HURON — Six players from Hitchcock-Tulare and four players from De Smet were named to the 2022 Class 9B all-state football team, which was announced Tuesday and selected by the South Dakota High School Football Coaches Association.
The Patriots, who went undefeated this season en route to winning the Class 9B state title, had three players selected on offense and three players selected on defense.
Earning offensive honors for Hitchcock-Tulare were junior running back Erik Salmen, senior wide receiver Landon Puffer and senior lineman Jacob Michlitsch.
Salmen finished the year with 1042 yards on 162 carries and had 17 touchdowns. He also had 11 receptions for 158 yards and a touchdown.
“Erik is a great player. He was a good quiet Leader, who was strong and tough to bring down,” said. Hitchcock-Tulare coach Tom Salmen. “Over half of our games were done at halftime, otherwise he would have had a lot more yards.”
Despite filling a wide receiver role, Puffer was a dual threat for the Patriots. He finished with 33 catches for 742 yards and 16 touchdowns, while carrying the ball 16 times for 179 yards and four touchdowns.
“Landon is a heck of an athlete,” Salmen said. “He is fast, tough to bring down and has great hands.”
Hitchcock-Tulare’s Landon Puffer, left, pulls down the ball as he intercepts a pass intended for Herreid-Selby Area’s Cole Zabel, right, during the Class 9B championship game on Nov. 10 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.
Much of the offensive success by Hitchcock-Tulare this season could be contributed to its play up front, which was anchored by Michlitsch.
“Jacob is very strong and moves well for his body size,” Salmen said. “He is knowledgeable in the game of football and what we want to accomplish on the field.”
Earning defensive honors for the Patriots were senior lineman TJ Salmen, senior linebacker Carter Binger and junior defensive back Brendan Nowell.
Salmen racked up 51.5 totals tackles before the title game this season for Hitchcock-Tulare. He had 43 solo stops, 10.5 sackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss and five fumble recoveries.
“TJ did a great job for us,” Salmen said. “He is athletic and moves well for his size.
“He was double teamed qutie a bit or I am certain he would have more sacks,” he said. “Teams definitely had to account for him.”
Binger finished the season with 40.5 total tackles, which included 31 solo tackles, two sacks, 12.3 tackles for a a loss, four interceptions, a fumble recovery and a touchdown.
“Carter did a tremendous job of us as an outside backer,” Salmen said.
“He was the team’s second leading tackler and made plays all over the field.”
Nowell recorded eight interceptions this season, including one returned for a touchdown. He also had 16 totals tackles with 12 solo stops and a fumble recovery.
“Brendan worked very hard,” Salmen said. “He finds himself around the ball and has good speed.”
Earning all-state honors for De Smet were seniors Damon Wilkinson, Dylan Zell and junior Kadyn Fast.
Wilkinson was an offensive lineman, who helped power the Bulldogs to 1,620 yards rushing and 961 passing this season.
“Damon was the main offensive lineman for us this season,” De Smet coach Brendon Pitts said. “If we needed a first down, we ran behind him. He was a great leader for us on and off the field.”
Zell was named to the team in the athlete spot. He finished the season with 81 tackles, three sacks and four fumble recoveries.
“Dylan led our team in tackles this season. He was the hear and soul of our defense,” Pitts said. “He was not only a great leader for us on the field, but also off the field.”
De Smet’s Kadyn Fast carries the ball as teammate Noah Harrison (60) converges on the play during a game against Wolsey-Wessington on Sept. 16 in Wolsey.
Fast was named to the all-state team as a defensive back for the Bulldogs. He had 34 tackles and two fumble recoveries.
“Kadyn was a big playmaker for us this season from multiple spots on the field,” Pitts said. “He was often times tasked with shutting down the opposing teams biggest offensive threat and did a tremendous job with that.”
Senior lineman Noah Harrison also earned honorable mention this season for De Smet
Harrison finished the season with 52 tackles, and interception and five sacks.
“Noah was an impactful player for us on both sides of the ball this season,” Pitts said. “He made a lot of plays for us from the defensive tackle position.”