Scotus Central Catholic lost by its largest margin in 14 years when the Shamrocks went on the road and suffered a 49-0 shutout to Wahoo to end the regular season schedule two weeks ago.
Sure, SCC's best player, and one of the most dynamic players in the state, starting quarterback Tyler Palmer, was sidelined for a second straight week following a high ankle sprain. Had he been available, it's unlikely his presence would have been enough. The final score says as much.
He may be back for Friday when the Shamrocks and Warriors meet for a second time, this one part of four games in the Class C-1 state quarterfinals, but will it matter?
Since the season began, C-1 has been a Wahoo/Pierce conversation.
Does anyone else belong? Can anyone else challenge that duo? Is a meeting between the Warriors and Bluejays in Lincoln for a state title a foregone conclusion?
While that remains to be seen, few would point to Scotus as the team likely to provide that surprise. Palmer or not, good first half in the first meeting or not, two weeks ago showed the Shamrocks are simply overmatched.
What, if anything, can give SCC a glimmer of hope?
"Our guys and their attitudes around practice," coach Tyler Linder said. "They have had high energy and attention to detail all week long. They are really rallying around each other, and it's amazing to see the cohesiveness of our program."
OK, so the Shamrocks have the right attitude. But how far can attitude go? Scotus only trailed Wahoo 14-0 at halftime the first time around before the floodgates opened in the second half.
You have free articles remaining.
At that point, Linder and offensive coordinator Jay Pelan might have dialed it back on the play calling while inserting backups into a game that had clearly gotten out of hand.
Was Scotus the best representation of itself two weeks ago? Probably not. But is there enough in terms of play calling, execution and personnel if the Shamrocks are 100 percent to stick with the Warriors for four quarters?
"We have a few new wrinkles in this week," Linder said. "Offensively, we found some things on film that we feel can better attack them. As far as the rest of it goes, we need to execute and make some big splash plays on defense and special teams."
Wahoo has scored 40 or more points in all but two games this season and allowed two scores just once. Thus, counting on the Warriors to suddenly make mistakes is likely a losing proposition.
That, in essence, puts the pressure squarely on Scotus to be near perfect.
"We will need to play well. It always helps your chances when teams turn the ball over and accrue penalties, but I don't anticipate Wahoo making a lot of mistakes, "Linder said. "They are well coached and disciplined. We will have to make our own luck."
Luck and belief. Scotus won't likely find either anywhere else but in its own huddle.
"I don't mind being seen as an underdog," Linder said. "We all know that in almost all of those epic sports stories, the guy that everyone sells short, delivers."
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.