Musings from the sports desk: In defense of Greene County’s brutal schedule
The Rams have faced five ranked opponents, state’s top RB and QB
By BRANDON HURLEY
I won’t sugar coat it.
Yes, Greene County’s demoralizing 45-point loss to Boone on homecoming is a step back. Every way you slice it, the Rams played poorly.
They were torched on defense, couldn’t muster any semblance of an offense and were undisciplined to the tune of more than 10 penalties.
But if we take a moment to step away from the outcome of the Rams’ most recent game and survey the schedule on paper, it’s been one of the most brutal schedules in the entire state. I don’t have the resources – or time – to go back and check, but I bet you’d be hard pressed to find a more difficult six-game stretch in the past 10 years, at least.
With Harlan moving into the 3A top 10 on Monday and Dallas Center-Grimes sliding up to the No. 1 spot, five of Greene County’s first six opponents have been ranked at some point this year.
Currently, DC-G, Boone (No. 7) are all ranked in the top 10 while Kuemper (2A) and Webster City (3A) were ranked inside the top eight of their respective classes as recently as last week.
The Ram defense has faced the top statistical quarterback in 3A (Boone’s Mason Hulse) as well as the state’s top two running backs – Webster City’s Zane Williams and Harlan’s Nick Foss. The two tailbacks have combined for 2,193 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Williams leads the state in rush yards with 1,113 while Foss leads the state in rushing TDs with 19. Hulse has 26 total touchdowns and more than 2,000 yards. So if you are keeping score, not only has Greene County played extremely stiff competition, but just three guys have combined for 4,000 yards and 61 touchdowns. That’s pretty ridiculous if you ask me. But, Greene County head coach Mitch Moore sees this gauntlet as a learning opportunity.
“Certainly, they’ve seen the best, that’ll help them. Why were they like that? No. 1, strength and conditioning. They are bigger, faster and stronger than us,” the coach said. “The second thing is, those senior-led teams, their attention to detail throughout the week, is a step better than ours. We can’t let the little things slide. When they do, they become big things.
If we are wondering why they beat us, they were really good at their process over the last couple of years.”
The schedule definitely has not provided the Rams with any favors.
For that matter, 3A district 2 is home to the third and seventh best offenses in the state – Boone and Webster City.
Boone has now scored 50 plus points in back-to-back games and more than 35 points in five of their six games.
It’s a high-scoring offense that not a single team has been able to slow down this year. They score the second most points per game in 3A at 42 points per game.
It sounds like a broken record, and at some point the defense will have to reach a turning point, but the offensive onslaught keeps coming, and Boone was no different last week.
“All 11 of them know what’s going on,” Moore said. “They hide their deficiencies really well. And they have a leader back there that’s as dynamic as we’ve faced all year.”
The thing with this young Greene County team, when they get behind early, it takes awhile before they can stop the bleeding. And before they know it, the Rams are too far behind to make any sort of comeback. It’s something Moore wants is guys to correct over the final three weeks. He forced his guys to watch Boone celebrate on Greene County’s field following their win Friday. He wants his guys to remember the bitter taste of defeat, even with a tough schedule.
“We’ve got to find a way to reset in the middle of the game,” the coach said. “Our run game was so good the week before, but as soon as it didn’t work Friday, they were dejected.
Some of that falls on me as a leader, I have to find a way to get us out of that hole.”
If you thought the schedule it let up these final three weeks, you’d be wrong, unfortunately. Not just yet. While the combined records of the Rams’ final three opponents isn’t as daunting, they still have to face high-powered some offense.
Gilbert’s Matt Barragy has passed for the sixth most yards in the state this year. He has thrown 12 interceptions though against just eight TDs.
The Tigers have produced the 14th most yards in 3A and average 31 points per game. The Rams go to Gilbert on Friday.
With such a gauntlet of a schedule, there’s two ways this fairly young Ram team can go – they can get beat down and lose their enthusiasm, or learn from such a brutal schedule and use it as a motivator.
The culture, while not exactly visible from the outside, is changing from the inside. Moore doesn’t want blowout losses – to great teams – to become the norm.
“This isn’t acceptable, this isn’t OK. We all have to do better,” Moore said. “I didn’t give them a lot to hang their hats on. We are going to amp up the level of intensity. We are going to work as hard as we can and have everyone reach their potential. We will hone in on discipline and on hard work.”