SIOUX FALLS (AP) — The Washington Warriors continued their recent football dominance with a perfect season and their school’s third state title in the last four years, using a deep and talented roster to overwhelm opponents.
So it was no surprise to see coach Brian Hermanson’s team land eight players on the Class 11AA all-state squad, chosen by the South Dakota Football Coaches Association.
“This group set a goal after last season’s loss in the finals (to Roosevelt) to do everything they could to win this year’s title,” said Hermanson, whose team went 12-0 and defeated Brandon Valley 35-20 in the state finals Nov. 10.
“Their leadership, work ethic and desire to compete are characteristics that will be remembered for a long time here at Washington.”
The offense had plenty of firepower for Washington, with four players earning all-state honors, led by senior Nate Gerry. The 6-foot-2, 213-pound wide receiver caught 23 passes for 593 yards and 12 touchdowns, rushed for 291 yards and five scores and was also a threat on defense and special teams.
The Nebraska recruit played in four state title games and was named Elite 45 captain by the Argus Leader.
“Nate was the best athlete on our football team, just a great competitor who loves the game,” said Hermanson. “He has the ability to score every time he touches the ball.”
Also sparking Washington was senior running back Sam Cooke, who rushed for 1,158 yards and 16 touchdowns, including a key 57-yard scoring dash in the state finals that helped spark the victory.
“Sam worked very hard in the off season to become our feature back,” said Hermanson. “He possesses great speed and body control and has the ability to make a big play any time he touches the ball.”
Paving the way for Cooke and receiving all-state recognition were center Kyle Spalding, offensive tackle Grant Lewis and guard Austin Kuhnert, leading a dominant front line that helped Washington rush for 2,647 yards and pass for 1,944.
Representing Washington on defense are defensive end Austin Benson (70 tackles, four interceptions), junior linebacker Danny Marlette (team-high 75 tackles, 13 for loss) and defensive back Christian Parker (38 tackles, 10 pass breakups).
The all-state quarterback is senior Chase Marso of Brandon Valley, who passed for 3,152 yards and 33 touchdowns to lead the Lynx (11-1) to the state championship game for the first time since 1998.
For his career, Marso threw for 5,730 yards and 67 touchdowns to become one of the most prolific passers in state high school history.
“Chase has been an incredible leader for us,” said Brandon Valley coach Chad Garrow. “He is a tireless worker and leads his team by how he conducts himself on and off the field.”
Marso’s favorite target was all-state receiver Matt Vandeberg, who caught 65 passes for 1,080 yards and 18 touchdowns while also making big plays on defense and special teams to spark the Lynx.
Also representing Brandon Valley are offensive tackle Joe Sandoval, defensive end Adam Guthmiller and defensive back Tony Tripp, all seniors.
Sioux Falls teams claimed 14 of the available 26 spots on the all-state team, with Roosevelt, O’Gorman and Lincoln placing two on the squad.
The 2011 state champion Rough Riders are represented by linebacker John Wessel (82 tackles) and defensive back Zach Tuschen (34 tackles, four interceptions), seniors who lifted Roosevelt to the semifinals.
For O’Gorman, fullback Nic Steffl highlights the team after rushing for 1,068 yards and eight touchdowns for the Knights, who lost to Washington in the semifinals.
Also representing O’Gorman is defensive tackle Max Smith, who had 36 tackles and three sacks while also leading the way on the offensive line.
Lincoln, which fell to Roosevelt in the quarterfinals, is represented by junior running back Caden Quintanilla (1,103 yards, 18 touchdowns) and linebacker Luke Meyers (75 tackles, 6.5 sacks).
Yankton placed offensive guard Kellen Soulek and defensive back J.J. Hejna on the all-state team after reaching the state quarterfinals.
CLASS 11AA ALL-STATE TEAM
As chosen by the S.D. Football Coaches Association
QB - Chase Marso, sr., Brandon Valley
FB - Nic Steffl, sr., O’Gorman
RB - Sam Cooke, sr., Washington
RB - Caden Quintanilla, jr., Lincoln
WR - Nate Gerry, sr., Washington
WR - Matt Vandeberg, sr., Brandon Valley
TE - Zach Page, sr., Brookings
OT - Grant Lewis, sr., Washington
OT - Joe Sandoval, sr., Brandon Valley
OG - Kellen Soulek, sr., Yankton
OG - Austin Kuhnert, sr., Washington
C - Kyle Spalding, sr., Washington
DE - Austin Benson, sr., Washington
DE - Adam Guthmiller, sr., Brandon Valley
DT - Max Smith, sr., O’Gorman
DT - Aaron Beaird, jr., Rapid City Central
LB - Danny Marlette, jr., Washington
LB - John Wessel, sr., Roosevelt
LB - Schyler Kumpf, sr., Aberdeen Central
LB - Luke Meyers, sr., Lincoln
DB - Christian Parker, sr., Washington
DB - Tony Tripp, sr., Brandon Valley
DB - Zach Tuschen, sr., Roosevelt
DB - J.J. Hejna, jr., Yankton
K - Garret Pochop, jr., Pierre
P - Troy Hunhoff, sr., Yankton
Player - Shay Bratland, jr., Watertown
Long snapper - Andy Reimer, sr., Huron
Jon Hander, Washington; Josh Hilgemann, Aberdeen Central; Austin Wagner, Pierre; Lucas Wilber, Roosevelt; Nate Winter, Brandon Valley; Dylan Letcher, Roosevelt; Lane Lettau, Pierre; Erik Ode, Brandon Valley; Levi Rozeboom, Lincoln; Dallas DeCory, Rapid City Central; Parker Hook, Huron; Aaron Iverson, Washington; Kirby Fuerst, Mitchell; Mark Haiar, O’Gorman; Alex Thorson, Washington; Asher Pikula, Rapid City Central; Trevor Naasz, Lincoln.
For the complete article see the 11-28-2012 issue.
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