Nov. 3—PRESHO, S.D. — It's been nearly three decades since Lyman played for a state football title. They can assure themselves another shot with a win on Friday.
The Raiders fell in 1994 in their only appearance in the state championship game, while Gregory capped off a string of three Class 9AA championships in four years during their last trek to Vermillion in 2017 in which they beat Irene-Wakonda, 56-30.
Now, the pair of 9-1 squads are set to matchup in Presho, when second-seeded Lyman hosts third-seeded Gregory in a Class 9A semifinal tilt. It's the Raiders' first state semifinal game since 2009, when Emery/Ethan won 32-21 in the 9AA semifinals in Presho, spoiling the Raiders' 10-0 season to that point.
Offensively, two of the best quarterbacks in the class will square off against each other Friday in Gregory's Rylan Peck and Lyman's Teagan Gourneau.
Peck has 1,051 passing yards with 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions on the 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's thrown for 18 touchdowns and 1,239 yards with three interceptions, but hasn't thrown one in his last three games. With his legs, he's accounted for 458 yards and crossed the goal line 10 times for the Raiders.
Both quarterbacks have weapons at their disposal on offense, though. Owen Hansen is the second-leading rusher for Gregory behind Peck, racking up 621 yards and four touchdowns on the ground and adding 12 catches for 259 yards and a pair of scores. Eli Fogel has been one of Peck's favorite targets through the air and taken seven of his 12 receptions on the season for a score and tallied a team-high 375 receiving yards.
For Lyman, Cooper Long has been a catalyst for the offense in his first season with the Raiders, tallying 41 receptions for 779 yards and 14 touchdowns, whereas the emergence of Tance Wagner in the backfield has also spurred the Lyman offense, as he's rushed for 1,072 yards and 18 touchdowns on the year.
Gourneau pilots the best offense in the class in terms of points per game, as the Raiders have averaged 42.6 points per contest through their 10 games. Gregory sits fifth in scoring at 39 points per contest. However, both teams feature two of the top three defenses, as well, with Lyman sitting atop the class allowing 10.9 points per game and Gregory at third with 12.1.
On its way to the semifinals, Lyman took down Oldham-Ramona/Rutland 50-0 in the first round and Castlewood 34-16 in the quarterfinals, while the Gorillas topped Iroquois/Lake Preston 50-0 in the first round and Wolsey-Wessington 34-19 last week.
"When somebody needs to step up, they do it. We don't have to look to one or two guys to make all the plays," said Lyman coach Mike Kieffer. "We have multiple guys that can make the big play for us both offensively and defensively. ... We've been healthy all year long, and I would say we're playing our best football right now."
These two teams haven't met since 2019 when Gregory topped Lyman in the Class 9A quarterfinals, which just so happened to be now-senior Gourneau's first year starting for Lyman as a freshman.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from Presho, with the winner heading to Vermillion to take on either top-seeded Warner or fourth-seeded Harding County/Bison for a chance to hoist the state title trophy in Class 9A.