HURON — If you’ve looked at your Huron High School football schedule for this season, you have likely seen some different opponents than have been seen before.
In addition to the Eastern South Dakota standbys - Brookings, Yankton, Mitchell and Pierre - the Tigers will face West River foes Douglas and Sturgis as they have in recent years. But then there are games against Milbank and Tri-Valley at Tiger Stadium, and a road trip to Canton.
The last three school are all Class 11A schools, the result of scheduling work that began some time ago and is instigated by the continued growth of schools around Sioux Falls. In this case, it is Harrisburg that is prompting the change.
Huron School District Activities Director Terry Rotert explains.
“Harrisburg has grown enough that the male ADM, which is used to determine which classification a school should compete,” Rotert said, “so that they are now in 11AAA.” ADM or “Average Daily Membership” is based upon each school’s grades 9, 10, and 11 enrollment on the first Friday of December. The classification - or reclassification - process is completed every two years.
“With their growth, Harrisburg is one of the nine largest schools,” Rotert continued. “Sioux Falls O’Gorman petitions to compete at the AAA level instead of AA, where its enrollment would place it.” That means that statewide there are 10 11AAA teams, so the math is easy for a nine-game schedule. Each team plays the other nine and the top eight make the playoffs. See, easy.
Not so when the focus turns to the 11AA ranks. There are eight teams that are in AA - Huron, Brookings, Sturgis, Spearfish, Pierre, Mitchell, Douglas and Yankton. To complete a nine-game schedule, there would need to be some teams playing twice, so a question of competition comes into play. The solution is to sprinkle 11A teams into the mix.
“Each AA school will play at least two A schools in addition to all the other AA teams,” Rotert said. “We’re playing three - I’m not sure why we ended up with three and don’t face Spearfish. I can only expect there was some scheduling issue with Spearfish. Each game on the schedule affects others down the line.”
Rotert said that the 11A schools didn’t have an issue with playing against the bigger schools, possibly because as many of the districts continue to grow, it could become more commonplace.
Canton, for instance, played at the 11B level last year and is moved up for at least this year and next. And Rotert said that if Tea Area continues to grow, the Titans could become an 11AA school by the time reclassification comes around again in two years.
“Things change so quickly,” Rotert noted, adding that Huron’s football schedule will remain the same next year, with the only change being that home teams will be swapped. Sometime this fall, he expects to begin work on the 2021-22 scheduling.
“Unless there is some change that comes from high school activities (South Dakota High School Activities Association) when it comes to determining ADM for football, I expect this will be the way it goes.”
As Huron seeks a return trip to the 11AA state finals, it will open the season on Aug. 30 in Brookings, then will return to host Milbank at Tiger Stadium on Sept. 6.