MITCHELL — Throughout much of the season, the Winner High School football team dominated its opposition.
In the regular season, the Warriors shut out five of their eight opponents and averaged 43 points per game. By the time the playoff time came up, the first two rounds were much of the same.
Winner cruised, setting up a semifinal matchup with Flandreau. That’s when the Warriors finally got pushed, setting up two memorable games and leading to the school’s second state title since 2009.
After eking out a 26-21 victory over Flandreau on a late touchdown pass in the semifinals, Winner moved on to the 11B title game to face Tri-Valley, the defending 11B champion.
In what was the closest state championship football game of 2012, Winner rallied from a halftime deficit and got a late defensive stand to beat the Mustangs 13-6. Winner finished its season 11-0, picking up two unforgettable victories in its final two games of the year.
Today, Winner has landed three first-team all-state players in guard Tate Novotny, running back Kyle Bertram and defensive back Ben Connot. Although Winner’s final two opponents, Flandreau and Tri-Valley, received more individual all-state players, it was the Warriors who hoisted the championship.
Flandreau received five all-state selections to lead the 11B first-team list and Tri-Valley had four players.
The list is selected by the South Dakota Football Coaches Association and released by the state’s sportswriters association.
Here is a position-by-position capsule of each player:
Quarterback: Lincoln Swenson, Deuel: The senior finished with 2,275 yards from scrimmage and 26 touchdowns. He passed for 1,011 yards, 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and had 1,264 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.
“He’s a leader on and off the field,” coach Matt Rosdahl said.
Fullback: Jacob Patterson, Flandreau: A three-year starter on offense, Patterson finished his senior season with 170 carries for 1,185 yards and 15 touchdowns. He caught six passes for 59 yards and finished with 2,784 career all-purpose yards.
“On offense, Jacob is our leading rushing from the fullback position,” coach Chad Stadem said. “He is very versatile in our offense, defense and special teams.”
Tight end: Dominick Burggraff, Tri-Valley: At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, Burggraff was a two-year starter on offense.
He moved to the tight end position at the beginning of his senior season and caught nine passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns. He also had Tri-Valley’s lone TD in the 11B title game.
“He’s the vocal leader of our team,” coach Steve Bazata said. “He’s a very tough, well-conditioned player who never comes off the field for us.”
Wide Receiver: Matt Swallow, Aberdeen Roncalli: Swallow finished with 1,916 yards of total offense, including 840 rushing, 500 receiving and 576 return yards. The senior had 25 touchdowns and averaged 17.8 yards per reception.
“Matt is a very quick and strong athlete who is very explosive and versatile,” coach Terry Dosch said.
Wide Receiver: Black Donnelly, Elk Point-Jefferson: The senior had 46 catches for 841 yards and 10 touchdowns, finishing his career with 104 catches for 1,836 yards and 22 TDs.
“Blake is a natural wide receiver,” coach Scott Bruning said. “He just has that knack for being at the right place and making the big play.”
Center: Austin Olson, St. Thomas More: Olson started 31 straight games for STM, helping the team to a 7-3 record.
The team rushed for 1,904 yards and 27 touchdowns and pass for 1,272 yards and 18 touchdowns.
“He always made a great effort to make himself better,” coach Wayne Sullivan said.
Guard: D.J. Johanson, Flandreau: A three-year starter, Johanson was part of a team that averaged 355 yards of total offense and about 38 points per game.
In three seasons, he helped the team gain 9,346 rushing yards, 1,305 passing yards and 1,090 points.
“D.J. has been a vital part of our offensive and defensive lines for the past three years,” coach Chad Stadem said.
Guard: Tate Novotny, Winner: An anchor on the offensive line that rushed for 3,500 yards and passed for 650 yards. He is a two-year starter and was named Winner’s most valuable lineman.
“Tate was an instrumental leader for us this year,” coach Dan Aaker said. “One of only two returning starters up front, Tate took ownership of an inexperienced line and helped them improve each week.”
Tackle: Carter Ziebarth, Flandreau: The two-year starter on offense helped Flandreau average 355 yards of total offense and about 38 points per game.
He was a two-year starter and helped the team gain 5,986 yards over the past two seasons.
“Carter has been part of an offensive line that has produced over 6,600 yards in total offense the past two seasons,” coach Chad Stadem said.
Tackle: Joe Mattis, Wagner: A team captain and senior, Mattis helped the Red Raiders rush for 2,105 yards and pass for 737 yards in a 6-3 season.
As a three-year starter, Mattis helped Wagner gain 6,500 yards of total offense.
