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Battlers headed to Dome for State B Championship

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After taking five years off from playing under the Dome, the Potter County Mighty Battlers are again headed for the State B 9A championship. They earned a spot by defeating the Howard Tigers on a roadtrip to the semifinal round by a score of 22-8.
In the fine tradition of Battler football, this is the eighth trip to the DakotaDome on the campus of USD since 1982.
But this time it feels different.
“Even though there was excitement and celebration on the field after the game in Howard, I just got the feeling that many of the players’ goals are not just getting to play in the dome, but there is more business to be taken care of this season,” said Battler head coach Vern Smith.
Several years ago, when some of this year’s seniors were sixth graders, they told Smith during computer class that he had to coach through their senior year because they were going to play in the Dome.  “I have remembered that, and reminded them of it more and more as the season has gone on,” said Coach Smith. “It is easier to continue to dig deep when the going gets tough, when it has been a goal for so long.”
Although Gettysburg and Hoven have been playing as a coop for the past couple years, this is the first year the team has played as the Potter County Battlers. The captains are Tanner Heuer, Hayden Simon, Mitchell Hinckley, and Lucas Vogel.
Coach Smith said that he has seen a lot of growth in his team throughout the season. “I feel the team has grown in many ways, but maybe the most by going from being a team playing as nine individuals on the field to nine individuals playing as a team on the field. Even though they have all played hard all year long, lately they have gained confidence in each other and learned to come together and get stronger when the going gets rough, instead of letting our confidence crack,” he said.
He also said that early in the season this team was made up of athletes who were leaders by doing, but who didn’t like to be verbal leaders. “As the year has gone on, individuals have stepped forward to become leaders both ways and they have become better because of it,” he said.
The championship game in the dome will be different this year because they will go up against the Leola/Frederick Titans, which was the only team they didn’t beat in the regular season schedule.
“Even with the same personnel, I think both teams will look vastly different from back in the first meeting  they had in week three (of the season),” he said.
Kickoff is at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14. The game will air on SD Public Broadcasting.

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