Bulldogs’ defense looks to limit Eagles’ spread

The South Callaway Bulldogs’ defense has faced its fair share of spread offenses in recent weeks.

Here comes another.

State-ranked South Callaway — coming off its second consecutive District 9 title — hosts Christian (O’Fallon) in a Class 2 regional at 7 tonight. The No. 9 Bulldogs are making their fourth straight trip to the state playoffs, while the Eagles (7-2) are appearing in the postseason for the first time.

In Christian, South Callaway will be playing its fourth opponent in a row that operates out of the spread. Against district foes Blair Oaks, Montgomery County and Hermann, the Bulldogs’ disruptive defense surrendered a sparse 11 points and 253 yards a game while creating 14 total turnovers.

“So far, so good,” South Callaway head coach Tim Rulo said after practice Sunday night.

Delving deeper into the numbers, Rulo stressed that it’s pivotal to limit a spread offense’s alternatives. To that end, the Bulldogs have given up an average of just 58 yards rushing over the last three games.

“A spread team wants to throw the ball, but if they have the option to do two things and you’re not sure which one’s going to happen, it makes it a little more difficult (to defend),” Rulo added. “If you can get them in long-down situations, where you know they have to throw, it allows your defensive line to pin their ears back more, it allows your linebackers to be able to get out in their drops faster.

“It just causes more problems. … Ultimately, you’ve got to stop the run. I still think football — even in the age of the spread — is still about running the ball. There’s just a physical nature to that, and so you’ve got to make teams one-dimensional.”

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