Here are my predictions for this weekend’s finals, in order of schedule:
Class 11A: Both teams have been gaining steam since their first-half losses, West Central to Dell Rapids and Dells to Class 11B finalist Tri-Valley. Tough call, but I am taking the defending champions: Dell Rapids 21, West Central 17.
Class 11B: McCook Central-Montrose literally came out of no where this year to earn a title berth, the first in the school’s history. The teams did not meet in the regular season, but last met in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, with TV winning 8-6. I suspect it will be a little higher scoring this time: Tri-Valley 20, MCM 14.
Class 9B: Waverly-South Shore has some impressive skill guys, all named Zemlicka. Avon has similar size and speed, but more depth. I think that plays a factor on the Dome turf. Avon 38, WSS 22.
Class 9A: Canistota has many of the same weapons it had when it made its impressive title run in 9B a year ago. So far this season, the Hawks have run through four opponents at a 150-o clip. Wall will score, but not enough: Canistota 38, Wall 6.
Class 9AA: Bridgewater-Emery-Ethan, and Emery-Ethan before it, have been a force in 9-man football almost as long as there has been a playoff system in South Dakota. Kimball-White Lake is a first-year coop, after White Lake and Plankinton parted ways from a coop that won a couple state titles. BEE won 42-14 just a month ago, and I don’t see this one being much different: BEE 40, KWL 16.
Class 11AA: The teams met on the final night of the regular season, with Washington claiming a 34-29 victory that knocked Roosevelt out of the top seed and gave the Warriors a first-round bye. Roosevelt would like to return the favor, but will have to keep DaVonte Clay from running wild, like he did last week against Lincoln.
Washington will make an 11AA record fifth straight finals appearance, and will look to be the first team to win three consecutive titles. Two teams won back-to-back titles, then lost in the dome the next year: Yankton (1994-96) and O’Gorman (2004-06). The Warriors will add to that list: Roosevelt 28, Washington 24.
We will have game previews on all 6 games online and in print during the state finals. The print edition will be the only place to get our “Gameday” graphic, with stats, scores and analysis on each game.