Savage Words: Not sure how I feel about football losing starter to open enrollment

Tom A. Savage, Contributing writer

I recently attended a Brandon Valley School Board meeting for the Journal in the Community Room at the high school. 

As I left and walked through the muggy air to my car, I saw some Lynx football players in helmets on the football field, running routes, working on various skills. 

I saw the same thing a few minutes later when I got to the eastern edge of Sioux Falls when I saw a handful of Washington players doing the same thing on their practice field. 

That sight made me happy. At the very least, it made me forget about the humidity I was swimming through and reminded me that cool, fall days with football in the air are on the horizon. 

Little did I know as I drove by the corner of Sixth Street and Sycamore Avenue on Sioux Falls’ far east side that one of the players wearing a Warriors helmet was Dveyoun Bonwell-Witte. A few days after seeing the Washington players I drove past, I learned that Bonwell-Witte was transferring from Brandon Valley to Washington for the upcoming school year. 

That blows.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound wide receiver had 30 catches last year and five touchdowns for the Lynx. He was obviously going to be a factor in Brandon Valley’s offensive attack this season as he’s arguably one of South Dakota’s top wide receivers. 

But as it’s been for years, open enrollment between high schools reached up and grabbed Bonwell-Witte. 

It seems the transfer portal in college changed the sports landscape, which has trickled down to high school sports. The transfer portal, introduced in 2018, is a database of every player who has interest in transferring from his or her current school. That’s a bunch of legal jargon. Basically, if you don’t like where you’re at in college, you can play somewhere else.

But it has happened in high school sports long before college’s transfer portal was introduced five years ago. 

Nate Gerry was a standout defensive back for Washington in 2013. He later played for the University of Nebraska and spent five seasons in the NFL. He grew up near Roosevelt High School on the westside of Sioux Falls, but played for the Warriors on the far east side.  

I don’t like it. But, I get it, I guess? 

I mean, I suppose it’s understandable if a kid decides to transfer schools if he or she knew their playing time would increase. It happened recently when Brandon Valley players went to Garretson where they got more time with the Blue Dragons. 

In recent seasons, the volleyball team actually had a pair from Garretson come to Brandon Valley when Alli and Lexi Gawarecki open enrolled to play for the Lynx. They wanted to play at a higher level, and Brandon Valley had some college-course level classes they were interested in that Garretson couldn’t offer. 

So, I get it, I guess? 

Have you ever seen the movie, Hoosiers? If you’re a sports fan, you likely have. The 1986 film about a small-town Indiana basketball team winning the 1954 state championship is often referred to as one of the best sports movies of all time. The thought of one of those players from Hickory (real life Milan) transferring to play for another community is unimaginable. 

But, it’s no longer 1954 Indiana. I wish it were sometimes, especially when it comes to this issue of hopping around high schools and open enrolling. 

But I suppose I get it. I guess?

Dveyoun lives in Brandon and obviously has friends that attend Washington. He’s not doing anything that hasn’t been done many times before. But it’s too bad. Brandon Valley is going to be a contender this year, and he would have made a massive contribution. 

One thing is certain when the Lynx and Washington open the season on Aug. 31: The Warriors are going to have their hands full. Little doubt the defensive backs at Brandon Valley will be licking their chops when they see their former wideout run patterns against them, instead of for them. 

Washington returns three-year starting quarterback Tommy Hoffman. Dveyoun will obviously be a target. 

If it wasn’t circled already, Aug. 31 on the calendar just got a red Sharpie marker around it for the Lynx. If last year is any indication, Dveyoun and the Warriors are likely in for a rough night. The Lynx beat them last year. Beat them badly, by the tune of 49-0 for their fourth shutout of the year. Chase Leary had two interceptions.

Cue the foreshadowing music. 

Open enrollment is obviously a touchy subject and one folks don’t like to talk about, especially when it’s a high school kid making a jump to a conference rival. 

I reached out to some parties from Washington to get their thoughts. I never heard back. 

But, I get it. I guess? I guess I can’t blame Dveyoun? 

Actually, I don’t know how I feel.  

I just find it weird that players have chosen not to represent their community. But, I’ve realized, that’s just not a factor any more.

But there is one thing I do know. I’m really looking forward to Aug. 31.



The Brandon Valley Journal


The Brandon Valley Journal
1404 E. Cedar St.
Brandon, SD 57005
(605) 582-9999

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