Tanagers end season with 28-7 loss to Winner in first round

Tanagers end season with 28-7 loss to Winner in first round
The VHS football team ended their season with a 28-7 loss at Winner in a Class 11A Region 3 first round playoff game last Tuesday, Oct. 24 at Warrior field in Winner. The Tanagers received a bid to the playoffs as a wild card and were placed in Region 3 as a #4 seeded team. Winner was the #1 seed.

The Tanagers had a golden opportunity to draw first blood but failed to capitalize on a recovered fumble by Luke Heine at the Winner 25-yard line. The Warriors held and took over on downs on their 28.

They then opened the scoring as Dave Driscoll capped off an 11-play, 72-yard drive, for the Warriors, with a two-yard run at the 2:35 mark of the first quarter. The extra point kick failed, and the score remained 6-0 through the end of the quarter.


On the first play of the second quarter, Tanager linebacker Mike Oberle intercepted a Chris DeMers pass at the Warrior 20-yard line, and returned to the five to set up the Tanagers first score. Jerrod Freidel scored on the second down on a one-yard run at the 11:11 mark of the second quarter. Roland Osea-Oppong added the extra point kick and the Tanagers held a 7-6 lead.

The lead held until the 3:30 time to the end of the quarter. Andrew Eidem had pinned the Warriors, near their 10-yard line, with a super punt. Then the vaunted Tanager – bend but don't break – scheme had a temporary lapse as the Warriors covered 90 yards on four plays, consuming less than a minute on the clock. Jared Donohue capped the drive with a three-yard run, then duplicated the feat for a two-point conversion. It proved to be a crucial turn of events for the Tanagers. The half ended with Winner leading 14-7.

Showing the mark of a championship team, the senior-laden Warriors took the second half kickoff and capped off a nine-play, 68-yard drive with another Donahue run, this time from four yards out. Winner used only four minutes as they increased their lead to 21-7.

Donahue added an insurance score from 11 yards to close out the scoring in the fourth quarter, making the final 28-7.

Nothing seemed to go right in spite of commendable efforts by several Tanagers on the defense.

Luke Heine led with 6 solo tackles, 16 total tackles and a fumble recovery. Jerrod Freidel – 8 solos, 15 total Ts and a pass K; Heath Hubert – 8 Ts, 1 for a loss; Mike Oberle – 7 Ts, 1 interception; Cody Miller, Zach Weiss, and Eric McPherson – 6 Ts each; Andrew Eidem and Kyle Nemec – 5 Ts each; and Jackson Freidel – 4 Ts and 1 pass interception.

Individual Rushing

Vermillion – Jerrod Freidel rushed 25 times for 105 yards and 1 TD. Luke Heine rushed 7 times for 12 yards. Paul Hammond rushed 1 time for 3 yards. Mike Oberle rushed 1 time for 3 yards.

Winner – Jarred Donahue rushed 14 times for 84 yards, 3 TDs and 1 2-point conversion. Dane Driscoll rushed 14 times for 74 yards and 1 TD. Chas DeMers rushed 8 times for 61 yards. Rob Cahoy rushed 9 times for 51 yards.

Individual Passing

Vermillion – Reid Meierkort completed 5 of 14 passes for 36 yards.

Winner – Chas DeMers completed 7 of 14 passes for 101 yards and 2 interceptions.

Individual Receiving

Vermillion – Paul Hammond caught 1 pass for 20 yards. Luke Heine caught 2 passes for 19 yards. Jerrod Freidel caught 2 passes for 3 yards.

Winner – Dane Driscoll caught 3 passes for 52 yards. Jared Donahue caught 2 passes for 25 yards. Seth Daughters caught 1 pass for 14 yards. Jake Pruss caught 1 pass for 10 yards.

Vermillion closes out their season with a 2-7 overall record. Winner ups their to 8-1 and will host Little Wound in a quarterfinal game in the SDHSAA football playoffs.

Coach's Comments

Head Coach Gary Culver: "This game was very similar to the game we played against Winner 11 days ago in that we just could not contain the Warriors' perimeter rushing game. They hurt us there the first game, and we thought we were well prepared to stop it this time, but we just did not get the job done. We did improve in the turnover area as we only lost one fumble this game as opposed to the 6 turnovers we gave up for the first time. We had the game in control until the four-minute mark of the first half. We had the Warriors pinned down at their own 11-yard line, but they put together a four-play drive that resulted in the go-ahead touchdown for them and also a shift in momentum. They only lead 14-7 at the half, but they took the opening second half kickoff and put a stake through our hearts with a drive and ensuing score that made it 21-7. This really made it an uphill battle for us and we just couldn't generate any offense or shut them down with our defense in the second half.

"The finality of the season coming to a close is always tough but especially for the seniors on the team. They have provided great leadership throughout this season and we will certainly miss them in the future. Bobby Dykstra, Paul Hammond, Roland Osae-Oppong, Eric McPherson, Zach Weiss, Ryan Gilbertson, Harrison Hawley, Andrew Pearson and Nick Schaffer all played important roles on our team this season and we wish them the best in their future endeavors. Our underclassmen can look to a bright future next season as we return a great nucleus of players with a lot of playing experience to build around on our offense and defense. We certainly felt we were more deserving of a better won-loss record than we ended with – but you have to make the plays on the field, and we just didn't get the job done enough times this season."

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