Six members of the 11AA champion Pierre T.F. Riggs Governors football team were named to the 11AA All-State team, selected by the South Dakota Football Coaches Association.
Locally, two Black Hills Conference rivals were named on the defensive squad. Earning first-team honors was senior defensive back Gavin West from Sturgis and junior defensive end Jacob Johnson from Spearfish.
West, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound defensive back, had 52 tackles, four interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery for the Scoopers.
“Gavin was the leader of our team,” said Sturgis coach Chris Koletzky. “He is a three sport athlete that was the MVP for our team. Gavin will be attending the Naval Academy.”
Johnson, a 6-2, 220-pound end, was a first team All-Black Hills Conference selection so far in his career.
“Jacob is a great leader on and off the field,” said Spearfish coach Chad McCarty. “He is one guy we count on to turn the team back around. With our culture the way it is, he is the guy to do the right thing and lead this team back out of the cellar.”
Also for the Scoopers, earning honorable mention was junior Trever Erlenbusch and senior Cedrick Stabber.
The members of the Govs on the 11AA All-State team are quarterback Garrett Stout, fullback Gage Gehring, wide receiver Zane Schuchard, tight end Jack Maher, defensive end Grey Zabel and defensive tackle Nathan Schnabel.
11AA runner up Huron had five members honored. Yankton had six athletes on the team, while Brookings had four athletes.
The Govs won the 11AA state title game 38-20 over Huron.
Quarterback: Garrett Stout, Pierre (Jr., 6-1, 185)
Stout went 94-of-161 for 1487 yards and 17 touchdowns through the air. He also rushed for 1155 yards and eight touchdowns on 144 carries. On defense, Stout had 39 tackles and three interceptions from his defensive back position.
“Garrett is our most important player,” said coach Steve Steele. “He did a great job learning on his feet and transitioning to quarterback. He became one of the biggest offensive threats in the state.”
Fullback: Gage Gehring, Pierre (Sr., 6-0, 210)
Gehring ran for 219 yards and five touchdowns on 41 carries. He also had 22 catches for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Gehring had 82 tackles, including 16 tackles for loss from the linebacker spot.
“Gage is one of our hardest workers,” Steele said. “He can do a bit of everything. He has carried the ball and caught it, while being a great middle linebacker on the defensive side.”
Running Back: Parker Beers, Brookings (Sr., 5-8, 175)
Beers had 910 rushing yards on 171 rushing attempts and seven touchdowns. He also missed two games with an ankle injury.
“Parker Beers played on some struggling teams his first two years, and he was the one consistent offensive player on those teams,” said coach Lee Schmidt. “You were always going to get a great attitude and effort no matter the score or situation.”
Running Back: Caid Koletzky, Yankton (Sr., 6-0, 205)
Koletzky had 1067 rushing yards on 227 attempts and nine touchdowns, while also adding 456 receiving yards on 48 receptions with five touchdowns. He averaged 94.9 rushing yards per game, and 41.5 receiving yards per game.
“Caid is a multi-sport athlete for us at Yankton,” said coach Brady Muth. “He competes in football, hockey and baseball. This fall, Caid was a captain for us. He set a single season record for carries, and is on our Top 20 list of all-time rushers.”
Wide Receiver: Zane Schuchard, Pierre (Sr., 6-5, 230)
Schuchard, a first year starter for the Govs, had 16 catches for 335 yards and six touchdowns.
“Zane stuck out two years behind other tight ends before moving to wide receiver this year and becoming a huge threat,” Steele said. “He has worked for everything he’s gotten and provides a great mismatch against most defensive backs.”
Wide Receiver: Rex Ryken, Yankton (Sr., 6-2, 200)
Ryken had 53 receptions for 813 yards and four touchdowns for the Bucks. He averaged 15.3 yards per catch.
“This season, Rex became our all-time leading receiver at YHS,” Muth said. “He accomplished these numbers while being the focus of opposing defenses. He is a hard worker and a quiet competitor. He has done a great job representing the school in everything he does. Rex has been a mainstay for three seasons on an offense that this year was the best in school history.”
Tight End: Jack Maher, Pierre (Sr., 6-3, 225)
Maher had 37 catches for 621 yards and six touchdowns. He also had 169 rushing yards on 31 rushing attempts for three touchdowns. Defensively, Maher had 57 tackles, 16 of which were for loss, seven sacks, a pick six and a blocked punt for a touchdown.
