HURON — Despite having to deal with some adversity, mainly created by injuries, the Huron Tiger football team was able to put together a 3-6 mark during the regular season. That effort has put the Tigers as the No. 6 seed for the Class 11AA playoffs, which begin today.
Huron will open its postseason campaign at third-seeded Harrisburg, which also has a Tiger as a mascot, at 7 p.m. this evening.
“We need to play sound and fast to stay with them,” Huron coach Michael Schmitz said. “If we can put it together as a team, we can play with anyone.”
Harrisburg emerged with a 49-0 victory during the third week of the season in a matchup between the two teams. It turned out to be the most lopsided loss of the season for Huron, who suffered a 28-27 setback against Aberdeen Central a week earlier.
With some of the circumstances being different this time around, Schmitz is looking for his squad to put forth a more competitive effort this time around.
“We have been able to get some kids back that were injured, and we have added some wrinkles offensively to put us in a a better spot,” he said.
After opening the season with a convincing 45-7 victory against Douglas, Huron weathered a 6-game losing skid through the meat of its schedule. However, it has bounced back with wins during the final two games of the regular season to carry some momentum into the playoffs.
“I feel that this team definitely has confidence going into the playoffs,” Schmitz said. “We have won the last two games and have played pretty well in those games.”
Jett McGirr, who missed a game earlier this season due to a concussion, has settled into the quarterback spot for Huron. He has completed 53 of 135 passes this season for 519 yards and nine touchdowns.
Kobe Busch, who also has taken snaps at quarterback this season, has been one of McGirr’s main targets. He has 12 receptions of the 249 yards and four touchdowns, while Mason Small has a team-high 19 catches for 240 yards and a touchdown.
Also having receiving touchdowns this season for Huron are Alex Hill, Chipper Shillingstad, Teegan Evers and Will Gross.
Huron also has developed several threats with its ground attack, which is led by Hill with 388 yards on 75 carries and two touchodwns. McGirr has four rushing touchdowns on 287 yards and 55 carries, while Shillingstad and Walker Schiltz each had a pair of rushing touchdowns and Landon Hegg has run for a touchdown.
Jackson Hook has led the defensive effort this season for Huron with 73 tackles and 22 assisted stops. Schiltz has 44 tackles and 12 assists, while Benjamin Walton had 32 tackles and eight assists.
Shillingstad has five interceptions this season for Huron, while McGirr, Busch, Hill, Schiltz and Walton each have an interception.
“We can not turn the ball over on offense, and we need to be able to tackle on defense,” Schmitz said were keys for Huron to turn the tables on Harrisburg. “We are a very capable team.”
The winner of tonight’s game will advance to play the winner between second-seeded Mitchll and No. 7 Sturgis in the semifinals on Nov. 3.
In the quarterfinals bracket today, top-seeded Pierre will host No. 8 Brookings and fourth-seeded Douglas will host No. 5 Yankton.
Huron Tiger quarterback Jett McGirr turns to hand off to running back Alex Hill in a game against Aberdeen Central.
Photo by Mike Carroll/plainsman