South Dakota High School Football Championship preview
9 mins read

South Dakota High School Football Championship preview

As fall sports across the state of South Dakota come to a close, the South Dakota high school football state championship games will be played in the DakotaDome in Vermillion, Thursday through Saturday.

9AA: Hamlin (11-0) vs. Platte-Geddes (11-0)

In a battle of two unbeatens, the second seeded Hamlin Chargers, making their first state championship game since 2014, take on fourth seeded Platte-Geddes.

Hamlin comes in off a win over Lemmon-McIntosh 28-6. The Charger defense has given up six points all postseason.

“I would say who can win the turnover battle will be a big determining factor in the game,” Jeff Sheehan, Hamlin head coach, said in an email interview with The Volante. “Also, time of possession will be big as well. Who can keep their offense on the field and drive the ball consistently.”

Platte-Geddes comes off a win over top seeded Viborg-Hurley 28-22. Platte-Geddes was the lowest seeded undefeated team in Class 9AA. 

Hamlin takes on Platte-Geddes at 11 a.m. inside the DakotaDome Thursday.

9B: Wolsey-Wessington (9-1)  vs. Dell Rapids St. Mary (7-2)

The third seed Wolsey-Wessington takes on the fifth-seeded Dall Rapids St. Mary in the Class 9B championship.

Wolsey-Wessington enters the game coming off a 20-14 over the number two seed Herreid-Selby Area. Wolsey-Wessington’s lone loss came against undefeated Platte-Geddes, who plays in the Class 9AA state championship. 

Dell Rapids St. Mary went 27 days from their regular-season finale to their first on the field action in the postseason. They then made back-to-back trips west to face No. 4 Faith and No.1 Kadoka Area and returned home with two wins. 

“It was tough to get things back together after the layoff,” Dell Rapids St. Mary head coach Ross Flemmer said in an email interview with The Volante. “We had no practice for two weeks, and then spent time preparing for a team that forfeited, so it was a little tougher than normal to get back on track, but the coaching staff and the kids did a great job of being prepared.”

Wolsey-Wessington and Dell Rapids St. Mary play inside the DakotaDome at 3 p.m. on Thursday.

9A: Warner (10-0) vs. Canistota-Freeman (10-1)

The two-time defending state champion Canistota-Freeman makes their third straight championship game appearance, this time against a Warner team that hasn’t made the state championship game since 2016.

No. 3 Warner defeated No. 2 Wall 26-0 last week in Wall to make the title game. The Warner defense has allowed 14 points all postseason, through three games. 

“We have a lot of confidence in our offense and defensive line,” Warner head coach Kerwin Hoellein said. “And our defense as well, out of our ten wins we have six shutouts.”

No. 4 Canistota-Freeman avenged a double-overtime loss to No. 1 Howard during the regular season by defeating Howard 12-7 last week. Canistota-Freeman is making their third straight title game, winning the last two.

Warner and Canistota-Freeman play at 7 pm inside the DakotaDome Thursday.

11B: Winner (10-0) vs. Bridgewater-Emery-Ethan (11-0)

In the second and final match-up of unbeaten for the weekend, No.1 Winner looks to avenge a state championship game loss to No. 2 Bridgewater-Emery-Ethan last season.

No. 1 Winner defeated No. 4 Sioux Valley 28-14 in the semifinals last week to make a second straight appearance in the Class 11B state title game. Winner didn’t allow a point before the semifinals.

“Putting some points up early would be huge because points will likely be at a premium,” Winner head coach Trent Olson said in an email interview with The Volante. “Even if you don’t score, just getting some field position and a little rhythm on offense would be beneficial.”

No. 2 Bridgewater-Emery-Ethan shut out no. 3 Mobridge-Pollock 46-0 last week to make it to their fourth straight state championship game. The Seahawks lost their first two appearances before finally claiming a title last season. Bridgewater-Emery-Ethan’s defense has allowed six points all post season. 

“The edge in this game is going to be the line of scrimmage,” Bridgewater-Emery-Ethan head coach Jeff VanLeur said in an email interview with The Volante. “Whichever team can control that the most is going to win.”

No. 1 Winner faces No. 2 Bridgewater-Emery-Ethan at 2 p.m. Friday inside the DakotaDome. 

11AA: Brookings (11-0) vs. Pierre (8-2)

Pierre is coming to Vermillion to win a fourth straight 11AA championship, and a second straight over Brookings, who lost last season’s title game in Brookings.

No. 1 Brookings defeated No. 5 Huron 45-6 in the semifinals last week and defeated Pierre earlier in the season to avenge last season’s title game loss.

“All year long we’ve been the underrated team, and now in some people’s eyes, we are the team picked to win it,” Brookings head coach Brady Clark said. “It doesn’t matter to us. We have a goal as a team and what we want to accomplish, and our kids have stayed focused.”

No.3 Pierre lost to Brookings and No. 2 Yankton during the regular season. Pierre defeated Yankton 21-12 last week in Yankton to make a fourth straight title game appearance. 

“This one is different in that we are an underdog,” Pierre head coach Steve Steele said in an email interview with The Volante. “It’ll be our first time wearing white in the Dome. This team had to really grow over the course of the year and improve every week in order to battle through to this point. They have successfully maneuvered this crazy year to earn their chance to end their season inside the Dome.”

Brookings takes on Pierre at 7 p.m. Friday inside the DakotaDome. 

11A: Tea Area (10-0) vs. Canton (8-2)

The 2018 and 2019 state champions in Class 11A face off Saturday afternoon. 2018 champion and No. 1 Tea Area looks to defeat 2019 champion and second seeded Canton.

Tea Area went undefeated in the regular season, and defeated Canton 27-21 in the season opener. The 27 points scored by Tea Area was the second fewest of the season for the Titans. The 21 points Canton scored is the most Tea Area has allowed this season.

“We need to work hard to hold them to fewer points than that,” Canton head coach Rich Lundstrom said in an email interview with The Volante. “On offense, we have to take what they give us.”

Canton defeated Tea Area in the semifinals last season en route to a championship last season. Canton defeated West Central 14-6 in the semfinals last week. 

Tea Area faces Canton at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

11AAA: Brandon Valley (8-1) vs Harrisburg (7-3)

Brandon Valley and Harrisburg face off the the 11AAA title game to finish off the weekend Saturday night. This is the first 11AAA (the Class started in 2013) title game to not feature a Sioux Falls school.

For No. 2 Brandon Valley, this is their third straight appearance in the title game, winning it all in 2018 and falling to Sioux Falls O’Gorman last season. The Lynx defeated No. 3 Sioux Falls Lincoln in the semifinals 55-28 last weekend.

For No. 5 Harrisburg, they lost their final two games of the season, first to Brandon Valley, followed by O’Gorman. The Tigers avenged their loss to O’Gorman in the opening round, and defeated the lone unbeaten in 11AAA, Sioux Falls Roosevelt, to make it to the state championship game. 

“I think it gives our players a ton of confidence,” Harrisburg head coach Brandon White said in an email interview with The Volante. “Roosevelt has been the team to beat all year long and we were able to put together a great plan and the players executed at a very high level. We are confident we can do it one more time.”

White also said he feels like the team is playing more loose now than they were last time out against Brandon Valley.

“Well we need to tackle better on defense,” White said. “Offensively we need to put points on the board when we get into the red zone. Last time we were moving the ball very well and then stalled out a couple times. We also will be at full strength offensively. That should help some as well. We feel we are playing very fast and free right now. The belief and expectations are that we are going to play well.”

The Lynx and Tigers face off at 7 p.m. Saturday inside the DakotaDome.