South Tama's postseason chances took a big hit Friday night when it lost a Homecoming contest to Ballard.
Needing a win to stay in the thick of things, the Trojans were unable to get a Homecoming victory. An early 7-0 lead turned into a rout by Ballard (4-2, 2-1) that spoiled the Trojans' fall festivities. Ballard beat South Tama (2-4, 1-3) 34-13 Friday night.
"We don't have much of a playoff shot now," coach Jay Hoskey said. "A win tonight would have given us a shot."
The Class 3A District 4 race is tight between several teams vying for the top four spots and a postseason berth. Boone and Dallas Center-Grimes are both 3-0 in the district, but won't face each other until the final regular season game. Ballard's win on Friday moved the Bombers to a tie with Grinnell at 2-1 in the district before Grinnell travels to Ballard this week.
South Tama and Newton are both 1-2, but Newton has yet to play Saydel, who is 0-4 in district action. South Tama travels to Boone this Friday and to Grinnell on Oct. 25 to finish the regular season. Meanwhile, Boone hosts Grinnell next week. For South Tama to reach the playoffs, it would have to upset Boone and Grinnell, hope Grinnell loses its other two games and hope Newton falls to Ballard in its last game.
"Watching them on film, they are very fast and very well coached," Hoskey said about Boone. "They have a diverse bunch of guys and they are pretty hardcore."
South Tama began Friday's contest short-handed. STC was already missing senior linebacker and wide receiver Zach Morris, who is out for the season with a knee injury. On Friday, the Trojans were also without junior quarterback Dalton Doyle, who didn't play because of disciplinary reasons.
Without Doyle in the lineup, junior running back Bo Blocker became the Trojans' quarterback. Blocker returned to action after missing the previous game at Saydel because of injury.
Blocker and sophomore Jerry Lowe carried most of the Trojans offense, which was primarily on the ground. Sophomore Bubba Craun also carried the ball a handful of times, but the Trojans' offense was grounded Friday without its quarterback. Lowe rushed the ball 22 times for 102 yards, while Blocker carried it 15 times for 72 yards. Craun added six carries for 23 yards.
"When you get people you count on making a bad mistake and then you a handful of injuries, it's tough to play with a small team," Hoskey said. "We even started off the year with injuries and you can see we can't play with a depleted team against a team with 75 guys. I hate to make excuses. I wish I could clone everybody I have. I don't need anybody better I just need a double dose of what we've got."
"It's tough against those Des Moines area schools," Hoskey said. "We've got to find a way at South Tama to get more kids participating in things. This season could have been quite a bit different if we would have all of our best athletes in the school out for football. We're out there with a sophomore backfield, sophomore linebackers, a sophomore center who made a few mistakes, but those guys are going to be better for it. It's reminiscent of two years ago when we had to play with a lot of younger guys."
Blocker completed 2-of-5 passes for 16 yards in the game. His longest pass was a 14-yard throw to senior Tyler Martens.
"Tyler is a good receiver," Hoskey said. "We'd like to get him the ball more, but you have to have a quarterback, too. We have a good quarterback, but because of disciplinary reasons, he isn't on the field."
Despite missing some key starters, South Tama scored first Friday night. STC punted twice on its opening two possessions, but Ballard lost a fumble and botched a field goal try on its first possessions. Following the bad field goal snap, South Tama took over at its own 18 yard line and drove 82 yards in nine plays. Blocker capped off the drive with a 25-yard touchdown run.
"Bo made a great play," Hoskey said. "He just picked it up and we had some blocks."
The Trojans held Ballard to another punt and looked poise to take control of the game on its next drive. A Ballard personal foul penalty advanced the drive across the 50 yard line. After two unsuccessful runs, Blocker threw an interception, giving the Bombers the ball back on their side of the field. The ensuing drive went 59 yards in seven plays for a touchdown, tying the score at 7-7.
South Tama recovered another Ballard fumble during the middle of the second quarter, but couldn't muster any offense. The Bombers' next drive ended in a 76-yard touchdown pass and they gained momentum that they never relinquished in the second half.
Ballard scored touchdowns on its first three possessions of the second half. Meanwhile, South Tama didn't convert a first down until it was down 34-7 in the middle of the fourth quarter.
"It's our stamina," Hoskey said. "It's not because these guys don't work in practice, but it's just that they have to be out there the whole time. Homecoming week doesn't help either. I think there's still too much screwing around that goes on all week. Some of that stuff wastes our time and energy and it's getting old."
Lowe added a touchdown late in the game to close the gap. His two-yard scoring run was the final time STC touched the ball.
"We didn't change our offense that much," Hoskey said. "We put in a few plays that Bo could run. Obviously, we're not going to be throwing the ball much effectively. I wish we could have though. I know we didn't complete many passes tonight."