Finding new superlatives to describe Lewis Central’s defense is becoming a challenge.
And considering the stakes during their recent string of success, the Titans are playing their best at the best possible time.
On the verge of its second consecutive trip to the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls for the Class 3-A state semifinals, L.C. has put together consecutive shutouts in both the opening and quarterfinal rounds. The Titans have allowed only 255 yards of total offense combined in those two wins.
Lewis Central (10-1) is getting to the quarterback. The Titans are forcing turnovers and making critical stops when they’re needed most.
“Our guys have stepped up to the challenge every single week with whoever we’ve played,” L.C. coach Justin Kammrad said. “It’s just a combination of kids who are willing to sacrifice and do everything that they can to be successful and help the team. It’s one of those things that we rely on those guys to keep the game low scoring so that we have an opportunity to win.”
Maintaining that dominant play gets more challenging as the Titans advance deeper into the playoffs. The next test comes with Western Dubuque and its perfect 11-0 record today at 5:30 p.m. at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. Mustang quarterback Calvin Harris commands the Bobcats’ offense. One of the top baseball prospects in the country and an Ole Miss commit, Harris has shown he’s not too bad with the pigskin either. He’s completed 67% of passes for 1,908 yards, 23 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He also has 349 rushing yards and another 12 scores on the ground.
“He takes very good care of the football,” Kammrad said. “When he does leave the pocket, he’s athletic enough to run the ball, and when he throws it, it’s usually on the money when he’s on the run. A lot of guys struggle on the run, but he puts it right where it needs to be, and he has a strong arm. He can throw it anywhere on the field that he wants to.”
Harris, too, will be tested against a formidable L.C. defensive line. Iowa commit Logan Jones is coming off a monster game in a quarterfinal-round win over Dallas Center-Grimes, finishing with four sacks and 8.5 tackles.
On the other side of the ball, L.C. running back Bryson Bowman is looking to continue his own recent streak of dominance. He posted 302 yards on the ground against DC-Grimes, averaging 12.1 yards per carry and scoring the Titans’ only touchdown. He is now third in Class 3-A with 1,361 rushing yards on only 147 carries.
Western Dubuque will pose its own threat to the Titans’ offense. The Bobcats allow only 8.7 points per game and are very athletic and disciplined.
“They give you a lot of different fronts,” Kammrad said. “They just run and fly to the football; they’re not passive at all. They read run, they’re going to be in on the run. They read pass, they’ll be in the pass. There’s no hesitation in what they do to get things done.”
The game promises to be a matchup of two highly talented teams on both sides of the ball.
Kammrad hopes that the experience that came with playing at the UNI-Dome 12 months prior will prove a benefit.
“The best thing for our guys is that they were there last year,” he said. “They understand the expectation of what the day is going to be like from a travel standpoint, what they need to do to get themselves prepared. They’re not going to be as bright-eyed and worrying about the atmosphere. They’ve been there.”