelligent player who has played an important role in the development of our offensive line,” said Stadem. “He is only going to get bigger and stronger.”
• DE — Carter Carstens, Roosevelt: The 6-2, 220-pound senior made his presence felt on defense for the Rough Riders, recording 59 tackles including nine for a loss and 7.5 quarterback sacks. He also intercepted a pass.
“The best defensive player we have,” said Nelson. “He plays hard every play.”
• DE — Cade Terveer, Brandon Valley: The 6-3, 230-pound junior also displayed his ability to disrupt opposing offenses. He recorded 54 tackles, 24 for a loss and 12.5 sacks. For good measure, he returned two of his three interceptions for touchdowns.
“Cade is one of the best defensive ends I’ve ever coached,” said Garrow. “He is very quick off the ball and can round the corner better than anyone I’ve ever seen.”
• DT — Dominick Warmbein, Washington: The Warriors weren’t just an offensive team, holding opponents to fewer than 20 points per game and creating 31 turnovers (15 fumbles and 16 interceptions). The 6-0, 235-pound senior notched 49 tackles, including six for a loss, and a quarterback sack.
“Dom is a talented and loyal player for his friends,” said Stadem. “He’s a ‘Yes Sir’ guy that is focused on being the best player and person he can be.”
• DT — Riley Schmeling, Brandon Valley: A two-way lineman for the Lynx, the 6-3, 225-pound senior made 36 tackles, 15 for a loss, and seven quarterback sacks.
“Riley is that continuos motor type of kid,” said Garrow. “He is one kid that we could play both ways with no break and he was as good the first play as the last.”
• LB — Ira Murphey, RC Central: The 6-4, 215-pound senior was the defensive leader for the a Cobblers team that went 3-7. He made 94 tackles, including eight for loss, and also forced a fumble and intercepted a pass.
“Ira was an on-field leader and a true voice of character in the locker room for us,” said Central head coach Rob Sales. “He is a tremendous student of the game and enjoys the process of getting better (film, weight room, practice).”
• LB — Seth Benson, Washington: The 6-1, 190-pound junior closed out a stellar season with nine tackles in the championship game. He finished with 74 tackles, including six for a loss. He also broke up three passes and intercepted one, forced four fumbles and blocked a punt.
“He is a talented player who can and did play many positions for us,” said Stadem. “An intelligent player, Seth prepares mentally as well as anyone on the team.”
• LB — Braiden Nelson, Aberdeen Central: A two-year starter, the 5-10, 190-pound senior led the Golden Eagles with 76 tackles (36 solos, 32 assists, two sacks and six tackles for a loss). He also intercepted two passes.
“Braiden is impossible to block and we tried to move him to the point of attack,” said Flakus. “He is relentless and took pride in getting to the pile in a bad mood.”
• LB — Parker Schulz, Watertown: The 6-0, 190-pound senior led the Arrows in tackles for the second straight season this fall. He finished with 85 tackles, including 28 solos, two quarterback sacks and a fumble recovery. Schulz plans to continue his football career at Minnesota State Moorhead.
“Parker is the type of kid every coach wants there to be on the team,” said Hodorff. “He works very hard and always has a great attitude. He is very deserving of being an All-State player.”
• DB — Zack Bolden Washington: The 5-10, 170-pound junior made 19 tackles, broke up six passes, intercepted three passes and also blocked a kick for the Warriors before missing the final four games of the season with a torn ACL.
“He was our best cover corner,” said Stadem. “He has played big roles over the last two seasons on defense, offense and special teams.”
• DB — Jack Bren, Washington: The 5-10, 175-pound senior also made his mark in the title game, recording six tackles, breaking up three passes and recovering a fumble. He finished with 40 tackles, 10 pass breakups, an interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
“Jack has been very consistent as a corner for us the last three seasons,” said Stadem. “He is an outstanding guys who is able to take players out of the game.”
• DB — Cam White, RC Stevens: A two-year starter at safety for the 3-7 Raiders, the 5-11, 170-pound senior noched 50 solo tackles and 16 assists this fall along with a sack, an interception and four forced fumbles.