“Jack is one of the best players in Pierre history, and one of the best tight ends in South Dakota history,” Steele said. “He owns the receiving touchdowns record for Pierre. Jack is one of the only players that could play and excel at any position on both sides of the ball.”
Tackle: Gus Miller, Brookings (Jr., 6-3, 245)
Miller helped the Bobcats offense accumulate 2,200 yards of rushing and 822 passing yards this season. He gave up only two sacks from his right tackle position.
“Gus was our utility defensive lineman. He started and played every position this fall on the defensive front,” Schmidt said. “He is our only two way starter because of his outstanding play on both sides of the ball. We will be building our 2019 offensive and defensive lines around him. He will be our team leader in the weight room and one the field.”
Tackle: Bryce Steffen, Huron (Sr., 6-1, 220)
Steffen was a 2018 All-ESD offensive lineman for the Tigers this season.
“Bryce has been a two year starter and a consistent blocker on offense,” said coach Michael Schmitz. “He has great technique and a passion for the position. He has great feet that allow him to find leverage on his opponents.”
Guard: Tucker Christie, Brookings (Sr., 6-1, 255)
Christie helped the Bobcat offense accumulate 3,022 yard of offense. He was an All-ESD offensive lineman this season.
“Tucker was a three year starter for the Bobcats, as well as a team captain, academic all-state and a three sport athlete,” Schmidt said. “Tucker’s leadership was a big part of our season’s improvement.”
Guard: Elijah Jones, Yankton (Sr., 6-0, 215)
Jones graded out at 94 percent for the year on the Yankton lineman scale. He is responsible for only giving up two sacks on his assignments. Jones is the leader of an offensive line which helped produce a school record of 4,440 yards.
“Elijah’s leadership is going to be missed,” Muth said. “He played an important role in our offseason workout programs by leading the rest of the lineman.”
Center: Carter Max, Mitchell (Sr., 6-0, 206)
Max was the center for an offense that put up 2,446 total yards this season.
“He is the best kid,” said coach Kent Vanoverschelde.
End: Grey Zabel, Pierre (Jr., 6-6, 235)
Zabel had 32 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and five sacks on defense. He was also the center of a Govs team that averaged around 37 points per game.
“Grey is our do-it-all offensive lineman,” Steele said. “He is the leader of our offensive line, and is our most football smart player. Grey really blossomed on the defensive side of the ball this year as well.”
Tackle: Gabe Rieger, Huron (Sr., 6-2, 205)
Reiger had 44 tackles and three sacks for the Tigers. He is a two time All-ESD offensive lineman, and a one time All-State offensive guard. Reiger has 69 tackles and five and a half sacks in his career.
“Gabe has been a driving force on the defensive line,” Schmitz said. “His motor allows him to be a force on the run and against the passing game. He has worked to develop his technique and recognition of plays. Gabe is an aggressive and disruptive force on the line that has allowed our linebackers to play fast and free.”
Tackle: Nathan Schnabel, Pierre (Sr., 6-0, 360)
Schnabel had 18 tackles this season, including two tackles for loss. He started 24 straight games at nose tackle for the Govs.
Schnabel is a load,” Steele said. “He plays every bit of 2 gaps as our nose tackle, and he steadily improved on his junior season. His squat hit 675 this year, and he is the lone member of our 1200 Pounds Club (bench, clean, squat). He really worked to become more mobile as a senior. Schnabel has done great protecting our linebackers.”
Linebacker: Jacob Just, Harrisburg (Sr., 6-0, 165)
Just had 65 tackles, two sacks and three forced fumbles. He had two interceptions, one of which was a touchdown. Just was a 2018 All ESD selection.
“Jacob is one of the smartest and most athletic players we have,” said coach Brandon White. “He is a very tough kid that wants to play every down possible. He is a game changer who made a ton of big plays at the biggest moments. This is the type of kid that you hope your sons grow up to be like.”
Linebacker: Carson Max, Mitchell (Sr., 5-11, 195)
Max had 116 tackles, including 16 tackles for loss. He had two sacks and two interceptions. Max is a two time All-State fullback, is fourth all-time in Mitchell history in tackles.
