The favorites in Class 11A advanced last week without much debate, moving the elite a step closer to reckoning time.
No. 1 Madison, No. 2 Dell Rapids and No. 3 West Central won first round games by a combined score of 151-12 in victories over Milbank, Sisseton and Cheyenne-Eagle Butte, respectively.
For Dell Rapids, its win over Sisseton included a lot of what has sustained the team all season. Riley Schmidt, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound senior, rushed nine times for 110 yards, caught three balls for 124 yards and scored four touchdowns. He’s averaging more than nine yards a carry this season.
“I thought they were focused – they did a nice job,” Dell Rapids coach Steve Hansen said earlier this week. “That’s what we asked of them to start the playoffs off – to go out and play sharp.”
The Quarriers will be facing surprise winner Vermillion tonight. The Tanagers used a strong first half and hung on for a tie with Tea, then dispatched the Titans in overtime with a Regan Bye 5-yard touchdown run to win 20-17.
It’s ironic that the Tanagers were in part crediting the Quarriers, who they lost to 39-12 the last week of the regular season, for playing so much better against the Titans.
“We played the No. 1 and No. 2 teams the last two weeks of the regular season and I think that really showed our kids how hard you actually need to play,” said Vermillion coach Andy Homan. “Not to take anything away from Tea, but they just don’t have guys the size of the players you face when you play Madison or Dell Rapids. I think our guys were so used to going against that the last few weeks, they discovered they could come up with the push they needed to get the run game set up.”
Madison rolled over Milbank and now will face Chamberlain at home. The Bulldogs are undefeated against South Dakota teams with their lone loss coming to Luverne, Minn. Chamberlain, (5-4) will be the heavy underdog on its visit to Madison. Chamberlain lost 48-0 to Vermillion in its one game against a school from the eastern part of the state.
The Bulldogs, who lost a thriller in the DakotaDome a year ago in the Class 11A title game against West Central, lost some great players from last year’s team but have better depth this year.
“We have a different personality this year,” Madison coach Max Hodgen said early last week. “We have some great athletes to work with and we’ve been able to increase the number of players who play just offense or defense. We’ve made a conscious effort to develop more players. It’s helped our ability to go fast on offense. Last year we’d run out of gas defensively if we tried to do it that way.”
The Madison offense was fast enough to go up 35-0 after one quarter against Milbank. Brodie Frederiksen rushed eight times for 97 yards as the Bulldogs rushed for 308 yards in all.
West Central will take on Lennox in another ’11A’ game of interest. The Trojans defeated Cheyenne-Eagle Butte 56-0 last week in a game that ended at half via the mercy rule but will get a much tougher test this week against the Orioles.
Jace Hanisch passed for two scores and Cody Bussell and Jonah Rechtenbaugh each scored twice in a contest in which almost nothing went wrong for the Trojans.
The Orioles lost 49-6 to the Trojans earlier in the year but closed out the regular season with a 20-7 win over Tea and followed it with a 35-14 win over Dakota Valley. Jacob Lackas scored three touchdowns and ran for 129 yards in the win and John Oldenkamp added two touchdowns and 118 rushing yards.
“The front end of their season was very tough,” West Central coach Kent Mueller said. “But they just dismantled Tea at the end of the season. They have some great running backs and they’re huge – it’s probably the biggest team we’ve played this year. If we have any advantage it might be depth but they’re playing like a quarterfinal team right now.”
The Trojans remain untested after playing just a half against CEB. Mueller, who said despite the margin, the Braves were a stronger team than a year ago, was looking for a high level of execution against a heavy underdog.
“We felt like we were going to win that game but were we going to win it?” Mueller said. “We wanted to be sharp and work on our depth. Our offense didn’t get a ton of plays but overall we felt like we did some good things.”
• Stu Whitney breaks down the the playoffs with KWSN’s Craig Mattick at 1 p.m.
Live video of Vermillion at Dell Rapids, 7 p.m.
• See 9-man previews as well as staff picks and schedule. Pages 4-5D