The Tea Area football team was one of the top stories of the 2010 high school football season in South Dakota. The Titans, losers of 21 straight games entering the season, finished 4-6 under first year head coach Craig Clayberg. Highlights included an upset win over Wagner--the Red Raiders ranked No.1 in Class 11B at the time--and a first round playoff victory at Pine Ridge.
All that has earned the Titans the "up and comer" label heading into the 2011 season.
A. Last year was kind of a learning year for the kids. Some of them had three coaches in four years, so just to come in and change the mentality. We had some success early, gained us some confidence. So we’re really excited about this year, and the kids have been working hard.
Q. At this point, are you still just trying to lay the foundation and create some stability within the program?
A. Our senior class is only going to have five kids, but our numbers are coming up from below, so we’re going to get some bigger classes in here. We’re just kind of setting the foundations and expectations that we have as coaches, just to better the program.
Q. Does it seem like the players are buying in?
A. I think they are. We’re getting a lot of kids in the weight room. That’s my big thing, my philosophy is that the weight room starts everything. They’ve been coming in in the mornings and we’ve been getting a good turnout in there.
Q. Sounds like your quarterback, Corbin Lawler, had a solid summer.
A. He went down to Nebraska and won a big camp down there. He was their “Top Gun Award” winner. He’s worked really hard to get where he’s at. He’s our leader on offense. He’s got a good arm, we just need to find someone to protect him a little bit better. Hopefully, he has a good season.
Q. What are your expectations for 2011?
A. It’s hard to tell because we had one year of playing the teams we played and now we’ve got a totally different schedule. We’re playing Dell Rapids in the regular season, so there’s some new teams we’re adding in there. We just want to get better every week. Just prepare as much as we can right now for the first game against Bon Homme, we go out there. We just got to get better each week and, hopefully, get some wins in there.
Q. We’re going to see you against Vermillion down in the DakotaDome. What are your thoughts on that one?
A. It’s going to be exciting for the kids. Being in the Dome, playing in the Dome is going to be pretty special for them. It’s a totally different atmosphere than being outside. I think we’ll come into the gym to practice a little bit before we play them. We watched Vermillion a couple of times last year and I don’t know what they have coming back yet, really haven’t looked at them. But they’re a good team, got a good tradition down there, so it should be a fun game.
Tune in to Midco Sports Network on Sept. 9 to see one of South Dakota's rising programs, as Tea Area visits Vermillion and the DakotaDome. With both teams competing Region 2 (Class 11A), this is one early season matchup that could have playoff implications.
- Sept. 9: Tea Area vs. Vermillion, 7 p.m.
***Follow @ElsenMidcoSN on Twitter for blog updates, regional sports news, MidcoSN schedules, etc.