MOKANE — The South Callaway Bulldogs are discovering the mood-altering value of a win in attempting to mend their season.
South Callaway will seek to extend the momentum of its first victory last week when it hosts the Bowling Green Bobcats in an Eastern Missouri Conference matchup tonight. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs broke into the win column by rallying for a 20-12 EMO victory against Mark Twain in Mokane. South Callaway is now 1-3 overall and 1-1 in the EMO.
"That was kind of the theme (Monday) during our film meetings, or scouting-report meetings," Hess said. "It's a lot easier to break down our mistakes and then go over those things after a win.
"It's just, 'Yeah, we got the win, but we still have a lot of things we need to continue to get better at.' It's just a lot easier after a win to go back and look at those things and reinforce things that we've already talked about, and maybe they did a little bit better on Friday night, and just continue to get better at."
Like South Callaway, Bowling Green also finds itself sitting at 1-3 on the season and 1-1 in the EMO. The Bobcats battled before succumbing to Montgomery County in a 37-33 conference home loss last week.
Bowling Green's spread offense has been missing its primary weapon, senior quarterback Austin Callahan, for most of the season. Callahan's only appearance, according to Hess, came in the Bobcats' 26-14 EMO win Sept. 13 at Mark Twain.
Junior quarterback Nick Breakfield has directed Bowling Green in Callahan's absence. Breakfield is just 5-of-9 passing for 94 yards and one touchdown, while scoring on a pair of runs.
"(Breakfield) is a good player in his own right, not quite the physical attributes as (Callahan)," Hess said. "He still can throw the ball, runs the ball really well.
"I don't really think that they change their offensive plan much, whether it's No. 3 (Callahan) or No. 8 (Breakfield)."
Senior running back Gavin Deters leads the Bobcats in rushing with 281 yards (6.4 per carry) and two touchdowns.
"He's fast and shifty, elusive," Hess said. "He'll squirt through a little hole."
Bowling Green's top receiver is senior Deonta Fleming with 12 catches for 217 yards.
South Callaway's defense limited Mark Twain to 169 yards of total offense last week and shut out the Tigers in the second half.
Hess explained that the Bulldogs' run fits will be essential tonight in defending the Bobcats.
"Just trying to get a read on their plays that they like to run — and fitting it up well — is going to be our key," Hess said. "We might be out of position maybe a little bit out on the perimeter because we're focused on things that they really like to do on the interior.
"That's a chance that we're going to have to take, so we're going to have to make sure we tackle well on the perimeter when we're presented with those opportunities."
Junior lineman Jacob Bowen paces the Bowling Green defense with 25 tackles (17 solo). Junior linebacker Clay Lazear is next with 22 tackles (14 solo).
"They're big and physical up front," Hess said. "Their linebackers are physical as well — they do a good job of reading. A lot of times you'll get linebackers that play close to the line and just look for a hole and fill it, which is fine.
"These guys look like they do a good job reading plays and then attacking downhill."
Hess is not sure what base defensive scheme the Bobcats will line up in tonight. Bowling Green operated out of a three-man front against Mark Twain, then showed a four-man look against Montgomery County last week.
That has forced South Callaway's offensive unit to split up its preparation for both alignments in practice.
"It divides the reps," Hess said. "If you can be really sure that you're going to get a certain front, then that's the front that you're working with all week.
"If you're not sure, then now you have to work against the other front as well. It just takes away reps."