Week 2 Recap: S. Central Calhoun clamps down on Greene Co. for 28th straight regular season win
By BRANDON HURLEY
Greene County’s Week two loss took on the feel of a much-anticipated movie, a Silver Screen dud slowly building to a thrilling climax before slamming to an unenthusiastic halt.
In the end, execution made a world of difference.
Class 1A No. 2 South Central Calhoun flexed its superiority in Class 2A No. 7 Greene County’s home opener Sept. 4, catapulting a string of fourth down conversions and a suffocating defense into a shell-shocking victory.
The visiting Titans doused the Rams’ optimism and offensive potential in one full swoop, gliding to a 34-7 victory, pulling away from a tight halftime advantage.
South Central Calhoun’s victory-clinching haymakers came in a furious late flurry, suffocating Greene County’s efforts to stop a remarkable three-year streak.
South Central Calhoun’s continuous pound-the-rock rush attack eventually broke Greene County’s out-matched defense, extending a rather clean seven-point halftime advantage into a four score blowout. The Titans gathered a substantial boost from their traditionally strong and swarming defense, shutting out Greene County over the final three quarters of game play. After surrendering their first lead of the night in the first quarter, South Central Calhoun went on to score 30 unanswered points.
Flawless second half execution propelled the Titans to their 28th straight regular season victory, tallying nearly 350 yards of total offense.
After Greene County answered SCC’s opening frame touchdown with a score of their own, the Titans exerted their time-tested maturity en route to an eventual blowout. Greene County’s defense held strong in the first half, picking off SCC quarterback Cole Corey twice to help preserve just a 14-7 deficit, but all hell broke loose once the teams exited the halftime locker rooms.
Greene County hung tough in the opening half, looking as if they were a real threat to hand South Central Calhoun their first regular season loss since 2017. But those first half heroics, which included a pair of takeaways and nifty back corner touchdown, dissolved over the final 24 minutes.
SCC wasted little time extending their lead in the second half, suffocating the Ram offensive players and using time-killing, methodical drives to extend their lead.
Greene County failed to corral South Central Calhoun’s rushing attack as the Titans piled up 247 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, sprinting to an average of 5.3 yards per carry. Corey tallied four total touchdowns - two rushing, one passing and one interception returned for a touchdown, while running back Blake McAlister torched the Ram defense for 179 yards and a score on 20 carries, an average of nine yards per touch.
The Rams struggled to gain any traction whatsoever on the ground, which in turn impacted yards through the air. The Rams were held scoreless over a 32 minute span after exploding for 49 points in Week One. South Central Calhoun bottled up Greene County’s ball carriers all night long, holding them to just 44 yards on 21 carries, a yards per carry average of 2.1. The Titan defense has allowed just seven points in eight quarters of action this fall, outscoring their opponents (Kuemper and Greene County) 48-7.
Greene County did produce several encouraging signs in the early moments Friday, but a lack of success on fourth down severely punctured the Rams. Greene County turned the ball over on downs at least three different times while South Central Calhoun scored a pair of back-breaking touchdowns off fourth down tries. The drastic difference between offenses was a matter of simply putting all the pieces together, which Greene County could not consistently do.
“When we executed, we moved the ball pretty well all night,” Greene County head coach Caden Duncan said. “I thought we had a good game plan and were able to find some openings, but we just did not consistently execute or finish drives. I think if we can establish our running game more it will help open things up more and give us more balance.”
The loss was just Greene County’s third regular season loss since the beginning of the 2018 season, with the Rams tallying a mark of 17-3 over that span. Likewise, South Central Calhoun is 28-1 in the regular season since the start of the 2017 schedule. In the end, the Titans prevailed in a matchup of western Iowa’s top lower class powers.
“You always hate losing,” Duncan said. “I am extremely competitive, as are some of the other coaches and the players. But when I take a step back and reflect on the game, I think we can take a lot away from it and grow from the game. We went toe-to-toe for about two-and-a-half quarters with a very strong program and title contender in class 1A, and actually had opportunities to be ahead in the 1st half.
With the amount of inexperience we have, I think this game will be great for us in the long run and we’ll use it as a learning experience.”
Greene County quarterback Bryce Stalder threw for 200 yards, including the first quarter touchdown to Jaxon Warnke, though he completed just 14 of his 33 pass attempts. Warnke hauled in a team-best six catches for 88 yards while Jackson Morton snagged four receptions for 78 yards.
Morton led the Rams with 12 tackles and an interception while Bradyn Smith secured eight tackles of his own. Morton has compiled a team-leading 14.5 tackles through two weeks (which ties him for 24th in 2A) while Smith is in second with 12.5 takedowns.
Stalder ranks 15th in Class 2A with 302 passing yards through two weeks while Warnke is tied for 21st with eight receptions.
Greene County opens Class 2A, district 9 play Friday as they host Atlantic. The Trojans (1-1) are coming off a 21-10 victory over Kuemper Catholic.