Last Friday, the Vermillion Tanagers football team opened its season with a resounding 38-0 victory at Sisseton.
It was also the first win for the Tanagers’ new head football coach, Tom O’Boyle.
The coach is happy with the victory, naturally. Winning, however, wasn’t the most important part of last Friday’s experience.
“It was such a pleasure in the way that our football team traveled, the way they conducted themselves,” coach O’Boyle said. “They went to a first-class facility with first place people who treated us very, very well in Sisseton and for us it just drives home the point on how well we have handled this summer with the coaching change and maybe coaching philosophy.”
Friday’s win also demonstrates how the Tanagers have adapted to a new coaching staff and practices.
“It was just a ball,” the coach said. “It was just so much fun to watch our kids smile. When Reece Proefrock returns the opening kickoff for a touchdown, that’s certainly a phenomenal way to start your new football season.”
This year’s Tanagers football squad includes 11 seniors.
“They did such a great job of being leaders and mentors,” coach O’Boyle said. “The 38 points on the scoreboard were great, but I think even better than that is just the team concept and kids supporting one another and kids being happy for one another and the business-like approach we took to playing the game.”
He believes that coaches tend to lean on what they know best.
“I think with the fantastic coaching staff we’ve been allowed to put together here for Vermillion this year, we really are blending what our kids do well with the strengths that we have as a coaching staff,” coach O’Boyle said. “That really lends itself to take advantage of a very veteran, senior offensive line, a very good leader, senior quarterback, Jack Kratz, and a junior quarterback in Ty Hertz.
“They both play into our offensive scheme very well,” the coach said. “We like to be a 50/50 team, which means run the ball 50 percent and pass the ball 50 percent. With the very senior leadership we have up front, the past Friday night really allowed us to control the ball, control the clock and ultimately control the game.”
The main story of last Friday’s football game, coach O’Boyle said, was the Tanagers defense’s ability to “absolutely take any kind of running game away from Sisseton and hold them to less than 50 yards offense on the night. The defense really did a good job of taking the ball away from Sisseton and getting it back to our offense, who did a nice job of running the football and therefore running the clock.”
Rather than pointing out individual plays, the coach noted that the Tanagers, as a defensive football team, was stellar last Friday, was very well-prepared and tackled very well.
“I would say from an offensive standpoint, our quarterbacks really did a nice job of directing the offense and our offensive line was almost overpowering to the Sisseton players,” coach O’Boyle said. “We really dominated them up front.”
This fall’s Tanagers football team stands out because its members have the ability to find a teammate and support them, he said.
“I’ve been very, very impressed and our staff has been very impressed of how hungry our kids are to learn football and how hungry they are to be successful,” the coach said.
On Friday, the Tanagers will be on the road once again to face Chamberlain on their opponent’s home turf.
“Chamberlain is a very big football team, first and foremost,” coach O’Boyle said. “They’re huge in stature. They’re coming off a tough loss where they shot themselves in the foot offensively and maybe let things snowball on them defensively, but they are a team that is dangerous in my eyes because they also want to be physical up front and play a little smash-mouth football, if you will.
“We need to be able to get outside of them and do a better job of creating big plays,” he said. “The one thing that I wish we would have done a better job of last week was creating offensive plays of 20 yards and more. I think that’s a work in progress and we saw some great light in that direction tonight (at Tuesday’s practice).”
Kickoff of the Vermillion/Chamberlain game is set for 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 3 at Chamberlain.