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BALL FIVE: Tigers have one-of-a-kind football schedule

The Tigers have what I consider a perfect schedule as far as region competition is concerned.
The Tigers are in Class 11B Region 1. They play the rest of the region during the regular season. That may seem like a logical schedule, but it’s actually an abnormality. An extreme abnormality!
In fact, the Tigers are the only team in the region that plays everyone. McLaughlin, as you may recall, just started playing 11-man football last fall. Being our neighbors to the west, it was easy to get the Mustangs on our schedule from the get-go. The rest of the region is familiar to our schedule in Aberdeen Roncalli, Groton Area, Redfield/Doland and Sisseton. Well, none of those teams play McLaughlin so the Tigers are the only team that gets to see every team in the region before the postseason begins. And the Tigers are the only region team the Mustangs get to play during the season.
Here are the teams in the other three regions who play everyone else in the region. Oh wait. There aren’t any. None. Zip. Nada.
In fact, the Tigers are the only football team in the state (from 11B to 9B where there are regions) that plays everyone in the region. Some are close and play all but one team in the region. But more teams play half or more of their schedule out of region than teams who play half or more of their schedule within the region.
Some are miles away, like Winner in Region 4. That region has Winner, Bennett County, Crow Creek, Custer, Lead-Deadwood, Red Cloud and Stanley County. The only team Winner plays is Stanley County. The rest of the Warriors’ schedule includes Valentine, Neb., Class 11 A West Central, Sioux Falls Christian out of Region 2 and Mt. Vernon/Plankinton, Chamberlain, Wagner and Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central from Region 3. Only WWSSC plays four teams from its own region. No one else plays more than three.
You would think it ideal to get to play against your own region during the regular season. Your first-round matchup in the postseason is most-probably going to be one of those teams. When you look at the geographic outline of where each team is located, you understand just why regions cannot be confined by inter-region play. There are far too many more teams in the tightly-condensed eastern half of the state and teams out west are too far and too few between.
It’s even tougher in 9-man where for one more year until 6-man football begins, the various school populations join in with where towns are on the map.
Let’s start in Class 9A Region 1 with Herreid/Selby Area. The region includes Potter County, Britton-Hecla, Clark/Willow Lake, Ipswich/Edmunds Central and Warner. Potter County is the only Region 1 team on the Herreid/Selby Area schedule. They also play Class 9AA North Border. Remember, until last year part of that team was Eureka/Bowdle, so that is a natural foe, just not a region team. The Wolverines play two of the best Class 9B programs in Sully Buttes and Harding County. They play North Dakota teams Linton-HMB and Strasburg/Zeeland, two teams that fit the schedule geographically. The eighth team on the schedule is Lemmon/McIntosh, the only 9A team besides Potter County on the schedule. The Wolverines will have to wait until the postseason to see how they match up against anyone else in the region.
North Border joined Class 9AA Region 1 when Eureka/Bowdle, Leola and Frederick Area joined forces last year. They patched together a schedule consisting of each team’s old rivals. As it turns out, they do not play a single game against a region opponent.
Timber Lake is with Lemmon/McIntosh in Class 9A Region 4. Fortunately, the Little Moreau Conference is still going strong, but nowadays the conference has teams from all over the division sizes. Timber Lake and Lemmon/McIntosh play each other, but after that, Timber Lake plays Newell and Philip, while Lemmon/McIntosh plays just Philip. The rest of the region has to remain a mystery until the regular season is done.
I do not envy the South Dakota schedule makers. They have one tough job. Just think, there are 25 teams in Class 11B, 27 in Class 9AA, 24 in Class 9A and 25 in Class 9B and the Tigers are the only team that gets to see its entire region during the regular season.
I do not envy the schedule makers one bit.