Bobcats, Huron square off for title game berth


The second-seeded Bobcats and No. 3 Huron are set to face off for a spot in the championship game.

The Class 11AA Playoffs semifinal contest is Friday at 7 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium

No. 3 Huron (6-4)

The Tigers posted a 4-2 mark versus Class 11AA opponents – they did not face winless Spearfish – and were 1-2 against 11A foes in the regular season.

Aug. 30 – L 40-0 at Brookings

Sept. 6 – W 33-20 vs. Milbank (2-7, 11A)

Sept. 13 – W 30-0 at Douglas

Sept. 20 – L 21-0 at Canton (8-2, 11A)

Sept. 27 – W 35-13 vs. Sturgis

Oct. 4 – L 55-20 vs. Pierre

Oct. 11 – W 15-12 at Yankton

Oct. 18 – L 14-13 vs. Tri-Valley (5-5, 11A)

Oct. 24 – W 51-17 vs. Mitchell

Oct. 31 – W 21-6 vs. No. 6 Yankton [quarterfinals]

Huron is outscoring its opponents an average of 21.8-19.8.

The Tigers beat sixth-seeded Yankton in the quarterfinals last week in their first postseason home game in 17 years.

Senior Landon Hegg (5-foot-9, 150 pounds) and sophomore quarterback Cade McNeil (5-10, 165) had short touchdown runs in the second quarter to make it 14-0 at halftime.

Hegg’s 1-yard plunge pushed the margin to 21-0 with 9:41 left in the fourth.

Carson Duba went 3-for-3 on PAT kicks.

The Tiger defense took care of the rest, as the Bucks’ lone score came with 2:05 remaining in the game.

Recent history

Huron went on a wild run in the playoffs last year.

The Tigers finished the regular season 4-5 and were the No. 6 seed.

They hit the road to beat third-seeded Harrisburg 20-7 in the quarterfinals and second-seeded Yankton 28-23 in the semifinals.

No. 1 Pierre defeated Huron 38-20 in the DakotaDome.

Last time

The Bobcats beat the Tigers 40-0 in the season-opener Aug. 30 in Brookings.

Koby Bartels intercepted three passes, one of which he returned for a TD, and the home team recorded a pair of safeties and blocked a punt in a dominant performance.

Tanner Shepardson ran for a touchdown and added a scoring toss to Parker Rykhus. Carter Eidem and Cody Caraway (fourth quarter) also found the end zone on the ground.

Brookings led 2-0 after a quarter, 16-0 at halftime and 30-0 through three.

The Bobcats have seen new film on Huron since that contest.

“Their young sophomore quarterback is pretty efficient throwing the football,” said BHS coach Lee Schmidt. “They might not have had one kid – the running back – (in the first game) that I saw on film. He’s a big kid and they’ve been able to run the football with him, too.

“It looked like they have adopted (first-year head coach Scott Spanton’s) system and they seem to be executing much better than they did the first game.”

No. 2 Brookings (9-1)

The Bobcats beat Douglas 52-13 in the quarterfinals.

What did Schmidt see on film from that matchup?

“Other than the slow start, a lot of good things,” he said. “I guess the biggest thing is the mental part; it’s just coming out ready to go and not thinking you can go through the motions early in the game – I don’t care who you’re playing against. But our kids, I thought, played well.

“We actually had some really good JV minutes with our JV kids playing. They kind of sputtered at first but then we completed some passes and, of course, we ran in for a touchdown late in the game there and that was against most of their first-string kids. We were happy with them, too.

“So, overall, it was a good night for our kids and we came out healthy.”

Seven different players found the end zone versus the Patriots.

Tanner Shepardson ran for two TDs and threw for a pair.

Caden McKeown quickly answered Douglas’ first score with an 86-yard kick return to paydirt that made it 13-6 late in the first period.

Brookings was up 33-6 at halftime and 46-6 heading to the fourth.

Carter Eidem, Parker Rykhus and Hunter Gray (fourth quarter) had touchdown runs and Max Struck and Preston Helmbolt had scoring receptions.

The Bobcats forced four turnovers without giving the ball away.

Aug. 30 – W 40-0 vs. Huron

Sept. 6 – W 29-6 vs. Lennox (6-4, 11A)

Sept. 13 – W 28-14 at Sturgis

Sept. 20 – W 22-9 at Madison (5-5, 11A)

Sept. 27 – W 49-0 vs. Douglas

Oct. 4 – W 41-7 vs. Mitchell

Oct. 11 – L 54-6 at Pierre

Oct. 18 – W 47-0 vs. Spearfish

Oct. 24 – W 44-14 at Yankton

Oct. 31 – W 52-13 vs. Douglas [quarterfinals]

   Note: Lennox beat Madison 35-33 at home in the quarterfinals.

Brookings is outscoring its opponents an average of 35.8-11.7 and is plus-13 in turnover margin with 21 takeaways.

Tanner Shepardson has run for eight TDs and thrown for 12 with five interceptions.

Carter Eidem leads the squad with 13 end zone visits – 12 of which have come on the ground.

Parker Rykhus has seven scoring runs and two touchdown receptions.

Matt Girard has five rushing touchdowns. Preston Helmbolt has five TDs – three receiving and two rushing – while Max Struck has four scoring grabs.

Payton Theodosopoulos is 35-for-48 on PAT kicks and 3-for-6 on field goals.

Couple of keys

“We need to get out early,” Schmidt noted. “We do not need to let Huron into the game like we did last week with Douglas. We need to get out and, whether we’re on defense first or offense, we need establish ourselves. We didn’t have a real solid defensive second series (last week).

“We can’t afford to let a young team like that think they’re going to be in it, so just get out of the gates, get after them early, got to execute and make sure we take care of the football.”

Other side of the bracket

Two-time defending state champion and top-seeded Pierre (10-0) is host to No. 5 Mitchell (5-5) at 7 p.m. at Hollister Field.

The Governors defeated No. 8 Spearfish 103-0 at home and the Kernels dropped fourth-seeded Sturgis 35-28 on the road in the quarterfinals last week.

The 11AA title game is Friday, Nov. 15, at noon at DJDS.

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