Three-time defending champion Washington led the way with nine first team All-State selections. This year’s 11AAA team, which was selected by the South Dakota Football Coaches Association, was released Tuesday.
The undefeated Warriors became the first team in 11AA/11AAA history to win three consecutive state championships in November, hanging on for a wild 20-19 win over Roosevelt at the DakotaDome.
Of Washington’s nine selections, six came on the offensive side of the ball with Payton Jahnke at fullback, Tupak Kpeayeh at running back, Logan Uttecht at receiver, Zach Heins at tight end, Peyton Lester at guard and Will Farniok at center.
Defensively, the Warriors were represented by Jack Wilson at defensive tackle, Seth Benson at linebacker and Brock Walker at defensive back.
Here is a look at this year’s selections.
Quarterback: Isaac Struck, O’Gorman
Struck made his lone season as the Knights’ starting quarterback count, throwing for 2,995 yards, shattering the previous record of 1,700. His 28 touchdown passes left him one shy of Dusty Coleman’s career record of 29 (Coleman was a three-year starter). Struck also rushed for 681 yards and seven touchdowns.
“Isaac continually put our team in a position to win games,” Poppinga said of the 6-foot, 150-pound QB. “He wasn’t the biggest or the fastest, nor did he have the biggest arm, but he played at an All-State level.”
Fullback: Payton Jahnke, Washington
An 11-game starter, Jahnke was mostly responsible for blocking for the Warriors, though he did catch 12 balls for 209 yards and three touchdowns. The senior helped clear the way for an offense which finished the year with 4,626 total yards and 64 touchdowns.
“Payton is used mostly for blocking and he has done an amazing job at it selflessly,” coach Chad Stadem said. “He has caught two game-winning touchdowns and has brought a hardhat attitude each day to practice.”
Running back: Braiden Petersen, Brandon Valley
One of the most state’s most prolific runners, Petersen rushed for 2,241 yards and 31 touchdowns on 316 carries. He set, then reset the school’s single-game rushing record three times in 2017, with his 340-yard, five-touchdown performance against O’Gorman in Week 9 sitting atop the list.
For his career, Petersen rushed for 3,400 yards and 44 career touchdowns, this despite splitting carries as a junior.
“Braiden has great speed and is a threat to take it to the end zone on every touch,” coach Chad Garrow said. “He is going to be a great college football player and a name you will hear in the years to come.”
Running back: Tupak Kpeayeh, Washington
Already the program’s all-time leading rusher, the junior ran for 1,796 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2017.
At the DakotaDome, Kpeayeh overcame an ankle injury to rush for 204 yards and a touchdown, leading Washington to its third consecutive 11AAA title.
“I honestly think Tupak has a ‘S’ on his chest, he is Superman,” coach Chad Stadem said. “He has amazing vision and jump cutting abilities. Along with those abilities he can out-run defenders or carry a pile of defenders.”
Receiver: Logan Uttecht, Washington
A spleen injury nearly ended Uttecht’s senior season before it could start. But he recovered in time to start in all 11 games for the 11AAA champions, catching 38 passes for 607 yards and nine touchdowns.
Uttecht graduates as the owner of three career receiving records: Receptions (110), yards (1,929) and touchdowns (24). The only record he didn’t graduate with is longest touchdown reception, which still belongs to current Eagles defensive back Nate Gerry.
“Logan is the ultimate competitor,” coach Chad Stadem said. “He is by far one of the hardest workers we have coached at Washington and his ball-hawking skills are second to none in 11AAA.”
Receiver: Canyon Bauer, O’Gorman
Despite missing three weeks with a broken foot, Bauer still finished as one of the top receivers in 11AAA, averaging 120 yards per game over eight games. The speedy wideout, who regularly drew the attention of each team’s top defensive players, caught 51 passes for 853 yards and eight touchdowns. He also logged 15 carries for 110 yards.
“Canyon is a selfless team player with great abilities,” coach Jayson Poppinga said. “He was regularly double-teamed and still produced at a high-level.”
Tight end: Zach Heins, Washington
Heins was an intimidating presence for the 11AAA champions. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound tight end started in all 12 games for the Warriors, hauling in 28 passes for 624 yards and six touchdowns. He also blocked for a Washington offense that generated an average of 415.5 total yards per game and scored 66 touchdowns.
