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BALL FIVE: No surprises on SDFBCA preseason football poll

The South Dakota Football Coaches Association (SDFBCA) released their pre-season poll on Monday. Except for schools jumping from one class to another, there are no surprises on top. Defending state champions are ranked first in five of the seven classes.
The season starts Friday for most of the state’s football teams. Not for the Tigers, however. Mobridge-Pollock drew its open week right off the bat. But if you want a little preseason fix, the Black and White game (team scrimmage) kicks off at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Tiger Stadium.
In Class 11B, where the Tigers and McLaughlin Mustangs reside, defending runner-up Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan is ranked first. Defending champion Sioux Falls Christian went up to 11A. Even though Sioux Falls Christian spanked Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan 43-8 in last fall’s championship game, the Seahawks are a solid choice to start the season on top. Along with beating the Tigers 47-6 in the quarterfinals, BEE beat Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central 46-0 in the first round and Mt. Vernon/Plankinton 41-6 in the semifinals. Always good even on an off year, Winner is ranked second. St. Thomas More (down from 11A) is ranked third, Sioux Valley fourth and Mt. Vernon/Plankinton fifth. I thought maybe the Tigers or Groton Area might sneak into fourth or fifth, but you know how it is, teams from up north have to win their way onto the polls.
In Class 9B, where Herreid/Selby Area has found its new home, Wolsey-Wessington is ranked first. Wolsey-Wessington went undefeated in Class 9AA until falling to state champion Bon Homme in the semifinals last year, so they take the top spot over defending champion Colome. Colman-Egan is ranked third, Faulkton Area fourth and Harding County fifth.
Last year an undefeated Timber Lake squad had its season ended by eventual state champion Canistota/Freeman in Class 9A. On top of that class is where Canistota/Freeman starts the new season. Sully Buttes, after taking second in 9B last year, is ranked second. Britton-Hecla is third, Howard fourth and Gregory fifth.
In 9AA, defending champ Bon Homme is ranked first with Arlington/Lake Preston second, Hamlin third, Viborg-Hurley fourth and Clark/Willow Lake fifth.
In the other three 11-man classes, the defending state champion is ranked first to start the year.
In 11AAA, Brandon Valley holds the top spot with Sioux Falls taking over from there. Roosevelt is ranked second, Washington third and O’Gorman fourth. Harrisburg, in its first year at the AAA level, is ranked fifth. So really, its suburb, city, city, city and suburb in Class 11AAA.
Pierre is ranked first in 11AA. Yankton is second, Brookings third, Mitchell fourth and Huron fifth.
In Class 11A, Tea Area is ranked first, Madison second, Canton third, Sioux Falls Christian fourth and Dakota Valley fifth. Canton and Sioux Falls Christian are getting some love after being 11B teams last year.
Usually when I talk about Mobridge-Pollock and Groton Area, I would be talking about two of the three top teams in Region 1 (along with Aberdeen Roncalli), but regions are no more in Class 11B. There are 25 teams in the class. This year they will be seeded in order with the top 16 teams qualifying for the postseason. If things go the Tigers’ way, the regular season finale could be a real humdinger. The Tigers go to Groton Area for the last game. It’s going to have all sorts of playoff implications. Every team in 11B is going to be fighting to finish in the top eight and get at least one home game, because who knows how far away the first road game could be. Plus, there will be teams unfamiliar with each other squaring off right away.
Just think if Elk Point-Jefferson has to come to the Bridge City in the first round. That’s a 726-mile round trip.
Regular season wins just got even more important than they have been in the past.