Home Sports High School Sports SEASON FINALE: Dakota Valley vs. Madison – SD 11A State Championship Game

SEASON FINALE: Dakota Valley vs. Madison – SD 11A State Championship Game



It’s the season finale for 2017 high school football on KSCJ (well, the game is on our sister station Q102.3), as the boys head to the DakotaDome (well, it used to be a dome but now it’s an indoor football facility with a dome-shaped roof) in Vermillion on Saturday afternoon to bring you all the action when the Dakota Valley Panthers, led by Coach Jeff VanDenHull, meet the Madison Bulldogs and Coach Max Hodgen, in the South Dakota 11A state championship football game.  Both teams boast 11-0 records.

The playoff path for both teams has been, well, pretty much smooth sailing through calm waters.  Dakota Valley rolled over Pine Ridge (58-0) and Rapid City St. Thomas More (34-11) to get to the finals.  At the same time, Madison pitched a shutout over Tea Area (58-0) and put away Milbank (40-7).  We are left with the two top-seeded teams meeting in this week’s championship game.

Madison sits about 50 miles east and 5 miles north of Sioux Falls.  It is the home of Dakota State University, an NAIA school whose nickname is the Trojans.  The town is also the native land of Mary Hart, the longtime “Entertainment Tonight” host, who became a household name in the early 1990’s when a woman claimed she suffered epileptic seizures by hearing Hart’s voice.  That incident was parodied in an episode of “Seinfeld” a few years later.

It’s been a weird week in sports.

On Tuesday, news broke that three UCLA basketball players had been arrested in China for shoplifting at a Louis Vuitton store near their hotel in Hangzhou (wherever that is).  The players – LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill, and Cody Riley, were released on bail Wednesday and ordered to remain at their hotel until the criminal proceedings are completed.  Three Georgia Tech players were questioned by police about the same incident, but they were cleared.

Apparently the Chinese po-po showed up at the Hyatt Regency Hangzhou to question the players about the incident and left with the 3 Bruins in tow.  Media reports said UCLA head coach Steve Alford went to the Hangzhou police station to deal with the situation.

UCLA and Georgia Tech were scheduled to meet Friday night in Shanghai in the 2017 Pac-12 China Game. The game is part of Pac-12 Global, which is to promote goodwill for the Conference and its member institutions through sport, according the the publicity material.

Chinese legal experts have told ESPN the trio, who were allegedly swiping sunglasses from the store, are probably not going to face any severe legal consequences.

On Thursday, the USA Today ran this bit in a story:

Jerome Cohen, the faculty director of New York University’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute, said that if Ball and his teammates have been allowed to return to their hotel, it is “a very good sign.”

“This shows they’re getting special treatment,” Cohen said. “Normally, the Chinese do not give bail, certainly not this early in a case that they’re going to prosecute. … It usually is only given at the convenience of the police.”

Though many of the details of this week’s incident remain unknown, Cohen said the possibility that the UCLA players could be imprisoned for 3-10 years, as reported by Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday, is “extremely unlikely.” He believes the players will most likely be fined, which would both validate the Chinese legal system but also not interfere with U.S.-China relations.

Whoa…U.S.-China relations???  You’re in town for a basketball game and end up causing an international incident???

First of all, I don’t understand why Georgia Tech is part of the Pac-12 China game, since the Yellow Jackets compete in the ACC.

Second of all, I’ve talked to several veteran head coaches over the years who have told me they are never surprised by any situation that arises concerning their players.  In fact, Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz told me a long time ago, “I’ve told my wife, ‘If I ever come home and tell you I’m surprised by something one of my guys has done, just hit me upside the head.'”  However, the image of Steve Alford sitting in a Chinese police station trying to make sense out of the arrest of 3 of his players…I’ve gotta think he was surprised just a teensy-weensy bit.

Third of all…student-athletes.

Also on Tuesday, 40-year-old Roy Halladay, a two-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher who retired from baseball nearly a few years, died when his plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.  Halladay was operating an ICON A5, a small, single-engine aircraft, which has been described as a sports car with wings and operates like a jet ski.

The Halladay incident was the second fatal crash involving the A5 this year.  In May, Jon Karkow, Icon’s chief test pilot who was responsible for the plane’s design, died in a crash in California, as did his passenger, another Icon employee.

