Connect with us
Subscribe Today!


Faulkton, Potter County meet again in 9B semifinals

Faulkton’s Charlie Deiter, right, pulls down a pass for a two-point conversion as Northwestern’s Cole Caulder, left, looks on during a game earlier this season in Mellette. Faulkton plays host to Potter County in the Class 9B semifinals Friday night. Photo by John Davis taken 9/15/2023

Two north central South Dakota rivals will square off on Friday as second-seeded Faulkton will host 11th-seeded Potter County in the Class 9B semifinals, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. in Faulkton.

The Trojans and Battlers matched up earlier in the season on Sept. 1, a game that resulted in a dominant 52-8 win for Faulkton.

Trojans coach Shayne Geditz said despite the win, there are adjustments that can be made heading into the rematch.

“I think we can go back and look at film and see what they did and what we did, and what worked and what didn’t,” Geditz said. “We’re both different teams. We’re both playing really good football right now, but I still think there’s always things you can learn from a previous matchup with them.”

Potter County interim coach Kyle Kusser said the first matchup left the team deflated.

“We came out of that game feeling very defeated, I think. It felt like we got beat pretty bad in that game,” Kusser said. “Now watching film with the boys, you know, it didn’t look as bad as it felt. I’ll be honest with that. There’s a lot of things that happened in that game that were big plays that went one way or the other.”

Kusser said certain plays took momentum away from the Battlers in the first matchup.

“There were big swings of momentum that happened; a couple of interceptions, a pick six,” Kusser said. “There’s plays like that that happen in games that absolutely just take the wind out of your sails, and I think that’s a big part of what happened in our first matchup against Faulkton.”

Both squads have taken different paths since that game. The Trojans have lost just once this season, a 27-20 setback against Warner at Dacotah Bank Stadium on Sept. 22, but have since strung together four straight wins, allowing just six points in that four-game span.

Faulkton defeated Jones County and Kadoka Area in the first two rounds of the 9B playoffs, pitching shutouts in both contests. Geditz said the loss to Warner was actually a good thing for the team.

“You always want to win every game, but sometimes a loss in there can be a great factor to contribute to success,” Geditz said. “I think it helped us, I think it refocused us, I think it humbled us a little bit. Warner’s a great team and it was a battle, but as we’ve been in some other battles since then, I think it has helped us stay focused and let us know that we’ve been here before and we can figure this out.”

Potter County, on the other hand, began the season winning the first two games before falling on hard times, losing five consecutive games, including the loss to Faulkton, as well as losses to Warner, Kimball-White Lake, Leola-Frederick, and Herreid-Selby Area.

Kusser said playing those opponents prepared the Battlers for the playoffs.

“We had a tough schedule. It wasn’t looking real good there in the middle part of the season. We were playing some upper-class teams,” Kusser said. “We struggled to get our feet under us in those, but I think actually having those games really prepared us for the postseason. That number 11-seed coming into the postseason, I really didn’t feel too bad about it. I actually really liked coming in at that spot.”

The Battlers won the final regular season game against Sunshine Bible Academy, and have since gone on the road to defeat Dell Rapids St. Mary and Corsica-Stickney in the playoffs. The team has also been motivated by longtime coach Vern Smith, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer just before Potter County’s homecoming game on Sept. 15.

“Like we talked about with the boys, we’re Battlers, and we’re gonna battle because we’re still alive in this postseason,” Kusser said. “We’re gonna battle because Vern continues to battle, and we’re just gonna keep on doing what we’re doing.”

In addition to playing during the regular season, Faulkton and Potter County also have some recent playoff history against each other. The teams met in the 9B semifinals two years ago, resulting in a 22-12 Potter County win, and Kusser sees similarities between that season and this season.

“Two years ago (Potter County) got beat by Faulkton, I believe it was the first game of the season, and they got beat pretty handily by Faulkton,” Kusser said. “Then they met up with Faulkton again in the semifinals and we came out on top on that to go to the Dome, and these boys, they’re well aware of that. But that being said, I do believe Faulkton is also well aware of that, so it’s a very familiar place we’re in right now.”

While Potter County is just two years removed from a trip to the DakotaDome, Faulkton is looking for its first trip to the Dome since 2014 when the Trojans lost to Hamlin, 34-8, in the 9B title game. Geditz said he sees a confident Potter County team when he watches film.

Potter County’s Carter Luikens (14) dives into the end zone to score a two-point conversion past Dell Rapid St. Mary’s C.J. Smith (8) and Tate Bunkers (5). during the Class 9B Championship game two years ago at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. Photo by John Davis taken 11/11/2021

“You know, they’ve got a couple of playmakers right now that they’re really trying to feed the ball to,” Geditz said, referring to Potter County’s Ryder Falkenhagen and Carter Luikens. “Those two guys are pretty electric and when they get the ball in their hand, they have the potential to score. As they continue to win football games, their other guys are becoming more confident all the time, and they’re playing with a lot of energy and they’re bringing it every time. We know we’re going to get their best on Friday night.”

Geditz said consistency will be key to come away with the win on Friday.

“We’ve just got to come out and be consistent. We can’t look at the scoreboard and worry about what the score is,” Geditz said. “We’ve just got to be consistent and play our best football game, and if we play our best game, we’re going to be fine. We got to trust the guy beside us and we got to go out and have fun and play fast and play free.”

Kusser noted that he sees Faulkton’s strength being its offensive line, which allows running back Garrett Cramer to find running lanes.

“They’re a big team. They like to tackle, they know how to tackle well, and even more than that, their blockers block very well,” Kusser said. “Their running back, he’s an extremely patient running back. He’s fast, but what he does well is he lets his blockers block, he stays behind them until he has to turn it on,” Kusser said.

Kusser said the keys to a Battlers’ win are simple.

“Going forward, I know we’re going to have to get off blocks and we’re going to have to make tackles,” Kusser said. “It’s all there is to it.”

Purchase a Photo

Browse By Category

Browse By Month

More in Football

Dacotah Bank