Six athletes on the Pierre T.F. Riggs Governors football team were named to the Class 11AA All-State Football team on Wednesday. The team is voted on by members of the South Dakota Football Coaches Association.

The first member of the Govs on the team is junior quarterback Lincoln Kienholz. Kienholz completed 181 of 328 passes for a completion percentage of 55.2 percent. He threw for 3359 yards and 37 touchdowns while running for 1165 yards on 164 carries for 12 touchdowns.

“Lincoln is the best player on our team, and one of the best in the state,” Govs coach Steve Steele said. “He is also a great leader, person, and kid who goes through more things than most people would guess. He has incredible raw ability and athleticism. He really grew into the mental role of the quarterback this year and accepted the tremendous amount of pressure put onto his shoulders. He had an outstanding season taking care of the ball and leading our team to the successful season we have had.”

Kienholz’s top target this season was junior wide receiver Jack Merkwan, who was also named to the All-State team. Merkwan had 1,297 receiving yards on 55 carries and 15 touchdowns.

“Jack is a great deep threat wide receiver who seems to never get tired no matter how many times we send him deep in a game,” Steele said. “We challenged him in the off season to become a major 1-on-1 threat and to force teams to have to put two guys on him, and he responded by doing exactly that. He has only had one drop on 65 targets through the season so far, and has done a lot of damage after the catch. He will come back for his senior year already holding or being within a game’s reach of every school receiving record.”

The defensive leader for the Govs was senior defensive lineman Jaden Flor. Flor had 44 total tackles, including 37 solo tackles. He added 2.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss.

“Jaden is an animal,” Steele said. “He has a motor that never stops running and will do anything he’s asked to do to the absolute best of his ability. He plays with reckless abandon and will never pull himself for being tired or banged up. He’s the ultimate soldier and could very easily be a medal of honor recipient someday for uncommon valor, because that’s the exact type of person that he is. He never quits and is a kid you love to have on your team.”

The final member named to the Class 11AA All-State team for the Govs was junior defensive back Jacob Mayer. Mayer had 66 total tackles, including 51 solo tackles. He also had five interceptions this season.

“Mayer is the brain of our back end,” Steele said. “He’s responsible for lining up and checking our coverage, getting our defensive backs on the same page, and sometimes making the people in front of him right. He’s another kid with an extremely high football IQ, and is always thinking through solutions to formation and routes. He had a great offseason building his physical traits to match his mental ones and was able to fill in the run game extremely well this season as well amassing a large total of tackles for a defensive back. He reads plays extremely well and hustles where he needs to be. He is not afraid of throwing his body into the pile if that’s what needs to be done.”

Juniors Christian Busch and Jayden Wiebe were both named to the honorable mention team.Busch played center for the Govs. He was also a first year starter.

“Christian is our best all around offensive lineman,” Steele said. “He had a gritty year fighting through injuries but also made a crucial difference in our offense, setting protections, calling blitzes, and really taking charge of our offensive line. He’s a big strong kid that has a lot of nasty in him and always blocks to the whistle. He’s been a major part of our offense.”

Wiebe had a punt return touchdown, and three kick returns inside the opponent’s 30 yard line.

“Jayden is a spark plug and one of the most natural leaders we have,” Steele said. “He’s very good at a lot of different things utilizing his many skills. He’s played running back, starts at cornerback, and returns kicks and punts for us. There is not a thing he wouldn’t do if asked, or wouldn’t ask to do if you needed something done. He takes extreme pride in the return game. Our biggest struggle the past few years was simply catching punts to avoid a longer roll/bounce losing field position. He promised us he would be the solution to that, and he has been this season. There are very few punts he was not able to catch this season, and he has done an incredible job giving every yard he can on them, housing one punt and starting the offense in the red zone three times off of kick returns. He’s a difference maker for us on our special teams units.”

The Govs ended the season with a 30-27 victory over the Tea Area Titans in the Class 11AA State Championship.

Scott Millard | 605-295-8429

Scott Millard has been the sports reporter for the Capital Journal since 2017. He was previously an intern with the Capital Journal during the summer of 2016.

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