SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The Cedar Rapids Titans walked away from their Indoor Football League clash with defending league champion Sioux Falls beaten and even a little bit broken.
But at the same time, the Titans are convinced they have what it takes to unseat the Storm for a title.
Two weeks after the Titans routed Sioux Falls in Cedar Rapids, 52-18, they were looking to snap the Storm’s 31-game home winning streak in a battle for sole possession of first place.
They came up short, falling 30-24, unable to hold a 21-20 fourth quarter lead. To make matters worse, already having lost quarterback Charles McCallum to a season-ending injury the week before, running back LaRon Council appeared to suffer the same fate. Titans' head coach Mark Stoute fears the team’s leading rusher tore his Achilles tendon.
But as the Titans look ahead to the final two games of the regular season, they remain confident. Even after losing two of their top offensive weapons, they very nearly pulled off the big upset in Sioux Falls.
While they still have to secure a playoff spot, they know that if they do, and have to come back to Sioux Falls, they’re good enough to win there.
“We’ve got to win two games to get to the playoffs,” said Stoute, whose defense held the Storm to 104 and 109 yards of total offense, respectively, in their two meetings this season. “We know if we have to come back here we have a chance. That’s a great team over there. We made some mistakes (Saturday) but they made some, too. It was a great battle. If we have to come back here, we have to come back here, but we’ll be ready.”
If they do, Storm coach Kurtiss Riggs will be expecting a team that believes it can knock off the champions.
“I think they have confidence,” Riggs said. “They probably feel like with a call here or there they could’ve won (Saturday’s) game, and honestly, if they don’t have so many injuries they probably feel like they win the game easily. So we can’t expect them to be intimidated coming in here.”
Two teams in the United Conference will qualify for the playoffs. The Storm, at 8-4, are likely to secure one of them. The other would come down to the Titans and Chicago Slaughter, who are tied for second at 7-5. The Titans visit 1-10 Wyoming on Friday, before hosting 4-7 Green Bay in the regular season finale.
After having held off the Titans Saturday night, members of the Storm made it clear they expect to see them again.
“We’ll see them again for sure,” said Storm defensive tackle Cory Johnsen. “They’re a very good team. I would assume they’re going to win their next two games, and we plan on doing the same thing. So we have to be prepared to face another challenge from them, and they’ve obviously proved they can play with us.”
Sioux Falls was also impressed with the play of Titans quarterback Colton Hansen, who will be the man under center the rest of the way. Hansen was 16-of-33 for 106 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions while leading the team with 32 rushing yards.
Stoute said 250-pound Anthony Silvers will step into the starting running back role with Council out, and wide receiver Carl Sims could return soon as well.
Whoever is in the lineup, though, Stoute expects them to perform.“We have to overcome the injuries,” he said. “We have to fight. If someone goes down someone else has to step up. This is professional football, so there are no excuses. You have to get it done. When your number is called you have to be ready.”