STORM LAKE - The Storm Lake High football team is a definite long-shot to make the state playoffs, especially with sixth-ranked Humboldt undefeated in a 3A district that sends just the district champion to state.
But Tornado coach Bill McCabe isn't ruling that possibility out completely.
"If we win our last three games, we'll let things shake out," he said Tuesday afternoon. "You never know what's going to happen, and if we don't make the playoffs, a 6-3 record and 5-2 in the district is a pretty good season."
In short, the Tornadoes still have a lot to play for. They'll enter the stretch run of the season Friday night at home against Spirit Lake.
Last week in Spencer, both teams made their share of mistakes in a 20-14 Storm Lake win that featured eight turnovers.
"We made some plays late in the game, but we didn't come out ready to play in the first quarter, or at the start of the third quarter," McCabe said. "We need that to change this week."
Spirit Lake enters the game mired in last place in the district standings at 0-4. The Indians are 1-5 overall, with their lone win coming against Sibley-Ocheyedan in week two.
McCabe said Spirit Lake could still pose some problems for his defense, which has allowed just three touchdowns over an eight-quarter span in the Tornadoes' last two wins.
"Offensively, they'll line up in a lot of different formations," he said. "They'll spread you out, run out of the shotgun and also run out of a pro set.
"It's the type of offense that gives teams trouble if defenses fail to recognize it. We have to avoid some of the mental breakdowns we've had and play solid, smart football."
He added that Spirit Lake is aggressive out of its 3-5 defense.
"They move a lot of people around and do some blitzing," McCabe said.
Last week in Spencer, the Tornadoes ran the ball with more success than they have all year. Quarterback Mitch McCabe, still nursing a sore ankle, completed 19 of 41 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns.
Spencer rushed for 200 yards and passed for 117, but the Tornadoes intercepted quarterback Jay Olberding four times.
"We had some positives last week, but the mental mistakes hurt," he said. "That's the biggest problem we've had this season. We just have to play smarter on both sides of the ball."