We're getting closer to the halfway mark of the high school football season, so it is time to kick it in gear for West River teams if they plan on spending the postseason on the field.
For teams like St. Thomas More, Hot Springs and Belle Fourche, being in the top eight in the ultra competitive Class A field will be an uphill climb, especially with the three teams having to face off with each other.
If the playoff field was picked today — and it certainly will not be picked now — only Hot Springs would make the field based on the power-point scenario by the South Dakota High School Activities Association.
The Bison, 2-1, have 41.333 points, to 38.667 to the Broncs and 37.667 for the Cavaliers, who both are 1-2.
There is still plenty of time to get things going — there will be five games left on the regular-seasons schedule after tonight's games.
But in the Class A ranks, you better start winning soon if you want a chance to move on.
Hot Springs coach Ben Kramer and his Bison know all too well about that. They failed to make the playoffs in 2015, despite a 6-3 overall record.
The next two weeks will go a long way in seeing which teams will be heading in that direction.
Tonight, Hot Springs takes on 3-1 Class B Custer in Custer in the Southern Hills Showdown, STM travels to Sturgis to take on the Class AA 1-2 Scoopers, while Belle Fourche hosts Class AA 0-3 Spearfish.
Veteran St. Thomas More coach Wayne Sullivan and his team was in this same position last season before closing with six wins and advancing all of the way to the state semifinals.
Sullivan and every Cavalier will tell you that each week is now a playoff game for the team.
Next week, the Bison host the Broncs in Hot Springs' homecoming game at historic Woodward Field. St. Thomas More hosts Cheyenne-Eagle Butte next week and will be in Hot Springs on Oct. 5, hosting Belle Fourche on Oct. 12.
After Belle and STM matchups, the Bison will face Class AA teams Spearfish, Sturgis and Douglas. Those three teams are currently 1-8 overall.
All three teams look for tonight to be a bounce-back night as they all are coming off of losses — Hot Springs 28-13 to a good Douglas, Wyoming team; STM 33-0 to West Central in Hartford, and Belle Fourche 41-38 to Dell Rapids in a game the Broncs led by as much as 17 points in the first half.
We'll see where we stand after the smoke clears in a couple of weeks.
Other interesting matchups locally tonight will see Rapid City Stevens, off of last week's disappointing 46-13 Rushmore Bowl loss to Watertown, hit the road to face 0-3 Aberdeen Central and 1-2 Rapid City Central, after thumping Sturgis in the Rushmore Bowl, hosting 1-2 Brandon Valley.
The Raiders appeared to be heading in the right direction going into the Rushmore Bowl after blasting Spearfish 66-6 the week before, but struggled in all phases of the game against a good and explosive Watertown team. Stevens needs to bounce back tonight with three Sioux Falls team and Brandon Valley coming up, along with the Cobblers in the regular-season finale.
Those Cobblers, after scoring just 20 points in their first two games, put 54 on the board in the win over Sturgis. Central will have three Sioux Falls schools and Aberdeen Central on its slate before closing against the Raiders.
Here comes the shameless plug
It's time for my yearly public writing of the Hot Springs High School Athletics Hall of Fame.
I'm sure you know why.
On Sept. 22 the HSHS Hall of Fame will induct four new members and the one team in its third annual banquet at the Mueller Center.
Those to be inducted include the unbeaten 1967 football team, coach/administrator H.R. Woodward, along with athletes Ralph Sieg (Class of 1954), Rick Wass (Class of 1975) and Jackie Dement (Class of 1997).
Wass, by the way, is also a member of the South Dakota School of Mines Athletics Hall of Fame as a star running back for the Hardrockers in the late 1970s.
Later that night, just off the sports topic a bit, will be the reunion of the legendary and South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band, the Shells of Time.
Led by Hot Springs High School classmates Mike English, Craig Katt and Rich Schuttler (all three will be playing together again), the Shells of Time were a popular touring rock band in South Dakota, Wyoming and other Midwest states in the 1960s until about 1975.
In case you do remember way back then, you'll also remember that English would go on to sing lead vocals in the band WhiteWing, and then form the band Asia (not the super group Asia), while Katt was a mainstay drummer on the popular band Ivory.
English will have a trifecta of SD Hall of Fame bands under his belt, as WhiteWing was also inducted in the hall of fame, and Asia will go in 2019. Ivory, of course is also a HOF member.
And FYI, Schuttler, who lives in Rapid City, and English were young members of that 1967 football team.
The concert is a fundraiser for the HSHS Hall of Fame, which is active in raising money for various projects for not only the Bison athletics department, but for the school and community of Hot Springs.
With yours truly a committee member of the HSHS Hall of Fame, my shameless plug is now over. Until next year.
More (or Nore) HOF news
Speaking of high school hall of fames, congratulations to Black Hills State University head women's basketball coach Mark Nore for being inducted last week in the Belle Fourche High School Athletics Hall of Fame.
On his birthday, nonetheless.
Apparently, Nore could play good back in the day.