ANKENY - Fort Dodge head coach Matt Miller knows all about the degree of difficulty awaiting his team at top-ranked (Class 4A) Ankeny here Friday.
The Hawks sport a perfect 7-0 record. They've scored 40 or more points five times. They average 8.3 yards per rush. Their quarterback is headed to Iowa State on a football scholarship. They lead the entire state - all classes combined - in total offense.
''Ankeny is the total package,'' Miller said. ''They're as good as advertised. I'm not going to try and spin it otherwise - I've seen them on film, I know the statistics, and we saw most of these kids last year (in the substate round).
''The No. 1 thing we need to do this week is get a complete effort from our kids from start to finish. I think it's very obvious that didn't happen last week (in a 37-0 Homecoming loss to Johnston).
''We may not be able to contol certain things that happen on the field (tonight), but we can control our attitude and our intensity. It has to start there.''
The Hawks are in their last season as one program. Next fall, they will split.
LT: Jake Porter, 265, jr.
LG: Michael Carlson, 280, sr.
C: Kyle Johnson, 220, sr.
RG: Marquan Clayton, 295, jr.
RT: Connor Hubbard, 260, sr.
SE: Tyler Vaughn, 170, sr.
SE: Zach Anderson, 155, jr.
or Spencer Barber, 165, so.
WB: Keegan Jones, 175, sr.
HB: Tommy Halligan, 175, sr.
TB: Austin Halligan, 170, so.
QB: Andrew Stover, 175, jr.
DE: Riley Prescott, 220, jr.
NG: Gavin Thomas, 220, sr.
DE: Skyler Harris, 210, so.
LB: Adrean Johnson, 180, sr.
LB: Sam Cook, 200, fr.
LB: Austin Anderson, 170, sr.
LB: Anthony Credit, 185, sr.
LB: A. Halligan
CB: Brandan Schoenfeld, 165, jr.
Miller thinks Ankeny is geared up for a championship run in the weeks to come, taking advantage of a roster loaded with talent and numbers.
''They have 93 kids, including 87 juniors and seniors,'' Miller said. ''We're not even at half that. If you look at what they've done in baseball (2012 state title), basketball and other major sports, this is kind of the group they've been grooming for a (football crown, which hasn't been done at AHS since 1997).
''They feel like this is their time.''
The Hawks have been challenged, winning by seven points against Southeast Polk and West Des Moines Dowling. In the last three weeks, though, Ankeny has beaten Johnston, Ames and Sioux City North by a combined point total of 154-37.
The balanced ground attack is led by senior Ian Begg (65 carries, 590 yards, nine touchdowns, 9.1 yards per rush), senior Joel Lanning (71, 520, 7, 7.3) and senior Drew Carlson (34, 306, 6, 9.0). Lanning, a future Cyclone gridder, has thrown for 1,323 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Junior Marshall Clark (18 catches, 343 yards), senior Sam Pickard (15-309), sophomore Josh Davis (12-291) and Carlson (9-211) all average at least 19 yards per catch.
Fort Dodge senior Tyler Vaughn ranks seventh in Class 4A with 41 catches. Vaughn has 572 yards and three touchdowns.
Andrew Stover, the Dodgers' quarterback, has already established a junior-class record for passing yards (1,299 yards). Stover has completed 104 of 205 attempts with 10 touchdowns to his credit.
Vaughn (728 yards) and classmate Tommy Halligan (697) rank fifth and seventh on the school's career receiving charts. Halligan is also seven catches shy of Alonzo Clayton's FDSH record for career catches (69).
The Dodgers welcome junior lineman Carlos Rocha (shoulder) back to the lineup this evening. Senior wingback and defensive back Wesley Castro has a sprained MCL and is unlikely to see the field again this season.
''Our program has prided itself on having guys who don't quit and go all-out from the first snap until the last - regardless of the score,'' Miller said. ''I want to see that passion (tonight). The kids who can show me that will be on the field.
''This is a tremendous challenge and I want our players to embrace it, not shy away from it.''