The Vermillion Tanagers football team were able to work their way through a rough start in their Oct. 1 game with the Dell Rapids Quarriers and hold off a late charge by their opponents to leave the Dell Rapids gridiron with a 33-28 victory.
“It was a tremendous team win and a gutsy win when you beat a very, very good football team and score that many points and be able to keep them out of the endzone as the momentum shifted to Dell Rapids late in that game,” coach Tom O’Boyle said. “It was just so much fun to be a part of.”
The Tanagers led the game 20-14 at the end of the second half, but early in the first quarter it appeared things were not going to go Vermillion’s way.
“We came out and our first two possessions were turnovers,” the coach said. “One, we through an interception for a touchdown that went the other way, so we were down 7-0 and then the very next possession we fumbled on our 18-yard line and our defense did a great job and bailed us out. Dell Rapids subsequently missed a field goal.”
The Tanagers were then able to “right the ship,” coach O’Boyle said.
“We had some big runs and then Jack (Kratz) threw two touchdown passes to Mehki Sheffield, so we kind of picked ourselves off the canvas, in boxing terminology, and righted the ship and we were able to lead by the half,” the coach said.
He noted that the Tanagers football team are becoming confident in their identity.
“I think we understand that we just keep doing what we’re doing,” coach O’Boyle said. “Monday through Thursday determines the outcome on Friday and our kids do such a great job at practice, working the different schemes of the different opponent of the week, but still doing what we do.
“We support one another so well and we pick one another up,” he said. “Certainly, the strengths of this football team are in the offensive and defensive lines and they continue to play well and they continue to create opportunities for our backs and receivers and linebackers to really play well.”
Kratz carried the Tanagers’ offensive efforts during the Oct. 1 game, O’Boyle said.
“He ran the ball 29 times for 193 yards and three touchdowns,” the coach said. “He passed for three touchdowns and Jeremy Crow ran the ball nine times for 91 yards. We ran for 285 yards on a great defense and we were able to throw it for 148 yards, again, with a great defense.
“With that in mind, our defense gave us great field position in the second half,” coach O’Boyle said. “They got a turnover and gave us a short field and we were able to score. Right now, it’s just jelling between the offense and defense. We still have some things to clean up with special teams, but that’s getting better. We feel very, very good about how we are coming together and playing all three phases every Friday night.”
On Friday, Oct. 8, the Tanagers, now 4-2, face the West Central Trojans, also 4-2, in the DakotaDome. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
“West Central is a very, very well-coached, very good high school football team,” coach O’Boyle said. “They’re ranked above us, I believe, and that’s certainly deserving. They’re playing their season with a tough schedule and this is just another great opponent in consecutive weeks for the Tanagers.
“We members of the coaching staff really love how our kids, each and every week, get ready to play,” he said. “We know we have to play well to win and West Central will be a very good opponent.”