This summer I shared my thoughts on the proposed reshaping of the South Dakota high school football classification system.
In case you've forgotten, the idea of an 11AAA class, consisting of schools with an enrollment of 800 or higher, has been hatched in the interest of competitive balance. To my knowledge, it has not been discussed in any official capacity, but the idea alone has people talking.
It's been hard to picture exactly what things would look like if this were to actually happen, but we got an glimpse last Friday night when Huron (currently 11AA) visited Harrisburg (11A).
Due to ballooning enrollment numbers, Harrisburg has been on the fast track to class 11AA. The Tigers have been a perennial contender in 11A--the Tigers were runners-up in 2010--but it has been unclear if they were ready for the move. This game would be a measuring stick.
On the other sideline, Huron, which ranks 14th out of the current 16 11AA schools, is a program caught in the middle. Low numbers and coaching turnover have been significant contributors to the program's struggles, which include one the longest losing streaks in state history. This game would be a measuring stick.
From the opening kick it was clear that this was a pretty level playing field.
Huron had a clear size advantage on both sides of the football and also seemed to hold at least a slight edge athletically. Despite all of that, they never dominated.
Harrisburg struggled mightily on offense, to the point where picking up a first seemed almost out of the question. I attributed it more to poor execution--the Tigers turned it over five times--than anything else. The defense played well, especially when you consider the short field that the Huron offense was working with.
The end result was a 13-7 win for Huron.
While it was a highly competitive, entertaining football game, I'm not sure how much clarity it really provided. Does the result tell us that Harrisburg is ready for the next level or that Huron is just a shade better than an 11A team? I'm not sure this particular matchup has given us the answer.