2020 Week 13 (South Dakota)

2020 Week 13 (South Dakota)

As the playoffs progress, COVID is definitely becoming more problematic. My original plan, after spending the previous weekend in Colorado and Kansas, was to go with a friend to Iowa for their state semifinals.

Iowa hosts all semifinal and final round games at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. It’s a fun weekend of 12 games for the semifinal round. Cedar Falls is a nice college town, and in the past it was always worth the trip.

But, this year, things changed because of Covid-19. Tickets for each day’s games, of which the tickets were for individual games and not the entire day, would only go on sale at midnight the day of the game.

So, to drive to Iowa was going to mean taking a chance every day for tickets. Secondly, instead of $10 a day, it was going to be $12.50 per game. For twelve games, that would be $150 for the weekend. Just for tickets.

There was one other option. With Wyoming cancelling their weekend at Laramie (playing at the higher seed as in previous years), South Dakota had their seven games scheduled at the DakotaDome.

Tickets were set to go on sale at noon on Monday. I had been to South Dakota for their state finals previously. My wife and I had made the trip as part of a two-week trek including Minnesota’s state semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium.

So, at noon, I was on the phone to see about tickets. And it was a near continuous busy signal. I sent an email as well. And finally, a little while after noon, I was able to leave a voicemail with the instructions that they’d call back in the order they were received.

In order to make it to the games in time, my friend and I planned to leave by noon on Tuesday. So, if we didn’t hear back by then, we’d cancel our travel plans. So, just before noon on Tuesday, I started to plan for Pennsylvania. With most of the western games claimed, I figured I’d cover games out east and get some type of a road trip involved.

And then, just as I was stopping in to pick up my new camera for the second time, I got a call just after leaving the Home Depot in Boardman. So, checked with my friend but he had already confirmed plans with a few coaches in Ohio to cover games for them.

So, instead of splitting a trip, I decided to do it myself. With very little notice. I purchased the five tickets (each individual game except for an all-day ticket for Thursday) at $15 per session. Picked up my camera and drove home. After getting my things situated, I got in my car for the 971 mile drive to Vermillion, South Dakota.

By not splitting the trip, I was going to do all of the driving. I also cancelled my hotel plans, as going by myself, and at the last minute, i didn’t intend to stop for long on the drive to South Dakota. So, no need for a hotel on the drive out or back. And needing just a single room, I could go with the cheapest absolute option.

So, while I was paying for the tickets, I had booked my room in North Sioux City, about a half hour from the stadium. Also, getting to use one of my amassed freebies. So, the total cost was just $102 for three nights of hotels.

Tuesday night, I drove 531 miles from home to Ottawa, Illinois. Along the way I took the ‘free’ route. I-76 to US224 to US250 to Norwalk, and US20 to Fremont. From there, it was US6 along the way through Napoleon and US24 into Fort Wayne. From Fort Wayne, it was the 469 and 69 bypass to the north and US30 toward Chicago.

For anyone shunpiking, US30 is a decent route. I was originally planning to only bypass the Ohio turnpike, otherwise I would’ve taken I-71 south to US30 in Mansfield and drive that the entire way to Chicago. I ran into the horrific rain storm just west of Fort Wayne.

The next morning, it was 580 more miles to my hotel. Avoiding the toll added more to the drive. Also, I took a few detours. I stopped in Iowa City to see Kinnick Stadium for the first time.

And also, then, took I-380 only as far as Cedar Rapids and took US30 west to Ames. I had been on most of this stretch of road before. As it’s slowly being expanded to four lanes.

In Ames, I stopped by Jack Trice Stadium, home of Iowa State.

Now, the previous day, I had called a few schools in Minnesota who were playing on Wednesday about covering their games.

With no return calls, I expected to just take a lacksidasical trip to North Sioux City. I stopped at HuHot in Ames before seeing the stadium for lunch. I took my time. And then, while circling the outside of Jack Trice Stadium, I got a call. it was from Luverne, Minnesota. Their game was actually scheduled for Thursday. But, I was welcome to come.

So, after originally planning to forego any shot of a Minnesota game, I started looking around again. Pipestone, Blue Earth, Murray County, and and Martin County West. I got confirmation for a few, but the issue now became my hotel. The latest check-in was 12:30am. With a game kicking off the next morning. The drive from Blue Earth would be a little too far, I felt, to get to the room in time. And then have the turnaround time for the morning. Especially given I hadn’t slept that much the night prior.

So, I started driving north along I-35 and drove past US20. Which was my turning off point for Sioux City. But, about 40 miles north of there, I decided against Minnesota. I would arrive at Blue Earth just after 6. But, the game would probably put me at about 12am getting to my hotel.

