By Parker Knox
Something has to give tonight when Vermillion and Canton clash at 7 p.m. in the DakotaDome in the VHS homecoming football game.
Neither team has found a way to win a game so far this season, and perhaps, considering the quality of the opposition in this corner of the state, that's not so surprising. The Tanagers have lost to West Central, South Sioux City and Tea Area while the C-Hawks have been victims of three other highly-regarded teams – Tri-Valley, Dell Rapids and Dakota Valley.
For the Tanagers there will be the advantage of playing to make homecoming memories, but there is also the matter of returning to contention for the postseason playoffs. If the playoffs began today, the Tanagers would be on the outside looking in, so a win tonight and next week against Lennox, a team in similar straits, are crucial toward Vermillion's hopes for qualifying for late-October football.
The Tanagers played highly-rated Tea Area to a 0-0 first quarter in Tea last Friday, but from the middle of the second quarter on, "we were thoroughly dominated," Coach Gary Culver said after a 45-0 loss. "They are one of the best offensive teams I have seen in some time. They have so many weapons in their skill position players and can strike so quickly."
Culver's ballclub struggled to generate any kind of offense that could keep the ball out of Tea Area's hands. "Going into the game we had felt this was crucial in order to put ourselves in a position to beat them," he said.
The Titans broke through with a 19-point second quarter that included two touchdown runs by quarterback Taylor Roeman and a 61-yard pass from Roeman to Mitchell Nissen. They put the game out of reach with two third-period scores on one-yard plunges by Gunner Ensz and Roeman. Two huge plays in the fourth quarter only served to pad the score. Ensz broke away for a 78-yard scamper to paydirt, and Jordan Fechner did the same from 62 yards away.
The Tanagers' problems were reflected in the game's yardage statistics. Tea Area had 18 first downs to Vermillion's two, 333 rushing yards to Vermillion's net total of eight and 203 passing yards to the Tanagers' 42.
Tonight's extension of the VHS-Canton rivalry continues a series that goes back some 80 years. "Canton is a veteran football team that has had a rugged schedule in their first three games," Culver said. "It doesn't matter what the records may be. It is always a hard-fought battle."
VHS ………. 0 0 0 0 — 0
Tea Area .. 0 19 13 14 — 45
TAHS: Taylor Roeman 1-yd. run (kick failed), 11:34.
TAHS: Roeman 5-yd. run (pass failed), 8:10.
TAHS: Mitchell Nissen 61-yd. pass from Roeman (Cooper Hansen kick), 5:49.
TAHS: Gunner Ensz 1-yd. run (run failed), 9:13.
TAHS: Roeman 1-yd. run (Hansen Kick), 1:49.
TAHS: Ensz 78-yd. run (Hansen kick), 11:09.
TAHS: Jordan Fechner 62-yd. run (Hansen kick), 5:34.
First downs 2 18
Rushes-yds. 29-8 39-333
Passing yds. 42 203
Total yds. 50 536
Passes 6-16-0 11-15-1
Punts-avg. 11-36.9 2-45.5
Fumbles-lost 0-0 6-1
Penalties-yds. 4-23 6-50
Rushing: VHS, Tyler Madsen 11-18, Regan Bye 5-8, Brandon Mockler 3-7, Avery Garcia 1-3, Michael Sand 1-(-2), Jack Brown 1-(-8), Kyle Weiss 7-(-18). TAHS, Ensz 8-117, Roeman 12-74, Chase Deckert 9-74, Fechner 1-62, Riley Knutson 5-5, Tanner Fridrich 2-3, Tate Hoff 2-(-2).
Passing: VHS, Weiss 6-14-42, Brown 1-1-0. TAHS, Roeman 11-15-23.
Receiving: VHS, Bye 3-33, Tanner Anderson 3-9. TAHS, Nissen 3-79, Deckert 3-42, Adam Waterman 2-45, Tarin Smallfield 1-17, Knutson 1-10, Ensz 1-10.
Defense (solos-assists-total tackles): VHS, Garcia 4-6-10, Ty Iverson 1-9-10, Thomas Walker 2-7-9, Alex Osborne 4-4-8, Anderson 3-4-7, Nick Jensen 1-5-6, Anthony Leber 1-5-6, Madsen 1-3-4, Sand 1-2-3, Seth Heine 0-2-2, Bye 0-2-2, J.T. Sorensen 0-2-2, Damarius Cheeseman 0-1-1, Brandon Hertz 0-1-1, Adam Winslow 1-0-1. Pass knockdowns: VHS, Anderson 1, Bye 1. Interceptions: VHS, Anderson 1.