BACK TO THE BASICS
South Central Calhoun finds its rhythm at crunch time
LAKE CITY — Sometimes, simplification is all a team needs to achieve their goals.
After losing in the second week of the 2021 season to Pocahontas Area, South Central Calhoun was trying to right the ship and keep its football goals on the radar the rest of the way.
“From that point on, our kids came ready to work and just made steady improvements throughout the year,” said SCC head coach Bryan Case. “We worked hard on the fundamentals and just got back to the basics.”
Entering his 12th season as Titan head coach, Case knew the Titans had a strong foundation returning.
“We had a great nucleus coming back from last year’s semifinal team, but we also had some areas of concern,” said Case, who has a career mark of 175-50 in 21 years. “Our offseason proved to be beneficial and we were able to get off to a great start at East Sac County. We were able to use a multitude of players and we tried to build some Friday night depth.
“In the second game against Pocahontas, despite losing Jayden Soard, our fullback and starting linebacker for three years, we had a number of chances inside the red zone, but just couldn’t finish drives.”
After the early season loss, the Mustangs reeled off six straight wins, including an impressive 41-7 win over a tough Woodward-Granger.
“During the Woodward-Granger game, we had talked about starting to play our best football,” Case said. “We struggled in the first quarter, but from the second quarter on things just started clicking and our kids really started playing as one unit.”
The Titans locked up a district championship, qualifying for the playoffs for the 11th straight time and 12th in 13 years.
“I think our captains/seniors have done a great job of keeping everyone in the loop this year,” Case said. “They’ve tried to get everyone to “buy in” to our program and have even thought outside the box on occasion, by bringing in some community members to talk to them.
“It’s been like pulling teeth at times, but I think our team is finally starting to come together.”
The Titans (7-1) will kickstart the playoffs on Friday night, facing Emmetsburg (3-5) for the second time this year. In the first game, South Central Calhoun won 41-10. With a victory Case will pick up his 100th career win as South Central Calhoun head coach.
“Emmetsburg is one of the best overall programs in the state, winning multiple championships,” Case said. “They have a tradition that is second to none and they know how to win games.
“We were fortunate enough to beat them in Weed 3, but it was close throughout the first half.”
On the season the Titans have run for 1,645 yards and 25 touchdowns. Senior Blake McAlister has been a key cog in the Titan offense. McAlister has run for 603 yards and nine touchdowns. And has caught 15 balls for 331 yards and six scores.
On the season McAlister has scored six different ways. He has nine rushing touchdowns, six receiving touchdowns, thrown for a touchdown, returned an interception and a punt for a score and has three two-point conversions. He also leads the team with 42.5 sacks.
Classmate Kevin King has five touchdowns, while sophomore Zach Trott has four. Nine different running backs have reached the end zone.
Sophomore quarterback Gavin Batta has thrown for 774 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The E-Hawks lost the first four games of the season and then won three of their last four.
Emmetsburg has rushed for 2,093 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Seth Freeman has carried the ball 134 times for 726 yards and 12 scores. Quarterback Ryan Brennan has run for four scores and thrown for three.
“We expect them to play hurry up and play power football and try to keep the ball away from our offense,” Case said. “Defensively they will show us multiple fronts and bring some pressure. We know we’ll be in for a dog fight.
“It’s always tough to beat an opponent twice in a season, but we’re hoping and trusting that our kids are up for the challenge. We’re just happy to still be playing and we’re looking forward to another Friday night playoff game.”
Other Area Playoff Games: Sheldon (3-5) at No. 6 Southeast Valley (7-1); Roland-Story (3-5) at No. 5 Greene County (7-1); Eagle Grove (3-5) at Dike-New Hartford (8-0); Newell-Fonda (7-1) at Janesville (7-1).
Area Regular season games: Webster City (6-2, 4-0) at Denison-Schleswig (3-5, 1-3); Algona (5-3, 2-2) at No. 4 Humboldt (8-0, 4-0).