Tanagers shock top seed Dakota Valley with 8-0 win
By Nick Robinson
The number four seeded Vermillion Tanagers shocked the first seeded Dakota Valley Panthers 8-0 in chilly, rainy 11A District two playoff action Tuesday evening in North Sioux City at Dakota Valley High School.
Vermillion earned their first playoff victory since 2007, and their first under new head coach Andy Homan.
“This is great,” Homan said. “What an awesome opportunity to get a playoff win, especially for the guys, they worked extremely hard out there tonight.”
The Tanagers (2-7) were defeated by Dakota Valley (5-4) 19-22 just three weeks prior to their playoff contest.
However, with preparation and tightening up the screws, the Tanagers were able to pull off the upset.
“I told the guys, we can play as long as we want to,” Holman said. “If we want to be done now, we can. But if we want to keep playing this game, we can do the little things right.”
The weather conditions played in favor of the run heavy Tanagers.
The first half was a defensive juggernaut, ending at a 0-0 tie.
The first half was headlined by two turnovers back-to-back for both teams.
With 7:43 left in the first quarter, sophomore Tanager quarterback Matt Ouellette threw it up for grabs and senior safety Chavez Madden snagged an interception.
The next drive, senior Panther quarterback Alex Fernando threw a curl route to wide-out Brody VanGinkel, but Tanager linebacker Tanager linebacker Tyler Madsen read the pass, and intercepted the ball.
As the Tanagers were marching, they decided to line up and kick a field goal with 5:03 left in the half.
The 39 yard field goal was blocked by Blake Perryman.
The Panthers were unable to take advantage of the missed kick.
Both teams combined to have 86 total yards of offense in the first half.
To start the second half, senior kicker Ethan James booted the ball down to the 15, where the ball bounced off of a Panther receiver, which was then recovered by Vermillion.
The next play saw junior running back Regan Bye run a 76 yard touchdown, but was called back on a holding call.
The Tanagers were able to connect, despite the errors on offense.
James booted a 44 yard field-goal with 8:21 left in the third quarter, to give the Tanagers a 3-0 advantage.
“James has a pretty good leg that the college coaches haven’t seen yet,” Homan said. “This is his first year out, he’s really a hidden talent.”
With 1:50 left in the third, on a third down, Oullette connected on a 37 yard pass to James to put the Tanagers inside the seven yard line.
A goal line stand by Dakota Valley ended the action in the fourth quarter.
With 14:56 left in the fourth quarter, James connected on a 25 yard field goal to give the Tanagers a slim 6-0 lead with the whole forth quarter to come.
The Panthers gained life in the fourth quarter with two read options and a triple option for three first downs to get into Tanager territory.
The next play Fernando heaved the ball up 30 yards and was intercepted by Tanager corner Sinaway Marshall, who took the ball down to the 47 yard line of Dakota Valley.
After a defensive stand, on the first play of the drive, Dakota Valley had a wild snap back 20 yards, and was recovered at the Dakota Valley nine yard line.
On the next play, Oullette fumbled the snap, giving the ball back to the Panthers.
Later in the drive, senior tackle Nick Jensen stuffed Fernando for a safety, adding to their 8-0 lead with 6:30 left.
After receiving the kick, the Tanagers were forced to turn the ball over on downs.
The Panthers took over the ball on their own 27, converted a first down on a pass from Fernando to VanGinkel with 4:34 left in the contest.
Fernando completed another pass to Trevor McCabe, to get the ball down to the Vermillion 41 yard line.
A forced fumble by Alex Osborne with a little under a minute left, sealed the deal for the Tanagers.
Osborne finished the game with seven sacks.
“We really challenged our defense this week in preparation,” Homan said. “We wanted to bring the meter back and shoot the stunts hard this game.”
With the victory, Vermillion advances to the quarterfinals of the 11A playoffs and will travel to number one ranked Madison on Monday.
“We just need to take it one game at a time,” Homan said. “If they knew who would be playing in the Dome to start the playoffs, they would have put those teams in the championship already.”
Coach Homan feels the Tanagers will take this week of practice like any other week they have this season, despite playing arguably the best team in the state.
“We’re just going to take the prep the same as we always do,” he said. “We will look at our film and try to find out what we can improve. Hopefully, we can go up there and get a victory.”
You can follow Nick Robinson on Twitter at twitter.com/RobinsoNick2013. Discuss this story at yankton.net/sports.