You cannot look at this year’s slate of state championship football games without realizing how many of these teams have been there and done that before. The 14 teams playing this week in the State Football Championships at the DakotaDome in Vermillion have combined for 50 state titles. And you can add another 27 runners-up teams.
Six seed Howard and four seed Canistota/Freeman open the festivities with the Class 9A finals at 10 a.m. on Thursday.
While this is the first time in the finals for Canistota/Freeman, the turf at the dome has a lot of good memories for the two schools. They are, in fact a combined 9-0 in championship games. Freeman won the 9A title the very first year in 1981 and then won three in row from 1997 to 1999, along with a Class 9B title in 1996 to make it four straight years. Canistota won three straight state titles, winning 9B in 2010 and 9A in 2011 and 2012 before adding the 9A title in 2015.
Howard has won three titles at three levels. Howard won the 11B title in 2004, the 9AA title in 1989 and the 9A title in 2014. They were 9AA runners-up in 2012.
Canistota/Freeman is 10-1 on the season. After going 7-0 to start the year, the Pride lost to Garretson before beating Ipswich/Edmunds Central, Alcester/Hudson and Timber Lake in the playoffs. All three wins were one-sided affairs.
Howard was just a 5-3 team during the season and found two ways to win the playoffs. They used offense to beat Deubrook Area 73-36 before using defense to beat Warner 8-7 and defending champ Britton-Hecla 12-8.
Seven seed Kimball/White Lake and four seed Bon Homme take the field for the 1 p.m. game.
Bon Homme is playing in its first championship game at the nine-man level, but was strong in 11B during the 90s. The Cavaliers were the 11B champs in 1994 and 1995 after being runners-up in 1988.
Kimball/White Lake was the 2011 9AA runners-up, but before that, Kimball won the 9B title in 2003 and 2004 and the 9A title in 2001 along with being 9A runners-up in 1995. White Lake was White Lake/Plankinton for the 1996 9A title and the 2002 9AA title.
Bon Homme enters the title game with a 10-1 record. The Cavaliers lost to Wolsey-Wessington the second game of the year and has since run off nine straight wins. In the playoffs they thumped Deuel, edged Gregory 14-12 and then avenged their lone loss by beating Wolsey-Wessington 43-14 in the semifinals.
Kimball/White Lake was just a 5-3 team during the regular season. Their three losses included a 25-7 loss to Bon Homme in early September. After winning their last three regular season games, the WiLdKats (see what they did there with the capital letters?) took off with decisive wins over Jones County/White River, Arlington/Lake Preston and Garretson.
Day one concludes with 7-4 Dell Rapids and 10-1 Tea Area in the 11A championship game at 7 p.m.
Tea Area, the number one seed, is the only team in the dome without a state title, but hey, the school hasn’t been around that long. The Titans did take second in 2016.
Dell Rapids has had considerable success with five titles in six trips to the dome. After taking second in 2006, the Quarriers won 11A titles in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
This is a rematch of a one-sided game during the regular season when Tea Area defeated Dell Rapids 56-6 in Dell Rapids.
Tea Area has been one of the favorites all season. The Titans’ only loss was 10-7 to defending champion Madison. They have not surrendered a point in the postseason, shutting out Hot Springs and West Central.
Dell Rapids, the seventh seed, has found new life in the playoffs. They ended the regular season with a 28-7 loss to Madison to fall to 5-4, but avenged that loss with a 14-13 win over two seed Madison in the first round before edging three seed Dakota Valley 25-22 in the semifinals.
It’s undefeated Colome vs. undefeated Sully Buttes in the Class 9B championship game on Friday at 10 a.m.
Sully Buttes, the number one seed, is looking for its second state title. The Chargers won the 9A title in 1989. They have been runners-up four times, coming in second in 9A in 1983, 1990 and 2015 before falling to Colman-Egan in last fall’s 9B championship game.
Colome is playing in its eighth 9B championship game. The Cowboys were state champs in 1988, 2007 and 2016 and took second in 1981, 1987, 2006 and 2012.
Neither team has been seriously challenged all year. During the regular season, Sully Buttes’ average margin of victory was 32 points, while Colome’s average margin of victory was a remarkable 54 points.
Sully Buttes cruised through the playoffs, beating Hitchcock-Tulare 46-8, Kadoka Area 53-0 and Faulkton Area 48-14.
Colome continued its high-scoring season, beating Gayville-Volin 62-8, defending champ Colman-Egan 58-8 and Wall 74-28.
Two teams the Tigers are very familiar with, Sioux Falls Christian and Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan, square off for the Class 11B title at 1 p.m. on Friday. The two teams are also quite familiar with each other. Sioux Falls Christian beat BEE 27-12 in last year’s 11B title tilt.
Last year’s championship was the only time Sioux Falls Christian has been to the state finals.
Between Bridgewater, Emery and Ethan there have been a few trips, but before taking second last year, every state final was in nine-man football. BEE won 9AA titles in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Bridgewater won the 9B title in 1981. Emery/Ethan won 9AA titles in 2001 and 2003 and took second in 2009, along with taking second in 9A in 1993.
BEE is the two seed. The 10-1 Seahawks only loss was to Canton during the season. They have been stout in the playoffs, beating Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central 46-0, the Tigers 47-6 and Mt. Vernon/Plankinton 41-6.
Sioux Falls Christian is 9-2. They also lost to Canton before falling to 11A number one seed Tea Area. After a 28-21 win over Beresford in the opening round of the playoffs and squeaking past Winner 14-12, the Chargers handed Canton its first loss of the season, winning a 38-20 game in the semifinals.
It’s defending champion Pierre and upstart Huron in the Class 11AA championship game on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Pierre, 9-2, won its second title last year. The Governors won the title in 2013, while taking second in 1988 and 2015.
Huron is making its third appearance in the championship game. The Tigers won the title in 1992 after taking second in 1991.
Pierre lost its opener to Harrisburg and lost to Sioux Falls Roosevelt this year. The Governors beat Huron 34-7 during the regular season. They have been dominant in the playoffs with a 40-point win over Spearfish and a 33-point win over Brookings.
Huron, 7-4, needed two upsets to get to state at the number six seed. They beat Harrisburg 20-7 and Yankton 28-23. The Tigers’ 5-4 regular season included a win over Harrisburg and a loss to Yankton. They lost five of six games before turning things around in the postseason.