The Dak-12 is easily one of the toughest conferences in Class A in South Dakota. With the last five out of the seven state champions coming from the conference, the Dak-12 is poised to have another champion this upcoming year as Tea Area returns a good chunk of their team and Sioux Falls Christian loses a great senior class but returns some solid players from last year’s team.
1. TEA AREA
Tea Area finished in third last year behind Sioux Falls Christian and Madison, but the Titans return four starters for a second straight season. They have been in the title game the last two years, placing first and second, and look to make it three straight seasons. They have the power to make it a reality. They return almost all of their scoring in Kade Stearns, Justin Hohn, Noah Friedel, Kaleb Joffer. Zach Wilber and Mason Ritter will look to contribute and have a bigger role next season for the Titans. Tea does lose a starter in Chris Morales and bench players Nash Johnson, Jake Friedrich and Seth Kocer which could pose a problem as they were Joffer’s replacement when he came out of the game.
2. SIOUX FALLS CHRISTIAN
The Chargers finished first last season after a perfect undefeated conference and regular season. Sioux Falls Christian suffered their first loss to fellow conference foe Tea Area in the semi-finals of the state tournament this past season. They graduated a solid senior class that included Lincoln Unruh, Will Garnaas, and Koln Oppold. SFC does return everybody else from last season, including two starters; in Gavin Schipper and Mitchell Goodbary. Mitchell Oostra will be a solid choice for a starting position next season as he performed well off the bench for Sioux Falls Christian last season.
3. DAKOTA VALLEY
The Panthers quietly had a very successful regular season last year. They finished fifth in the conference with a 5-4 conference record and 13-6 regular season record. Dakota Valley placed sixth at the state tournament last year and graduated six seniors which include star player Jack McCabe which has signed to play at Morningside next year. The good thing for the Panthers is they still have their coach next season and it seems like he puts together a great team every year. They also have Charlie Cox and Paul Bruns returning both were huge contributors last season.
The Orioles have been an extremely young team this past year as they only had two seniors on their team. Next season could be a breakthrough for the Orioles after going 8-11 overall and 2-7 in the conference. They have a couple great guards in Josh Arlt and Quincy Ihnen. They have been playing varsity for a couple years now and are finally poised to make a huge impact for the Orioles. Lennox should easily improve on their record from last year.
The defending state champs will have a huge overhaul of the team for next season. They lose five seniors next year but it’s not how many they lose it’s the quality of each of the five that hurts the Bulldogs. Jadon and Jaxon Janke, Josh Giles, and Aaron Fiegen all were pretty much a pretty huge chunk of their scoring last year. Also with the big news that the Bulldogs head coach Michael Ricke stepped down to become the athletic director could pose some problems next season. They do have two players that were huge role players last year in Nic Comes and Doyle Brown. They are still the defending champs so don’t count them out just yet.
6. DELL RAPIDS
The Quarriers had a very successful season that unfortunately ended in an upset at the Round of 16. It doesn’t look to get any better for the Quarriers as they lose all of their scoring in Mason Schmidt, Elijah Story, Carson Rentz and Jeffrey Schuch. They return one key player in six-foot-nine center Logan Heim who is a huge presence down-low and can step out and hit the long ball once in a while. It’ll be interesting to see how the Quarriers bounce back.
The Mustangs always seem to be a tough team to play no matter what their record shows. This past season the Mustangs played a lot of the top teams close even if the score didn’t necessarily show it. They do lose a load of seniors from last season, but as usual, they will be a tough team to play come next year.
8. ELK-POINT JEFFERSON
The Huskies have in recent years been a middle of the pack contender in the Dak-12. Last season they went 9-10 overall and 3-6 in the conference and this season they will look to get over the hump.
The C-Hawks were the No.1 seed in Region 4A a couple years ago and ended up getting upset by Tea Area. Ever since then the C-Hawks haven’t quite gotten back to that level of success, but that might change in the next couple of years with Kayden Verley. If he improves on his performances this last couple of years he could lead his team to success.
The Tanagers were gifted with the likes of A.J. Plitzuweit when his mom took over the head coaching job at USD. In his two years for the Tanagers, he almost led the team to state. He will surely be missed in the red and white. Sam Ward will most likely be one of the go-to players next season after Plitzuweit’s departure.
11. WEST CENTRAL
The Trojans were tied with Canton for last place in the conference and 1-8 and 7-12 overall in the regular season. They lose five seniors and will have some height next year, they could possibly win one or two more games next year. The Dak-12 is one of the toughest conferences in the state and are playing at least half of the state tournament qualifiers every game.