PRESHO, SD — It’s been nearly three decades since Lyman played for a state football title. They can secure themselves another shot with a victory on Friday.
The Raiders fell in 1994 in their only state championship game appearance, while Gregory capped a streak of three Class 9AA championships in four years on their last trip to Vermillion in 2017 in which they defeated Irene-Wakonda, 56-30.
Now, the 9-1 pair of teams are set to face off in Presho, when second-seeded Lyman hosts third-seeded Gregory in a Class 9A semi-final. It’s the Raiders’ first state semifinal since 2009, when Emery/Ethan won 32-21 in the 9AA semifinal at Presho, ruining the Raiders’ season 10-0 at that point.
Offensively, two of the best quarterbacks in the category will square off Friday with Gregory’s Rylan Peck and Lyman’s Teagan Gourneau.
Peck has 1,051 passing yards with 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season and also leads the team with 970 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns on 99 attempts. He also found the end zone on a punt return that he took for a score, making him responsible for 38 touchdowns in Gregory’s 10 games. As for Gourneau, he had 18 touchdowns and 1,239 yards with three interceptions, but threw none in his last three games. With his legs, he covered 458 yards and crossed the goal line 10 times for the Raiders.
Both quarterbacks have weapons at their disposal on offense, however. Owen Hansen is Gregory’s second-best rusher behind Peck, rushing for 621 yards and four touchdowns and adding 12 catches for 259 yards and a pair of scores. Eli Fogel was one of Peck’s favorite targets in the air and won seven of his 12 receptions this season for a score and had a team-high 375 receiving yards.
For Lyman, Cooper Long was a catalyst on offense in his first season with the Raiders, tallying 41 receptions for 779 yards and 14 touchdowns, while the emergence of Tance Wagner in the backfield also boosted the offense. of Lyman, as he rushes for 1,072 yards and 18 touchdowns on the year.
Gourneau drives the best offense in the class in points per game, with the Raiders averaging 42.6 points per game over their 10 games. Gregory ranks fifth with 39 points per game. However, both teams also feature two of the top three defenses, with Lyman at the top of the class, allowing 10.9 points per game and Gregory in third with 12.1.
En route to the semis, Lyman beat Oldham-Ramona/Rutland 50-0 in the first round and Castlewood 34-16 in the quarter-finals, while the Gorillas beat Iroquois/Lake Preston 50-0 in the first round and Wolsey -Wessington. 34-19 last week.
“When somebody needs to step in, they do. We don’t have to rely on one or two guys to make all the plays,” Lyman coach Mike Kieffer said. guys who can do the heavy lifting for us both offensively and defensively…. We’ve been healthy all year, and I’d say we’re playing our best football right now.
Those two teams haven’t met since 2019, when Gregory defeated Lyman in the Class 9A quarterfinals, which happened to be the now-senior Gourneau’s first year starting with Lyman as a rookie.
Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Presho, with the winner traveling to Vermillion to face top-seeded Warner or fourth-seeded Harding County/Bison for a chance to lift the Premier League title trophy. Condition in class 9A.