(Rodney Haas / 605 Sports)
By Ryan Deal
State finalists -- Pierre and Tea Area -- had a combined 10 players selected to the Class 11AA all-state football team, which was selected by the South Dakota Football Coaches Association.
Pierre, which rallied for a 30-27 win over Tea Area, had four players selected: Lincoln Kienholz, Jack Merkwan, Jaden Flor and Jacob Mayer. Tea Area’s selections were Chase Van Tol, Jaxon Weber, Klayton Sattler, Thomas Ostrem, Reis Kirschenman and Jeff Worth.
Here’s a complete look at the entire Class 11AA all-state team:
QUARTERBACK: Lincoln Kienholz, Jr., Pierre (6-3, 185)
Kienholz’s play catapulted Pierre to its fifth consecutive Class 11AA state championship. The multi-sport athlete powered the Governors to a comeback win over Tea Area in the championship game, finishing with 537 total yards and four touchdowns.
This season, he posted 3,359 passing yards and 37 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,165 yards and 12 touchdowns on 146 carries. The junior has a school-record 5,678 passing yards and 58 passing touchdowns. He’s also rushed for 2,067 yards and 20 touchdowns.
“Lincoln is the best player on our team and one of the best in the state,” Pierre coach Steve Steele said. “He has incredible raw ability and athleticism but really grew into the mental role of the quarterback this year and accepted the tremendous amount of pressure put onto his shoulders. He had an outstanding season taking care of the ball and leading our team to the successful season we have had.”
TE/FULLBACK/H BACK: Alec Vogele, Sr., Aberdeen Central (6-5, 210)
Vogele was productive with the ball in his hands. The big-bodied tight end finished with 22 catches for 465 yards and eight touchdowns, while averaging 21.1 yards per catch.
“Great athlete with great intelligence who played on both sides of the ball for us,” Aberdeen Central coach Scott Svendsen said. “I think he is the best tight end in the state.”
TE/FULLBACK/H BACK: Chase Van Tol, Jr., Tea Area (6-0, 180)
Van Tol’s play helped guide the Titans into the DakotaDome. He posted 946 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, while averaging 7.6 yards per carry. He added a touchdown reception and a passing touchdown. He led the Titans with a team-high 1,280 all-purpose yards, while he had two interceptions and 37 tackles on defense.
RUNNING BACK: Jaxon Weber, Sr., Tea Area (5-10, 180)
Weber racked up 781 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns out of the backfield. He added 255 receiving yards and one touchdown reception.
RUNNING BACK: Josh Grosdidier, Sr., Mitchell (6-1, 200)
Grosdidier paced the Kernels out of the backfield. He posted 963 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns on 182 carries. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry and 96.3 yards per game. He finished with 1,546 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on 296 carries, while racking up 155 tackles on defense.
“He was instrumental in our program over the last three years,” Mitchell coach Kent VanOverschelde said. “A dynamic player that loved preparing, practicing, and playing football.”
RUNNING BACK: Hunter Gray, Sr., Brookings (6-0, 155)
Gray powered the Bobcats’ rushing attack out of the backfield. He finished with 803 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, while posting 28 receptions for 270 yards and four touchdowns. He finished his career with 952 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, while posting 33 receptions for 346 yards and four touchdowns.
“I would count Hunter as one of the most talented and dedicated players I've coached,” Brookings coach Jacolby Anderson said. “I was immediately impressed by his work ethic, eagerness to learn, and the amount of preparation he has put in to be the best football player possible.”
RUNNING BACK: Karson Carda, Jr., Aberdeen Central (6-0, 215)
Karda was a productive back in his first year playing high school football.
The junior recorded 1,108 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 91 carries, while averaging 5.8 yards per carry.
“A rugged runner who has a physical style of running the ball,” Aberdeen Central coach Scott Svendsen said.