So, I went to my hotel instead. Along they way, I kept tabs on the various Minnesota games through the NFHS Network. I learned, then, that Blue Earth’s game which was predicted to be one-sided, was one-sided. And was over in less than two hours. Which would’ve given me plenty of time to make the 2.5 hour trip to North Sioux City.

The next morning, it was up and early for a quick drive over to Vermillion. A small college town in the southeast corner of South Dakota.

North Sioux City is a small suburb in South Dakota. While Sioux City is just across the river in Iowa. And, interestingly, South Sioux City, is across another river, in another state, of Nebraska.

Interstate 29 heads north from Sioux City toward Sioux Falls. A mostly flat expanse of land. At Route 50, you get off and pass a big Coffee Cup truck stop that’s in the middle of nowhere, and head six miles west to Vermillion.

East of town, the route splits, and the bypass heads to the right. It’s not a freeway, and runs right along the edge of the DakotaDome property.

Last time I was in Vermillion, I stayed at the Prairie Inn across the street from the dome. I did so, partly, because my wife wasn’t going to attend every game, and I could easily walk across the street and leave her with the car for any game she didn’t attend. And partly, because I assumed they’d charge for parking. Which is not the case. The parking around the dome is all free. And once the lots fill up, the streets around the stadium are all free as well.

So, spending $100+ a night for a room was a bit of a waste. Though, with the regular scheduling, it was nice to be close to the room and easy to go about town betwen games.

#47 9AA – Hamlin v. Platte-Geddes

The Thursday tripleheader is the three 9-man games. All on one ticket. It was my first time seeing the DakotaDome since it’s renovations. Previously, for state finals, the ‘home’ side is for adults, and the students sat on the far side of the field. The two teams were split down the 50.

With the new renovations, the entire visitor side is now incredibly steep, and much more rows of seats than before. So, now, the first year back, the teams are on opposing sides.

To get from the east to west side, requires crossing, still, behind the endzone. So, to start the game, that’s where I was. But, after sitting part of a game on the incredibly steep West Side, I moved back to the East Side and was able to sit isolated in the upper corner sections away from everyone else.

This was Platte-Geddes first title as a consolidation. South Dakota plays fast and loose on how to demarcate schools that are co-ops and which are consolidations. So, sometimes you see ‘-‘ and sometimes you see ‘/’ where they shouldn’t be.

After an hour or so break, it was on to the next one. My only in-stadium food purchase was a $4 Pure Leaf tea.

#48 9B – Wolsey-Wessington v. Dell Rapids St. Mary

Wolsey-Wessington is another consolidation. While St. Mary is a private school from the eastern edge of the state. One oddity is that the Wolsey-Wessington Warbirds wear almost all black. Their jerseys are dark gray with black numbers. To go with the black lids and pants. Luckily, the stadium is quite bright being an NCAA D-I venue.

Again, was waiting for the third and final game of the day. Warner and Canistota/Freeman. Another example of using inconsistent markers. Canistota and Freedom are two seperate schools.

#49 9A – Warner v. Canistota/Freeman

One thing about 9-man in South Dakota is that they are able to play on the 11-man field without any adjustments. 9-man in North Dakota and Minnesota play on 100 yard fields. But, generally only 40 yards wide. South Dakota can play on a field anywhere from 40 to 53 1/3 yards wide.

So, though 9-man tends to be fairly consistent to 11-man in terms of scoring, seeing a two-touchdown game in 9-man isn’t that common.

After the game, it was a stop a McDonald’s for something to drink and then the short drive back to the hotel.

Stopped down in Sioux City for a moment before returning back to South Dakota for another day of football. With the Friday and Saturday games kicking off at 2pm, I stopped across the street at the Prairie Inn, the hotel I stayed at previously, as they now had a Pizza Ranch in place of their then closed down restaurant.

#50 11B – Winner v. Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan

I had seen Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan back in 2017 when I was last here. I had almost seen Winner. But, they had lost in the playoffs. Winner is a small town along US18, three hours west of Vermillion.

Winner and BEE (the Seahawks) played a low-scoring struggle of a game.

After the early game, I stopped over at the McDonald’s across the street for something to drink and some nuggets. Just waiting until the night game started. With dining restrictions, and the 2pm and 7pm kickoffs, didn’t feel like looking around for something else to kill the time between games.

#51 11AA – Brookings v. Pierre T.F. Riggs

Riggs is another team I’ve seen previously. This is their fourth straight year in the finals. Last time they played Harrisburg in 2017. Instead, they’re playing Brookings, the high school of the town the games were hosted at while the DakotaDome was under renovation.

The Riggs Governors would run away with this one. As Brookings just couldn’t mount an effective offense.

After the game, I drove back to my hotel. Got ready to check out in the morning, and headed out around 11am for another day of games. Though, that would change.

