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Football On The Plains (South Dakota)

Tagged under: Beyond The Keystone

| August 23, 2023

Many states across the country kicked off their seasons earlier than Pennsylvania. Utah, Alaska, and Hawaii had a full slate of games two weeks prior to the Keystone State. A few independent teams around the country had started here or there. Much of the country started the weekend of August 18th.

In the upper plains, the Dakotas both started football with a small smattering of Thursday games before the bulk of the schedule commenced on Friday.

In North Dakota, the lone Thursday kickoff game was in Grafton, who were hosting Thompson. While South Dakota had a handful of games ranging from the west (in Dupree), the south (in White River), and the east (in Wilmot).

It was in Wilmot where the host Dakota Hills Grizzlies were taking on rival Sisseton Redmen in an 11-man contest. Dakota Hills is a co-op between three schools: the Wilmot Wolves, the Summit Eagles, and Waubay Dragons. The three small schools combine for roughly 178 total high school students. Which would, as a combined team, put them into Class A territory in Pennsylvania.

However, by their numbers combined, they are able to play 11-man football in a state where 9-man football is commonplace. A half hour away in Sisseton, the school’s Redmen form one single school and boasts 264 students. The town of Sisseton is located in the Lake Traverse Reservation that spans the border with North Dakota. The school has an all-weather turf football field with a full stadium. Wilmot, one of two hosts for the Dakota Hills co-op, has a much smaller stadiums. The realities of co-hosting a team much larger than themselves. A similar situation would be Conneaut Area’s consolidation from Conneaut Lake, Conneaut Valley, and Linesville into a 4A level school from what was once small 1A schools.

However, Wilmot is on the rise. After mother nature wreaked havoc on the field last year when lightning destroyed the lighting infrastructure, the field now claims some of the best LED lighting you’ll find anywhere. Though for the time being, the lights are disjointed from the field. Situated to make room for a realignment of the field to an east-west configuration and away from the old baseball/football hybrid layout that saw the field angle from southwest to northeast.

Next week, the Dakota Hills Grizzlies travel the 187 miles west to the Missouri River to take on the Mobridge-Pollock Tigers. Meanwhile, Sisseton opens at home next weekend against Sioux Valley Cossacks in a battle of unbeatens.

For photos from this game, and others this weekend, click HERE.

For photos from previous weeks and seasons, visit http://www.flickr.com/sykotyk/sets/

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