A pair of 2-1 football teams who are long-time gridiron rivals will clash in the DakotaDome at 7 p.m. Friday in Vermillion's homecoming game.
"This is a long-standing rivalry, and it is usually a close, hard-fought contest no matter what the records of the two teams might be," said Coach Gary Culver about the VHS-Canton homecoming clash. "They are always ready to play us, and we need to be highly motivated for this game."
The Tanagers, after a 2-0 start, fell hard to St. Thomas More in Rapid City 31-6 Friday night while Canton had its third straight cliff-hanger. The C-Hawks have played three of the top teams in the southeastern corner of the state and could easily be either undefeated or winless. Canton edged Tri-Valley 13-12, lost to Dell Rapids 20-18 and nipped Dakota Valley 16-14.
The loss at St. Thomas More was frustrating, to say the least. "We were our own worst enemy with untimely penalties that put us in terrible down and distance situations and a couple of turnovers that led to touchdowns for them," Culver said. "Defensively we just did not stop the rushing attack of STM."
Playing into a stiff northwest gale in the first quarter, the Tanagers found themselves in an early hole. Two penalties on their first possession backed them up and forced a punt into the wind. As a result, St. Thomas More, on the strength of a 25-yard return, had only to start its first drive at the Tanager 15. It took only three plays for Jake Sullivan's five-yard scamper to put them up 6-0.
VHS moved to one first down on its second possession, but another penalty and then two incompletions set up a 3rd-and-16 situation. They made the play, a completed pass from Tyler Husby to Dan Goeden, but the receiver lost the handle at the end of the play, and the Cavs recovered the fumble at the Tanager 41. This time it took them seven plays to score on a Jake Sullivan pass to Corey Scherr from the 9-yard line.
Vermillion made its first move into STM territory on a 26-yard run by D'Andre Fore, but a costly holding penalty on a third-down pass completion to Chayse Meierkort forced a third-and-long attempt, and Husby's pass up into the breeze settled in to the arms of Sullivan for an interception.
As the game moved into the second period, the Tanager defense made its first stand, and now with the wind behind them, the Tanagers took over at their own 36. The possession went nowhere, however. STM helped the Tanager cause with four penalties in the next few minutes, and the Cavs' punt gave Vermillion its first good field position of the night.
Starting from the STM 32, the Tanagers were stymied by a false start penalty and eventually had to punt. This time the Cavaliers, starting from their own 20, scored the night's backbreaker touchdown, coming at the end of a 14-play drive of 80 yards that almost totally killed the first-half clock. Tyler Richardson scored from the 5-yard line with 1:03 remaining for an 18-0 lead.
St. Thomas More fumbled away its first possession of the third quarter, and the Tanagers put on a decent drive that included two first downs. A six-yard completion to Ben Kozak and a 10-yard run by Fore were the big plays, but the drive faltered at the STM 26. The Cavaliers then put the game far out of reach with an eight-play drive of 73 yards, climaxing in Richardson's 10-yard TD spring for a 25-0 lead.
Vermillion lost the ball via a fumble on its next possession, and STM soon responded with a five-yard score by Trevor Humphries to make it 31-0.
The Tanagers averted a shutout when Dexter Mehlhaf scored from the 50 at the 8:10 mark of the final stanza.
Take away Mehlhaf's TD run and the Tanagers were held to 114 other rushing yards while STM compiled 303 on the ground. Mehlhaf finished with 76 yards and Fore 61. For STM Richardson had 140 yards all by himself, Scherr 46, Corey Weidmann 38 and Sullivan 34.
The VHS defensive leaders included Michael Sand with nine tackles, Joey Mueller and Mehlhaf with six apiece, and Fore and Will Mart with five apiece.
"Take nothing away from St. Thomas More," Culver said. "They played a great game and really beat us at what we do best, but we are certainly a better team than the final score might indicate."
VHS ….. 0 0 0 6 — 6
STM …. 12 6 13 0 — 31
STM: Jake Sullivan 5-yd. run (kick failed).
STM: Corey Scherr 9-yd. pass from Sullivan (pass failed).
STM: Tyler Richardson 5-yd. run (kick failed).
STM: Richardson 10-yd. run (Richardson kick).
STM: Trevor Humphries 5-yd. run (kick failed).
VHS: Dexter Mehlhaf 50-yd. run (run failed).
First downs 8 15
Rushes-yds. 39-164 48-303
Passing yds. 24 85
Total yds. 188 388
Passes 2-8-1 7-12-0
Punts-avg. 2-19.5 1-25.0
Fumbles-lost 3-1 2-1
Penalties-yds. 8-65 8-84
Rushing: VHS, Fore 17-61, Mehlhaf 11-78, Tyler Husby 10-23, Ben Kozak 1-4. STM, Richardson 16-140, Corey Scherr 8-46, Corey Weidmann 6-38, Sullivan 6-34, Dominic Bradford 4-19, Humhries 4-18, Derek Determan 2-6, Mason Morman 1-2, Riley Scherr 1-0.
Passing: VHS, Husby 2-8-24, one interception; STM, Sullivan 7-12-85.
Receiving: VHS, Kozak 1-10, Chayse Meierkort 1-14. STM, Jeremy Henderson 2-34, Corey Scherr 2-19, Donald Borchert 1-19, Determan 1-11, Richardson 1-2.
Defense: (solos-assists-total tackles) VHS, Michael Sand 5-4-9, Joey Mueller 3-3-6, Mehlhaf 2-4-6, Fore 2-3-5, Will Mart 3-2-5, Dan Goeden 2-2-4, Meierkort 0-4-4, Kozak 3-0-3, Scott Iverson 3-0-3, Jerod Ceretti 1-2-3, Andrew McCann 2-1-3, Jake Knutson 2-1-3, Cody Olson 2-1-3, Nick Jensen 1-1-2, Carson Sullivan 2-0-2, Blaine Hubert 0-2-2, Alex Larson 1-0-1, Husby 1-0-1, David Day 1-0-1. Pass knockdowns, Mart 1. Quarterback sacks, Meierkort 1.