“Cam is an outstanding individual and a very hard-nosed football player,” said Stevens head coach Scott Hagen. “He was a great leader for us and plays and practices at 100 percent all the time.”
• DB — Alex Wickersham, Brandon Valley: The 6-1, 194-pound senior made 37 tackles along with two interceptions, a fumble recovery and 8.5 pass breakups this fall for the Lynx.
“Alex has been a very vocal leader for us the past two years,” said Garrow. “He is truly one of our leaders on defense.”
• K — Drew Jurgens, Brandon Valley: The 6-8 senior was a huge weapon for the Lynx, scoring 72 points. He converted 50 of 58 extra-point kicks and six of 10 field-goal attempts. He added 38 touchbacks on kickoffs.
“Drew has been a great asset for our offense and defense,” said Garrow. “He would be a great college football kicker if he doesn’t choose basketball.”
• P — George Johnson, RC Stevens: The 5-10 senior punted 31 times for 1,083 yards this fall, a 35-yard average.
“George is a very hard worker and very coachable,” said Hagen. “He was the first one on the practice field and the last two leave.”
• Special Teams Player — Jamin Wurtz, RC Stevens: The 5-10, 155-pound junior started at cornerback and also returned punts (eight for 164 yards, 20.5 average) and kickoff (14 for 439 yards, 31.36 average) for the Raiders.
“Jamin is the hardest worker I’ve had at Stevens,” said Hagen. “Pound for pound, he was our strongest football player.”
• Long Snapper — Corey Fichter, Lincoln: The 5-10, 210-pound senior opened the season as Lincoln’s running back and also returned punts. He was 100 percent on long snaps.
“Corey is an excellent all-around athlete who would have been one of the best running backs in the state had it not been for injury,” said Lincoln head coach Brian Bechard. “As a long snapper, he never missed a snap and was excellent in coverage.”
Class 11AAA All-State Football Team
Chosen by the S.D. Football Coaches Association
• Quarterback — Torren Devericks, SF Roosevelt, sr.
• Fullback — Sam Burnison, SF O’Gorman, sr.
• Running Backs — Tyson Jahn, SF Roosevelt, sr. and Tupak Kpeayeh, SF Washington, so.
• Wide Receivers — Logan Uttecht, SF Washington, jr. and Nathan Varns, SF Roosevlt, jr.
• Tight End — Spencer Grage, Brandon Valley, sr.
• Tackles — Max Howard, Brandon Valley, jr. and Chase Jacobs, Aberdeen Central, sr.
• Guards — Dane Stahl, Watertown, jr. and Payton Lester, SF Washington, jr.
• Center — Will Farniok, SF Washington, jr.
• Ends — Carter Carstens, SF Roosevelt, sr. and Cade Terveer, Brandon Valley, jr.
• Tackles — Dominick Warmbein, SF Washington, sr. and Riley Schmeling, Brandon Valley, sr.
• Linebackers — Ira Murphey, RC Central, sr.; Seth Benson, SF Washington, jr.; Braiden Nelson, Aberdeen Central, sr. and Parker Schulz, Watertown, sr.
• Backs — Zack Bolden, SF Washington, sr.; Jack Bren, SF Washington, sr.; Cam White, RC Stevens, sr. and Alex Wickersham, Brandon Valley, sr.
• Kicker — Drew Jurgens, Brandon Valley, sr.
• Punter — George Johnson, RC Stevens, sr.
• Special Team Player — Jamin Wurtz, RC Stevens, jr.
• Long Snapper — Cory Fichter, SF Lincoln, sr.
Alex Waltner, Brandon Valley; Canyon Bauer, SF O’Gorman; Mason Archambault and Payton Oxner, RC Stevens; Austin Johnson, Gus Radell, Alex Denevan and Austin Boen, SF Roosevelt; Brock Walker, SF Washington; Jordan Ladson, RC Central; Collin Brison, SF Lincoln; Lucas Ferdinand, RC Stevens and Spencer Waege, Watertown.