It was a good year for the powers of the Big East Conference on the Class 11B all-state football team.

Conference champion and state semifinalist Sioux Valley had a class-best six selections and Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan, which finished second in the conference and made the state championship game, had five players picked for the team. With one selection each for Beresford, Elk Point-Jefferson and McCook Central/Montrose, 14 of the 28 players selected for the all-state team were from the six-team Big East Conference. The all-state team is selected by the South Dakota Football Coaches Association.

Sioux Falls Christian, which won its first state championship in school history, had four players picked for the team. Canton, Groton Area, Winner and Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central each had two selections on the all-state team.

Sioux Valley offensive tackle Andrew Mullaney is the lone repeat selection on the all-state team, after making the squad as a junior. The all-state team consists of 20 seniors, five juniors and three sophomores.

A pair of West River athletes — Riley Calhoon of Winner at defensive back and Reed Ashmore of Custer as a punter, were also named to the first team.

Below is a short look at each of the selections:

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Trent Kingsbury, Woonsocket/Wess. Springs/Sanborn Cent.

A dual threat for the Blackhawks, Kingsbury ran for 390 yards and five touchdowns, while completing 68 of 131 passes for 856 yards and nine touchdowns. He finished his career with nearly 2,100 passing yards and 26 touchdowns, while running for nine more. Coach Jason Kolousek said Kingsbury understands the game well and was the player that made both offensive and defensive units successful.”

Fullback

Daymein Lucas, Sioux Valley

The all-time leading rusher and scorer in Sioux Valley history, Lucas ran for 2,094 yards and 27 touchdowns, averaging seven yards per carry in the process. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound academic all-state back ran for 3,065 yards in his career and 38 touchdowns. “A very hard-working and unselfish athlete who works hard in the weight room and classroom,” coach Dan Hughes said.

Running backs

John Witte, Woonsocket/Wess. Springs/Sanborn Cent.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Witte exploded in his senior season, rushing for 1,775 yards on 239 carries and scoring 26 touchdowns, while adding 251 receiving yards. He finished his career with 3,997 yards from scrimmage and 57 touchdowns, including 3,317 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns. “John would constantly make something out of nothing,” Blackhawks coach Jason Kolousek said.

Parker Nelson, Sioux Falls Christian

A burner who owns the school record in the 100-meter dash (10.7 seconds), Nelson tore through opposing defenses with 2,147 rushing yards on 283 carries and 20 touchdowns for the state champions. A 5-foot-11, 165-pound junior is “the fastest kid that we have ever had and (I) will never coach anyone faster,” SFC coach Jake Pettengill said.

Wide receivers

Christian Beachler, Canton

The 6-foot-6 senior, Beachler caught 29 passes for 349 yards and five touchdowns, while setting the C-Hawks school record for career receptions and receiving yards with 84 catches, 1,091 yards and 10 touchdowns in his career. “Beach is a great receiver and he also turned himself into a great blocker this year,” coach Rich Lundstrom said.

Jared Merkley, Elk Point-Jefferson

A solid blocker with soft hands, the 6-foot-4 Merkley was a dangerous receiver for the Huskies. He hauled in 39 passes for 637 yards and five touchdowns, while surpassing 1,100 yards for his career as a three-year starter for Jacob Terry’s EPJ squad.

Tight end

Mitch Goodbary, Sioux Falls Christian

A 6-foot-5 target in the passing game, the junior Goodbary didn’t have to catch many passes to impact the Chargers. He finished the season with six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown, while making 77 tackles on defense, intercepting two passes and recovering two fumbles. “Mitch is the most athletically gifted player I have ever coached,” SFC coach Jake Pettingill said.

Offensive tackles

Andrew Mullaney, Sioux Valley

Anchoring the Cossacks’ line play for three seasons at 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, Mullaney locked up another all-state selection as a senior by helping the Cossacks generate more than 4,000 yards of total offense and 51 offensive touchdowns.

Carter Dye, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan

Dye was a key cog in the Seahawks’ front line, helping block for an offense that averaged 303.8 yards per game and nearly 31 points per game. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior also had a team-best 126 tackles and 13 sacks for BEE on defense.

Offensive guards

Bradlee Schultz, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior Schultz lived in the weight room for the Seahawks, helping the Seahawks run for 2,953 yards and rack up 3,645 yards of total offense. A three-year starter with a 4.0 grade-point average, Schultz has been a part of an offense that has ran for more than 8,500 yards.

Brennan Stoltenberg, Sioux Valley

Stoltenberg, playing right guard, started 41 consecutive games for the Cossacks, helping pave the way for 3,827 rushing yards and three rushers with at least 600 yards and nearly seven yards per carry. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound lineman also played linebacker, kicked and punted for Sioux Valley.

Center

Kyle Tuschen, McCook Central/Montrose

Tuschen was key to the Fighting Cougars’ success, as MCM ran for nearly 2,000 yards and had 2,633 yards of total offense. A three-year starter, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Tuschen helped block for nearly 4,500 rushing yards in the last three seasons. “Kyle ranks as one of the most intelligent football players ever to play at MCM,” coach Ryan Evans said.

