There has been a lot of conversation and, naturally, a lot of disappointment for Yankton fans over the last two days after we learned the suspended game between Yankton and Aberdeen Central will now be played in Aberdeen. Yes, Yankton’s homecoming game. How does this happen?
Let’s start with Friday, September 19th. Yankton enters the game 3-0 and Aberdeen Central is 2-1, with both teams knowing this is a huge game for them. And both play like it. The game goes back and forth and just before halftime Yankton gave the ball back to the Golden Eagles. Aberdeen Central moves down the field and scores with 13 seconds left in the half. On the ensuing kickoff Yankton nearly answered with a kickoff return into Aberdeen Central territory with just five seconds left. I was in favor of giving the kicker, Brady Hale, a chance at a field goal, but if I remember correctly it would have been about a 62 yard field goal. That’s a long shot, obviously, but the kid has a cannon for a leg. The half ends with Yankton trailing 20-17.
At the start of halftime, while homecoming festivities get underway, I walk out of the press box and it’s brought to my attention immediately there is lightning to the South. I have sat through some long lightning delays before. One of them at Doane College and the other at Lindenwood University. I went back to my computer and checked the radar. There was a storm cell South of Yankton moving East. Assuming that was it there would be no delay. About five minutes later a flash of lightning and crack of thunder rumbled the sky, canceling the halftime festivities. At this point, approximately 8:25pm we began a lightning delay. For those who don’t know the rule, you cannot resume warmup activities until 30 minutes after the last lightning or thunder. Shortly after 10:00pm they began the 30 minute clock, but it continued to reset until a decision was made to suspend the game. So begins speculation of when the game would be played.
What are the options?
If you read the South Dakota High School Activities Association football handbook you will find the options were not in Yankton’s favor. In the “General” section under Disruption of Games Due to Weather (Lightning, Etc.) the state association lists two options for finishing a suspended game:
In the event that a contest cannot be resumed after a delay, based upon mutual agreement of both schools (not the officials), one of the following options may be selected:
1. Resume play from the point of interruption at a later date.
2. Declare a winner and loser based upon the score at the time of interruption.
Understandably, Yankton did not prefer option two. Unfortunately, with Aberdeen Central leading 20-17 at the time of interruption, the Eagles had leverage on what would happen with the game.
Yankton and Aberdeen Central administration and coaches began conversations on Monday to find a resolution. Knowing how important the game is for Yankton – which could ultimately be the difference between hosting semifinals or going on the road – the YHS staff was going to do everything possible to play the game.
Aberdeen Central would have agreed to return to Yankton on October 23, during Yankton’s bye week, but that would require moving other games and the school involved, Pierre, was not interested because of the current health of their team.
Game will resume Monday, October 6
As most obviously know by now the game will be played Monday, October 6 at Swisher Field in Aberdeen. It is set to begin at 4:00pm with no admission to watch the game. According to Wayne Kindle, superintendent of Yankton schools, Aberdeen Central had some offers to Yankton and this, in the end, made the most sense. Mr. Kindle was speaking at the Yankton Quarterback Club Wednesday. I asked Mr. Kindle, “Why October 6th, that seems to be a difficult week for Yankton with a road trip to Pierre that next Friday.” His response was pretty simple, saying when Aberdeen Central offered the 6th and both were able to agree they took it. Simply put, Yankton’s hands were tied. Had they not agreed on a date to play the game the decision would have went to the state association and, most likely, would have ended in a win for Aberdeen Central.
This doesn’t make sense
Most will, or have, suggest this doesn’t make sense. It’s a Yankton home game and now they have to finish on the road. Unfortunately, the rules allow this to happen. It will be interesting to see if there is future discussion on games like this. While they don’t happen a lot, they do happen. If the game was between two schools closer in distance there is a good chance the game would have been finished the next day, Saturday.
If you don’t like it, I don’t blame you. It seems unfair. However, if you put the shoe on the other foot I think most would understand why Aberdeen Central is negotiating the way they are. They know they don’t have to play the game. Yankton will now play 2 1/2 games in a week – Friday Oct. 3 vs Watertown, Monday Oct. 6 @ Aberdeen (2 quarters) and Friday Oct 10 @ Pierre. The Bucks will spend nearly 15 hours on a bus and travel over 900 miles for six quarters of football in less than a week. Not to mention, be forced to miss extra time in the classroom. If it isn’t extra motivation to go get the win in Aberdeen, then they will never have extra motivation.
I don’t agree with how it all has shaken out, but it is what it is. This will now be a very challenging start to October and week that will go a long way in determining seeds for the playoffs.