REMATCH: Area stalwarts square off in 1A semis as Jags face Titans
GOWRIE — Mike Swieter had a feeling, after his Southeast Valley football team upset South Central Calhoun in September, that it wouldn’t be the last time they would meet this season.
In Week 5, the Jaguars (9-0 overall) went into Lake City and knocked off the Titans (8-1) for the first time in school history, ending SCC’s 24-game regular season unbeaten streak and 30-game home run.
“I just knew we would see them again,” Swieter said. “We didn’t want to get to the point that we were hanging our hats on that victory. We had unfinished business to take care the rest of the way, like winning the district title. Winning that set us up for a run of being at home during the playoffs (through the quarterfinals).
“Every school wants to make it to this point in the playoffs. It’s something special. There are over 40 teams out there (in 1A) that are wishing they could still be playing.”
The first meeting was special for the Jaguars, but Friday night’s matchup carries a lot more weight for both squads, as a trip to the UNI-Dome is on the line. The Top-10 rivlals will square off in Gowrie at 7 p.m.
The Titans are familiar with the quarterfinal round, making it the last three seasons and seven of the last 11. The Titans’ last quarterfinal win came in 2015.
“We’re hoping to play well enough to give Southeast Valley a run for their money,” said SCC head coach Bryan Case. “If we’re fortunate enough to make a few plays, then I think we’ll hang around and give ourselves a chance.”
In the last meeting, the Class 1A, District 2 opponents fought to an 8-8 halftime score before the Jaguars went on to a 32-23 victory. Southeast Valley led by double digits and outscored the Titans 24-15 in the second half, with two touchdowns in the final period.
The Titans slowed down the Jaguar running game, only allowing 120 yards, but SVHS junior quarterback Kolson Kruse threw for 202 yards and three touchdowns. He hooked up with senior receiver Sam Hanson for 53- and 31-yard scores.
Junior Tre Fisher also had a 14-yard TD, and Kruse contributed a rushing touchdown.
Lathe Muench tacked on a trifecta of two-point conversions.
For South Central Calhoun, senior quarterback Cole Corey threw for 158 yards and had a 20-yard scoring strike to Evan Jacobs. Corey also had a 42-yard rushing touchdown and another score on the ground.
“Up until the first time we played Southeast Valley, we really didn’t come together and bond as much. But after that loss, it lit a fire in us,” said junior Blake McAlister. “We knew coming in both teams were good. We have to play with a little more emotion and energy, because when we do, great things seem to happen.”
This will be the Titans’ fourth game in the postseason. They earned a 46-7 win over Sioux Central, followed by comeback victories over Dike-New Hartford (30-22) and South Hamilton (20-8), to reach this point.
“I think our team has shown a tremendous amount of resilience this year and has grown closer together over the season,” Case said. “Adversity introduces a man to himself, and I think they have done a great job of keeping everything in perspective and just playing the game.”
The win in Lake City gave the Jaguars the opportunity to start at home and finish at home.
“I don’t care who you are: playing at home is a huge advantage,” Swieter said. “You get to sleep in your own bed, listen to your own music and be in your own locker room. You’re not hoping on the bus for a long road trip.
“It’s an exciting time for Southeast Valley. It’s hard to beat any team twice, but it’s also hard to beat anybody in the quarterfinals. So let’s go.”