“He is our hardest worker,” Vanoverschelde said. “Carson is a three sport athlete that will play baseball at SDSU.”
Linebacker: Matt Katz, Huron (Sr., 6-0, 180)
Katz had 109 tackles and three sacks for the Tigers. He had two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and two interceptions.
“Matt has been the anchor of our defense,” Schmitz said. “He is great at inserting himself into the play and making an impact. He is also great at setting the edge and stringing everything out to the sidelines. Matt also has some of the best hands I have seen when he pass rushes. He is able to rush the edge or play in space.”
Linebacker: Levi Weirsma, Yankton (Sr., 5-10, 200)
Weirsma had 105 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions for the Bucks. He has 141 career tackles, and was the Alzado Award Winner at the 2017 team banquet.
“Levi is an explosive player that nailed down the middle of our defense,” Muth said. “He had a fast motor, was always around the ball, played the position downhill and had great field sense. This year, he was our leading tackler and a great leader.”
Back: Justin Devine, Brookings (Sr., 5-10, 175)
Devine had 25 solo tackles and 49 total tackles to go along with nine pass breakups and two interceptions. He was a 2018 All-ESD selection.
“Justin is that one guy who delivers when asked to do everything for his team,” Schmidt said. “He is a three year player, a two year starter, and a team captain.”
Back: Cole Teigen, Harrisburg (Sr., 5-8, 160)
Teigen had 68 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles this season. He is a two time All-ESD selection and a two time All-State selection.
“Cole has been our defensive leader for two straight years,” White said. “His ability to adapt on the fly and get our other ten defensive players in the right spot is very commendable. He has been very reliable, and has not missed a start in 2.5 years.”
Back: Jett McGirr, Huron (Sr., 6-0, 185)
McGirr had 82 tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and two interceptions for the Tigers.
“Jett has been one of our most sure tacklers in the secondary,” Schmitz said. “He helps with alignment and assignment for all of the secondary. Jett has good coverage skills and he loves to hit.”
Kicker: Cole Sawatzke, Yankton (Sr., 6-0, 170)
Sawatzke made 38-of-42 PATs, as well as 10-of-15 field goals. He scored 68 points this year and set a record for extra points. Last season, he was an honorable mention on the 11AA All-State team as a kicker.
“Cole is a dedicated football player,” Muth said. “He puts a lot of time in during the summer working on his craft at camps. He has a 51 yard field goal in his career. This year, he made a 37 yard field goal with three seconds left to win a game. He is a weapon for our offense, and he gives us the opportunity to score points outside the red zone.”
Punter: Michael Drotzmann, Yankton (Sr., 6-3, 195)
Drotzmann had 35 punts for a total of 1215 yards with a 34.71 yards per punt average this season. He had 14 punts downed inside the 20-yard line. Only 12 of his 35 punts were returned.
“Michael is a two-year starter for us,” Muth said. “He was an All-State punter last season. In his career, he has 109 punts for a total of 3995 yards, with 33 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.”
Special Teams Player: Chipper Shillingstad, Huron (Sr., 5-5, 150)
Shillingstad was a 2018 All-ESD selection at running back/wide receiver. He was a 2017 All-ESD and All-State defensive back.
“Chipper was always a threat to take one back,” Schmitz said. “He has great speed to the blockers and is shifty in space. He has the ability to field almost any ball that is kicked downfield. WIth him as a returner, we didn’t have to worry about starting close to our end zone.”
Long Snapper: Reese Sievert, Mitchell (Sr., 6-2, 225)
As a long snapper, Sievert was a part of 39 punts, eight field goals and 35 PATs. In his career, Sievert has snapped 80 punts and 67 PATs.
“He’s had one bad snap in two years,” Vanoverschelde said.
Ethan Wishon, Sr., Yankton; Trever Erlenbusch, Jr., Sturgis; Cedrick Stabber, Sr., Sturgis; Max Anderson, Sr., Harrisburg; Cole Nelson, Jr., Pierre; Jace Wernsmann, Sr., Pierre; Cade Hinkle, Jr., Pierre; Gunnar Gehring, So., Pierre; Kiel Nelson, Sr., Mitchell; Jackson Sadler, Sr., Mitchell; Jay Szafryk, Sr., Brookings.