There are varying degrees to define success on a particular week. Sometimes success doesn't always show up after the final whistle on the scoreboard. The success that we see from our local high school teams, and our college teams, can be measured by the week to week improvement that we see from them. Success that can be transferred to the next game, to practice to build up to a better understanding of what went right or what went wrong.
For the Storm Lake Tornadoes, success has been defined by a smothering defensive effort through the first seven weeks. The offense has shown the ability to hit the big play when they need to, but sometimes they've been inconsistent moving the ball up and down the field. The defense, on the other hand, have shown a strong bend but don't break mentality through the year thus far.
The defense has given up yards against some of the opponents this season but the scoreboard hasn't shown that. In a couple of contest the Tornadoes have been out gained by their opponent. By looking at the scoreboard you wouldn't be able to tell that they gave up more yards than they earned. That, readers, is how you can defense success.
Giving up the yards that they have, occasionally, only to dominate on the scoreboard tells us that they are a well coached group of kids. The Tornado defense this past Friday night shut down the passing attack of Spirit Lake. On 25 attempts, they only completed 15 of those for 95 yards. When you look at the yards per attempt we see that the Tornado defense allowed 3.8 yards. Three point eight yards per attempt. That's an impressive job of keeping everything in front of them.
In high school football you'll see that deep ball usually work a couple of times per game because either a busted coverage, a kid being faster than the one covering him, or just pure luck. Holding a quarterback who had been averaging 13.5 yards a completion and 7.7 per attempt to less then half of those averages on Friday night is impressive. This tells us that the Storm Lake stop unit can get it done stopping an aerial attack or the ground game.
When Storm Lake played against Bishop Heelan, through the first three quarters of the game, Heelan's standout running back Saybein Clark was pretty well bottled up. He busted a couple of runs loose towards the end of the game when you could say it was "garbage" time. The Tornado defense has given them a huge boost to their 7-0 success this season.
Yes, the big play offense has helped like it did this past Friday night when senior Parker Lange busted out for two huge touchdowns. Three plays of over 50 yards helped key the rout over Spirit Lake. These plays don't happen every game. After speaking with coach Rudy Wieck after one of their contests this year he said to me that if they didn't have to pass the ball at all, he'd be fine with that. The Storm Lake offense is designed to use different ball carriers to grind out the game and hit the big plays.
The big plays came last week but in the passing game. Josh Werge still doesn't appear to be 100% after the thigh bruise a couple of weeks ago, so the running game's biggest weapon hasn't been able to open lanes for the fullbacks as much. But, again, sometimes it all comes down to missed tackles and having fantastic athletes on the outside. The final Tornado drive of the night that put the ball in the end zone came when the game was well in hand. That last drive took eight minutes off of the clock. I have to believe that's the kind of play Wieck would like to see from his offense in every game.
With two games left in the regular season, the unbelievable season for a program who has clinched their first ever playoff birth, none of these kids will take it for granted. They know what the school has gone through football wise for a long time now. These kids have suffered through seasons of hardships and misery. That's what makes their success feel so great, and what makes them so dangerous in the playoffs. A lot of other teams might take it for granted. Another year, another time in the playoffs.
Storm Lake football has moved into uncharted territory. These kids are hungry and know that being undefeated means nothing without bringing home a playoff win and a state championship. That championship is the ultimate form of success for these young men who strap up their helmets to do battle on the field. These kids will be marked in the history books as the first Storm Lake team in the playoffs. What better way to end this season then a march to the UNI Dome and holding that trophy over their heads?