HURON — The Huron football team is positioned to earn its first trip to the DakotaDome in Vermillion since winning the Class 11AA championship in 1992.
Standing in the way of the Tigers and their quest to earn a berth in this year’s title game are the Yankton Bucks. The two teams will square off in a semi-final matchup at 7 p.m. Today at Cranes-Youngworth Field in Yankton.
“This is anyone’s game to win,” Huron coach Michael Schmitz said. “Both teams played very well earlier this year and have set up the opportunity for this to be a great game.”
In the earlier meeting, which came during the fifth week of the regular season. Yankton emerged with a 38-27 victory to spoil homecoming for the Tigers.
Following that meeting, the Bucks won three of their final four games to finish the regular season at 5-4. They then escaped with a 23-22 victory against Sturgis in the opening round of the Class 11AA playoffs to secure a berth in the semifinals.
The loss to Yankton was the second in a four-game skid for Huron, which earned just one win in its final six games to finish the regular season at 4-5. The Tigers visited Harrisburg in the opening round of the playoffs a week ago and emerged with a 20-7 victory to advance to the semifinals.
“Both teams have improved on execution,” Schmitz said. “We have expanded our playbooks to take advantage of what we do well, and to get our kids in the best position to be successful.”
The Bucks were able to capitalize on an early turnover in the first meeting to create a deficit Huron was unable to overcome. After scoring 14 unanswered points in the opening quarter, Yankton carried a 21-7 lead into the half during the earlier meeting.
The Bucks then outscored Huron 17-13 in the second half to secure the win.
“We learned that we need to play fast and control what we can control in the game,” Schmitz said of what his team came away from the first meeting with. “If we handle our business, we can be a very good team.
“We need to control the ball and play fast on both sides of the ball,” he said.
In the other Class 11AA semi-final matchup tonight, top-seeded Pierre will host fourth-seeded Brookings at 7 p.m.
The winners of tonight’s games will meet for the Class 11AA state title at 7:30 p.m. On Nov. 9 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.