MOKANE — Whether soaking up game-week preparations or peering ahead to the onset of district play in just a month, the South Callaway Bulldogs are multitasking on both fronts.
Staying in the present, South Callaway will host the winless Van-Far/Community Indians in an Eastern Missouri Conference game tonight. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs sit at 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the EMO after manhandling Clopton/Elsberry in a 54-20 blitz last week at home. South Callaway was able to bounce back following a 41-20 conference loss Sept. 18 at Montgomery County.
Van-Far/Community tumbled to 0-3 both on the season and in the EMO after a 35-28 loss last week at Louisiana.
"One of the things that we talked about, actually, on Monday is what are we going to do this week to prepare ourselves for beyond Friday, for challenging for a share of the conference championship, for winning districts and then eventually, hopefully, winning a (state) quarterfinal game?" South Callaway coach Zack Hess said. "That's kind of the mindset that we have to have, not just how are we going to beat Van-Far.
"We've got to prepare ourselves to go win down the road, and that means we have to have good weeks of practice now, and have a sense of urgency now, not when it comes."
Senior quarterback Tony Garland guides Van-Far/Community's wing-T offense that is averaging a miniscule 11.3 points per game. The Indians' backfield features junior running back Bryson Lay and senior fullback Garrett Schmidt, while Garland's main target is senior wide receiver LaTrell Wright.
"The quarterback looks like he has a good arm and No. 5, their receiver (Wright), will go up and get it," Hess said. "To look at (Lay), he doesn't look that intimidating, but he's got some wiggle and he can squeeze through some holes, and he's got good acceleration.
"We talked to our guys about him being the guy that we really need to key in on. (Schmidt) runs with a little different style, he runs more of the traps, the inside runs."
South Callaway's defense limited Clopton/Elsberry to 244 yards of total offense last week, including a sparse 14 yards rushing. Junior linebacker Trace Helsel also returned an interception 31 yards for a score.
The unique features of the wing-T is presenting the Bulldogs with a different type of defensive test this week, Hess said.
"Just the system that that is, it's like defending an option team," he said. "You've got a certain group of defensive players that need to stop this and a certain group that needs to be ready for this.
"That's going to be our challenge this week, just trying to hone in on our keys and doing our individual jobs."
South Callaway's running game — which is averaging a sturdy 264 yards — will confront a Van-Far/Community defense tonight that is allowing 29.3 points per contest. Hess expects the Indians to line up in a 4-4 scheme.
"What I've noticed is that they really load the box, they get a lot of guys down close to the line of scrimmage, kind of like what Montgomery County did to us," Hess said. "They do a really good job with their run fits."
The Bulldogs will get junior quarterback Sam Buckner back tonight after he served a two-game suspension for violating team policy. Hess, though, noted sophomore quarterback Jacob Martin will likely make his third consecutive varsity start while Buckner is gradually blended back into the South Callaway offense.
"I'm sure there will be a little rust and we told Sam that he's going to have to earn his spot back, his time back," Hess said. "We're not just going to hand it back to him.
"When he gets out there, he's going to have to execute and make the right reads and calls. But I think he's up for that challenge and he's ready for it."