While most schools have another game next week, for the Vermillion Tanagers the football regular season will end tonight when they trek to Madison for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Vermillion stands at 2-5 after a 44-6 loss at home to Harrisburg last Friday. Madison is 1-5 following the Bulldogs' first victory of the year, a 49-0 triumph over Lennox. Earlier the Bulldogs had faced a dynamite quintet of teams and lost substantially to all of them—49-0 to Harrisburg, 40-7 to West Central, 51-7 to Sisseton, 28-7 to Dell Rapids and 46-23 to Milbank.
Madison's win and Vermillion's loss last week established tonight's game as much more important than it might have been originally. "This looks to be a must-win game for us as we will most likely need to get a victory to secure a playoff bid," Coach Gary Culver said earlier this week. "If we do win, then we have a bye week to heal up before the playoffs start."
And the Vermillion team has a considerable amount of healing to get done. The Tanagers were missing four starters going into the Harrisburg game and lost three more as the game wore on.
"Take nothing away from the Tigers," Culver said. "They have an excellent football team, but we were certainly operating short-handed in this one."
The Tanagers, who also defeated Lennox as well as Tea Area, survived a scoreless first quarter against Harrisburg and even took a 6-0 lead early in the second period when Kyle Weiss connected with Nate Garrett on a touchdown pass play covering 19 yards.
But by the time halftime arrived, the Tigers had scored four times and led comfortably, 24-6. They went on to score twice more in the third period and once in the final stanza.
"I thought we played pretty well through the first quarter and a half, but Harrisburg showed their quick-strike capabilities in the late stages of the first half," Culver noted. "They simply won the war of attrition as the game progressed."
Thomas Hudson, who carried 22 times for 158 yards, had touchdown runs of four and five yards, and he passed to Kory Wheeler for a 10-yard TD. Andrew McCuen passed for two scores, a 32-yarder to Wheeler and a 36-yarder to Jarren Saxon. Cameron Andela had a seven-yard TD scamper, and Brandon Miller, who carried 19 times for 111 yards, scored on a one-yard TD play.
Mitch Brown carried 24 times and gained 76 yards in the process for the Tanagers. D'Andre Fore, who had missed the previous week's Dakota Valley game entirely, returned for limited action, carrying seven times for 69 yards. Avery Garcia's 10 tackles led the Vermillion defensive effort.
Following next week's open date on the Tanager schedule, their playoff opener, should they qualify, will take place Tuesday, Oct. 25, on the road.
Honored at last week's Senior Night game were the Tanagers who will depart via graduation, including Nate Garrett, D'Andre Fore, Tedd Schaffer, Will Mart, Paul May, Dan Goeden, Stetson Kastengren and Riley Vlasman.
Harrisburg 0 24 13 7 — 44
VHS 0 6 0 0 — 0
VHS: Nate Garrett 19-yd. pass from Kyle Weiss (run failed), 11:54.
HHS: Cameron Andela 7-yd. run (kick failed), 8:14.
HHS: Kory Wheeler 10-yd. pass from Thomas Hudson (pass failed), 6:19.
HHS: Hudson 4-yd. run (pass failed), 3:09.
HHS: Jarren Saxon 36-yd. pass from Andrew McCuen (pass failed), 2:19.
HHS: Hudson 5-yd. run (Connor Auch kick), 6:03.
HHS: Brandon Miller 1-yd. run (kick blocked), 0:56.
First downs 8 25
Rushes-yds. 36-160 44-276
Passing yds. 20 169
Total yds. 180 445
Passes 2-4-0 9-10-0
Punts-avg. 5-31.8 0-0.0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-yds. 2-30 6-55
Rushing: VHS, Mitch Brown 24-76, D'Andre Fore 7-69, Weiss 3-8, Thomas Walker 4-7. Harrisburg, Hudson 22-158, Miller 19-111, Kyle Ackermann 1-11, Andela 1-7, McCuen 1-(-11).
Passing: VHS, Weiss 2-4-20. Harrisburg, McCuen 8-9-159, Hudson 1-1-10.
Receiving: VHS, Garrett 1-19, Fore 1-1. Harrisburg, Wheeler 4-85, Andela 2-26, Saxon 1-36, Truman Nord 1-16, Hudson 1-6.
Defense (solos-assists-total tackles): VHS, Avery Garcia 8-2-10, Brown 5-1-6, Regan Bye 3-3-6, Tyler Madsen 3-3-6, Dan Goeden 5-1-6, Alex Osborne 5-1-6, Walker 4-0-4, Will Mart 3-1-4, Stetson Kastengren 3-1-4, Tanner Anderson 3-0-3, Chayse Meierkort 1-1-2, Garrett 2-0-2, Tyler Constant 0-1-1, Gage Peck 1-0-1.