WIDE RECEIVER: Jack Merkwan, Jr., Pierre (6-3, 175)
Merkwan always made plays for the Pierre passing attack. He hauled in 55 receptions for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdown receptions. For his career, the junior has 75 catches for 1,648 yards and 17 touchdown receptions.
“Jack is a great deep threat wide receiver who seems to never get tired no matter how many times we send him deep in a game,” Pierre coach Steve Steele said. “We challenged him in the offseason to become a major 1-on-1 threat and to force teams to have to put 2 guys on him, and he responded by doing exactly that.”
WIDE RECEIVER: Cole Holden, Sr., Watertown (6-0, 190)
Holden became Watertown’s first receiver in program history to record more than 1,000 receiving yards in a season. He finished with 44 catches for 1,121 yards and 14 touchdown receptions. He averaged 23 yards per reception and 112 yards per game. For his career, he logged 1,321 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns on 54 receptions.
“Cole is one of our team captains and he is a leader on the field,” Watertown coach John Hodorff said. “Cole is a playmaker and does anything that is asked of him at any time.”
WIDE RECEIVER: Klayton Sattler, Sr., Tea Area (6-5, 215)
Sattler provided a big target for Tea Area’s passing game. He finished with 812 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns on 44 receptions.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Thomas Ostrem, Sr., Tea Area (6-3, 265)
Ostrem helped block for an offense that produced more than 2,900 rushing yards and 1,500 passing yards. The Titans also averaged 405 yards per game and 45 points per game.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Jason Maciejczak, Jr., Douglas (6-4, 230)
The Patriots ran 70 percent of the time behind Maciejczak, who added eight carries for 46 yards and two catches for 12 yards.
“He has been a big bright spot for our team as we try to become competitive in AA,” Douglas coach Dan Maciejczak said. “He doesn't complain, he just comes to practice and not only works hard to get better but goes out of his way to help his teammates get better.”
OFFENSIVE LINE: Carson Haak, Sr., Yankton (6-3, 290)
Haak played center for the Bucks and the all-conference member is a three-year starter.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Brady Rohrbach, Sr., Aberdeen Central (6-6, 260)
An imposing lineman, Rohrbach was instrumental in the Golden Eagles’ play upfront.
“Outstanding and dynamic quick tackle for us who gave great pass protection and was a key in helping us establish our run game,” Aberdeen Central coach Scott Svendsen said. “A multi-sport athlete who has started for 3 years.”
OFFENSIVE LINE: Brock Longville, Sr., Brookings (6-4, 240)
Longville helped the Bobcats log more than 3,000 yards this season, while averaging 217.8 rushing yards and 308.8 total yards per game. In the last two seasons, Longville helped Brookings rush for 5,515 yards and 76 touchdowns, while throwing for 1,937 yards and 24 touchdowns.
“Brock is an anchor of both the O-Line and D-Line,” Brookings coach Brady Clark said. “Constantly playing in opposing teams backfields putting pressure on the QB or causing havoc in the run game.”
OFFENSIVE LINE: Paden Johnson, Sr., Watertown (6-8, 295)
Johnson, a towering offensive lineman, was a two-year starter that will play football next season at Northern State University.
“Paden has developed into a very good offensive lineman,” Watertown coach John Hodorff said. “Most notably his footwork for his size is impressive. He has been very reliable and a key piece to the success we've had on offense.”
ATHLETE: Sam Rohlfs, Sr., Aberdeen Central (6-4, 187)
Rohlfs piled up the yards for the Golden Eagles. He rushed for 647 yards and eight touchdowns on 63 carries. He added 1,509 passing yards and 17 touchdowns on 93 of 188 attempts. Rohlfs accounted for 81% of Aberdeen Central’s offense.
“Sam is a pure magician on the field,” Aberdeen Central coach Scott Svendsen said. “I have seen a lot of athletes throughout my years of coaching, and I haven't seen a kid do the things that he did this year in a long time.”