“Zach is an outstanding worker and talented individual,” coach Chad Stadem said. “He is unique in his ability to play the traditional tight end position, but still be able to go out as a wideout and run with the smalls.”
Tackle: Coby Nofziger, Roosevelt
Described by his coach as one of the most unselfish and humble leaders he’d ever been around, Nofziger was a steady force along the offensive line for the Rough Riders.
“Coby was my favorite player,” coach Kim Nelson said. “He plays very hard and keeps his mouth shut. He’s constantly asking, ‘What else can I do?’.”
Tackle: Max Howard, Brandon Valley
A three-year starter, Howard paved the way for a Brandon Valley offense which accumulated 2,647 of its 3,862 yards and 32 touchdowns on the ground. Howard, a SDSU commit, is a two-time All-State and All-Conference selection.
“Max has been a central figure on our line for the past three years,” coach Chad Garrow said.
Guard: Mason McCormick, Roosevelt
Though he prefers playing more at the interior line positions, McCormick wound up seeing snaps at every offensive line position in 2017. His versatility was crucial for the Rough Riders, who would regularly move him around during games based on particular matchups.
“Mason has become an outstanding offensive lineman through hard work in the weight room,” coach Kim Nelson said. “He was the catalyst for our offense this season.”
Guard: Peyton Lester, Washington
What he lacked in size at 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, Lester made up for with his technique.
“Payton is our small guy on the line, but maybe one of the best technique guys, too,” coach Chad Stadem said. “He is a no-nonsense type of player that uses his football IQ and abilities to be an outstanding lineman. He’ll be difficult to replace.”
Lester helped the Warriors throw for over 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2017.
Center: Will Farniok, Washington
The fourth and youngest Farniok boy to play for the Warriors, Will helped pave the way for a Washington ground attack that netted over 230 yards per game and accounted for 40 of the team’s 66 offensive touchdowns.
“Will is an amazing competitor and works very hard to be the best he can be and to be the best teammate he can be,” coach Chad Stadem said.
End: Demareio Hester, Roosevelt
The team’s emotional leader, Hester capped his senior season with 30 tackles, 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles, one of which was recovered in the end zone for a crucial safety against O’Gorman.
Hester, who was a three-year starter at receiver, was also an All-Conference selection and the team captain.
End: Cade Terveer, Brandon Valley
Despite being regularly double- and triple-teamed, Terveer finished his senior year with nine sacks, 26 tackles for a loss of 115 yards and two forced fumbles.
Terveer graduates as the program’s all-time leader in sacks (31) and tackles for a loss (65.5). He logged 159 tackles over his three seasons with the Lynx.
“Cade is the most talented defensive lineman that I have ever been around, including my four years coaching at the college level,” coach Chad Garrow said. “I have never seen one player garner so much attention in an opponent’s pass game.”
Tackle: Jack Wilson, Washington
Wilson started in all 11 games for the state champs, finishing the year with 45 tackles (12 for a loss) and four sacks for a Washington defense which allowed just 15.4 points per game. He graduates with 100 tackles, 23 tackles for a loss and four sacks.
“Jack is a fun guy to coach and be around,” coach Chad Stadem said. “He works so hard and is a positive individual that makes others around him have fun. Plus, he’s a beast on the field.”
Tackle: Dane Stahl, Watertown
A two-time All-State selection, Stahl collected 35 tackles, a couple of sacks and four tackles for a loss in his senior season. He graduates with 94 tackles, three sacks and 10 tackles for a loss.
“Dane is a beast in the weight room,” coach John Hodorff said. “He is the strongest player on our team and has worked very hard every offseason to make himself into the player he is. Dane leads by example and expects others to follow.”
Linebacker: Carter Lohr, Roosevelt
Determined to play his senior season, Lohr postponed surgery for a groin injury he suffered last spring and led Roosevelt to its first 11AAA championship game appearance since 2014.
At linebacker, he logged over 50 tackles, almost all of which were solo efforts.
“Carter has been a great leader and an outstanding player on both sides of the ball,” coach Kim Nelson said. “His playmaking skills were crucial to our success. He is also a role model for our program, in the off season and at crunch time."
Linebacker: Seth Benson, Washington
The centerpiece of a Washington defense that allowed just 256 yards per game, Benson led the team with 105 tackles, over 40 more than the team’s next leading tackler.
