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Football State Championships By The Numbers

Kent Osborne
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Today, November 8th, is the first day of the South Dakota State High School Football Championships.  By Saturday night, seven teams will have titles in seven classes.  S-D-P-B brings you its annual feature, the Football Championships by the Numbers. 

I think we’re in agreement here—the 20-18 football season flew.  Teams began practicing in the heat of August, dreaming of a weekend in Vermillion and the state championships.  Every year, we bring you the back stories you enjoy finding out about—and, for 20-18, here’s the championships by the numbers.  What’s leading us off, Steve Zwemke?


That’s the number of square feet in the new press box at the football field in Winner.  The structure stands as a service project of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, built in 20-16 in memory of a long-time Winner Warrior booster, Bob Connot.  Connot worked online broadcasts of Winner games until he died of heart problems at age 43.  Bob Connot spent much of his life avoiding any use of the personal pronoun, and likely would have insisted the press box NOT be named for him.  So, the box is called, informally—and to an extent, formally—“The Not Bob Connot Press Box.”  His son, Ben Connot, leads Colome into the 9-B Championship Game against Sully Buttes Friday morning.

On that subject, more or less—


Since South Dakota began state football championships in 19-81, there have been 37 9-B champions.  Either Colome or Sully Buttes will end the season as the 38th champion in 9-B.  In 20-19, the State High School Activities Association will eliminate the 9-B class and move smallest schools into a Six-Man Classification.   That development makes either Colome or Sully Buttes the final 9-B champion. 

Here’s John Krogstrand with the High School Activities Association.

”You talk about the tradition out of that Highway 18 group—you know, between the Colome, the Winner, the Gregory, and there are multiple trips for each of those to the Dome, so perhaps not suprising in that respect, that one of those three teams would be involved this weekend, but—yeah, a little fun fact there.”

The first 9-B title game was played in 19-81, with Bridgewater defeating, of all teams, Colome—6-0 was the final.

Give us another one, Steve….


That’s the uniform number of someone who will make history in the Championship Weekend at the Dome.  As soon as Pierre kicker Mackenzie Rath steps on the field in Vermillion Friday night for the 11-Double-A final, she will have the distinction of being the first female to play football in a South Dakota championship game.  Rath is a standout soccer player for the Lady Govs, and asked her coach, Sidney Zanin, if she could try football.  That was fine with Zanin, as long as Rath agreed to not enter a football game until the soccer season ended.  The young lady’s dedication caught the attention of Governor’s Coach Steve Steele.

Steele says, “I think it’s really unique to see a high school kid kick for, what was it, 10 weeks, without playing in a game, or before you play in a game.   And that’s how dedicated she was—to be able to come over from soccer practice and kick for 45 minutes in football before you even got a chance in a game is something special—and that’s why she is where she is.”

Pierre won the state “Double-A” soccer title, Mackenzie Rath is a second-team All-State selection as goalkeeper, and she’ll suit up for the Governors against Huron in the 11-Double-A title game.

This one is fascinating--


As in, Seventy Five percent, or eight teams, advancing to the playoffs from a single conference.  Southeast South Dakota has long been dominant in Class 11-A, and this year, eight of the teams in the Dakota 12 Conference played in the post-season.  Three of them are in title games this weekend—Tea Area will take on Dell Rapids in 11-A, and Sioux Falls Christian is in the 11-B game against Bridgewater-Emery-Ethan.  Dakota Valley, Canton, Elk Point-Jefferson, West Central and Madison also extended their seasons from the Dakota 12.


It’s common in post-season to give teams rankings, known as seeds.   In South Dakota, a relatively complicated point system gives teams a certain amount of points connected with their record, and the records of the teams they play in the regular season.  Conventional wisdom gives the Number One seeds the best chance of advancing to the finals.  But this year, of seven games, only three will have top seeds.  Pierre is on top in 11-Double-A, Tea Area is Number One in Class 11-A, and Sully Buttes owns the 1 seed in 9-B.  How likely is it that these three standout teams could lose this weekend?  That’s a question for our statistics whiz, USD professor Will Schwienle.  Katy Beem reads the answer.

“Based on your qualitative descriptions, I assigned some probabilities for each game






To find the probability that all three number 1 seeds will lose, assume that the three games are independent events, i.e. the outcome of the 11-AA game has no influence on the outcome of the 11-A game or the 9-B game etc., then multiply the three probabilities together:

0.2 * 0.3 * 0.5 = .03 = 3%

Thus, it appears very unlikely that all three number-one seeds will lose in the tournament.”

And there you are.  Let’s move from three, to….


We’re looking a bit into the future on this one—when the 20-19 Championship weekend rolls around, that’s the number of seats the DakotaDome will have available for fans.  There’s a major renovation coming up for the facility, which turns 40 next year.  The entire west side stands will get some work done, and those seats won’t contain fans for USD Coyote games, or for the championships. John Krogstrand with the High School Activities Association says, things are still up in the air a bit.

“You know, the last couple discussions we’ve had with USD have been waiting to see, as far as the architects and when all of this is going to go, and final approvals and some of those things—so, I think right now, it’s kind of in a little bit of wait and see mode for us; but certainly something we’re going to be cognizant of, and paying attention to as we come forward, and making some decisions on that as we go.”

The new and improved Dakota Dome will re-open at full capacity the next year.

And this year’s final number is--


Since we’ve never gone here before, I hope you’ll forgive us a bit of shameless self-promotion.  30 represents the number of countries that watched the stream of the Championship games in 20-17 on sdpb-dot-org.   Google analytics show hits from those nations, and all 50 states.  In fact, over half of those who watched the games in South Dakota were viewing online.  S-D-P-B’s director of television, Bob Bosse, considers that worldwide football footprint a nice surprise.

“It’s an indication of what we’re able to do, and the service we provide to viewers and listeners around the state and around the world.”

And that’s your background information, by the numbers.  Enjoy the playoff weekend, and hope your team wins.