South Dakota Gridiron Report: A revamped list of games to watch for the rest of 2023

Sep. 6—MITCHELL — As media outlets like to do (the Mitchell Republic included), games to watch is typically a staple of the preseason preview content.

But once the games begin, things can change.

So with a few weeks of results in the books, here's some additional games to watch that maybe weren't on everyone's initial radar for the 2023 season.

Yankton at Watertown: The winner of this classic Eastern South Dakota Conference game gets to be 3-0 and will have the inside track on a first-round home game for the playoffs. The Bucks were ranked third in the preseason South Dakota Prep Media poll and largely expected to be in a position to contend, but the Arrows have started with a pair of lopsided wins and jumped from unranked to No. 4 in Class 11AA.

Dell Rapids at Hot Springs: The Bison aren't going to be favored in this game against the top-ranked team in Class 11A. But Hot Springs has outscored foes 157-6 in the first three games, so this will be a good measuring stick game to see where they stand against a top-tier team.

Lennox at Canton: Only six teams remain undefeated in Class 11A after two weeks and here's two of them. The C-Hawks won 36-25 in 2022, but the Orioles are looking to show improvement against a consistently solid program. Lennox has looked the part of a contender with McCook Central/Montrose transplants in head coach Shawn Flanagan and quarterback Boston Katzer running the show.

Chester at Alcester-Hudson: Here's an opportunity for two lurking teams in Class 9A to pick up another proving ground win.

Sioux Valley at Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan: This game tends to be a bellwether game in Class 11B and one that helps indicate seeding for late in the season. After both teams endured uncharacteristically average 5-4 seasons in 2022, the Cossacks have started strong but BEE has one of the quietest 3-0 starts in the state. Rushing and defense will be emphasized in Bridgewater when these two teams meet.

Howard at Freeman/Marion/Freeman Academy: FMFA has started 3-0 and gets the treat of hosting Howard. The Tigers will challenge the Phoenix with their physicality, but FMFA will have a chance to get a signature win if Riley Tschetter can play well at quarterback. After all, Howard was already tripped up by Canistota, a squad that, like FMFA, can spread out the defense and throw the football.

Canistota at Elkton-Lake Benton: These two teams played a fun 38-30 game last season and both teams are near the top of the standings in their respective classes once again. Both the Hawks and Elks are likely to be factors in the postseason, and Canistota also continues a difficult schedule with a trip to the Minnesota-South Dakota border in Elkton.

Corsica-Stickney at Avon: Both of these teams were humbled against opposition from a larger class (the Pirates against FMFA and the Jaguars falling to Alcester-Hudson) but given how the Class 9B is lining up, these two teams still have a chance to be in the mix.

Warner vs. Faulkton Area, at NSU in Aberdeen: This should be one of the best nine-man games still on the schedule and it's great that it gets the big stage at Northern State as well. This could have the No. 1 team in two classes facing off.

Wall at Harding County/Bison: It will be interesting to see where Wall is at this point in the season, bouncing back from the early season loss to Philip, while Harding County/Bison looks like they are putting together another solid season and will be a tough opponent for whomever they draw in the playoffs.

Tea Area at Sturgis: Tea Area has shown how good of a program they have on a consistent basis, but the Scoopers can show where they're at when they host the Titans out in the Black Hills.

De Smet at Hitchcock-Tulare: De Smet lost a close game at Stanley County in the second week of the season but has a lot of chances for quality wins the rest of the way, including a trip to Hitchcock-Tulare, which was on the wrong end of a loss to Faulkton on Aug. 25. This will be a critical game ahead of the postseason.

Britton-Hecla at Wolsey-Wessington: Britton-Hecla quietly 3-0 and could be 6-0 or 5-1 entering a road game at the Warbirds and a neutral site meeting with HSA in the final two weeks. Find a way to finish 7-1 or better, and the Braves will be a high seed in the Class 9AA postseason that's already chock-full of sharks. Also huge playoff implications for W-W, who plays just one in-class opponent down the stretch and could be knocked from a top seed line in Class 9A as a result.

White River at Philip: This will be the last week of the regular season for nine-man teams, and this game will be interesting mainly to see where their records stand. Both of them are currently undefeated, have some nice skill players and also have limited recent state success. This would be the chance for one last solid win before the postseason.

Three wins that caught our attention last week:

* Faulkton Area blows out Potter County: There is only one remaining undefeated team in Class 9B football and it's the Trojans, who backed up their 40-0 blanking of Hitchcock-Tulare last week. This time around, it was a 52-8 win at home against the Battlers.

* Platte-Geddes wins at Gregory: It's no secret that some of the state's best nine-man teams are in the Missouri Valley Conference. But Platte-Geddes blowing out the reigning Class 9A state champions on their own field was a shocker, scoring 28 points in a row and busting off long touchdowns. The Gorillas shouldn't be counted out at 0-2 but the start of the season is a wakeup call.

* Parkston blanks Warbirds: Parkston proved itself again in Week 3 with a road rout of Wolsey-Wessington, 54-0. The Trojans are now averaging 53.3 points per game and haven't allowed a touchdown since Aug. 18. Hanson will be a test this week at home but the Trojans are proving they are a top team again in Class 9AA.

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* Madison's Shane Veenhof had nine catches for 188 yards and two touchdowns in an overtime loss to Milbank.

* Harding County/Bison's Hayden Pihl had 220 yards passing for three touchdowns on 9-for-13 attempts.

* Kimball/White Lake's Lucas Lenz had three quarterback sacks in a home loss to Howard.

* Kolter Kramer scored five touchdowns to lead Parkston, with four touchdown runs and a 72-yard fumble recovery scoop and score at Wolsey-Wessington.

* Hunter Cramer rushed for 102 yards on 11 carries, plus was 11-for-16 passing for 205 yards for Warner in a 35-6 win vs. Ipswich.

* Sioux Valley's Boden Schiller rushed 18 times for 148 yards, including an 83-yard touchdown late in the game to seal a victory over Elk Point-Jefferson.

* Tea Area got a big offensive effort on the ground from Keegan DeYoung (13 carries, 151 yards) and Brenner Konrad (17 carries, 134 yards and two touchdowns) in a 28-7 win over Aberdeen Central.

* Sully Buttes' Gavin Barber had six touchdowns, an interception and a fumble recovery to go with 300 yards rushing and five scores. He had touchdowns from 55, 60 and 63 yards out.

Here are three games on next week's schedule we're fired up for:

* Britton-Hecla at Hamlin: The winner of this game goes to 4-0 in a crowded Class 9AA, which is a nice feather to have in the cap this time of year. Britton-Hecla's defense has been tough so far, allowing 40 points total over four games. They head to Hamlin, which has allowed a mere six points in three games so far and is loaded at the skill positions.

* Tea Area at O'Gorman: Two 2-0 squads here in this one, and O'Gorman has been flying offensively, averaging 50 points per game, including 77 in a win over Roosevelt last week. The Titans have not lost many road games, winning 15 of their last 16 games away from home and rushed for 430 yards last week in a home win over Aberdeen Central.

* Sioux Falls Jefferson at Sioux Falls Lincoln (Saturday): This one speaks for itself in Class 11AAA at the Presidents Bowl. Sioux Falls Lincoln has shown no reason why they shouldn't be the No. 1-ranked team but the defending champion Cavaliers are 2-0 and have won a pair of tight contests in overtime over Harrisburg and Washington. The Patriots look strong but Jefferson will be tough to put away.