Our renowned Elite 45 team drops at the end of the year, but the process of selecting the team is an ongoing one throughout the season, as players come onto and drop off the radar through their week-by-week performance. These are some of the players who performed especially well the first week of the season and will be watched closely in the coming weeks.
Players can be nominated on Twitter by mentioning or messaging me (@ianmcfrazer) or @ArgusSports. You can also email us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a full box score or stat line in the nomination.
Chase Kortan, RB, Bon Homme
Kortan might have had the best individual offensive performance of the weekend, rushing for 288 yards, scoring five touchdowns on the ground and tallying another score on a 39-yard TD pass from Bryce Scieszinski as the Cavaliers beat Miller, 46-27.
Lincoln Gibbs, RB, Langford Area
Gibbs didn’t see the field a ton in Langford Area’s 65-20 win over Northwestern, but he was exceptionally productive in the touches he did get, rushing for 134 yards on seven carries and scoring four touchdowns.
Seth Benson, LB, Washington
Washington’s young defense put on a very strong performance against Brandon Valley, holding the Lynx to 113 rushing yards and 193 passing yards while being on the field more than 60 percent of the time, and Benson, a junior linebacker, put up 13 tackles to help contain the Lynx.
Nate Stephenson, QB, Yankton
Yankton barely held on against a hard-charging Brookings, winning 29-28 after leading 21-3 at halftime and trailing in the fourth quarter. Stephenson’s touchdown pass to Cameron Krejci with 5:26 to play wound up being the winning score, and Stephenson finished with 302 yards passing and three TD passes. He also totaled 12 tackles on defense.
Darian Ogunjemilusi, RB, Wolsey-Wessington
Ogunjemilusi led the Warbirds’ dominant run game as they stomped Platte/Geddes, 46-0. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior ran for 242 yards on just 12 carries and scored four touchdowns.
Mason Leighton, WR, Madison
Leighton was one of the stars of Madison’s Class 11A title game victory last year, scoring three touchdowns, including one from 76 yards out. His 2016 season started just as loudly, as he had an 85-yard punt return, an 85-yard kickoff return and 76 receiving yards for the Bulldogs, who beat Dell Rapids, 35-6.
Tupak Kpeayeh, RB, Washington
Kpeayeh’s talent was partly obscured last year, as he was just a freshman and played behind Chayden Fitzsimmons, but his quickness, strength and big-play knack shone through in the Warriors’ 27-22 win over Brandon Valley. Kpeayeh rushed for 119 yards on 18 carries, had 23 yards receiving and scored two touchdowns.
Krockett Krowlikowski, DL/OL, Winner
Krowlikowski, a South Dakota State commit, had four tackles for loss and helped the Warriors rack up 385 rushing yards on 39 total carries.
Devin Coughlin, QB, Brookings
Coughlin showed the tools of a true dual-threat weapon against Yankton, throwing for 280 yards and two touchdowns on 17 completions and running for 106 yards on 19 carries.
Justis Clayton, WR, Harrisburg
Clayton was Tigers quarterback Hunter Headlee’s top target in Harrisburg’s 27-10 win over Mitchell on Saturday night. He caught four passes and totaled 133 yards receiving.
Preston Arity, QB, St. Thomas More
St. Thomas More blasted Sturgis, 56-6, on Saturday night, so Arity only played part of the first half. He was still extremely productive, going 8-10 with 149 passing yards and three touchdown passes.
Zach Scholten, WR, Brandon Valley
The Lynx’s passing game wasn’t as productive as many anticipated, as Spencer Grage had just two catches and Chase Grode had just one, but Scholten stepped up, giving Brandon Valley a threat down either sideline and catching eight passes for 122 yards and a touchdown.
Kadin Wolff, RB, Baltic
Baltic blasted Howard after halftime, outscoring the Tigers 36-0 after being tied 8-8 at half, and Wolff ran for 287 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns for the Bulldogs.
Evan Munkvold, WR, Tea Area
Munkvold accounted for more than half of the Titans’ receiving yards on Friday night. He caught seven passes for 183 yards and had two touchdowns.
Brice Harkless, RB, Hot Springs
Harkless needed just one quarter in Hot Springs’ 42-6 win over Lennox to put up what would be an excellent line for an entire night. He scored three touchdowns — an 82-yard punt return, a 32-yard touchdown catch and a 60-yard run for another score.
Cole Zwahr, LB/P, Roosevelt
Zwahr played a strong role in the Rough Riders’ stout defensive performance against Aberdeen Central, totaling four tackles as Roosevelt held the Golden Eagles to just 120 net yards. He also had a strong night punting the ball, averaging 37.3 yards on four kicks and bombing one for 56 yards.
Landon Freeman, RB, Tri-Valley
Freeman ran for 135 yards on 16 carries, scored three touchdowns and converted a two-point try as the Mustangs opened the season with a 34-21 win over Elk Point-Jefferson.
Chandler Diede, RB/LB, Scotland
Diede put in one of the best two-way performances of the weekend, rushing for 167 yards and three touchdowns and totaling 10 1/2 tackles on defense as Scotland beat Avon, 26-12.
Cole Gassman, RB, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan
Gassman was a true workhorse for the Seahawks in their 28-14 win over Beresford, racking up 193 yards on 25 carries and scoring two touchdowns.
Follow Ian Frazer on Twitter at @IanMcFrazer .