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Will Rams' growing pains equal wins?
Five reasons Scott City can compete for the Class 2 district crown
Scott City faced plenty of growing pains last year, starting as many as eight sophomores at times.
That experience should pay off this season.
"They want to be known as the next group who continues the Scott City legacy," Rams coach Terry Flannigan said. "The next playoff group or conference championship group. They want their group to be known for many years to come."
Flannigan believes the Rams will have more depth at many positions, which has led to competition.
"Out of all the positions on the field, seven or eight [of them], if you want to goof off, you'll be second string by the sound of the whistle," he said. "It makes it good by keeping them on their toes."
Scott City's strength on offense continued to be its running game last year, and the Rams got the job done with a host of backs.
Cody Carlyle, now a junior, led the pack with 779 yards last year on 169 carries. Chris Blankenship, also a junior, rushed for 406 yards on 85 carries.
"We've got some pretty good running backs," Flannigan said. "Rynn Eskew came out as a senior, and he's doing a good job. Cody Carlyle, Chris Blankenship, he's really done well. Trey Schlosser, he's just a little bitty scat back, but he's got the vision where he can cut and make you miss. Shae Simmons is a sophomore, and he's done a real good job. That gives us five running backs we can put in the game any time, and we don't loose that much with any of the five in there. The good thing for next year is four of the five are back."
Scott City's starting lineup is filled with two-and-three-sport athletes who have the ability to make plays with their athleticism.
Ethan Watkins plays point guard on the basketball team, a similar position to his quarterbacking duties on the football field. The baseball and basketball rosters are filled with football players.
"They're a decent group of athletes," Flannigan said. "They're a big group that sticks together. Most all of them are involved in baseball, basketball and track. They're involved."
St. Pius replaces Charleston in Class 2 District 2. Charleston's speed at the skill positions was too much for the Rams in recent years. The Bluejays denied the Rams a district title in 2004, and Scott City has not beaten Charleston since 1999.
"I think it benefits us and made the district down south a whole lot tougher," Flannigan said. "I think we match up better. Crystal City will be the top pick. St. Pius, Grandview and us, you can put us in a bag and shake us up and see who comes up first. It will get us away from that speed. Charleston is filled to the gill with speed."
And five reasons they won't
One year after springing Matt Schaefer to 1,500 yards during an 8-2 season in whch he ran nearly at will in some games, Scott City worked in several young players during the 2005 campaign.
The Rams hope last year's experience will pay off for that young, small group.
"Since we're not really big, we've got to put out extra effort," Flannigan said. "You've got to work your technique."
The Rams have plenty of experience after their large sophomore class got its share of varsity experience last season.
Those players have a year's worth of varsity experience under their belt, but the team is still dominated by juniors and sophomores.
"Last year, we were sophomore-dominated," Flannigan said. "This year we're junior- and sophomore-dominated. We're a year older. You're hoping with a year older you are a year wiser and a year better. Whether our year wiser and better can keep up with the senior-dominated groups is a big question."
A lack of size is not just limited to the line, as Scott City will be outmanned across the field this season.
The Rams have 12 players listed at 200 or more pounds on their roster, but just five of those are juniors or seniors.
"This is the first time in a while we'll have been outmanned size-wise by most teams on our schedule," Flannigan said. "We're going to be out-sized, so we'll have to do a lot of things right."
The Rams did not have an answer for the loss of Schaefer in the kicking game, all but abandoning it last season. Scott City rarely attempted extra points, opting for two-point conversions on many occasions. The team did not convert any field goals.
"The kicking game needs a lot of work," Flannigan said.
Crystal City rolled over Scott City 50-6 en route to its first district title since 2003 last season and will be the favorite again this season.
The Hornets went on to knock off Caruthersville in the sectional before falling to Cardinal Ritter in the quarterfinals.