More than 100 high school football teams that started the season back in August have been whittled down to 14 squads vying for state championships this weekend. The final seven games of the high school season are happening at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. Fans have a pretty good idea of the numbers that typically belong with the game of football—but each year, South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s Gary Ellenbolt gathers information that might otherwise slip through the cracks. Once again—S-D-P-B gets you ready for the title games, with the State Championships by the Numbers.
It’s as certain as the change back to standard time and an influx of pheasant hunters; the Championship Weekend of high school football at the Dome. As you listen to this story, Colman-Egan and Sully Buttes are doing battle in the 9-B Championship game. But in the interest of filling in any blanks, and strictly as a public service, we proudly bring you the championships, by the numbers. What number starts us off this year, Steve?
This number reflects the combined enrollment of 11-Triple-A Sioux Falls Roosevelt, and 9-A entrant Britton-Hecla. The Rough Riders and the Braves have never, to our knowledge, met in any athletic activity, for obvious reasons. But, interestingly—the two schools are connected. Maybe this will help—
If you’re a fan of the “Mad Men” television series, you’re familiar with the character, Betty Draper. She’s the chain-smoking, uber-depressed wife of the main character, Don Draper. Betty is played by January Jones. She was born in Sioux Falls, moved to Hecla as an infant, and lived there for several years. In fact, her dad was cross-country coach in Hecla for a while. Her family moved back to Sioux Falls, and she graduated from Roosevelt High School. And that’s the connection between Britton-Hecla and Sioux Falls Roosevelt. See what we did there?
What is next?
When you add seven, 19 and 61 together, the answer is 87. The sum is not as important in this case—just a way to lead us into the segment. The three numbers are the license plate numbers assigned to Yankton, Clay and Turner Counties. The community of Irene, home to Irene-Wakonda High School, is split between all three of those counties. From a logistical standpoint, that could get to be really fascinating—let’s say Yankton County is under a burn ban, but Turner County is not. You may not be able to light up the fire pit, but your neighbor across the street could burn the chiminea to his heart’s content. If the Eagles should beat Gregory in today’s 9-Double-A final, we’ll let the locals figure out where the bonfire is going on.
Got another, Steve?
This one goes out to Harrisburg. It’s the percentage of population growth in the community near Sioux Falls between 2000 and 20-10. The town was home to 958 souls at the start of the 21st Century—in 20-10, the Federal Census pegged Harrisburg at 4,089. The community gained an estimated 14 hundred people between that last official head-count and 20-15. The Tigers have played in championship games in Classes 11-B, 11-A, and 11-Double-A. They’ll meet Pierre Friday night for the 11-Double-A title.
That’s how many more players Bridgewater-Emery-Ethan can have on the field—two on offense, two on defense—since the last time the Seahawks appeared in the Dome in 20-13. Bridgewater-Emery-Ethan has seen an enrollment growth, and the former Nine-Man power now plays the 11-Man game. Seahawks head coach Jeff Van Leur has led the transition to the more traditional form of football.
“Defensively," Van Leur says, "we’ve got two more guys on the same-size field, so defense is a little bit easier to coach in the 11-man ranks. I know on offense there’s two more there, too, in the same area. But offensively, it’s tougher—it takes away that open field from Nine-Man football that we’re used to; with a little speed, we could get to the outside and run the edges a little bit—but in 11-man football, we need to keep things more in the middle, gotta pound the middle, and then try to get outside a little bit.”
Bridgewater-Emery-Ethan takes on Sioux Falls Christian Friday afternoon—the winner is the Class 11-B champion.
Now—time for everyone’s favorite segment.
This reflects the number of schools in the playoff field that come from county seats. Sioux Falls Washington, Roosevelt and Christian, Pierre, Madison, Britton-Hecla and Sully Buttes, based in Onida, all host their county governments. The 11-Triple A game has both schools from Sioux Falls; in 9-Double-A, neither Gregory nor Irene-Wakonda come from their county seats. Burke is the county seat in Gregory County; while, as you found out earlier—Irene doesn’t have a county to call its own in the first place. So, the remaining five games have one of the teams from a county seat. Could all five win? Could they all lose? Well, sure they could—but statistically speaking, we turn the chances, as we do every year, over to U-S-D Statistics Professor, Will Schweinle. His answer is read here by SDPB 's Katy Beem.
"This is another of those binomial questions. Assuming that there is no advantage for being from or not from a county seat, then the probability that the team from the county seat will be the winner in all five games is 0.03125. This is the same as the probability that the team from the county seat will lose in all five games (0.03125). So, if the county seat teams win in all five games (or lose in all five) then by scientific rules, we would have to conclude that there is a statistically significant advantage (or disadvantage) for being from a county seat, because 0.03125 < 0.05."
Sure, Will—thanks. And for another year, that wraps up our look at championship football by the numbers. Enjoy the games.