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Titans ready to break ground in the Dome

South Central Calhoun meets Van Meter in morning semifinal

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Brennan Holder of South Central Calhoun runs the ball during the regular season against Pocahontas Area in Pocahontas.

CEDAR FALLS — Everyone knows how the record books stack up for South Central Calhoun.

Now, the seventh-ranked Titans are looking to write a new chapter to the program’s successful history.

For the first time ever, South Central Calhoun will be playing in the state football semifinal round. The Titans have played together for a decade since the consolidation of Southern Cal and Rockwell City-Lytton, reaching the playoffs all 10 times and the quarterfinals on seven different occasions.

Now the Titans (10-1 overall) will embark on a new beginning in their first trip to the UNI-Dome. SCC faces No. 2 Van Meter (10-0) on Saturday in Cedar Falls at 9 a.m.

“Coaching and playing in the Dome is truly a unique experience,” said South Central Calhoun head coach Bryan Case. “Not everyone gets to this level, so our kids need to take it all in and enjoy the moment. You never know if you’ll ever get back here again.

“We’re fortunate to have four people on our staff that have either coached or played in the Dome before. Coach Boerner and I have coached two and three state championship teams (for Southern Cal), respectively, and Coach Batta and Coach Dicks have won state titles as players. The turf and surroundings have changed a little over the years, but the atmosphere will be the same.

“Hopefully our previous knowledge will help the kids to visualize and get a clear ‘mental’ picture of what it will be like before we actually step on the field.”

It’s been a rollercoaster season for all high school programs, and it was no exception for the Titans through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This team is pretty special,” said Case. “The captains have done a great job of leading and keeping the team interested, even throughout this entire (pandemic) year.

“There have been some challenges to say the least, but our kids have faced every challenge head on, and have worked through everything together to get to this point.”

The Titans began the season ranked second. They suffered their first loss of the season in Week 5 against Southeast Valley.

That setback was awoke the Titans, who then returned the favor in a quarterfinal rematch.

“The loss to Southeast Valley was a blessing and brought our team closer together,” Case said. “Whenever you’re playing a familiar opponent, there are always positives and negatives. Positives from the standpoint that you know each other so well, but negatives for some of the same reasons.

“Playing each other actually helped us not overthink this or get too hyped up, understanding that the Dome was on the line. To us, it felt like another regular season district game — except with a much bigger crowd.”

Both programs enter with high-powered rushing attacks. The Titans have accumulated 2,494 on the ground, while the Bulldogs have 2,638.

Junior Blake McAlister has 1,049 yards and 13 touchdowns running the football. He also has two receiving touchdowns. Senior Brennan Holder has 646 has yards and 10 scores, while quarterback Cole Corey has eight TDs.

The Bulldogs are led by Dalten Van Pelt. The senior has 1,597 yards and 18 scores rushing.

Quarterback Jack Pettit has 797 yards and 15 TDs, while throwing for 1,078 and 17 scores.

“Van Meter has a great football program and is well coached in every phase of the game. They do a great job of managing the game,” Case said. “We’ve faced them twice in the quarterfinals (2016 and 2019) and came up short both times. We lost by two and four points, respectively.

“Our kids will be looking for a little redemption, but that’s easier said than done. We’ll have our hands full. I think we’ll have a gameplan for success, but we’ll need to execute at a high level in every phase to give ourselves a chance.”

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