A pair of area high school football teams are about to experience the football thrill of a lifetime.
Herreid-Selby Area and Ipswich will square off at the new Dacotah Bank Stadium on the campus of Northern State at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24. The contest was originally scheduled to place take in Ipswich, but both sides worked together to find a way to play at the start-of-the-art facility.
HSA coach Clayton Randall’s son plays for Northern and he approached Ipswich officials about the possibilities of moving the game.
“We were excited about the opportunity, but pieces needed to fall into place.” said Ipswich Principal and Athletic Director Dan Knust.
For Ipswich, it meant losing a home gate along with concessions. However, it also meant a golden opportunity to play at the newest venue in the region.
“In the end our superintendent (Trent Osborne) has always said, ‘Is it good for the kids and can we afford to do it?’ Obviously, it was good for the kids, so then you look at can you afford to do it?” Knust said.
Several factors played a key role in the contest becoming a reality.
Herreid and Selby Area were willing to share the costs of renting the facility.
“They were excited for the opportunity as well so they were kind of going what do we need to do to make this happen,” Knust said. “Either way, they were going to travel. For them, what’s another 25 minutes and then to get to play at a facility like that. It’s a no-brainer.”
Another thing is that Northern is doing its part to make it a memorable experience for all involved.
“Northern is treating us really well,” Knust said.
The final piece was making up for the lost revenue of having one less home game. Coaches of various sports at Ipswich said they would make funds raised from various camps available if needed to help make the game become a reality.
So which team will get to use the new Northern State locker room?
Actually, neither one, because the Wolves have a home game the next day.
“With Northern playing at home that week, they’re going to be kind of busy too getting prepare for the game, so we’re going to actually change in the Barnett Center in one of their locker rooms,” Knust said. “We’re hoping that the boys can have a tour of the fancy locker rooms, because we want to make it an experience for them as well, just to get everything we can into it.”
Knust compares getting to play football at Dacotah Bank Stadium to basketball teams getting to play at the Pentagon in Sioux Falls.
While this will be the first ever high school game at the facility, Knust believes there could be more in the future.
“The ADs or coaches have asked me about some of the details that Northern was giving us. I know our conference has even talked about doing something like they do in Sioux Falls, the Dakota Bowl, like (having a) conference bowl,” Knust said.
Both Ipswich and Herreid-Selby Area are undefeated on the season. While the game will be an area marquee matchup, Knust believes that regardless of the outcome both sides will be winners getting a chance to play at the stadium.
He said multiple members of the Ipswich coaching staff played college football and shared their thoughts on the benefits of moving the contest.
“One thing they talked about was the experience for the kids. If we don’t make it to the (Dakota) Dome this year, the kids are going to look back at this game, win or lose, and say I remember that,” Knust said. “If we do make it to the Dome later this year, then they’re going to have that experience of playing on a big stage and playing on the turf in a new facility. To us, yeah we lost a home game, but I think the experience of it more than overshadows another home game.”
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