Speed vs. Size
Friday night may turn out to be a contest of Storm Lake's quickness vs. Sheldon's size. Just one thing, Tornado hed coach Bill McCabe points out - the more speed you throw at size, the more size gets tired.
"Our game is to use the entire field on offense. We hope we can spread their defense out and let those big bodies chase us. As the game wears on, sometimes that size doesn't turn out to be such an advantage after all."
McCabe feels his team has profited from hard work in the off season and a positive preseaon effort.
"We feel like things are coming together well, and Sheldon is an important game for us. We really need the fast start this year that we didn't have a year ago, and as we taste a little success, we will be able to build up this program that much faster."
McCabe isn't concerned at all about starting the season on the road.
"Honestly, it's kind of nice to start out away. We can get in a bus, and have some time to think about what we are about to do. I don't mind playing games on the road at all, and I don't think it should be any kind of disadvantage to this team."
Sheldon is known as a grind-it-out ground team, and while Storm Lake will have no film to review at this stage, McCabe expects nothing showy.
"They are an off-tackle football team with the option. They will try to control our tackles, double team, and decide the game in the middle of the line," the second year Storm Lake coach said. "Last year, I think they passed the ball three times against us."
Sheldon lost several key players from a year ago, including their starting quarterback, and McCabe said he isn't yet sure who will call the signals for their opponent. What they do still have is big bodies. "They have a couple of big tackles returning, one around 280 pounds and the other maybe 250. They will try to use those tackles like anchors," he said.
Storm Lake is coming off an intrasquad game in which McCabe was satisfied with the progress shown by his offense. "The kids are executing better than last year, and they understand the assignments better. We have plenty of speed, and on the line, we will depend more on quickness, angles and the details like executing our correct steps," he said.
Jake Droessler, at around 280 pounds, with play both offense and defense, and has improved markedly since a year ago. Phil Smith will also go both ways, playing a key role in the defense and shuttling in plays as a wide receiver. David Iehl, just a sophomore, adds a 260-pound body to shore up line play.
"We have a lot of kids who have the skills to play both ways, but in most cases we will try to let them concentrate on one side of the ball as starters and be backups going the other way. The defensive line really takes a pounding in our schedule, and we want to keep the kids fresh and use one of our main assets on both sides of the ball, which is speed."
Triggering the Tornado offense is returning starting quarterback Nick Sorbe. "Nick is doing a great job. He had to learn a whole new system last year, but he has come a long way. He's kind of a natural leader, and he's very athletic. I think that as long as he's able to relax and let things come to him, the fans will see a great year from Nick," the coach said.
Mike Keller adds standout track speed out of the backfield, but the team will need to be careful not to overuse the senior tailback, who is out for the first time since his freshman year. George Romaldo will return to the lineup after being held out of the intrasquad game for an injury, and will be more of a power back to alternate with Keller's speed.
While Sheldon struggled last year in 2A, McCabe noted that his team's record wasn't what they had hoped for either. "We don't even look at records, we will have to come out and play our game every time out, and look to build on what we are doing."
The following week, Storm Lake opens at home against Cherokee, which is in the process of installing a whole new offensive scheme, McCabe said.
"They are going from being a running team to using four and five-receiver sets, so we are expecting much more of a throwing game from them."
It should be another game Storm Lake can expect to win, and McCabe hopes to see a large crowd to start the home season. "We hope to offer the fans an exciting style of play, and we hope to see a lot of people supporting the Tornadoes," he said.