VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — The DakotaDome has been a staple for football in South Dakota for several decades, but over the years, it’s become more than just a football facility for high school teams.
“It’s the one word. It’s not that you’re going to play for the state championship, it’s ‘you’re going to the dome,” Faulkton Area head coach Shayne Geditz said.
The DakotaDome was built in 1979 and it was originally one of the first multi-purpose domes in the nation. For obvious reasons, it became home to the high school football state championships.
Now, more than four decades later, it’s become a go to destination for every high school football team in South Dakota.
“It’s great for our kids, whether you’re a freshman or one of our water boys who’s a third grader. Even the little kids in school, ‘are you going to the dome coach? Yeah, probably yeah,’ but they’re excited,” Geditz said.
Most state tournaments feature eight teams, but not football. The seven classes have multiple rounds of sub-state action, prior to the two top teams battling in Vermillion.
While this helps create some high intensity matchups, it also makes reaching the dome a tough accomplishment.
“Everyone one of these is special. A lot of teams don’t get to do this ever. There’s a lot of kids that’ll go through high school and not get this opportunity once. The fact that we get it again, means it’s one that we don’t want to waste,” Pierre head coach Steve Steele said.
Seven championships are played inside the DakotaDome in the span of three days. One thing they all have in common, is the noise.
“They understand how precious the opportunity is for these kids and they rally behind the kids. Our fan base and our cheering section, I couldn’t be more happy,” Warner head coach Kerwin Hoellein said.
“All the noise and all that, it’ll be something to overcome, but at the end of the day, it’s super exciting. It’ll be super fun to see all the support and all the fans out there and be able to put on a show for them,” O’Gorman running back Maverick Jones said.
14 teams will make the journey to the DakotaDome, with a chance to leave their mark on South Dakota high school football history.
“It’s a football game that we’ve got to go down and we’ve got to win. We know we’re going to turn our pads in next week and it’s how do you want to be remembered. This is your last game and for a lot of these guys, it’ll be the last time they put on their pads,” Lincoln head coach Jared Fredenburg said.