Lafayette County at South Callaway District Championship
|8 / 22||Putnam County||Home||Win||55 - 6|
|8 / 29||Southern Boone||Home||Win||52 - 10|
|9 / 5||Clopton/Elsberry||Away||Win||53 - 14|
|9 / 12||Van-Far||Home||Win||82 - 14|
|9 / 19||Wright City||Away||Win||55 - 6|
|9 / 26||North Callaway||Home||Win||66 - 6|
|10 / 3||Montgomery County||Home||Win||62 - 0|
|10 / 10||Mark Twain||Away||Win||52 - 0|
|10 / 17||Bowling Green||Away||Win||55 - 7|
|10 / 24||Knob Noster||Home||Win||56 - 0|
|10 / 31||Hallsville||Away||Win||61 - 0|
|11 / 7||Lafayette County (District Championship)||Home||Win||41 - 6|
|11 / 14||East Buchanan (Quarterfinals)||Away||Win||21 - 8|
|11 / 22||Palmyra (Semifinals)||Away||Win||27 - 2|
|11 / 29||Lamar (State Championship)||Loss||15 - 30|
South Callaway head football coach Tim Rulo has got something special cooking in central Missouri. Since he took over the reins heading the Bulldogs football program, the team has gone 52-18. To some, this makes Rulo and the Bulldogs victims of their own success, where a 10-2 record just becomes par for the course. Rulo, though, saw last season as the culmination of four years of extremely hard work by his senior class. "We had a special group of seniors that finished their careers at South Callaway with a 40-8 combined record." Everything seemed to hit on all cylinders for the Bulldogs in 2013. "It was amazing to watch the players, school, and community continue to grow in their support for this football program. [I'm] so proud of all the hard work from the previous Bulldogs, and excited for the future as well," Rulo says. If the past is any indicator of the future, he certainly should be.
Six starters return to each side of the ball, and on each side they're evenly spread around, so the Bulldogs should pick up right where they left off. Senior quarterback Troy Hentges (6-0, 170) will once again lead the offense. A dual threat, Hentges had 81 carries for 405 yards and 9 TDs last season to go along with 1,073 passing yards and 12 TDs. He was named second team All-District for his efforts, and added muscle should make him an even more dangerous player in 2014. He'll mainly be handing the ball off to senior running back Cory Hanger (5- 10, 170). Hanger, a dynamic playmaker, had 71 carries for 753 yards and 11 TDs, and added 13 catches for 287 yards and 2 TDs, all enough to earn him first-team All-District honors. Hanger will be backed up by senior Mason Shoemaker (5-9, 150). No slouch himself, Shoemaker had 6 rushing TDs in 2013. Senior Dakoda Ballard (5-9, 190) will line up at fullback for the Bulldogs.
Apart from the wealth of talent in the backfield, Rulo has some targets out wide to work with as well. Senior WR Luke Horstman (6-2, 195) again brings superb size to the position. He can go up and get the ball with ease and, even more importantly in South Callaway's spread-option attack, he is a physical perimeter blocker. Senior Dylan Hare (5-11, 210) should also get a starting spot at WR. He too is a good outside blocker. Senior Tyler Adams (5-5, 145) provides depth at the position.
South Callaway's O-line was a force in 2013, and that shouldn't change this year. Three senior starters are back in the mix, including its anchor, senior center Michael Witt (5-9, 165). Witt has two full seasons as a starter already under his belt, and a nice working relationship with QB Hentges. Trevor Miller (5-11, 195) another veteran offensive lineman, and the very strong Austin Pierce (5-10, 195) make this a crew who have the abilities to improve on the gaudy 3,422 rushing yards attained by the Bulldogs last season. Senior Jacob Smith (5-11, 205) and junior Dylan Bailey (5-11, 240) will round out this exceptional line. Rulo believes it's important to have a mix of young and old across the offense. "Our large senior class allows for more depth at some position, but getting younger and less experienced players reps will be key early in the season for our push during the playoffs."
Defensively, "It all starts up front," Rulo says. Ballard had a spectacular 2013 at DL, gathering 74.5 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and recovering 3 fumbles. Very quick for a lineman, Ballard was first team All-District last year. Horstman, who had 53.5 tackles, 19 for loss, and 2.5 sacks last year, will again line up beside Ballard on the D-line. Smith and Bailey give this group excellent size and depth.
The linebackers are no bunglers themselves. Dylan Hare, the leader of the defense, returns along with Trevor Miller. Michael Witt, Troy Hentges, and Dillon Stone, along with several underclassmen, make the LB corps perhaps the defense's deepest. The secondary should be particularly effective. They'll be led by Cory Hanger, a first-team All-State player last year. He accrued an incredible 97 tackles, 5 INTs, and 2 defensive TDs. Mason Shoemaker, who had 41 tackles and 1 INT, was named second team All-District. Tyler Adams will step into one of the open DB spots, and the Witt/Hentges duo, indispensable because of their versatility, will line up deep some as well.
Coach Rulo's record proves that winning has become a tradition at South Callaway. He takes pride in his teams and imbues them with his ever-positive attitude. Things shouldn't change too much for Bulldogs football in 2014. They have a large senior class and six starters back on each side of the ball. Both the offense and defense abound with playmakers. Expect yet another successful season from South Callaway. It's just par for the course.
Pigskin Pick: 8-1