On Wednesday, Michael Felger, co-host of Felger and Mazz (a Boston sports radio program on WBZ-FM) went on an 11-minute rant with a general theme that Halladay was a thrill-seeker who deserved to die.

Here are the highlights:

  • “It just sorta angers me. You care that little about your life? Or the life of your family? Your little joyride is that important to you?”
  • “‘[In a voice mocking Halladay] Weeeee! Weeeee! Yeah man look at the G-force on this! I’m Maverick. Yeah man, look at this it’s so cool!’ And you die. Splat. And it’s over. So you’re that guy? You have to do that?”
  • “To the point, now, where that guy is like the bad guy to me. You got this family, and you’re gonna screw around in this little toy plane?”
  • “‘[In a voice mocking Halladay] Weee! Oh look I just landed on the water, everybody. I’m gonna tweet it!’ Splat. You’re dead. Two kids. Moron.”
  • “I find that offensive, that you are that cavalier about life.”
  • “I’m sorry dude, you’re on your own. I got no sympathy for you.”
  • “If that’s how you’re wired, and that’s how you die? Bon voyage.”
  • “I don’t blame the plane for the fact that the guy wanted to dive-bomb through mountains. Idiot!”
  • “Idiot!”
  • “If I die helicopter skiing, you have the right to do the exact same thing I’m doing to Roy Halladay. He got what he deserved.”

Felger also took the occasion to draw Dale Earnhardt into the rant, commenting on how the legendary NASCAR driver died during a race: “Was it Dale Earnhardt who died? The race car driver who died? I root for the wall. I really do. That ain’t no tragedy … I’m supposed to feel bad for you? Give me a break. Oh God,”

On Thursday, Felger apologized for his comments.

I’ve never been offended by anything I’ve heard on the radio…ever.  In fact, when I hear about someone apologizing for something he said on the air, I never care to listen to the apology.  But I always try to find the original comments because they are usually pretty entertaining and/or funny.

Felger’s comments about Halladay were not funny or entertaining.  They were just comments.

Radio hosts in Boston and Philadelphia (two cities were Halladay played ball) were blasting Felger, calling for an apology and a suspension.   I get that.  The listeners in those cities remember Halladay fondly.  But an apology to whom?  Could a listener, other than a member of Hallday’s family, truly be offended by Felger’s comments?  I’m not a fan of what I like to call “assigned offense taken”.  A radio host criticizes someone.  Fans of that criticized someone take offense on behalf of that person and get all high-and-mighty.  I don’t buy it.  I’ve gotta believe Felger’s comments don’t even move the needle when it comes to the things the Halladay family cares about this week.  Or next week.  Or ever.

But back to high school football.

The boys will be seated in media row at the Dome on Saturday afternoon. Justin Barker will handle the play-by-play duties. Dan Vakulskas will be the color commentator, describing the action beyond a reasonable doubt. Brian Vakulskas will be there for snark.

It’s been a rough week for JB.

Two KSCJ employees told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that JB, the programming director, no longer has the support of his radio station.

“JB has lost this team,” one employee who asked to remain anonymous told Anderson. “He’s got us going 80 percent on weekdays before we go on the air. It’s wild. Changed our off day. He’s dishing out fines like crazy. Suspended two of our stars when we need them the most. Throws us under the bus all the time. He’s ran us into the ground and people wonder why we’ve been getting beat in the ratings.”

A second employee who also requested anonymity told Anderson: “Guys are giving up on the book and nothing’s being done. Guys just don’t care anymore.”

Those comments from both players came last week, during the beginning of the book period.

On Wednesday, the two employees reiterated the comments, with one saying JB “didn’t really have anything for us” at the end of the broadcast day, and the other saying, “I feel like we really don’t got a leader in JB.”

For more on JB’s rough week, click here.

Kickoff is at 1:00, with the Knova’s Carpets Pregame Show starting at 12:45 on Q102.3.

Thanks for a fun high school football season, everybody.  The boys will be back in a couple weeks when high school hoops tip off.  See you at the local gymnasiums!

Pregame interview with Dakota Valley Panthers head coach Jeff VanDenHull:

Knova’s Carpets Pregame Show opening segment:

Davenports Cleaners Halftime Show interview with Bo Dietl, former NYPD Detective, NYC mayoral candidate, current private detective at Beau Dietl & Associates, and frequent guest on “Imus in the Morning”:

Bo Dietl (Photo Courtesy AP)