As he said in the moments following his team’s state championship victory, Viborg-Hurley football coach Rob Kessler made clear: There was a correlation between the school’s track title earlier in the year and its football title.
That belief has been backed up once again.
Viborg-Hurley has placed a class-high five players on the Class 9AA all-state team, which was selected by the South Dakota Football Coaches Association.
Four of those selections for Viborg-Hurley came on the offensive side of the ball for a Cougars unit that averaged 50 points per game: junior Chase Mason (quarterback), junior Angel Johnson (running back), senior Shane Andersen (wide receiver) and senior Ethan Engen (offensive lineman). Joining the list was senior Cole Overgard (linebacker).
All five of those selections for Viborg-Hurley were on the state track roster last spring, when the Cougars captured the Class B boys’ team championship.
The combination of a strong arm and track speed allowed Mason to shred opposing defenses to the tune of 3,377 combined yards and 45 touchdowns.
Named the championship game Outstanding Player, Mason passed for 2,218 yards and 25 touchdowns this season, and also ran for 1,159 yards and 20 more scores.
Another of Viborg-Hurley’s track standouts, Johnson – a 5-foot-10, 170-pound speedster – was a threat on the ground and through the air this season.
He caught 43 passes for 666 yards and 11 touchdowns, and also ran the ball 82 times for 708 yards and 13 scores.
Andersen, also known for his rodeo exploits during the summer, hauled in 31 receptions for 705 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.
Engen, a 6-5, 230-pound lineman, was a force on both sides of the ball for the Cougars. Selected as the Outstanding Lineman in the championship game, Engen recorded 106 tackles, seven sacks and one interception on defense.
Overgaard finished his defensive season with 109 tackles, two sacks and seven tackles for loss.
State runner-up Bon Homme had four players selected: Senior Nate Scieszinski (wide receiver), senior Cole Bares (offensive lineman), junior Kaleb Kubal (defensive lineman) and senior Josh Crownover (linebacker).
Here is a look at the other all-state honorees:
Nick Kasten, Deuel (Sr., 5-9, 180)
A threat in every part of the game, Kasten ran for 1,133 yards and 16 touchdowns this season, and averaged eight yards per carry and 103 yards per game. For his career, he totaled 1,857 yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground.
“He has a rare combination of explosive speed and power,” coach Dusty Hourigan said. “He’s a powerful runner who made himself better with dedication in the weight room. He’s very coachable, humble and is a great teammate.”
Carter Hoffman, Deuel (Jr., 5-5, 165)
Although he missed two games following an ankle injury, Hoffman still managed to rush for 1,191 yards and 15 touchdowns this season for the Cardinals. He also caught 22 passes for 470 yards and six scores. Hoffman will enter his senior season with 2,765 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns in his career.
“He’s a great athlete that our opponents game plan to try and stop,” coach Dusty Hourigan said. “He has great speed, quickness, power and awareness on the football field. He’s a great character kid who involves himself with our youth programs, is a good student, strong in his faith and genuinely cares for his teammates, peers in school and community.”
Nate Scieszinski, Bon Homme
(Sr., 5-11, 170)
It didn’t matter where Scieszinski got the ball – on a handoff or through the air – he delivered. He ran for 326 yards, had 577 receiving yards and combined for 13 touchdowns. In his career for the Cavaliers, Scieszinski totaled 1,013 receiving yards.
“Nate has grown tremendously as a football player,” coach Byron Pudwill said. “He came into his own in the middle of last year and became a great three-way player.”
Kamron Haase, Hamlin (Sr., 6-1, 178)
Although his number of receptions may not be eye-popping, Haase made them count. He caught nine passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns for the Chargers.
“He’s a hard-working player that demonstrates great leadership through his actions and brought his teammates with him,” coach Jeff Sheehan said.
Arthur Harrison, Lemmon/McIntosh
(Sr., 6-2, 274)
For a team that loved to throw the ball around the field, Harrison – a two-time all-Little Moreau Conference selection – anchored the offensive line to protect the quarterback.
“Arthur is a great kid,” coach Josh Anderson said. “When we needed a big run, that is who we ran behind. He was a great pass blocker as well.”
Logan Williams, Arlington/Lake Preston
(Sr., 5-11, 200)
A three-year starter, Williams recorded 34 solo tackles (eight for loss) this season and wrapped up his career with 88 solo tackles.
“Logan is a class act and plays the game the way it is supposed to be played,” coach Steve Gilbertson said. “He was an integral part of the success of our program the past three seasons.”
Cole Bares, Bon Homme
(Sr., 6-3, 220)
Bares was twice named the Lineman of the Game at the 9AA championship game, and this season anchored the line for a Cavaliers offense that averaged 6.4 yards per run. This season, Bares recorded 99.5 tackles and finished his career with 189 tackles.
“Cole was double and triple teamed all year,” coach Byron Pudwill said. “He can run the ball, but we used him on the line. He’s one of the hardest players we’ve ever had to block.”
Justin TeKrony, Deuel (Sr., 5-11, 230)
TeKrony, according to his coach, “lived on the opposite side of the ball” this season. He finished with 68 tackles (16 for loss), three sacks and one fumble recovery. TeKrony wrapped up his career for the Cardinals with 118 tackles (27 for loss), 5.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries.
“He has a defensive tackle mentality; tenacious and on the attack,” coach Dusty Hourigan said. “He plays calm between snaps and turns on a switch and gets after it. He never wants to sit out of the game.”
Riley Ferry, Hanson (Jr., 6-1, 195)
Labeled as a hard worker by his coach, Ferry recorded 60 tackles and eight sacks for the Beavers this season.