ATHLETE: Rugby Ryken, Jr., Yankton (5-11, 175)
Ryken threw for 2,536 yards and 29 touchdowns on 182 of 302 passing attempts. He added 121 carries for 488 yards. The junior has thrown for 3,329 yards and 33 touchdowns on 234 for 392 pass attempts.
ATHLETE: Cael Lundin, Sr., Tea (6-3, 180)
Lundin powered Tea Area’s offensive attack. The future Northwestern College men’s basketball player passed for 1,714 yards and 24 touchdowns on 93 of 156 passing attempts. He added 164 rushing yards and eight more scores.
ATHLETE: Konner Berndt, Sr., Sturgis (5-11, 197)
Berndt rushed for 1,218 yards and 10 touchdowns on 170 carries. He added 181 receiving yards and 10 tackles on defense. He averaged 134 rushing yards per game and 7.42 yards per carry.
“Konnor was the leader for the Scooper offense for 2021,” Sturgis coach Chris Koletzky said. “A hard-working young man that has always led by example. Konnor's commitment in the offseason programs truly paid off this past year.”
DEFENSIVE LINE: Ethan Remington, Sr., Huron (6-0, 235)
Remington posted 46 tackles, six tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles this season. For his career, he had 56 tackles, seven tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles.
“Ethan has been the rock of consistency on our O and DL for the past two seasons,” Huron coach Scott Spanton said. “He played some as a sophomore as well. He put in the time in the weight room and his commitment and work ethic have been an example for the younger players.”
DEFENSIVE LINE: Reis Kirschenman, Jr., Tea Area (6-4, 210)
Kirschenman posted 28 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, six sacks and four pass breakups for the Titans.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Bodie Rutledge, Sr., Yankton (6-2, 285)
Rutledge recorded 24 tackles and 26 assisted tackles, while he was a three-year starter for the Bucks.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Jaden Flor, Sr., Pierre (6-2, 210)
Flor finished with 49 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. He finished his career with 64 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and a fumble recovery.
“Jaden is an animal,” Pierre coach Steve Steele said. “He has a motor that never stops running and will do anything he's asked to do to the absolute best of his ability. He plays with reckless abandon and will never pull himself for being tired or banged up.”
DEFENSIVE LINE: Pierce Miller, Sr., Spearfish (6-2, 240)
Miller logged 57 tackles (38 solo stops), 25 tackles for loss, three sacks and one fumble recovery this season. He was an all-conference selection.
“This young man moved to Spearfish at the beginning of the season and has been with us for one season,” Spearfish coach Dalton Wademan said. “He is a high motor kid that gets off the ball and gets an initial knock back against offensive linemen. He is a sure tackler and his pursuit off the backside allowed him to get 25 TFL.”
LINEBACKER: Joseph VanOverschelde, Sr., Mitchell (5-10, 195)
VanOverschelde capped a productive career for the Kernels. He posted 85 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and two sacks this season. He finished his career with 305 career tackles and was a multiple all-conference selection.
“Passionate and dedicated athlete,” Mitchell coach Kent VanOverschelde said. “As his coach, it was a privilege to see his growth and learning as a leader and a person. Emotional and passionate football player, while securing second overall in MHS History in career tackles.”
LINEBACKER: Ben Althoff, Sr., Watertown (5-10, 180)
Althoff racked up the tackles for the Arrows. During his senior season, he logged 147 tackles (12 tackles for loss), three sacks and three fumble recoveries. For his career, he finished with 237 tackles (112 solo), 16 tackles for loss, three sacks, one interception and three fumble recoveries.
“Ben is a leader for our team on and off the field,” Watertown coach John Hodorff said. “Ben is a very competitive person and expects the same from everyone around him. Ben has rewritten the tackle records for the Arrows both season and career.”
LINEBACKER: Reese Jacobs, Jr., Sturgis (5-10, 185)
Jacobs finished with 81 tackles (44 solo), two sacks and eight tackles for loss during his junior season.
“Reese is the leader of our defense this past season,” Sturgis coach Chris Koletzky said. “He is as tough as they come and works extremely hard in the offseason.”
