LAKE CITY — In a day and age where high-powered offenses are the norm, the South Central Calhoun football team prefers to take an old-school approach each and every Friday night.
The sixth-ranked (Class 1A) and unbeaten Titans have shown no problems scoring on offense, with a number of players helping light up the scoreboard. But it’s the defense that should scare the rest of the 1A field when they scout Bryan Case’s squad.
Through six games, South Central Calhoun has allowed a total of 27 points. That is four touchdowns, an extra point and one two-point conversion.
“We just take a lot of pride in it,” said senior Landon Schleisman. “It’s nice seeing a zero on the scoreboard at the end of the day and knowing you can stop anyone.”
Schleisman is the leading tackler for the Titans with 31 stops on the year including five solo sacks, an assisted sack, four solo tackles for loss and 13 assisted tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder is also the top rusher for SCC on the other side of the ball with 421 yards and nine touchdowns. Schleisman has six catches for 77 yards as well. He averages seven yards per offensive touch.
“It’s been really exciting being my senior year and having such a great start,” said Schleisman, who has 105.5 tackles and 10 sacks in his career. “But we have to finish strong. That’s what is most important.”
Along with Schleisman, 11 other players have over 11 tackles on the year, and a total of 16 have made a stop behind the line of scrimmage. The Titans have 18 solo sacks and have forced 13 turnovers.
They flexed their muscle last Friday night, responding from a slow start to down South Hamilton, 21-6. It was the closest margin of victory to date for South Central Calhoun, but a battle Case was excited to be part of.
“We needed a game like that,” said Case, who is now 79-25 at SCC and 155-46 overall in his career. “We needed to prove to ourselves that we could play four full quarters with a physical football team.”
The Titans reached the 35-point mercy mark twice in the first four games, and the other two were far from being in doubt by the time that final period came around. For as balanced as the defense is at tracking the ball down, the offense is as spread out as any in the state.
Six different players have rushed for over 100 yards, 10 have at least two catches on the year and 10 have scored a touchdown.
Right behind Schleisman is sophomore Blake McAlister, the brother of former SCC all-stater and current Iowa State University track athlete Chase McAlister. He has 379 yards rushing, four TDs and is averaging over 13 yards per punt return.
“Being able to play and mesh with the upperclassmen is awesome,” McAlister said. “They’re a great group of guys and fun to be around. It’s been exciting being able to stay undefeated and play together on Friday nights.
“It’s definitely been a fun season so far, and we hope to continue to have fun and reach our team goal.”
Senior Keagen Meyer has 278 yards and two scores, junior Brennan Holder has 205 yards on the ground and four touchdowns, Evan Jacobs — also a junior — is averaging an eye-popping 26 yards per carry. Classmate Jordan Khommanyvong is averaging over seven yards per touch.
Meyer has 1,144 yards and 13 TDs in his Titan career, with Schleisman adding 979 yards and 19 scores.
“Having a lot of skill kids like we do is amazing,” Schleisman said. “Defenses can’t focus on just one of us, and it just opens everything up.”
Schleisman went over 100 yards in a 61-8 win vs. Ogden and McAlister ran for 151 last week against South Hamilton.
Cole Corey has been the guiding hand, as the junior quarterback is completing 59 percent of his passes for 579 yards and four touchdowns. He also has 128 yards on the ground and three more scores.
“Having so many threats on offense is a tremendous benefit towards us,” McAlister said. “Other teams can’t just key on one person when there are several playmakers on the field.”
Special teams are once again a strong suit for as well the Titans, who have gone 32-6 over the past three-plus years.
Neubaum, a senior, is 25-for-26 on extra-point attempts, has made four field goals and is averaging over 41 yards per punt with a long of 72. For his career, he is 130 of 143 on PATs and 13-for-19 on field goals.
“Our coaches preach week in and week out to trust the defense and do your job,” McAlister said. “If you do your own responsibility, good things will happen. I think everyone has done a nice job that, and things are meshing great.”
The Titans are well on their way to punching their seventh consecutive playoff ticket, and eighth in the past nine years. South Central Calhoun plays its final road game this Friday, heading to Madrid before closing the regular season at home vs. Eagle Grove and Pocahontas Area.
The Indians are currently second in the district, tied with South Hamilton.