Week 6: Rams obliterate Red Oak in third straight shutout, take control of district
By BRANDON HURLEY
An entire month has passed since an opponent last scored a touchdown.
The historical significance of Greene County’s defensive dominance is reaching unexpected levels. It seems as if no one can keep up with this iteration of Ram football.
Greene County’s fifth straight win last week was much like the four prior – impressive, businesslike and utterly dominant – leading to the Rams third straight shutout, a 55-0 thrashing of Red Oak Oct. 1 in Jefferson.
GCHS continues to absolutely obliterate each oncoming suitor.
The Rams have outscored their opponents 227-3 during their five-game winning streak, sending a warning shot to the entire Class of 2A. GCHS is now 5-1 overall and 3-0 in District 8 play, positioning theirselves as one of the hottest teams in all of Iowa.
The insane statistics continue to impress, week after week.
The Greene County defense hasn’t allowed a single point in the last 156 minutes of game play. The Rams last gave up a touchdown in week 1, a streak of 20 quarters or 240 minutes. They haven’t allowed a team to score more than three points since week one, holding teams to a mind-bending average of 5.3 points per contest.
Greene County, as has become the norm as of late, built a massive halftime lead against Red Oak, holding a 35-0 advantage before pouring in another 20 points during the second half, a continuation of their shocking hot-streak.
The defense has been truly incredible, Greene County head coach Caden Duncan said.
“I’ve seen some pretty dominant defenses over the years, some that are probably comparable to this one, but I’ve never personally coached a team that has had a stretch of dominance like this on defense,” the coach said. “It’s pretty special and it all comes down to their amazing intensity and pride on that side of the ball.”
Jackson Morton scored at least two touchdowns for the third straight game last week, tallying 76 reception yards and two touchdowns on four catches while he rushed for 20 yards and a score. The senior has now scored 10 total touchdowns while compiling 438 total yards on 39 touches. Morton is scoring at a remarkable rate, once every 3.9 times he gets his hands on the ball.
Greene County quarterback Bryce Stalder has continued his recent tear, producing 307 total yards of offense and six touchdowns in the win over Red Oak. The senior passed for 222 yards and four touchdowns, completing 13 of his 15 passes. He also rushed for 85 yards and pair of touchdowns on nine carries, tallying a per carry average of 9.4 yards.
Stalder has produced 584 total yards and 10 touchdowns combined in his last two games. He’s sixth in Class 2A with 18 total touchdowns while he’s 14th in the state with 1,230 total yards. The QB has thrown for 872 yards and 11 touchdowns this fall while having produced a team-best 358 rushing yards and seven touchdowns for a per carry average of 7.3 yards.
Stalder’s recent explosion has allowed Greene County to become one of the most unstoppable offenses in the state, which is in large part due to the senior’s patience.
“He’s just been locked in and is staying cool under pressure,” Duncan said. “We’re getting into formations and plays to be successful, then we’re executing, and Bryce has been a major part of that. His running ability and his arm are both great weapons to have.”
Greene County has made their scorching-hot success seem relatively simple. They held Red Oak to just 26 total yards of offense last week, highlighted by an astounding -10 rushing yards.
Greene County has only trailed in two games this season, having held a lead, wire-to-wire in four of their last five contests. The District 8 leaders are defeating opponents by an average margin of 44.8 points.
The Rams haven’t trailed in a game since week three, when they were down 3-0 to Kuemper in the third quarter. Since then, the Rams have led for 13 straight quarters, which amounts to 156 minutes of gameplay and 164 unanswered points.
Greene County’s 58.5 tackles for loss are the second most in 2A, just a half tackle behind Estherville Lincoln Central’s state-leading 59 tackles for loss. The Rams are also tied for third with ELC with 15 total sacks. Greene County has forced 15 turnovers in six games, aided by 10 interceptions, tied for the second-most in the state. Northeast leads the state with 11 interceptions. Sophomore defensive end Michael Rumley leads Class 2A with 14 tackles for loss after securing four tackles for loss last week, aided by a single sack. His 4.5 sacks this fall are tied for second most in the state.
The Greene County offense, though overshadowed by the magnificent defense, has been rather remarkable during the five game streak, averaging 37.8 points per game.
The Rams lead Class 2A with 37 total touchdowns while they are second with 22 rushing touchdowns.
The Rams are seventh in the state with 2,750 all purpose yards and 12th in rushing yards with 1,314 yards on the ground, having produced the fourth-best yards per carry average of 7 yards.
Greene County has refused to allow any freedom for opposing offenses, forcing their will on each opponent, pouncing when the opportunity arises. That ability is a big key to their dominance, Duncan said. The Rams strive to demolish teams while also keeping those goose eggs intact.
“We just don’t want people to score, bottom line, and the guys have taken pride in that,” the coach said. “They’ve all bought into doing their jobs and doing it with a lot of physicality and selflessness. “Even if the offense does manage to get a decent play, we move on and get back to doing our jobs and stopping them as soon as possible. It’s our E+R=O mentality.”
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
Historically, the Rams have produced several stingy defensive fronts, with one unit in particular a clear-cut standout, though one must travel back nearly 70 years to find it. The 1952 Jefferson High Ramblers were the best defensive team in state history, blasting through an entire regular season without allowing a single point, securing nine consecutive shutouts. The streak began in 1951 and ended nearly two years later, an Iowa high school state record of 13 straight shutouts.
That Jefferson team was a menace in the turnover department, securing 49 turnovers in 1952, aided by 28 interceptions and 21 fumble recoveries.
This year’s Greene County squad isn’t nearly as opportunistic via turnovers, but they are extremely hard to move the ball on.
Greene County head coach Caden Duncan said it’s because of the Rams’ unusually aggressive 3-4 base defense, which has wrecked havoc on their past five opponents. The Rams deploy three defensive lineman to attack the quarterback while four linebackers to patrol the middle of the field. It has confused many signal-callers and ball-carriers throughout the fall.
“It’s not a very common scheme so that might throw some teams off, but we are very aggressive in it and we try to force the issue for the offense,” Duncan said. “We don’t like to let them get comfortable. The key is making sure all gaps are accounted for on every play and making a wall at the line of scrimmage, and the guys have done a great job of that lately.”
RISING THROUGH THE RANKS
The Rams moved to No. 5 in the Class 2A Associated Press rankings this week, one spot up from No. 6 last Tuesday. Southeast Valley (6-0) remains atop the rankings as the only unbeaten left while O-A/BCIG (5-1), Waukon (5-1) and West Marshall (5-1) round out the top four. Greene County is followed by Estherville-Lincoln Central (4-2), Spirit Lake (4-2), Pocahontas Area (4-2), West Union (5-1) and West Lyon (4-2) fill out the remaining top 10.