Tanagers dominate Winner 20-0

Tanagers dominate Winner 20-0 by Jim Prosser Historically, Crane-Youngworth field has been unkind to the fortunes of Vermillion High School football, hosting several blow-out losses and frustratingly "close but no cigar" defeats at the hands of the Yankton Bucks.

So who would have predicted that Vermillion would use Crane-Youngworth for home games?

Well, circumstances of the delay in replacing the DakotaDome roof left the Tanager football team without a home field for the start of the 2001 season. Yankton was helpful in making its field available when not being used, so on Thursday, Aug. 23, VHS hosted the Winner Warriors in their "home" opener.

The Tanagers were successful in their efforts, defeating the Warriors 20-0.

The Tanagers won the toss and deferred, and Winner elected to receive. Aided by a couple penalties and two completed passes, the Warriors marched down the field before finally meeting the vaunted "bend-but-don't-break" Tanager defense at the 2-yard line.

A couple incomplete passes, a 5-yard penalty, and a failed run left an attempted field goal as their only option, but Winner's Travis Walker missed the 23-yard try and that was as close to the end zone as the Warriors approached for the rest of the game.

The home team responded with a three-play touchdown effort as Thad Roche ran 85 yards to the goal line. Jeff Brevik's extra point kick was good. The remaining three quarters belonged to the Tanagers as their "swarm-to-the-ball-carrier" effectively thwarted every Warrior attempt.

Roche dominated the running game, scoring twice more (a 33-yard run in the second quarter and an 80-yard run in the fourth) accumulating 233 yards in the process. Brevik's extra point attempt in the second quarter was good, but the last attempt failed.

Outstanding defense man with eight tackles was John Holoch. He was backed up by Drew Lawrence with five, seven players who had four tackles each, and three more who contributed three tackles each.

Jeff Gilbertson had two pass breakups from his cornerback position. Bart Miller returned an interception 22 yards and Kellen Cusick intercepted a pass from his linebacker spot with a 33-yard return.

Rushing Statistics

Thad Roche 14 times for 233 yards and three touchdowns; Eric Rickord 10 for 37; Kellen Cusick seven for 35; Jared Burcham three for 21; B.J. Campbell three for 10; Bart Miller two for 9; Mike Buckanaga once for 1.

Passing Statistics

Eric Rickord was zero of four; Ben Bazemore was one of two for 5 yards.

Receiving Statistics

Brett Mockler caught one pass for 5 yards.

"It was a nice season opening win for our team," said coach Gary Culver. "We played very well defensively as a team. Anytime you can record a shutout, it speaks highly of your defensive play. I especially liked the play of our defensive front four linemen.

"Thad Roche had a super night on the offensive side," he continued. "We knew he was going to have to carry us offensively in the early part of the season and he came through with a huge game."

Culver was also impressed with the Tanagers' offensive line.

"We had many new faces and they now have some confidence to build on for the next game," he said. "We had some young players step in and do a nice job for us also."

Culver added that South Sioux City will be very similar to Winner in the style of football they play.

"It will be another knock-down-drag-out four-quarter affair," he said. "We look forward to the challenge."

Vermillion will take a 1-0 record into its second game of the season at South Sioux City, NE. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m Friday, Aug. 31 at the Cardinal Athletic Complex next to South Sioux City High School. It will be the season opener for South Sioux City.

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