It’s pretty hard to miss the big building that sits at Highway 50 and Dakota Avenue in Vermillion. The Dakota Dome is, in one setting, a sports venue, a tourist attraction, an engineering marvel—and something for high school football teams to aim for from two-a-day practices in August, to now. 12 teams in six classes have made the trip to the Dome to see if they can satisfy the last available goal of a state championship. It’s time once again to take a look at the more fascinating stories to come from the weekend. Welcome to “State Football: By the Numbers.” What’s first, Steve?
In a weekend that celebrates winning football, it may be a bit odd to start with a number indicating losses—but bear with us. The Sturgis High School Scoopers own South Dakota’s longest state high school football losing streak. 79 straight times, Sturgis finished on the losing end, until defeating Rapid City Stevens on September First, 2006. The Head Coach of the Scoopers that night was Adolph Shepardson, who’s a little busy today. He’s now the coach at unbeaten Deubrook. The Dolphins qualifed for this weekend’s championship game in 9-Double A.
Up next, we bring you…
(6340—Six thousand, three hundred 40)
Counting the end zones, a football field is 6,340 square yards—120 yards end to end, 160 feet side to side. That’s how much new artificial turf is waiting for the teams involved in the high school championships. Over the summer, the University of South Dakota installed Astro-Turf Pro-Grass on the floor of the Dome. As all fields at the Dome have been, the field is portable—moved after each season to allow access to the track and set up for Coyote Basketball. Steve?
That figure is the number of points scored in the last two State Championship Games involving Canistota High School. 132 of those points were scored by the Canistota Hawks. Two years ago in 9-B, the Hawks handled Hitchcock-Tulare, 66-0. Last season, with Canistota moving to 9-A, the Hawks defeated Wall, 66-6. Canistota Coach Lenny Schroeder admits the Hawks bring another powerful team to Vermillion—but he says his team takes nothing for granted.
“We don’t even talk about going to the Dome. The focus with our kids is the next play and the next game—and they’ve been really good about staying focused. We’ve got 35 wins in a row, and you could ask any one of our kids and I’ll bet they couldn’t tell you. They’re just a well-rounded group of kids. We preach fundamentals every day, and we focus on our next opponent, and we don’t talk about anything beyond that.”
Schroeder and Canistota qualified to meet Warner in the State Final by beating Hanson, Wall again, and Arlington in the playoffs. The Hawks have given up 6 points the entire post season.
Moving right along…
That’s the number of years between 20-12 and 19-98—the last time a State Championship game featured two schools from West River. It happened in the 11-B title game, when Gregory played Stanley County. That day in Vermillion, the Gregory Gorillas were winners over the Stanley County Buffaloes—20 to 6. Tonight, that 14-year drought ends—this time in 9-B, when Harding County is in action tonight against Colome. The Ranchers come in with an unbeaten record, while Colome’s Cowboys have lost once this year—ironically, to Gregory.
That number comes from a compass, and represents due west. During state title games, cheering sections are assigned to either the east or west sides of the Dakota Dome. Last year—every state championship winner had their cheering sections on the West Side of the Dome. To figure out the odds of that happening, we call once again on USD Statistics Professor, Dr. Will Schweinle. Schweinle answers via e-mail, read by Owen DeJong.
Assuming that the outcome of each game is independent of the outcomes of the other games, that side-assignment is random, and that each team has a 50% chance of winning, here are the probabilities:
If there were no advantageous effect for being situated on the west side, the probability that all six winners would have their fans sitting on the west side is .015625, which is less than .05 -- which is statistically significant. Thus, one would have to conclude, with scientific certainty, that there is an advantageous effect for sitting on the west side.
Which leads us to….
The number of aspirin this reporter takes after deciphering Dr. Schweinle’s explanation.
(3676—Three thousand, six hundred seventy-six)
Those are the total number of miles each team will travel to Vermillion and back this weekend. Trips range from the 518 miles one way for the Harding County Ranchers in 9-B, to the 67 miles for 11-Double-A Sioux Falls Washington. School buses hold about 50 gallons of diesel fuel apiece, and get about 15 miles a gallon on the highway. Using those figures, and assuming each team comes in one bus, that translates to a bit over 245 gallons of fuel used by the 12 teams. At an average of $3.85 a gallon, the schools are looking at 943 dollars in diesel fuel costs to get to their title contests and home again.
Just six games remain in the high school football season in South Dakota, involving 12 teams from across South Dakota looking to end their games with bigger numbers than their opponents. For Steve Zwemke, and for South Dakota Public Broadcasting, I’m Gary Ellenbolt.