“Joe is the leader of our offensive and defensive lines,” coach Jason Knebel said.
Running back: Kyle Bertram, Winner: The senior rushed 108 times for 959 yards and 12 touchdowns to lead the Warriors to the title.
He had six catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns, finishing the season with 80 points scored.
“Kyle has been our big play player for the last two years in which he has started at wing back, defensive back and a kick returner,” Aaker said. “He is both quick and fast and a threat to score any time he touches the ball.”
Running back: Logan Koopman, Tri-Valley: Koopman, a senior, compiled 1,252 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.
He also had six receptions for 112 yards, a touchdown and a kick return for a score.
“Logan is one of the most explosive players in the entire state,”coach Steve Bazata said.
Defensive end: Ryan Damm, Deuel: A team captain, Damm finished the year with 79 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, a blocked punt and blocked kick.
“He has an incredible quick first step,” coach Matt Rosdahl said of the senior. “He’s a determined player and has a strong desire to win.”
Defensive end: Brady Mudder, Garretson: Mudder finished the season with 37 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles.
“Brady is a fantastic football player,” coach Tim Hughes said.“His versatility makes him difficult to game plan for.”
Defensive tackle: Zach DeJong, Canton: The senior 43 tackles, 3.5 sacks and two passes defended. He had an interception and is a three-year, two-way starter.
“Zach is one of the best lineman we’ve had,” coach Rich Lundstrom said.
Defensive tackle: Dalton Locke, Groton Area: Locke, a senior, had 52 tackles, 22 for a loss, nine sacks and two fumble recoveries.
“He has been a three-year starter for us on both the offensive and defensive line,” coach Shaun Wanner said.
Defensive back: Ben Connot, Winner: An all-state defensive back last year, Connot had 55 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery in his senior season.
“Ben has been a rock for our football program the last three years, starting at strong safety and wing back,” coach Dan Aaker said.
Defensive back: Mitchel Foster, Flandreau: A two-year starter on defense, Foster had 98 tackles and an interception as a senior.
“Defensively, we moved Mitchel from his corner position to the free safety position and he was the second leading tackler for our team,” coach Chad Stadem said.
Defensive back: Zach Bies, McCook Central/Montrose: He had 55 tackles, including four for a loss, three interception and two pass deflections.
“Defensively, he has been extremely tough to pass against and has been a sure tackler when aiding against the rushing game,” coach Ryan Evans said.
Defensive back: Brett Page, Tri-Valley: A two-year starter on offense and defense recorded 19 tackles and three interceptions.
“He is the unquestioned leader of our team,” coach Steve Bazata said.
Linebacker: Gage Skillingstad, Hill City: The lone junior on the defensive first-team, Skillingstad finished the year with 101 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
He also finished with one blocked kick and an interception.
Linebacker: Logon Otto, Tri-Valley: The senior finished with 36 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
“Logan is a player who is good at many things,” coach Steve Bazata said. “Defensively, he is a hard-hitter and always around the ball.”
Linebacker: Witt Dobesh, St. Thomas More: Dobesh played the final four games of the season with a fractured finger. He finished the season with 66 tackles, five sacks, one fumble recovery and an interception.
“He goes full speed all of the time,” coach Wayne Sullivan said.
Linebacker: Kyle Scofield, Flandreau: A three-year starter on defense, Scofield had 100 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery in nine games.
“He is our team captain and has been a leader on the field since his junior season,” coach Chad Stadem said.
Punter: Lucas Lorenz, Aberdeen Roncalli: He had 30 punts, averaging 41.2 yards per punt.
“He has been key to our success the past couple of years,” coach Terry Dosch said.
Kicker: Blasé Vanecek, Bon Homme: The senior had 21 kicks with five touchbacks. He was 7-of-9 on point after touchdowns and is a three-year starter.
“He’s a great athlete and a team leader,” coach Byron Pudwill said.
Long snapper: Thayer Trenhaile, Sioux Valley: A four-year starter at long snapper, Trenhaile has had only three bad snaps since his freshman season.
“He has been a great lineman for Sioux Valley over the last three seasons and played varsity since he was a freshman on special teams,” coach Peter Brooks said.
Special teams player: Cody Majeres, Canton: A junior, Majeres had 1,789 all-purpose yards. He averaged 25 yards per kick return and had a 322-yard rushing performance this season, the eighth-highest total in state 11-man history.
“Cody is an incredible athlete,” coach Rich Lundstrom said. “We knew he had great speed, but this year he showed that he can run with power and added a little wiggle, too.”For the complete article see the 11-24-2012 issue.
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