Benson finishes his career with 236 tackles, fourth-most all-time. His seven career sacks are tied for ninth-most in program history.
“When Seth speaks, everyone listens,” coach Chad Stadem said. “He’s another coach on the team and his football IQ is the best I have ever been around.”
Linebacker: Collin Stoebner, Aberdeen Central
A three-year starter and three-time All-Conference selection for the Golden Eagles, Stoebner was the heart of the Aberdeen Central defense with 76 solo tackles, 18 assisted tackles, two quarterback sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and one interception.
“Collin is an old school throwback kid,” Aberdeen Central coach Mike Flakus said. “He’s very physical between the tackles and can still run sideline to sideline. He is excellent in pass coverage and on special teams.”
Linebacker: Jon Binstock, O’Gorman
The school record-holder for tackles in a season, Binstock recorded 125 tackles at linebacker for the Knights with five sacks, eight tackles for a loss and an interception.
“Jon was a team leader who was asked to play both ways,” coach Jayson Poppinga.
Back: Jackson Clark, Roosevelt
A free safety, Clark was a high-scoring defender for the Rough Riders. He returned two of his four interceptions for touchdowns and took back his lone fumble recovery 90 yards for six points. He led the team with 66 tackles.
“Jackson is a smart, athletic player,” coach Kim Nelson said. He’s a great offseason leader, too.”
Back: Brock Walker, Washington
A University of Minnesota commit, Walker started all 11 games at strong safety for Washington, finishing with 88 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss and three interceptions. For his career, he finishes with 88 tackles and five interceptions.
The team’s kicker, he converted 13 of his 22 attempts with a long of 45.
“Brock is the type of kid we want to coach,” coach Chad Stadem said. “He is a true team player and wants everyone around him to be good teammates and Warriors.”
Back: Jamin Wurtz, Rapid City Stevens
The team’s only two-way starter, Wurtz posted 46 solo tackles (62 total), two sacks, four pass breakups and a forced fumble. He finishes his career with 75 solo tackles, two sacks six pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
“Jamin has been our hardest working player over the last three years – he doesn’t miss anything,” coach Scott Hagen said. “He is a great leader in the weight room, on the field and in the classroom.”
Back: Nick Billion, O’Gorman
Billion was a reliable tackler for the Knights, logging 60 takedowns, 45 of which were solo efforts. The senior safety also posted a tackle for a loss and returned his lone interception 68 yards for a touchdown.
“Nick was one of the top players on our team,” coach Jayson Poppinga said. “He was a team leader on defense and a two-way player.”
Kicker: Corben Mahaffy, Rapid City Stevens
Mahaffey cleared 2,042 yards on 38 kickoffs for an average of 53.7 yards per kick. He was nearly-perfect for the Raiders, converting 22 of 26 PATs and 5 of 8 field goals with a long of 55.
“Corben has the ability to kick at the next level,” coach Scott Hagen said. “He works extremely hard in the offseason going to kick camps around the Midwest.”
Punter: Liam Downey, Lincoln
Downey averaged 39 yards per punt this season.
No other information was provided.
Special Teams Player: Preston Barr, Aberdeen Central
A dangerous kick returner, Barr returned 13 kicks for 331 yards (25 yards per return) for the Golden Eagles.
“Preston is a great kid and a hard worker,” coach Michael Flakus said.
Long snapper: Nick Hoekstra, Roosevelt
Though listed as a long snapper, Hoekstra was big out of the backfield for the Rough Riders, logging 142 carries for 772 yards and 12 touchdowns. The team’s leading receiver and rusher, he also caught 33 passes for 459 yards and nine touchdowns.
“He’s a very strong, physical athlete,” coach Kim Nelson said.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jayden Johannsen, Washington; Teigen Heckel, Stevens; Andrew Hanson, Brandon Valley; Seth Baloun, Roosevelt; Cole Siegfried, Brandon Valley; Drake Gerdes, Lincoln; Devonte Murphy, Roosevelt; Brian Petereit, Stevens; Grant Treiber, Lincoln; Jesse Steffel, Brandon Valley; Kenley Lamberty, O’Gorman; Colin Brison, Lincoln; Max Tibbetts, O’Gorman.