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    The Top Ten Football Programs in West River

    What are the ten best football programs in west river? That question was posed to me recently, so I set about identifying that list. The decision matrix was based upon the following factors: legacy, toughness and coaching.  The legacy pertains to the team’s performance over the past ten years (since 2006). Of course, bonus points were given when the team made it to the Dome, and even more bonus points awarded when the team won a state championship. Toughness has been covered in an earlier post. The majority of the top ten teams have coaches with a long-term presence at the school. So without further adieu, here are the top ten west river football programs: 

    1. Winner Warriors

    1. Toughness—The Warriors hail from Tripp County, which scored a perfect 10 out of 10 on the football toughness scale.  That toughness has never been more very apparent than this season as the Warriors have rolled to a perfect record and are poised to win in the Dome again.
    2. Legacy—The Warriors were state champions in 2009 and 2012 and runners up in 2008.  In all likelihood the Warriors will also be crowned 2015 state champions.  Year in and year out the Warriors are one of the best teams in the state. Throw in roots going back to Knute Rockne and you have a winning formula.
    3. Coaching—Dan Aaker does a masterful job with the Warriors, and has been with the program throughout their most recent storied run.

    2. Harding County Ranchers

    1. Toughness—Like Winner the Ranchers scored a perfect 10 on the toughness scale. Maybe it’s the toughness of the ranching background of the players, but the Boys from Buffalo always seem to excel in big games.
    2. Legacy—The Ranchers were state champions in 2012 and runners up in 2010, and will claim one of those spots in 2015. Even though the analysis only considered 2006 forward, you cannot overlook the history established by Ab Penn. Every time the team takes the field named for that legendary coach the legacy factor favors the Ranchers.
    3. Coaching—As an alumnus of Harding County High School Coach Jay Wammen bleads Rancher purple, and he is widely regarded for his coaching abilities.

    3. Colome Cowboys

    1. Toughness—Like the Winner Warriors, the Colome Cowboys also hail from Tripp County. It must be something in the water there that gives the football players an extra dose of toughness.
    2. Legacy—The Cowboys were state champions in 2007 and runners up in 2006 and 2012.
    3. Coaching—Compared to Aaker and Wammen, Cowboys Head Coach Scott Kortan is the new kid on the block.  However, Kortan has done a masterful job continuing the tradition of excellence in Colome.

    4. Gregory Gorillas (tie)

    1. Toughness—The Gorillas reside in Gregory County, which scored a 9 on the toughness scale. Keep in mind though that that score was a composite one as it included both Gregory and South Central.
    2. Legacy—The Gorillas were state champions in 2014 and runners up in 2007.
    3. Coaching—Coach Brian Allmendinger has built a strong resume while coaching the Gorillas since Dan Whalen left Gregory for Pierre.

    4. St. Thomas Cavaliers (tie)

    1. Toughness—Perhaps the only knock on the Cavaliers is the perception of a lack of toughness when it comes to the playoffs.  This perception comes from the style of play the Cavaliers demonstrate compared to the smash mouth east river teams.
    2. Legacy—The Cavaliers have made a habit of playing in the Dakota Dome. In the ten year reporting period the Cavaliers have been runners up in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2014.
    3. Coaching—Coach Wayne Sullivan is regarded as one of the most innovative coaches in South Dakota, and this innovation has led to great success for the Cavaliers. Sullivan is also known for his large stable of assistant coaches (19 in 2015) used to help instill the Cavalier football mystique.

    6. Wall Eagles

    1. Toughness—While the Eagles reside in eastern Pennington County, they might be regarded as the toughest team in the county.
    2. Legacy—The Eagles were 2011 state runners up.
    3. Coaching—Coach Kent Anderson returned to Wall from Beresford and has begun to slowly rebuild the Eagles program.  This year’s Eagles were young and beset by injuries, yet made a late-season run to the playoffs.

    7. Philip Scotties

    1. Toughness—Haakon County scored 7/10 on the toughness scale, mostly because of the hardscrabble nature of the Scotties.
    2. Legacy—The Scotties are always one of the most competitive 9 man teams west river, often making deep playoff runs.
    3. Coaching—Coach Keven Morhart is regarded as a player’s coach.  Even when the number of Scotties players is low Morhart maximizes the talent to make Philip competitive.

    8. Stanley County Buffalos (tie)

    1. Toughness—Stanley County scored 8/10 on the toughness scale. This high score, no doubt is a reflection of the toughness associated with the players with a native rancher toughness.
    2. Legacy—This year the Buffalos took a major step toward establishing their proud legacy that has been missing in recent years.
    3. Coaching—Coach Tom O’Boyle took the Buffs within an eyelash of the Dome this season, expect big things out of O'Boyle and the Buffs in future. 

    8. Hot Springs Bison (tie)

    1. Toughness—Year in and year out the Hot Springs Bison are one of the toughest teams in the Black Hills Conference.
    2. Legacy—The Bison routinely make deep runs into the playoffs, and came within a whisker of going to the Dome in 2013.
    3. Coaching—Coach Ben Kramer always does yeoman’s effort in crafting a strong Bison team.

    10. Douglas Patriots

    1. Toughness—When it comes to toughness the Pats reflect their coaches toughness.
    2. Legacy—The Pats have been slowly but surely rebuilding their football legacy in recent years. Helping to expedite the rebuilding process is Coach Maciejczak, and alumnus from Douglas High School.
    3. Coaching—Coach Dan Maciejczak has a stellar record and background, spanning the high school, college and professional levels.

    2 Responses

    1. SOD BUZZARD Says:


      Great list, but I'm plugging Faith in there and bumping #10.

    2. SOD BUZZARD Says:

      +1 like

      The Grueb era speaks for itself in the land of Longhorns.

      2015 T. Grueb 7-3-0
      2014 T. Grueb 8-2-0
      2013 T. Grueb 7-2-0
      2012 T. Grueb 8-2-0
      2011 T. Grueb 7-2-0
      2010 T. Grueb 4-5-0

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