DEFENSE

Defensive ends

Blake Peterson, Beresford

A 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive end, Peterson had 60 total tackles, five sacks and eight tackles for loss, while recovering a fumble. The Watchdogs’ standout has interest from a number of FBS-level programs after his junior season and coach Scott Ebert said the physical skills are matched by Peterson’s relentless work ethic and high character.

Joel DeHaai, Sioux Falls Christian

DeHaai had 64 tackles, nine sacks and 18 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two recoveries for the Chargers. A 6-foot-5, 215-pound senior, DeHaai was a three-year starter and the heart and soul for the SFC defense. “Joel is the most talented defensive lineman we’ve had the privilege of coaching,” SFC coach Jake Pettengill said, adding he has a knack for fighting through double teams and making plays.

Defensive tackles

Luke Thorson, Groton Area

A talented pass rusher, the 6-foot, 240-pound Thorson had 54 tackles, eight sacks and five tackles for loss. The three-year Tigers’ starter had 110 career tackles, 10 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. “He was very good at knowing where the ball was going,” coach Shaun Wanner said.

Nash Hutmacher, Chamberlain

Dominating as a sophomore for the Cubs, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound Hutmacher was a problem from opposing defenses. He had 67 total tackles, 19 tackles for loss, five sacks and recovered two fumbles. “He was double and sometimes triple-teamed and teams ran away from him,” Chamberlain coach Dan Olson said of Hutmacher, who is also a talented wrestler.

Linebackers

Tyler Schwartz, Sioux Valley

A defensive leader for the Cossacks, the 6-foot, 205-pound Schwartz had 69 tackles, two sacks, an interception and recovered three fumbles. He finished his career with 145 tackles, five sacks and six fumble recoveries, and “worked his way into being one of the elite players in South Dakota,” according to coach Dan Hughes.

Dustin Weber, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan

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The defensive team captain for Jeff VanLeur’s Seahawks, Weber, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound senior, made 87 tackles and nine tackles for loss, while making six sacks. The three-year starter was named to the all-Big East Conference team twice.

Levi McClanahan, Winner

“A true run stopper with a real nose for the football,” in the words of coach Dan Aaker, McClanahan had 89 total tackles and five for a loss and was the Warriors’ defensive MVP. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound linebacker made 159 tackles and four sacks in his career, while serving as the defensive captain as a senior.

Brandon Keith, Groton Area

A 5-foot-10, 190-pound senior, Keith was an all-around player for Shaun Wanner’s Tigers, especially as a three-year starter at linebacker. He had 110 tackles, including 10 for a loss, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two sacks. Keith, who was an honorable mention pick last year, finished his career with 320 tackles, 12 sacks and seven interceptions.

Defensive backs

Brady Hawkins, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan

A 6-foot-3 sophomore, Hawkins was often responsible for the top opponent’s top receiver and frequently in man-to-man coverage. Hawkins, who was also the starting quarterback for BEE, finished with 50 tackles and five interceptions, including two in the state title game.

Riley Calhoon, Winner

Calhoon, a 5-foot-8, 145-pound defensive back, was not deterred by his smaller size, playing as Winner’s best cover and run support defensive back. He had 35 tackles and an interception for the Warriors, while adding a big-play threat on offense. “He is small in stature but makes up for it with his natural athletic ability and physical play,” coach Dan Aaker said.

Chase Ringheimer, Sioux Valley

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound defensive back racked up 54 tackles and three interceptions, while recovering a fumble for the Cossacks. “Chase is a very aggressive tackler in the open field and was an excellent cover corner,” coach Dan Hughes said.

Tyler Van Horssen, Sioux Falls Christian

Van Horssen, a 6-foot, 180-pound senior, made 65 total tackles and intercepted three passes on the season and recovered a fumble. Coach Jake Pettengill said Van Horssen was the team leader for the state champion Chargers, leading in the weight room and patching up any issues in team chemistry.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker

Kayden Verley, Canton

A do-it-all player as a sophomore, Verley made 22-of-26 extra-point kicks and three field goals, while averaging 55.3 yards per kickoff with 20 of his 43 kicks ending as touchbacks. Verley, who was an honorable mention all-state pick in 2016 in Class 11A, is a three-year letterwinner and has scored 141 points in his career.

Punter

Reed Ashmore, Custer

A bright spot for the Russ Bailey-coached Wildcats, the 6-foot-2, 265-pound senior Ashmore averaged 35.2 yards per punt, including a season-best 58 yarder. He totaled 739 yards on 21 punts and was an all-Black Hills Conference pick.

Special teams player

Jamin Arend, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan

Arend, a 6-foot, 185-pound junior, was the primary returner for the Seahawks, averaging nearly 21 yards per punt return and had a blocked punt, as well. A 1,000-yard rusher in 2017, Arend has two career special teams touchdowns. “As you can tell, (Jamin) does a lot for us,” coach Jeff VanLeur said.

Long snapper

Tristan Richarz, Sioux Valley

A 5-foot-11, 190-pound long snapper, Richarz was perfect over the course of Sioux Valley’s 10-1 season. “Tristan made himself into another great long snapper from Sioux Valley,” coach Dan Hughes said.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.