HARDING COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — Two high school rivals in Northwest South Dakota have come together to create a brand new football team. However, these two schools are over 50 miles apart..
After realizing 8 players would not be enough for a team this year, Bison High School made the decision to reach out to Harding County Schools.
“I kind of wish we’d done it a couple years ago. When you have a lack of student athletes on the field, it’s hard on them. When you have no bench to bring people in to give people breaks. In hindsight we probably should’ve done this several years ago,” Charles Harpster, Ast. Coach, said.
Former Bison Head Coach Charlie Harpster says while the two high schools have been rivals in the past, the Harding County Schools welcomed the football players with open arms.
“It’s been a little bit to get used to wearing the purple and gold but the kids love football and that’s all we need to worry about. We needed a place to play and Harding County was more than welcoming to come join them and that was the important thing,” Harpster said.
After co-oping with the Harding County High School Football Team, Bison High School went from a team of 8 players to now 31.
“It shows our freshman what we need to be in the next couple years and that we have competition to actually play. We don’t have 8 kids on the team and just have our coach pick. We have to participate and put in the work to be able to play,” Kaden Green Glover, Bison High School freshman, said.
The Bison players will practice at home Monday, then travel to Buffalo every other day of the week. The trip takes them about an hour – sometimes longer.
“It definitely pushes us harder in school, homework wise. We don’t have a last period, we have like 15, 20 minutes in our last period so definitely need to stay on top of our stuff and school,” Kaden said.
“They have to be real conscience of the fact that they are missing a little bit of school time and they need to make sure that their school comes first and that they keep their grades up,” Harpster said.
These 8 freshman from Bison aren’t the only ones benefiting from this new team..
“Having the extra numbers, it’s allowed us to play two or three more JV games this year so it’s going to help our freshman kids out, their freshman kids and there’s two or three kids of theirs that are as freshman getting time on varsity and helping us out on special teams and offensively and defensively,” Jay Wammen, Head Coach for Harding County/Bison, said.
With more players, both teams are able to do more drills involving contact in practice. If anyone is hurt or worn out, more players will have an opportunity to jump in.
“I think it’s going to make us more of threat, more numbers, more kids is always a good thing, more practice. It’s just going to bring everything together,” senior Kade Martian said.
Senior Kade Martian from Harding County High School, says these new players are bringing more than just numbers.
“And you can have friends from different towns and everything and it brings two communities together,” Martian said.
With the old rivalry aside, both schools have high hopes for the new team’s future.
“I think they are all excited to be able to be playing and joining our tradition and our team and we are all coming together and making one heck of a football team hopefully down the road,” Wammen said.
“They’re already looking into the future of what we could be doing not only this year but in the years to come,” Harpster said.
Coaches for the Harding County/Buffalo Football Team say for games, the two high schools will usually coordinate where the game is and pick the players up or meet them. The two high schools are just co-oping for football, all other sports are currently separate.