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Football season ends at the Dakota Dome

Gregory class of South Dakota football

Peyton Zabel (16) fires a pass against Harrisburg.

Peyton Zabel (16) fires a pass against Harrisburg.

VERMILLION — Long day under the Dakota Dome, last day of the 2017-18 football season. Gregory was the only West River dog in the fight and they performed like the outstanding football team they are.

What we can take away mostly from this season, West River is fast losing competitiveness with East River. Only volleyball is more lopsided. People give lots of reasons and excuses for it, but the basic take at NSNT is that the East River teams have better developed programs where players learn to block and tackle at a younger age and they buff up in the off season and this all comes together to make the East River line play, whether on offense and defense, too much for a West River team to handle.

The exceptions to this tendency, are the teams playing along the Missouri, south of Interstate 90, and Rapid City’s St Thomas More.

9-B Championship

Colman-Egan Hawks
6 24 0 12 – 42

Sully Buttes Chargers

Summary: The Hawks defended their state title, upsetting the unbeaten, more highly rated Chargers. Bodee Groos ran for 154 yards for Colman- Egan, averaging 9.6 yards a carry, scoring one TD. As a passer he was 6 for 9 for 73 yards and one TD. Teammate Kade Groos rushed for 124 yards in just seven carries, and scored three TDs. Sully Buttes countered with a passing attack, Devan Kleven was 21 of 39 for 250 yards, and three TDs. Nick Wittler caught 10 passes for 107 yards, and two TDs. Grant Johnson caught 8 passes for 97 yards and a TD.

Nate Tolley won the Joe Robbie MVP award for Colman-Egan, Alec Landis, outstanding lineman, and Bodee Groos, outstanding back.

We predicted Colman- Egan to repeat as champs, 34-31.

9-A Championship

Britton-Hecla Braves
0 24 6 6-8-44OT

Corsica-Stickney Jaguars
1614 6 0-0-36

Summary: The Jaguars jumped out to a 16-0 fourth quarter, led 30-24, at the half, but could not hold off the hard charging Braves, who who pulled off the come-from-behind upset largely on a ground attack, having only 27 passing yards. Tayon Hawkins had 148 yards for Britton-Hecla and scored 3 TDs. Parker Marlow had 92 yards on 10 carries. Corsica-Stickney had two hundred yard rushers in Cordel Menning, 119, and Bryce Plamp, 106. Plamp also had three receptions for 94 yards. Quarterback Blake Moke was 8 of 12 for 158 yards, with one pick.

The Joe Robbie MVP was Bryce Plamp of Corsica Stickney. Outstanding back was Tayon Hawkins of Britton-Hecla. Outstanding lineman was Jacob Joachim of Corsica Stickney. Plamp certainly played impressive football, but Hawkins controlled that game with his legs, didn’t cough up costly turnovers, and directed the offense his coaches needed him to. Odd, he did not win Joe Robbie, but then, there is the eyebrow arching reality that he is Black.

We predicted Corsica- Stickney would win 35-24.

9-AA Championship

Irene-Wakonda Eagles

Gregory Gorillas
12 20 16 8 – 56

Summary: Man-for-man, the Gorillas are the best football team in the state, and Andy McCance is the best football player in the state, and they proved it Thursday afternoon, jumping on the Eagles early and never letting up for four quarters. McCance went to the air for Gregory and racked up 359 yards passing, going 14 for 21, and 5 TDs. He also managed to run for 123 yards on 15 carries, scoring two TDs. Blake Boes caught 4 of those passes for 110 yards and two TDs. JJ Beck caught 5 more, for 92 yards and two TDs. Trey King didn’t do bad passing for the Eagles, as he completed 23 of 36 passes for 223 yards, but when you can’t run, and the Eagles could not run against Gregory, you have to pass.

McCance was an obvious choice for the Joe Robbie MVP award. Teammate Cade Fortuna brought home Outstanding Lineman. McCance also won Outstanding Back.

