New dad Terrence Clark, Titans get another shot at IFL juggernaut

For fourth year in a row, Cedar Rapids Titans visit five-time defending league champ Sioux Falls in United Conference title game

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Limiting distractions is an important component to any football game day routine.

But when Cedar Rapids Titans O-lineman Terrence Clark answered a 3:30 a.m. phone call less than 16 hours before last Saturday’s Indoor Football League playoff game, he knew it could only mean one thing.

His wife Ashlee was going into labor.

“It was probably the best day of my life,” said Clark, who will try to help the Titans dethrone five-time league champion Sioux Falls Saturday in the United Conference championship game in South Dakota. “I was just praying that I would be there to see the birth and make it to the game. He blessed me and I was able to do both.”

Clark, 27, hopped in his car and made the 235-mile moonlight drive and arrived at the Racine, Wis. hospital just in time for the 8 a.m. delivery.

“A very frantic one,” Clark said of the drive. “I was doing my best to stay calm, but it was good. I just wanted everything to work out perfectly and it did.”

With an original due date of July 26, it was a bit of an early welcome for baby Terrence Christian Clark, Jr., who measured 19 inches and weighed 6 pounds, 5½ ounces. Once Ashlee and the baby were deemed healthy and comfortable, the new dad hustled back to Cedar Rapids in time to anchor the Titans’ O-line in a 66-36 playoff victory over Wichita Falls.

Saturday, the 6-foot-3, 310-pound center and the Titans will attempt to advance to their first United Bowl if they can finally crack the Sioux Falls code. The Storm (15-1) – winners of 59 home games in a row – have eliminated the Titans in the conference title game in each of the past three seasons.

“It’s all mental,” said Clark, who played collegiately at Division III Carthage in Kenosha, Wis. “It’s about locking in mentally and just executing. We have the talent. That’s not the issue. We just have to make sure we’re locked in and focus.”

A big reason the Storm have been so dominant at home is they limit mistakes and wait for the opponent to beat themselves. It will be up to Cedar Rapids’ defensive playmakers to disrupt the Storm offense, prevent easy touchdowns and force turnovers.

D-linemen Xzavie Jackson (14.5) and Jermiah Price (14) finished 1-2 in the league in sacks, and a ball-hawking secondary has intercepted 15 passes in the last nine games.

“I feel like if we come out and play the same way that we did this past week, we don’t have any problem,” Price said. “We don’t have anything to worry about.”

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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