LINEBACKER: Jayden Beck, Sr., Huron (6-0, 190)
Beck anchored the Tigers’ defensive attack, finishing with 77 tackles (eight tackles for loss), four sacks and one forced fumble. For his career, he finished with 116 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, six sacks and three forced fumbles.
“Defensively, he did a great job in running down ball carriers from sideline to sideline,” Huron coach Scott Spanton said. “Plays with a chip on his shoulder and was a big leader of our defense as our Mike LB.”
LINEBACKER: Brady Hartwig, Jr., Spearfish (5-9, 190)
Hartwig finished with 65 tackles (26 solo), four tackles for loss and one interception for the Spartans. The junior has 92 tackles, five tackles for loss and one interception during his career.
“Brady Hartwig was one of our leaders throughout the off season in the weight room and led our defense,” Spearfish coach Dalton Wademan said. “He did everything for us playing linebacker, quarterback, running back, punter, and kick returner.”
DEFENSIVE BACK: Jeff Worth, Sr., Tea Area (5-11, 165)
Worth recorded 14 tackles, four pass breakups and two interceptions for the Titans.
DEFENSIVE BACK: Lincoln Hardin, Sr., Brookings (6-1, 160)
Hardin logged 24 tackles (12 solo), seven passes defended, four interceptions and one fumble recovery. He finished his career with 56 tackles (27 solo), 13 passes defended and six interceptions.
“Lincoln allows us to do so much more on defense because of his ability to cover the field,” Brookings coach Brady Clark said. “He did a great job of aligning himself and eliminating the big play.”
DEFENSIVE BACK: Cody Oswald, Jr., Yankton (6-3, 185)
Oswald finished with 56 tackles and four interceptions. He has 10 career interceptions with one season left.
DEFENSIVE BACK: Parker Bauer, Sr., Aberdeen Central (6-0, 156)
Bauer logged 56 tackles (27 solo) and five interceptions for the Golden Eagles.
“A team captain who brought leadership and integrity to our team,” Aberdeen Central coach Scott Svendsen said. “Made some great defensive plays when we needed them.”
DEFENSIVE BACK: Jacob Mayer, Jr., Pierre (6-0, 175)
Mayer posted 77 tackles and five interceptions this season. Mayer’s interception in the state championship setup Pierre’s game-winning field goal.
“Mayer is the brain of our back end,” Pierre coach Steve Steele said. “He's responsible for lining up and checking our coverage, getting our DB's on the same page, and sometimes making the people in front of him right. He's another kid with an extremely high football IQ and is always thinking through solutions to formation and routes.”
SPECIAL TEAMS: Trevor Paulson, Jr., Yankton (6-2, 175)
Paulson hit 9 of 14 field goal attempts, including 8 of 9 inside the 40-yard line. He averaged 54.7 yards per kickoff, including 27 touchbacks. He averaged 36.6 yards per punt.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Payton Theodosopoulos, Sr., Brookings (5-7, 150)
Theodosopoulos nailed 22 of 23 extra-point attempts and 3 of 7 field goals, including a school-record 46 yarder. For his career, he converted 56 of 65 extra points and 6 of 15 field goal attempts.
“Payton is a player who has demonstrated what it means to be a consistent and strong kicker,” Brookings coach Brady Clark said. “Every game Payton kicks for us, our kickoff game has been strong and consistent, and we are very confident in his ability to kick long field goals.”
HONORABLE MENTION: Drew Norberg, Sr., Watertown; Max Raab, Sr., Yankton; Tyler Sohler, Jr., Yankton; Ethan Remington, Sr., Huron; Christian Busch, Jr., Pierre T.F. Riggs; Jagger Tyler, Jr., Mitchell; Jaxton Eck, Jr., Brookings; James Stewart, Sr., Yankton; Jayden Wiebe, Jr., Pierre T.F. Riggs; Hunter Wientjes, Sr., Watertown