No. 10 Bulldogs whip Wildcats

Photo by Stephanie Backus.

— As fantastic as they feel right now, the South Callaway Bulldogs still have important work to be done.

Friday night's 40-15 throttling of Montgomery County served as South Callaway's school-record eighth win and -- more significantly -- moved the No. 10 Bulldogs to 2-0 in Class 2, District 9 play.

With a victory this Thursday night at Hermann, South Callaway (8-1) can secure its first-ever district title and lock down a third straight trip to the state playoffs. Hermann (3-6, 1-1) lost to Blair Oaks (6-2, 1-1) 46-6 in Friday night's other District 9 contest. Montgomery County is now 3-6 overall and 0-2 in district play.

South Callaway head coach Tim Rulo's urgent reminder to his squad is to not be content.

"We still have so much we want to do," Rulo said. "... There's so much out there that we want to accomplish. So we're excited, but we want to take care of business. We've got a short week, so we're going to have to rest up and do what we need to do to make sure we're ready to go for Thursday.

"Hermann is a strong team; they always seem to rebound pretty well after a loss. ... We've got to finish; we talk about it all of the time -- in the weight room, everywhere. This is it. That's why you do that last rep on squat (lifting) when you're really tired, and that's why you run through the line instead of stopping short."

The Bulldogs rekindled their running game Friday night, after scraping together just 77 yards on the ground in their 7-6 district victory at Blair Oaks on Oct. 15. Fueled by junior tailback T.J. Buchholz, South Callaway rushed for 238 yards and three scores Friday night.

Buchholz ended up with a game-high 84 yards on nine carries and had touchdown runs of 4 and 14 yards. Senior tailback Bryan Lechner also supplied 63 yards in seven attempts, while sophomore quarterback Jason Kimminau scored on a 14-yard run.

Rulo noted that the Bulldogs were forced to tweak their blocking technique to counter Montgomery County's traditional 3-5-3 defensive scheme.

"We were happy to see that our guys responded well. ... We were able to make those (adjustments) early on and called a timeout -- kind of talked to the guys, tried to use that wisely," Rulo said. "T.J. looked great again, that was good to see, and Bryan looked good.

"That was good to see, those guys running hard."

Kimminau -- who endured some struggles after throwing five interceptions and no touchdowns the last two weeks -- rebounded with a crisp and efficient effort Friday night. He completed 8-of-12 passes for 92 yards, two touchdowns to senior wide receiver Will Brandt and was not picked off.

The first scoring pass to Brandt covered 19 yards and put South Callaway up 19-7 with 6 minutes left in the second quarter. On the second touchdown throw, Kimminau pulled off a perfect play fake and Brandt slipped past coverage down the Montgomery County sideline on a 30-yard connection with 2:13 to go in the third quarter.

The pair almost hooked up on a similar pass two plays earlier, but Kimminau's throw somehow eluded the normally sure-handed Brandt -- who finished with six catches for 72 yards.

Rulo had a conversation with Kimminau before the game to reinforce his confidence in the Bulldogs' starter.

"I asked him, 'What's different between the beginning of the season ... and now?" Rulo said. "I said, 'What are you better at?' He listed some things ... and then I said, 'Well, what are you worse at?'

"He was like, and I said, 'You're not worse at anything. You're the same quarterback, you're doing a great job, take care of the little things, have fun and make great memories.' I said, 'Kids grow up wanting to be a varsity quarterback.'"

Meanwhile, South Callaway's defense surrendered 219 total yards -- including just 54 rushing -- but allowed only one score while creating three turnovers and recording two sacks. The Bulldogs also yielded only six plays of 10 yards or more to the Wildcats' no-huddle, spread offense.

"Our guys did a great job of gang-tackling," Rulo said. "We were also able to shut down the run."

South Callaway fashioned a defensive score when junior linebacker Konrad Kemper intercepted a pass and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown to cap off the scoring with 6:25 left in the game.

Kemper -- who also saw playing time at quarterback Friday night -- was able to atone for a fumbled handoff to Buchholz as the Bulldogs were poised to score earlier in the fourth quarter. Montgomery County sophomore linebacker Colt Ellis gathered up the ball and ran it back 92 yards for a score with 11:45 to play.

"For Konrad, specifically, (his defensive touchdown) was good retribution," Rulo said. "I think it was really good for him, his heart, to get that pick-six."

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