Tanagers kickoff grid season playing at Madison The 2008 edition of the Vermillion High School Tanager football team will kickoff their season as they play the Madison Bulldogs in a Big Eight Conference game at the Dakota State University stadium in Madison this Friday, Aug. 29. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. The Tanagers welcome back four starters on offense and five starters on defense this season. â�?�?We are very optimistic about this upcoming season and have been going at it hard these two weeks of practice in preparation for this season opener against a good Madison football team,â�? said Gary Culver, head coach of the Tanagers. Culver, the all-time winningest coach at Vermillion High School, will begin his 32nd year at the helm of the Tanager football program. He has lead the Tanagers to five state championships (1990, 1991, 1992, 1995 and 1999), one state runner-up (1981), 10 regional championships and 12 Big Eight Conference championships during his tenure. With an overall record of 187-124 (.601 pct.) and a playoff record of 38-18 (.679 pct.), he ranks third on the all-time career coaching record list among â�?�?activeâ�? coaches in South Dakota. â�?�?We, as a coaching staff, have been very pleased with the great work ethic and positive attitude of the squad during preseason workouts. We have some excellent returning veterans who have provided us with great leadership this fall,â�? Culver said. Assisting Culver with the varsity squad are Jason Huska, in his 11th season with the Tanagers, and Jay Drake, in his first season with the Tanager football program. Huska is a 1989 VHS graduate and former first team all-state player during his tenure in the Tanager football program. Assisting with the freshmen squad are Jason Gault and Joe Delvaux. Also, Bart Miller and Kurt Seibel are returning as student assistant coaches with the Tanager football program. Miller is a 2003 VHS graduate and former first team all-conference selection and Seibel is a 1980 VHS graduate and former first team all-state selection. Also serving as a student assistant coach is Nick Walters. Senior members of the 2008 team include Mike Oberle, Chris Cameron, Kyle Nemec, Greg Anderson, Blaine Olson, Taylor Clark, Wyatt Hunter, Grant Lueders, Lance Hubert, Andrew Eidem, Cory Taggart, Travis Jerred, Tony Thomas, Jeff Anglin, Joe Ensminger and Joe Talley. Junior members of the team include Nick Mart, Jordan Robinson, Kylen Freidel, Tanner Mart, Will Schaffer, Earl Kiertzner, Bennett Johnson, Chris Mart, Cody Merrigan, Chase Allen, Preston Ellenbolt, Gerrit Heine, Tom Amundson, Ryan Kost and Ryun Fischbach. Sophomore players participating in football this season include Blaine Hubert, Tony Henderson, Andrew McCann, Dexter Mehlhaf, Tyler Husby, Ben Kozak, Kolby Riehle, Carson Sullivan, Camden Raizola, Joey Mueller, Cody Olson, Alex Larson, Scott Iverson, Gage Thomas, Marquis Knight and Lei Yang Guo. All seniors, juniors and sophomores comprise the varsity squad. Freshmen players participating in football this season include Dan Goeden, Stetson Kastengren, Will Mart, Dâ�?�?Andre Fore, Mitch La, Clint Hubert, Cody Sommervold, Riley Vlasman, Nathan Garrett, Stormy Mirtz, Brenden Raizola, Lucas Zimmerman, Josh Callahan, Brycen Anglin, Cody Carr, Byron Banasiak, Paul May and Kyle Pickett. The Tanagers beat the Bulldogs in a defensive struggle, 6-0, in the opening game of the season last year in the DakotaDome. The Tanagers made a 6-0 halftime lead hold up as their defense held Madison to 37 yards of total offense in the second half. The win over Madison was the eighth in the last 10 meetings and gives the Tanagers a commanding 37-7 lead in the series between the two teams that dates back to 1930. â�?�?This has been a good rivalry throughout the years and we know it will be a tightly contested game, as are most Big Eight Conference games.â�? stated Coach Culver. â�?�?We cannot afford to turn the ball over and give them a short field to start their offensive drives. It simply puts too much pressure on a defensive unit. We must also convert offensively when we reach the â�?�?red zoneâ�? â�?�? something that we did not do in the game last year. This game will be a battle for field position and the team that makes the fewest mistakes will undoubtedly have a great opportunity to win the game.â�? The Tanagers recorded a 4-6 overall record last year as they were selected to participate in the South Dakota Class 11A playoffs. They beat Lennox 13-10, in overtime, in the first round and then lost to Harrisburg by a 20-12 score in the Class 11A Region 2 championship quarterfinal game to end their season. Madison finished the 2008 season with a 0-8 overall record.