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Area football teams head into playoff action tonight

Layne Cotton of Faulkton tries to break free from Warner's Charlie Dulany during action from a contest earlier this season at Dacotah Bank Stadium. Photo by Dawn Sahli

When the opening round of the South Dakota high school football playoffs kick off this evening 17 area teams in the three 9-Man classes and Class 11B will start competing for spots in the state football championships at the DakotaDome in Vermillion on November 9-11.

The Faulkton Trojans are one of the favorites to play for the Class 9B title. The Trojans are led by quarterback Layne Cotton and have a host of playmakers around him. Faulkton is 7-1 entering the postseason, with its lone loss coming at the hands of Warner, 27-20, on Sept. 22 at Dacotah Bank Stadium. The Trojan offense averages 38.8 points per game, while the defense gives up just 8.4 points per game. Faulkton enters the postseason as the second-seed and hosts Jones County in the opening round.

The Class 9B defending state champions from Hitchcock-Tulare enter the playoffs as the eight-seed. The Patriots have had an up-and-down season, finishing the regular season 4-4, including dropping three of their last four games, losing to Avon, De Smet, and Great Plains Lutheran. Hitchcock-Tulare will host Lemmon-McIntosh in the opening round, and should they win, could travel to Avon for a rematch of a Sept. 15 contest, a 32-28 win for the Pirates. The Patriots are led by senior running back Erik Salmen and quarterback Brendan Nowell.

The defending 9B runner-up from Herreid-Selby Area is the five-seed and host Gayville-Volin in in the opening round. The Wolverines are looking to appear in their fourth state championship in five years. Herreid-Selby Area ended its regular with a 46-14 win over Britton-Hecla at Dacotah Bank Stadium and is currently on a four-game winning streak.

Other area teams in the Class 9B playoffs include seventh-seeded Sully Buttes hosting tenth-seeded Kadoka Area and eleventh-seeded Potter County traveling to sixth-seeded Dell Rapids St. Mary.

Warner’s Hunter Cramer (8) follows the block of teammate Charlie Dulany (33) in action from a game against Hamlin earlier this season. Photo by Steph Bawdon

The Warner Monarchs look to be the favorite entering the Class 9A playoffs. The Monarchs, last season’s 9A runner-up, are the top-seed and host Colman-Egan tonight. Warner has quality wins over Faulkton and Hamlin, and averages 43.8 points per game on offense, while allowing just 7.6 points per game on defense. Do-it-all senior Hunter Cramer leads the Monarchs as a running back, quarterback, and defensive back. Warner is seeking its third state title game appearance in four years.

Other area teams in the Class 9A playoffs include sixth-seeded Wolsey-Wessington hosting Chester Area, and ninth-seeded Castlewood traveling to Lyman.

Hamlin’s Zac VanMeeteren is surrounded by Warner defenders in this action from a game earlier this season in Hayti. Among those in on the tackle for Warner is Payton Volk (21) and Charlie Dulany (33). Photo by Steph Bawdon

Hamlin is once again a title contender in Class 9AA after finishing the regular season with a 7-1 record. The Chargers’ lone loss came against Warner, 22-13, but they have outscored their opponents by 39.6 points per game. Hamlin is the four-seed and hosts Bon Homme in the opening round. Should the Chargers advance, they could face defending state champion Wall in the quarterfinal round. The matchup would be a rematch of last season’s 9AA semifinal game, won by the Eagles, 26-13.

Other area teams in the Class 9AA playoffs include eighth-seeded Leola-Frederick hosting ninth-seeded Hanson, 11th-seed Britton-Hecla traveling to six-seed Elkton-Lake Benton, 14-seed Ipswich traveling to third-seed Howard, and 15-seed Great Plains Lutheran traveling to second-seed Platte-Geddes.

Deuel’s Trey Maaland (5) calls the signals as he waits for the snap from teammate Aidan Baer (63) during a game against Aberdeen Roncalli earlier this season at Dacotah Bank Stadium. Photo by John Davis taken 8/25/2023

Deuel has flown under the radar for much of the season, yet the Cardinals enter the Class 11B playoffs undefeated and the number two seed. The Cardinals will host Webster in a rematch of a contest played on Sept. 8 that resulted in a 27-15 win in favor of Deuel. The Cardinals have been led by senior signal-caller Trey Maaland, who has a host of weapons around him including wide receivers Gabe Sather, Dexter Unzen, and Oliver Fieber, as well as running back Owen Haas. The Bearcats will look to spoil the Cardinals perfect season. Webster began the season 1-3 before finishing the season 3-1, and is led by quarterback Ian Lesnar and running back Brent Bearman.

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Aiden Fisher, left, gets chased to the sidelines by Webster’s Matthew Mount, center, during a game earlier this season at Dacotah Bank Stadium. Photo by John Davis taken 10/5/2023

Aberdeen Roncalli enters the postseason as the nine-seed and will travel to Wagner for an opening round matchup. The Cavaliers average 21.9 points per game, while the Red Raiders average 28.9 points per game. Roncalli has suffered several injuries to key positions in recent weeks, which has led to large roles for players such as Aiden Fisher, Kaden Larson, and Noah Kramer. Should Roncalli advance, there is a likely chance the Cavaliers will travel to top-seeded Winner in the quarterfinals. The Warriors have played in the Class 11B title game for the past four seasons, and six of the past eight.

Groton enters as the 13-seed and will travel to defending 11B state champion Elk Point-Jefferson for a first-round contest.

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