Class 11A’s dominant past meets its dominant present today as three-time defending champion Dell Rapids visits Madison with a state championship game berth on the line.
The top-ranked Bulldogs (10-0) won the regular season meeting between the two teams 39-12, and haven’t stopped rolling since. Senior running back Rush Milne has been a force all season, rushing for over 1,200 yards and 30 touchdowns, and has been even tougher in the playoffs. He rushed for 207 yards and five TDs in Monday’s 54-11 rout of Vermillion, one week after scoring five first-quarter touchdowns against Milbank.
“He’s had himself a great season running the ball,” said Dell Rapids coach Steve Hansen. “They’re so good up front. He does a nice job of finding holes.”
And if it’s not Milne, the Bulldogs have been able to be a threat through the air with quarterback Jacob Giles (1,526 yards passing, 11 TDs) and Preston Nordling (651 receiving yards, five TDs), who is also dangerous in the return game.
Tyler Currey leads the defense with 90 tackles, including 10.5 for a loss.
Despite graduating 18 seniors over the last three years, leading to three returning starters this season, the Quarriers have remained in the conversation. Hansen’s group handled a physical Belle Fourche squad 42-6 last round behind 233 yards rushing and three touchdowns from Riley Schmidt.
One more win would send Dell Rapids (8-2) to the Dome for the fifth time in six years with the group finding a second wind throughout the playoffs.
“Our focus level has changed now that playoffs have come around,” said Hansen. “That’s one thing I know is our kids are going to play hard.”
West Central (8-2) is also on the verge of another trip to Vermillion with a visit to Hot Springs (9-1) tonight. The Trojans had no problem getting past Tea Area for the second time in two weeks, cruising to a 47-7 win.
West Central has run the ball as well as any team late in the season with the trio of Cole Tirrel (799 yards, 16 TD), Cody Bussell (706 yards, nine TD) and Cody Miller (505 yards, 10 TD).
The Trojans have been stout defensively as well and will need another strong effort to slow senior running back Jake Oberpriller, who has run for nearly 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns this season.
11B: Canton ready for road challenge
For the second time in as many weeks, Canton will face the best team it has all season.
Coming off a 34-13 win at Aberdeen Roncalli, the C-Hawks travel to defending champion Winner tonight with the victor moving on to the Class 11B state title game. The thing is, top-ranked Winner (10-0) owns the state’s longest active win streak at 22 games, including an 18-16 quarterfinal win over Tri-Valley.
Winner also offers a much different look offensively than what Canton (9-1) faced last round with the Warriors boasting a better ground game peppered with effective play-action. Senior running back Trace Meyer has run for over 1,200 yards and 17 touchdowns, while quarterback Nathan Galbraith has 11 total TDs.
“I don’t think we’ll see any of the five-wide stuff we saw on Monday, but when they do throw the ball it’s accurate. Guys are usually open because they run the ball so much before they throw that play-action,” said Canton coach Rich Lundstrom. “We have to be disciplined and trust our reads and not be looking in the backfield.”
If Canton is able to get on a roll the way it did in Aberdeen with Cody Majeres running the option to the tune of 135 yards and five total touchdowns, the C-Hawks could be looking at their first state championship game since 2006. That year, Canton defeated Winner in the 11A semifinals.
Parkston and St. Thomas More, both of whom lost to Winner in consecutive weeks this season, square off in the other semifinal game with the visiting Trojans (9-1) laying claim to a solid rushing attack.
Mitch Heisinger and Miles Semmler have combined for over 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. Defensively, Parkston has allowed just 14 points in two postseason games, however St. Thomas More (9-1) has recorded back-to-back shutouts.