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story.lead_photo.caption South Callaway defensive end Tyler Potter tries to bring a Clopton/Elsberry ball carrier to the ground during the Bulldogs' 49-43 Eastern Missouri Conference win against the IndianHawks last Friday in Clarksville. Photo by Shelly Sconce/Special to the Fulton Sun

MOKANE — The South Callaway Bulldogs are banking on a repeat to provide a boost.

South Callaway will seek consecutive wins for the first time this season when it travels to Vandalia for an Eastern Missouri Conference contest against the Van-Far/Community Indians. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

The Bulldogs have won two of their last three after surviving in a wild 49-43 EMO shootout last Friday at Clopton/Elsberry, with the teams combining for more than 1,000 yards of total offense. South Callaway is now 2-4 on the season and reached the .500 mark in conference play at 2-2.

"I think you progressively raise your expectations — your standards for how you practice, how you execute in the game," South Callaway coach Zack Hess said. " It looked like they (players) were having fun out there, and that's really important to me.

"Just the attitude is contagious when you get excited about something, and it's a snowball effect."

South Callaway will square off against a Van-Far/Community squad that is fading at 1-5 overall and 0-4 in the EMO. The Indians suffered their fourth straight loss last week, a 26-14 conference defeat at Mark Twain.

The Bulldogs' defense — after being gouged for 507 yards of total offense last week — will be focused tonight on restricting Van-Far/Community senior quarterback Verdell Johnson.

Johnson rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown in the Indians' 64-20 EMO home loss to North Callaway on Sept. 27. Johnson also threw for a score, but completed just 4-of-15 passes for a sparse 28 yards and was intercepted three times.

"He's smooth — he avoids contact really well, he accelerates really well and then he's got the track speed," Hess said. "He makes big plays, especially out on the perimeter.

"We just can't have (defensive) breakdowns. That's kind of what they thrive on, plays breaking down and then making plays from that. You've got to make sure that you do your job and you're very disciplined."

On the offensive side, South Callaway will attempt to build off last week's prolific offensive showing. The Bulldogs piled up 553 total yards, including 388 yards rushing.

Senior running back Devin Borghardt gained 191 yards and scored two touchdowns. Sophomore running back Trace Helsel — making his first varsity start — added 130 yards rushing and one score.

Senior quarterback Cole Shoemaker was 7-of-9 passing for 165 yards and threw three touchdown passes to junior wide receiver Hayden Vaught. Shoemaker also ran for a score.

South Callaway will try to exploit a Van-Far/Community defense — led by Johnson at safety — that is surrendering 33.7 points per game.

"They've got some bigger corners out there on the edge that are real physical with their receivers and their perimeter players," Hess said. "They cover a lot of ground on the back end.

"They're big and stout on the front end. They're just very assignment-sound. You see a lot of defenses that move around, you just never know exactly where they're going to line up. That's not these guys."

Hess noted the Bulldogs can't be reckless in attacking the Indians' defensive unit.

"I think our key is just following our rules," Hess said. "We have all these things built in (to the offense), in making sure we do our job up front and take what they give us.

"I really do think they're going to be in an odd front. We've got to try to avoid their playmakers on the back end if we can. If that means driving the ball methodically down the field, then that's what we'll have to do."

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