We predicted a Gregory win, 43-16.

11-B Championship

Bridgewater-Emery-Ethan Seahawks

Sioux Falls Christian Chargers

Summary: When you wear down after three quarters, and the other team doesn’t, 15 fourth quarter points scored against you is not a surprise. The Chargers are a disciplined crew of very determined ballplayers, and they showed it. They opened the season with a convincing defeat of the defending 11-B champion, Winner, and topped the season off with their first championship.

Neither team could give a hoot about passing, and that was great for the Charges, because Parker Nelson had 40 carries for 253 yards. Teammate Tyler Van Horssen picked up 75 yards on just 9 carries. Although Seahawks QB Brady Hawkins completed just four passes, he did rack up 108 yards through the air.

Nelson won the Joe Robbie MVP and Outstanding back. His teammate Joel Dehaal won Outstanding Lineman.

We predicted B-E-E would beat SF Christian, 27-14, so had that one almost perfectly backwards.

11-A Championship

Dakota Valley Panthers

Madison Bulldogs
14 15 13 0 – 42

Summary: This may have been the weakest Class in football this season, but if any team seemed to have a rendezvous with destiny, it was Dakota Valley. That turned out to not be the case. The Bulldogs decided a 42-0 lead was more to their liking, and the Panthers decided not to dispute that decision.

Josh Giles took to the air for the Bulldogs and he was 10 for 17 for 259 yards and 3 TDs, and teammate Jaxon Janke was on the receiving end for most of that snatching eight passes for 197 yards and 2 TDs. Jadon Janke had 92 yards rushing for the Bulldogs.

Jaxon Janke was the Joe Robbie MVP winner, and brother Jadon won Outstanding Back. Johnny Ricke won Outstanding Lineman for Madison.

We foolishly thought Dakota Valley would prevail, 28-21 in OT.

11-AA Championship

Harrisburg Tigers

Pierre Governors
0 14 0 10 – 24

Summary: Despite some shaky performances we always thought the Tigers were a much better team than people thought they were, and it was no surprise to see them in the state final. They had a 21-14 lead at half, battled to a scoreless third quarter, they had to be thinking they had this one won. But ten points in the fourth quarter is another indication that line play decides more games than big plays, even though no line man stands much of chance winning Joe Robbie. Neither team could run the football, that’s how tough those lines were.

Peyton Zabel, no stranger to heroics, whether playing basketball or baseball, decided to be a hero quarterback, too, and he was 13 of 22 for 196 yards and two TDs for Pierre. Mike Lusk had two of those receptions for 85 yards and two TDs. Hunter Headlee was 9 for 20 for the Tigers, for 178 yards and one TD. Brooks Fuller caught 4 passes for 99 yards.

Mike Lusk won the Joe Robbie MVP award, teammate Garret Stout took home Outstanding Back, and yet another Governor, Eric Colman, walked off with Outstanding Lineman.

We had Pierre winning, 32-14, so the Tigers fought hard to the bitter end.

11-AAA Championship

Sioux Falls Roosevelt Roughriders

Sioux Falls Washington Warriors

Summary: This season the Sioux Falls schools had a flair for the dramatic, deciding they would only beat each other in nail biter one point victories. The championship game was no exception. Roosevelt jumped up by ten points but it proved to not be enough. Despite all the excitement, nobody outside of Sioux Falls, certainly in West River, really cares how the SF schools beat up on each other.

Tupak Kpeayeh had 204 yards on 32 carries for Washington. Teammate Jayden Johanssen was 11 of 18 for 180 yards and one TD. Shiloh Flanagan, caught 4 passes for 95 yards and a TD. Roosevelt’s Carter Lohr was 20 of 37 for 177 yards, utilizing a short passing game that almost upset Washington.

Kpeayeh won both Joe Robbie and Outstanding Back. Teammate Will Farniok won Outstanding Lineman.

We predicted SF Washington would beat SF Roosevelt, 38-33.

(James Giago Davies is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. He can be reached at

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