“He definitely is a leader in our weight room,” coach Jim Haskamp said. “He is a positive influence on underclassmen both on and off the field.”
Jesse Walton, Parker (Sr., 6-4, 225)
Helping lead the way for a team that went 6-3 this season, Walton recorded 51 tackles (24 for loss) and six sacks. He finished his career with 84 tackles (28.5 for loss) and seven sacks.
“Jesse was constantly making tackles while being blocked,” coach Scott Hybertson said. “He set our edge every play and was doubled quite a bit. He worked hard and constantly improved. I couldn’t be more proud of his progress on the field and off.”
Kaleb Kubal, Bon Homme
(Jr., 6-2, 190)
Not only was Kubal a force on the offensive line for the Cavaliers, he recorded 63 tackles and 11 sacks on the defensive line.
“Kaleb is on the side of the line we could count on running to,” coach Byron Pudwill said. “He made it difficult to run on us as a defense all year.”
Peyton Anderson, Lemmon/McIntosh
(Sr., 6-2, 217)
Although he played in just short of half of his team’s games this season, Anderson recorded 42 tackles (nine for loss) and one interception that went for a touchdown.
“Peyton is a phenomenal player that reads the field really well,” coach Josh Anderson said. “He only played in four games for us and made a big difference when he was on the field. He works hard and is a joy to coach.”
Tanner Even, Parker (Sr., 6-1, 205)
A two-time all-conference selection, Even wrapped up his senior season with 50 tackles (six for loss) and one interception. His career totals include 164 tackles (25.5 for loss), four sacks and two interceptions.
“He was the unquestioned leader of our team,” coach Scott Hybertson said. “Whatever we asked, he did. In his varsity career, he has played about every position on the field.”
Josh Crownover, Bon Homme
(Sr., 6-4, 195)
A versatile talent, Crownover – nicknamed ‘Boots’ – was a four-year starter at four different positions for the Cavaliers. A two-time state wrestling champion, he moved to quarterback this season and combined for 2,210 yards and 25 touchdowns.
On defensively, specifically, Crownover recorded 97 tackles this season and finished his career with 217 tackles.
“Josh is our team leader and captain,” coach Byron Pudwill said. “He leads our offseason program and is the one who makes sure everyone gets to where they’re supposed to be.”
Logan Stoltenburg, Deuel (Sr., 6-2, 180)
As someone “addicted to the weight room (as his coach said),” Stoltenburg led a Deuel defense that surrendered only 77 passing yards per game. He finished his season with 43 tackles, two interceptions and one fumble recovery. Stoltenburg wrapped up his career with 48 tackles (three for loss), three interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
“He manages the game and plays within himself,” coach Dusty Hourigan said. “He’s a student of the game and willing to put in the long hours it takes to improve.”
Reggie Slaba, Hanson (Sr., 6-0, 155)
In addition to his production as Hanson’s quarterback (a combined 1,228 yards and 15 TD), Slaba recorded 41 tackles and two interceptions from his defensive back position.
“Reggie is a coach’s dream when it comes to work ethic and being coachable,” coach Jim Haskamp said. “Reggie put in time during the offseason to make himself stronger. He loves to compete and always believes that he has a chance to win.”
Hayden Spilles, Hamlin (Sr., 5-11, 202)
In his first year out for football, Spilles was valuable for the Chargers. He converted 29-of-33 extra points, was 1-for-3 on field goals, and had seven touchbacks.
“He’s a perfectionist in his craft of kicking,” coach Jeff Sheehan said. “He’s a hard worker and competitor in everything he does.”
Caden Foxley, Platte-Geddes
(Sr., 6-3, 220)
On four occasions when Foxley took the snap and booted the ball away, his punts exceeded 50 yards – his season long was 63 yards. For the season, he averaged 32 yards per punt.
“He started on both sides of the ball and was a big part of our team,” coach Bruce Hanson said. “He set our defense up in good position and good field position.”
Special Teams Player
Tate Gaikowski, Dakota Hills
(Sr., 6-4, 205)
With his combination of size and speed, Gaikowski was a tough one to bring down in the return game for opposing tacklers. He averaged 27.3 yards on returns and had two touchdowns, and had a season long of 85 yards.
“Tate had multiple big returns on the year,” coach Zach Noffsinger said. “He was on every special teams and made several tackles, with a big role on each. He was versatile in every aspect of the game.”
Special Teams Player
Cameron Thue, Hamlin (Sr., 6-0, 207)
Not only was Thue a defensive leader for Hamlin this season, he recorded 54 long snaps without error and also returned three kickoffs.
“He’s a great player that does whatever is asked him and is a very coachable kid,” coach Jeff Sheehan said.
Cody Thompson (Jr., Lemmon/McIntosh); Brodee Teveldal (Sr., Baltic); Landon Schulte (Sr., Platte-Geddes); Zach Polzin (Sr., Baltic); Matt Amdahl (Sr., Dakota Hills); Justin Harms (Sr., Viborg-Hurley); Thomas Frankenhoff (Sr., Dakota Hills); Nathan Holida (Sr., Hamlin); Logan Visser (Sr., Deuel); Dylan Brandt (Sr., Deuel); Eli DeNeui (Sr., Platte-Geddes); Tell Mollman (So., Lemmon/McIntosh); Ty Kenyon (Sr., Deuel); Isaiah Portwood (Jr., Lemmon/McIntosh); Nicholas Sayler (Sr., Jones County/White River); Carson Bailey (Jr., Lemmon/McIntosh)