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I'm here because I'm a Sports Authority...THEE Sports Authority

Dang, it's almost ball season....(The 1998 Ice-bowl game remembered)

I love the Todd County vs. Winner rivalry games...

By Rich Winter

Let's time travel back to the fall of 1998 where the Winner Warriors just entered the locker-room at halftime of a playoff game vs. the Todd County football team, trailing 6-0. It's a frigid early November game with weather everywhere and the crowd in the stands is non-existent as only the heartiest of souls brave the 30-mph winds, cloudy skies and icy conditions.

Todd County went into the locker-room with the knowledge they had whipped their biggest rival for the first half only to be shell-shocked when the entire Winner team came out with any under-armour or extra layers of clothing while the Todd County players came out as normal.

Winner 7, Todd County 6....OOOOOOHHHHHHHHH!

Kinda heard the jist of the story from a former Falcon today as he recalled a memory, and a tough one, form a playoff game a few years back.

As someone that will always bleed a touch of Falcon blue, ALWAYS, I can only imagine how much that one must have hurt. As someone that has grown to appreciate the work-ethic and toughness of the Winner Warriors, I can only imagine the locker room speech that took place at half-time. One of the really great joys of mine in the last ten years is hearing about all these big moments, good and bad for both teams. I've heard about some ridiculous game-winners and hard-fought road victories and impossibly tough moments. Over the years you can throw out the records because everyone has a little extra juice in their step when it's Winner vs. Todd County...I love that!

Nice to wake up this morning and see that the coffin corner: Winner, Colome and Gregory just kicked the crap out of their first-round opponents in the football playoffs.

Winner 52-0 over Parkston - Play Tri-Valley in the quarters...

Gregory 38-16 over 4 Woon./Wess. Sp./Sanborn Cent. - Play Clark-Willow Lake next with a possible rematch looming in the semis against Wolsey-Wessington....OOOOOHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Colome 48-16 over Desmet - No. 3 overall seed in the 9B opponent not known...could have a rematch with Corsick-Stickney in the semis....OOOOOOOHHHHHHHH!

I realize we've got a few weeks of heavy duty football to go and I'll be pulling for the coffin corner to each get to the dome and make history......

That said, it's almost ball season...DAYUM!

That Bechtold girl can really play....

White River senior, Sidney Bechtold gets up for the massive kill vs. St. Francis.

By Rich Winter

Having heard about the White River volleyball team finishing as runner-ups at the Lakota Nation Invitational, wanted to get a look at them, and did so, several weeks ago vs. Todd County. While I never quite got around to writing something about the girls, had the opportunity to watch them again, Monday vs. St. Francis and came away impressed by the whole team but especially with the play of senior Sidney Bechtold.

That girl can hit it....whoa!

But, Bechtold is much more than just one of the elite hitters in the Class B ranks. She has that savvy all-court game that really brings to mind an elite volleyball player that has a complete grasp of the game and everything going on and everyone on the court. St. Francis is a young and improving squad and every time they threatened, came close or took a lead Bechtold would answer in some form. Whether it be a diving dig or a well-placed bomb of serve, Bechtold had her imprints all over that game.

Enjoyed seeing 6-foot-2 senior Morgan Taft play Monday:

Morgan Taft goes high for the kill vs. St. Francis.

For me it was kind of interesting seeing Morgan Taft step to the service line. Having grown in in Bennett County and having gone to Central school with her mother, Susan-Simmons-Taft and being a classmate of auntie, Darcy Simmons, every time she served all I saw was Simmons. Not to take anything away from her father, Dan Taft, who I believe placed 6th in the state HWT competition as a senior, but all I saw was the genetics of a family I knew pretty well years ago. The late, HOF coach, Galen Busch always talked about how good the Simmons girls from Bennett County were and I saw glimpses of that Monday in White River.

Holy crap that McGowan girl can jump:

Sierra McGowan bumps the ball into play for the White River volleyball team Monday vs. St. Francis.

White River ended the regular season with a 16-15 record and looks like a dangerous opponent in the upcoming Class B playoffs. The Lady Tigers have some role players that are solid with girls like McKenzie Bechtold, Morgan Venard and Quincey Piper off the bench.

Good luck Lady Tigers....glad I got to see you play!

Panic Button salute to the young people in south central South Dakota

The Todd County student section at home volleyball games has been amazing this year supporting their team no matter the score, no matter the outcome.

By Rich Winter

One of the things that has always bugged me about Todd County has been the lack of support from the student section. Kids go to the games but usually don't sit together and that home feeling of having a rocking student section hasn't been part of the student-athlete experience at Todd County.

And then came the fall of 2016!

It's been a difficult year for the Todd County girls volleyball team. While the improvements on the court have been dramatic the losses have piled up and heading into the season finale Thursday in Red Cloud, the Lady Falcons have just five wins. Through it all the Panic Button has never once seen the shoulders slump, the smiles leave or the group of young ladies of which most are underclassmen just keep getting better despite feeling the agony of defeat with such regularity.

And the support from the student section has been terrific all season. The kids are active, involved, engaged, shouting and chanting at the court and just going nuts in support for their team. I swear if I was 30 years younger I'd be right in the middle of it all, going crazy, banging on bleachers, yelling around and enjoying every last second of being a high school student.

Sometimes, as I peruse social media and look around at the younger generation I worry about the future from a generation that on occasion has this old guy wondering if everyone under 25 has lost their minds. After hearing what the Jones County/White River kids did at Winner and witnessing a particular act of perfection from a Todd County senior last night I'm convinced we're all gonna be ok because there are some quality young people coming up through the ranks.

Taylor Dean Watzel 2000-2016:

So, last week, the Winner football team, community lost a young person to a farm accident. The death happened early in the week and with emotions raw there was some concern if perhaps the Thursday game between Jones County-White River and Winner should be played at all.

News travels fast in western South Dakota and as the heavy-hearted  Winner Warriors marched out carrying the jersey of their fallen teammate, unbeknownst to the Warriors, the Jones County-White River kids had a gesture planned for them. During the introductions, each Jones County-White River player came out and laid a rose on the jersey of their opponents fallen comrade and then stood in unison and saluted the Winner players.

I heard about it second hand so if the details don't exactly match the cause, forgive me, but despite facing a butt-kicking of epic proportions the JC/WR kids showed some immense class in such a difficult moment. I believe they helped the Winner kids and community move forward and start the grieving process and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are all connected, and we all feel when something difficult happens to one of our neighbors/brothers.

Tuesday night was Parents Night at Todd County:

Todd County sophomore Raven Cournoyer with her parents, Meredith and Denis.

So, after the first game of the varsity match, there was a special 50-50 drawing whose proceeds would normally have gone to the TCHS volleyball team. But, the TC volleyball team decided they would donate their portion of the winnings to the Pink Posse, a group that helps support cancer victims. So, I pulled the winning ticket, couldn't begin to read the smallish numbers, put the microphone in front of assistant coach Rosebud Brushbreakers face who called out the winning number.

Turns out the winner was Todd County senior, Alan-Mychal Boyd. With the possibilities of $60 bucks coursing through the bank account, Boyd strode towards the scorers table and promptly said he would donate his winnings to the Pink Posse.....Now that's class!

Great night all the way around and while the score of the match doesn't much matter the Lady Falcons got better and better with each game and punctuated the night with a resounding win.

Gabrielle Iron Heart celebrating the Todd County win in her own unique way.

For the young people, well done all the way around....crabs in a bucket can't have you!