The Vermillion football team played their final home game against Dakota Valley last Friday. The Tanagers lost 20-41 after a close three quarters.
“I felt like our offense was better,” said junior John LaCognata. “We were able to move the ball on them better than expected. We have also progressed in every position over the last couple of weeks.”
Dakota Valley was the first to score at the beginning of the first quarter. The Tanagers were down 0-7 going into the second.
LaCognata scored with 9:56 left in the second quarter to tie the game 7-7.
“I was very happy when I scored that touchdown,” said LaCognata. “Tying a tough team early in a game gives the whole team a huge confidence boost. It was a great play by Charlie to find me wide open, and I just had to finish it.”
The opponents scored another seven in the second, and the Tanagers remained down by a touchdown at halftime, 7-14.
Sophomore Jack Kratz tied the game once more for Vermillion in the third with 9:12 left in the quarter. Dakota Valley responded with a touchdown but missed the extra point. The Tanagers went behind 14-20.
“We played well the whole game,” said Vermillion head coach Andy Homan. “The game was close until five minutes left in the third quarter.”
The competition scored nearly a minute later, putting Vermillion down 14-27.
Dakota Valley added another seven to their lead at the end of the third quarter. The score was 14-34 entering the fourth.
The opponents scored their final touchdown with seven minutes left in the game. Senior Dylan Thelen responded by scoring for Vermillion, but the team did not complete their 2-point conversion attempt.
The score remained 20-41 through the final minutes of the game. The Tanagers lost to Dakota Valley by 21.
“In the end, our guys just got wore down from having to mostly play both ways, and we had some key guys go out,” said coach Homan. “They played a complete game and left everything out there. Dakota Valley has two guys that play both ways, and even on special teams, they can bring in fresh guys.”
On offense, sophomore quarterback Charlie Ward had 28 passes of his 48 attempts. He threw for 271 yards and recorded three touchdowns.
LaCognata had 14 rushing attempts for the team-high total of 37 yards.
Kratz tallied nine receptions for 90 yards and one touchdown. Dylan Thelen had three receptions for 48 yards and one touchdown. LaCognata recorded one touchdown of his seven receptions that totaled 26 yards.
Junior Cael Mockler ran 51 yards of his two receptions. Junior Connor Saunders had four receptions for 42 yards.
On defense, Kratz had the team-high 20 total tackles. He had six solo tackles and one tackle-for-loss.
Sophomore Nick Sorensen had 14 tackles with six solo and one tackle-for-loss. Senior Kobe Culver tallied 11 tackles.
For the special teams, junior Noah Gilbertson went 2-of-2 in extra points.
“I most enjoy having fun with my friends,” said LaCognata. “This is my third year playing football with these guys, and every year, it gets better.”
The Tanagers went on to play their final game of the regular season Thursday in Lennox.
“We are going to prepare for this game more than we have for any other game,” said LaCognata. “I feel like it would mean a lot to the whole team if we ended this season by beating a challenging Lennox team. I also want to help give my senior teammates a win in their last game.”
Coach Homan hopes the same for those playing their final football game as a Tanager.
“We want to win and send these seniors off the right way,” said coach Homan.
Dakota Valley (5-3) – 7 7 20 7 – 41
Vermillion (2-6) – 0 7 7 6 – 20