If there was any doubt that the Class 9B state championship game was a showcase of the best of the best at that level, it was erased with the selection of nine different Harding County and Colome players to the South Dakota Football Coaches Association all-state team.
And there was none better than Harding County quarterback Jess Feist, who set a Class 9B championship game record with 376 yards of total offense, going 16-of-18 passing for six touchdowns and 290 yards in leading the Ranchers to a 50-20 win over Colome for the state title.
“He’s not the biggest or the fastest, but he is the toughest kid I have coached,” Harding County head coach Jay Wammen said of Feist. “He’s a complete game changer. We kept the ball in his hands every chance we got and he was by far the leader of our team. He led and everyone else followed him.”
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound three-time all-Little Moreau Conference selection was an ideally balanced weapon for the Ranchers as he completed 108-of-175 passing attempts for 1,745 yards and 20 touchdowns while also rushing 126 times for 1,133 yards and another 21 scores this season.
Feist was hardly a one-man team, however, proven by the four other all-state selections that Wammen’s team picked up.
The Ranchers’ Ckyler Floyd was named to the team at wide receiver after catching 48 passes for 824 yards and nine touchdowns from Feist this season.
“He broke the school record for receptions in a season and is just 10 yards away from the yards record,” Wammen said of Floyd. “He’s the game changer on our offense.”
While the skill players were racking up big numbers, it was the Rancher offensive line that gave them room to operate. There was no more vital cog on that line than senior guard Tate Gress, who was a major reason that Harding County racked up over 4,500 yards during the regular season. If an opposing defensive coordinator was looking for the football, he had to look no further than the 270-pound Gress.
“We ran behind him as much as possible,” Wammen said of the three-time all-LMC selection. “He’s big and strong and we ran behind him 80 percent of the time. If we weren’t running at him, we would try to pull him in the opposite direction.”
Dalton McCann was named to the team at defensive end after amassing 44 tackles and 16 sacks. McCann also caused four fumbles and recovered three.
“He’s the fastest player off the ball that I’ve ever coached, a disruptive force on the quarterback,” Wammen said of the 5-11, 185-pound senior. “We play a run-dominant schedule, so the fact that he’s amassed 16 sacks is amazing.”
Harding County junior Steven Koch was named to the team as a long snapper after leading the Ranchers in tackles with 105.
“He was the leader of our defense,” Wammen said of Koch, who also caught two TD passes in the championship game. “He’s a smart player who understands the game and led the team in tackles.”
Another Little Moreau Conference player who did all he could individually to slow down the Ranchers was Bison linebacker Lane Kopren. The 6-foot, 220-pound senior linebacker was a defensive machine for the Cardinals, racking up 215 total tackles in his senior season alone. Kopren registered 436 total tackles for his career at Bison.
“Lane has been a captain for the Cardinals for three years,” Bison head coach Beau Chapman said. “He is a physical specimen and has been our enforcer on defense. He plays fast, instinctual, smashmouth football. He is an excellent tackler and is disruptive on every play.”
The runner-up Colome squad put four players on the all-state team, led by junior safety Terrance Kinzer. Kinzer, a 6-1, 185-pounder, posted 118 tackles and six interceptions when he wasn’t leading the Cowboy offense at quarterback.
When Kinzer and the rest of the Cowboys needed crucial yardage, they often ran behind 6-3, 260-pound senior Paul Temple, who was picked by the coaches as the all-state center.
Andrew Odden, a 5-8, 170-pound senior, was named to the team at linebacker after registering 71 tackles and two interceptions. Odden was also a standout on offense as he racked up 1,281 yards and 13 touchdowns as a running back.
Colome’s Cohl Ratermann, a 6-4, 255-pound senior, was chosen for the team as a defensive end after posting 84 tackles and 7.5 sacks for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys and Ranchers weren’t the only Class 9B teams with multiple all-state selections as Avon, Castlewood, Viborg-Hurley, Waverly-South Shore and Langford Area all picked up more than one nod for the team.
Avon’s Taylor Mudder made the team as an offensive guard along with teammates Brandon Kocmich (punter) and Devin Tolsma (special teams player).
Castlewood also had three all-state selections with running back Carson Borer, wide receiver Case Wiarda and defensive tackle Dylan Wittmeier.
Viborg-Hurley had one of the state’s most explosive backfields and its option attack was recognized as such with fullback Tyler Novak and running back Tyler Gerdes each being named to the team. Gerdes finished the season with 1,317 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns at over 11 yards per carry while Novak contributed over 780 yards of total offense and eight rushing scores.
Waverly-South Shore defensive tackle Jesse Bush and punter Gavin Kolden were also named to the team along with Langford Area tight end Michael Erickson and defensive back Drew Planteen.
Hitchcock-Tulare’s Clay Jens and Sunshine Bible Academy’s D.J. Beckwith joined Kopren and Odden as all-state linebackers.
For the complete article see the 11-20-2012 issue.
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