Vermillion owned one of South Dakota's most dominant football programs in the 1990s, winning five state titles (1990-92, '95 and '99). But the Tanagers, like most high school dynasties, experienced a quick fall from grace and have struggled to return to that championship form.
Head coach Gary Culver would love to see that drought come to an end in 2011.
Q. Is this program close to getting back to a championship level?
A. We’ve been to the semifinals two or three times here in the last decade. We’ve been close, we’ve been knocking at the door, but we just haven’t busted the door to get back here in the DakotaDome. Hopefully, we can get that turned around. Every year it’s our goal to get here and be in that championship arena, but we’ve fallen a little bit short this past decade or so.
Q. How will the Tanagers figure into the Class 11A picture this season?
A. We just have a rugged schedule. We have West Central, Lennox, Harrisburg, Madison, South Sioux City--a class 4A school from down in the Sioux City metro area--so each and every week is just going to be a battle. There’s just no rest for the wicked. Tea and Dakota Valley added on this year.
We just want to be competitive each and every week, let the chips fall where they may, and make that first round of the playoffs. Then a whole new season that starts. It’s the team that’s the healthiest. The team that gets hot at that time of the year is going to have the greatest success and has a great chance. And we hope we’re one of those teams that is in the forefront when we start talking about the playoffs there in late October.
Q. You’ll host a much-improved Tea Area team here at the DakotaDome on Sept. 9. Any thoughts on the Titans?
A. The thing that impresses me is that they won that State Class “A” track meet this spring. I always look at the track season as we go into a football season. That means they have a lot of skill position guys that have some great speed. And speed is a factor that’s tough to coach sometimes. You can get in the weight room all you want, but that speed factor certainly enters into play. And then a guy that has come to the forefront here is [quarterback]Corbin Lawler. He's a guy who can zing the football, but he can run too. They’re a scary outfit. And I think Craig [Clayberg] has done a great job and they have those skill position players, so that’ll be a formidable opponent. I’m not sure I wouldn’t want to play them outside in a monsoon as we enter this season, but we’ve got them here in the Dome. That’ll be a good opponent and a great challenge for our kids as we enter this season.
You'll see the Tanagers tangle with Titans live on Midco Sports Network on Sept. 9. Both teams are in Region 2 (Class 11A), meaning this early season matchup could have playoff implications.
- Sept. 9: Tea Area vs. Vermillion, 7 p.m.
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