Endurance test: Sulphur’s depth challenge for Yellow Jackets

Published 2:55 pm Friday, September 17, 2021

Iowa has shined in the second half of game this high school football season and has started 2-0 for the first time since 2017.

It is something they want to continue when the Yellow Jackets travel to Sulphur to take on the Tors tonight at Matt Walker Memorial Stadium.

“To be honest, it is being able to finish games,” Iowa head coach Tommy Johnson said. “That has been a big plus for us, and hopefully we can do it again. That is something that has to become a habit.”

Iowa used a late drive in Week 1 to seal a 48-27 win over Iota, then outscored Kinder 27-6 in the second half last week.

“Iota was a close game, and in the fourth quarter we put together a 95-yard drive to close out the game,” Johns said. “Then at Kinder, we were up 14-12 at the half and we came out in the second half and started clicking and were able to finish.

“Don’t get me wrong, I thought Kinder did a great job. We were not executing very well, but they had a lot to do with that.

“At halftime we made a few adjustments here and there, but it was mainly getting back to the basics of what we know how to do. We were missing blocks and gave up a few big plays defensively, especially one right at the end of the half. It came down to us executing and doing our job.”

The Yellow Jackets’ last two games against the Tors didn’t finish how they would have liked. In 2015, Iowa led by four points at halftime and by 11 in the third quarter in 2016, but lost both games by 10 points.

“That was the main concern then and it still is now,” Johns said. “It’s depth playing a 5A team. They have a lot more players than we do. That was a big concern going into 2015 and 2016. We had some guys play both ways. They put us away in the fourth quarter with some big plays we gave up. It happened both years in a row.”

The Tors will play their first game since Week 1 after a positive COVID-19 test and contact tracing forced them to forfeit to Notre Dame last week. While they will still be without some players, Tower said his team is ready and should have no conditioning issues.

“We run a lot in practices,” Towery said. “We do a lot of good-on-good, offense versus defense in practice.

“We do scout team work too. We started back practice this week. We are still short some people from the way they do this contact tracing stuff. The ones we got back, we had a normal week of practice even with the weather. We got something done pretty much every day.”

Iowa running back Ronald Young is averaging two touchdowns and more than 100 yards a game. Wide receiver Curtis Deville has more than 200 all-purpose yards a game. Towery said he plans to disrupt the Yellow Jackets offense with a physical defense.

“We are going to be physical with them,” he said. “You can’t give them a whole lot of space.

“If we keep those guys under control and keep them in front of us and make tackles out in the open field, I think they are pretty good. I think they are well coached. They are physical up front. They have a couple of playmakers in a couple of spots. If they get out in the open field, you might have some issues. We have to keep those guys at bay.”