First up, was another lunch at Pizza Ranch. For just over $11, it’s all-you-can-eat pizza and fried chicken. Including a drink. And honestly, other than the Buffalo Chicken Pizza, the fried chicken is the best part of what they offer. Which is odd to say for a place that has ‘Pizza’ in their name.

After lunch, I drove back across the street, past the bus lot, to the stadium lot. Only to take a quick photo of the Canton C-Hawks bus. Tea and Canton were both nearby to Vermillion. Both in the southeast corner of the state.

And, couldn’t pass up this car. I hoped it was just slang, rather than a true mispelling of the word BOUND.

#52 11A – Tea v. Canton

Tea jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead. and 28-0 at the half. It was 35-0 early in the third quarter before Tea finally let off the throttle. Giving up two touchdowns and two two-point conversions.

After the game, I had a decision to make. I had originally planned, and had purchased the ticket, to attend the night game. It was between Harrisburg and Brandon Valley in the 11AAA championship. The game was kicking off at 8pm eastern.

It was 5:13 eastern when the game ended. Which meant nearly three hours to sit around and wait for the 7th and final game of the weekend. Meanwhile, I could be driving home right now. And be home at a reasonable time on Sunday.

I had already checked out of my room, and had planned to drive toward home some that evening. And if not for the fact I had already seen Harrisburg play (though Brandon Valley would be a new team) I might have stuck around. But, instead, I decided to make the effort to get home.

The cheapest gas of the trip was at a Casey’s in Sioux City. Only $1.699. So, I stopped there again on the way home. It was just east of the Lewis & Clark Park, the baseball stadium, where the Sioux City Explorers play at. I saw a doubleheader there back in the halcyon days of 2019. One of the hottest, most miserable baseball games I’ve attended. And it was beautiful.

I took US20 east to Cedar Falls and I-380 south to I-80. I stopped for gas again in Walcott, Iowa. And then drove through Illinois and into Indiana. Realizing I would get home in time for the Browns game, I decided to use the toll roads. So, drove until I was tired and the first service plaza in Indiana, near Portage, is where I took a nap.

From about 4 to 7am, and the got driving again home. Stopped in Ohio at an Arby’s for breakfast, and then braved the wind on the Ohio Turnpike the rest of the way home. I arrived home at 12:55pm. Only two minutes later than I told my wife back when I first woke up.

And of course…

But, the game did finally start. And things went well on that end. Browns would win, 10-7 despite the hullabaloo about Chubb stepping out at the one to setup a victory formation to end the game.

For entertainment, I listened to two books. On the way west, I listened to “The Answer Is…”, the autobiography by Alex Trebek. And then “Ready Player One” on the drive east. I highly recommend the first. Still have a few chapters left in the second, and though it was my wife’s recommendation, I have enjoyed it thus far. It is,… interesting.

For the entire trip, I drove 2,284 miles. And spent a grand total of $525.10.

Gas $142.54
Food $155.23
Tickets & Misc $80
Misc $45.84
Hotel $101.49

T&M was $75 for tickets and $5 for a program. The Misc was mostly tolls. $27.20 just for Indiana and Ohio on the way home. The hotel included my freebie and discounts. And food was not too bad for 6 days.

Photos of the Week

2020 HSF Wk 13 (South Dakota)

2020 HSF Wk 13 (South Dakota)

2020 HSF Wk 13 (South Dakota)

2020 HSF Wk 13 (South Dakota)

2020 HSF Wk 13 (South Dakota)

2020 HSF Wk 13 (South Dakota)

2020 HSF Wk 13 (South Dakota)

2020 HSF Wk 13 (South Dakota)

2020 HSF Wk 13 (South Dakota)

2020 HSF Wk 13 (South Dakota)

2020 HSF Wk 13 (South Dakota)

2020 HSF Wk 13 (South Dakota)

2020 HSF Wk 13 (South Dakota)

2020 Statistics

52 Games
102 Teams
47 Stadiums
9 States

55 New Teams
39 New Stadiums

1,219 different teams
375 different stadiums

1,090 total games

Next Week

For Week 14, I hope to be at Fortress Obetz for the Ohio Championships. However, if not, I have three or four Pennsylvania games lined up. Either way I should have a good weekend of football. And Week 15 is already penciled in for the PA Finals for PA Football News. After that, it might be it. Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and even Texas are all unlikely to see work out. If so, I should finish somewhere around 60 games at minimum.

And then there’s the spring. New Mexico, Illinois, Colorado (some schools), North Carolina, New York, and Maryland are all expected to hopefully have an abbreviated spring season. Which should give me some more games in a time of year I usually have moved on to baseball.

But, with 2020, I don’t plan too far ahead. You never know.

For more, and larger, photos from this weekend, click HERE.

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

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