I genuinely enjoy the South Dakota high school football playoffs. It's one of the best months of the year, from the first playoff game to the championships in the DakotaDome.
I got excited for all five games that before the games were played, and many of them could have gone either way.
Yep, I said five games because who really got excited about the Sioux Falls Washington and Sioux Falls O'Gorman match-up besides Washington.
Plus, I was a little biased when it came to Canistota's championship. I thought they were the best team in nine-man football since day one, but I digress.
While I enjoyed the playoffs and the championships, I am going to touch on a subject that is very dear to the hearts of most South Dakotans who follow high school football — there needs to be fewer football classes in South Dakota.
I hate saying it because of how much I enjoy covering the games, but it's the reality of South Dakota high school football.
About a week ago in an issue of the Yankton Press & Dakotan, there was talk about adding a seventh class to South Dakota football.
Now I don't know how much talk there has been of it, if that was the first time it was mentioned by the South Dakota High School Athletics Association or if it was just something that has been spit-balled and starting to gain steam.But that would be a huge mistake.
The newest class would be an 11AAA class that would feature the Sioux Falls schools and the Rapid City schools, making the Eastern South Dakota Conference, Brandon Valley and Harrisburg, when it finally moves up, as the 11AA class.Talk about watering down the competition.
It could get to the point where Sioux Falls is dominating the 11AA championships, but it is the city that is growing the most in the state, which only has a population of approximately 812,000.
I have no idea what should happen with 11AA, whether it should expand past Harrisburg, but it shouldn't split into two divisions.
Would it suck if only Sioux Falls teams go on to win championships year after year after year? Well, yes, but it would have to be something everyone would have to live with.
However, on the nine-man side of things, I think there's one class too many.
This year, Canistota, Hanson and Bridgewater-Ethan/Emery won the three titles, and all three played each other since they were in the same conferences.
Canistota, the 9B team, was simply the best of the bunch, since it did beat both teams earlier in the year.
In 11-man, can you say the same thing? Was Flandreau better than Dell Rapids, or was Dell Rapids better than Washington? I would say that's a clear no.
There are three classes of nine-man football, ranging from 25 to 29 teams divided into four regions with four teams making the playoffs from each one. That means more than a quarter of the teams in each class make the football playoffs.
Does that sting a little bit to tell a kid who is 17 or 18 years that not everyone deserves a shot because they weren't good enough? Yes, it does — but it's also reality.
What's more embarrassing? Missing the playoffs or getting blown out 50-0 like Timber Lake did to Dupree.In the first round of the 9B playoffs, the closest game was 22 points. The second round saw a 46-36 game between Gettysburg and Colome, and Hitchcock-Tulare beat Dell Rapids-St. Mary's 20-6 in the semifinals before losing 66-0 against Canistota in the finals.
No game was within 10 points in 9B playoffs this year. Not a single one.
Class 9A had two games within 10 points, and both games were in the first round, while 9AA had two games within 10 points and one that was exactly 10 points.
Luckily, one of the games was the 49-46 shootout in the semifinals between Leola/Frederick and Viborg/Hurley.
After looking at all of that, wouldn't it be possible to at least combine one of the nine-man classes?
Travel distances for some teams would be cut and some schools wouldn't have to play out-of-state competition.
It would increase the competition, and yes, fewer kids would have the opportunity to make the playoffs.
But, once again, is it more embarrassing to barely miss the playoffs, or to go home from the first-round of the playoffs with a 54-0 score?