Sometimes the big play is all a team needs to change momentum. Whether it be specials teams, defense or offense, all a team needs is that one spark, that one change in momentum. This past Friday night we learned that special teams are quite special indeed.
The Storm Lake Tornadoes were out gained by nearly 30 yards, and yet won by 35 points. How does this exactly happen? Let us take a deeper look at the game for the moment. Storm Lake didn't force any turnovers. The offense couldn't get the air attack going. The ground game did well, but how does that equate to 41 points?
85 yards on two kickoffs and 71 yards on two punt returns and a score. The special teams yards nearly equaled that of the offense on Friday night. This is how you can win games on a night where the offense can't sustain a long drive. Special teams help to flip position.
The Tornadoes were aided by special teams play, much like Newell-Fonda was as well. The Mustangs also lost the yards battle, but again, that doesn't matter on the scoreboard. NF saw two punt returns go back for scores. In a 35-6 final, those 14 points are vital between a runaway and a closer contest.
Not only was it the punt returns, but the punting also played a role in the Mustangs victory on Friday night. Reed Kruse punted five times and averaged 39 yards with a long of 53. That changes field position in a huge way and helps the defense be able to pin their ears back and shut down a high powered offense.
We saw that in these two games that special teams happened to be the ingredient between a close game and a blowout. Never underestimate the power of special teams.
Alta-Aurelia has a mighty difficult schedule to face right now. Last Friday night they faced now #8 Western Christian and on this Friday night they face #4 Hinton. That is a super tough back to back road to travel.
In the Warriors win this season they were able to control the line of scrimmage and run the ball successfully. In their losses they have been completely shut down. However, there has been one good part about the two losses and that is their big play ability in the passing game. Senior Skylar Solko completed three passes on Friday night and the average per completion was nearly 45 yards.
If Alta-Aurelia continues to have problems running the ball and getting it to their playmakers on the ground, opening up the playbook might not be a bad idea. Use the air attack to open up their thunder and lighting run game.
The Warriors need to find a way to keep momentum up, and special teams can play a part. In their winning contest, junior Kaleb Sleezer managed to take a punt back to a score. Big special teams play and the Warriors won.
Sioux Central broke in their new field with a difficult loss to a now top 10 team in Bishop Garrigan. The ground game wasn't up to the previous two game standard for the Rebels and starting quarterback Caleb Gunderson went down with an injury. Now, up to this point we've looked at how special teams and those big plays can impact a team, but what happens when you're bitten by the dreaded turnover bug?
Sioux Central turned the ball over four times on Friday night. One of those turnovers turned into a pick six close to halftime that seal the Golden Bear momentum for the rest of the game. In most cases when a team loses the ball four times, it's impossible to win, and when you're offense is sputtering, it makes it that much more difficult to climb back up that hill.
Also, on a side note, Sioux Central's new field is wonderful. I found it to be a great venue for high school football. The way the sound system was set up, the stands were set up, and the field looked great. Kudos to the Sioux Central school district on their new field.
Ridge View ran away with their contest on Friday night. Their ground game wasn't working but the aerial assault was on point. However, they didn't have any really big special teams plays, but did manage to force three turnovers.
This is the bright side of forcing those turnovers to create momentum for your team. So far we've seen the keys to winning high school games are controlling the line of scrimmage and creating big plays on defense and special teams.
Those two facets of the game are true on any level of football, but now we know that when our area squads are able to win these areas of the game, good things happen.