Four former Missouri high school track and field athletes will take the field Sunday looking to win a 2nd-straight national title. The South Dakota State University football team features four former Missouri prep athletes who competed in track and field as well as football.
South Dakota State is one of the northern schools that seems to dominate the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision. This year is no different as the Missouri Valley Football Conference's South Dakota State faces Montana on Sunday, January 7th at 1 p.m. CT in Frisco, Texas.
After losing the Covid pushed-back 2020-2021 season and national title game to Sam Houston, the Jackrabbits lost in the 2021 semifinals to Montana State. Last year, South Dakota State won the title over North Dakota State 45-21. They finished the season 14-1 with their lone loss to FBS' Iowa Hawkeyes 7-3.
This year, South Dakota State is a 14-0. The top seed in the playoffs will face #2 seed Montana, who is 13-1. Their lone loss came on the road at the high altitude of Northern Arizona, 28-14.
2023-2024 NCAA FCS Championship Game
Sunday, January 7, 2024 1 p.m. CT on ABC and ESPN+
Isaiah Davis, Senior, Running Back, Joplin, MO. Joplin High School
South Dakota State is led by former Joplin standout tailback, linebacker and javelin All-Stater Isaiah Davis. Davis was the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year his senior year in 2019 when the Eagles advanced to the Class 6 state championship game. Davis rushed for 2,283 yards (9-yd per carry) and scored 45 touchdowns. For his high school career, he totaled 4,354 yards and 83 touchdowns.
Davis placed 3rd in the Class 5 State Track and Field Meet in the javelin with a toss of 53.75m. His best toss was a 57.76-meter throw at Sectionals. Davis was unable to improve on his 3rd place state finish as a senior with the 2020 season canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Davis has rushed 220 times this season for 1,510 yards, a 6.8-yard average. He has averaged 106 yards per game and his 17 touchdowns. Davis also has 22 receptions for 196 yards (8.91 ypc) and 1 touchdown.
Davis shared the Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year award with his quarterback Mark Gronowski. Davis earned AP All-American honors for the second year in a row and also earned First Team All-America honors from the American Football Coaches Association.
Davis and Gronowski are two of 30 finalists for the Walter Payton Award which toes to the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision. The winner will be announced at FCS National Awards Banquet on Saturday.
Amar Johnson, Junior, Running Back, O' Fallon, MO. Chaminade College Prep
Johnson was a sprinter for the Red Devils, primarily running the 100 and 200-meters, while also running the 300-meter hurdles.
At South Dakota State, he is the 2nd half of the powerful 1-2 running back punch for the Jackrabbits along with Davis. Johnson ran for 776 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2022 and this season he's carried the ball 119 times for 764 and 4 scores.
Johnson is also the primary kickoff returner for SDSU. He has 12 returns for 282 yards (23.50yd average) with a long of 50 yards.
Johnson earned First Team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference First Team honors as an All-Purpose player.
Jalen Lee, Redshirt Freshman, Wentzville, MO. Ft Zumwalt North
Jalen Lee ran the 100-200-400 at Fort Zumwalt North. He had a 100-meter dash best of 11.07, to place 3rd at the GAC Central conference championship.