For 103rd time, it’s Dodgers vs. MC
Fort Dodge tries to extend win streak in storied series to 14 games
MASON CITY — As the old saying goes, ”past performance does not guarantee future results.”
No one has repeated this mantra more than Fort Dodge football coach Matt Miller in the last few days.
Despite riding an unprecedented 13-game winning streak into the 103rd meeting between the Dodgers and Mason City on Friday, Miller’s squad is approaching the contest in the exact same fashion as their archrivals — with the slate wiped clean.
The Decker Sporting Goods Trophy is again up for grabs here tonight, with varsity kickoff in Iowa’s second-oldest prep gridiron series scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
”Our message all week has been to respect the streak, but realize (the current squad) has been involved in just one of those (13 victories),” said Miller, who has never lost to Mason City during his tenure. ”The other wins belong to different guys wearing our uniforms. We have to play with the same sense of urgency and focus that (prior FDSH squads) have shown in order to keep (the series) momentum on our side.
”It’s always an emotional game. We’ll get their best, so we have to come with nothing less than our best in return and see what happens from there.”
The Dodgers (1-1 overall) surged to a 56-0 victory over Sioux City North in their home opener last week, while the Mohawks (0-2) were tripped up by Marshalltown, 16-13. Fort Dodge was markedly better with both its execution and emotion in response to a Week 1 loss at No. 8 Cedar Falls, but Miller knows there is still plenty of room for improvement.
”We’re getting there and we’ve had another good week of practice,” Miller said. ”We were able to take our gameplan and put it into action (against North). We’ll have to do the same now against a program that’s going to be very hungry for a win.”
Junior quarterback Drake Miller tied a Class 4A state record with seven touchdown passes to five different receivers last week. Miller also established a new school mark with 407 yards through the air.
For as efficient as their aerial attack was, though, coach Miller emphasized the importance of establishing the run moving forward.
”We have to be able to run the ball with consistency — especially on the road,” Miller said. ”I’d like to see us build some early momentum and go from there, which again is always critical when you’re not in your own stadium.”
Mohawk senior Danny Kamm is no stranger to the rivalry. Kamm, a three-year starter, is 17 of 23 passing for 212 yards and three touchdowns so far this year. He’s also Mason City’s leading rusher, with 142 yards on 23 carries, and top tackler as well.
”He’s a good, patient runner, and he’s used to the pressures of (being a varsity quarterback),” Miller said of Kamm. ”We still have some things to shore up defensively, but I like the fact that we were aggressive and flying to the ball (against North).”
The Dodgers’ defensive performance has been a recurring theme during their recent 13-game stranglehold; they’ve allowed more than 17 points to the Mohawks only once in that period of time.
Fort Dodge leads the all-time series, 53-41-8, with wins in 23 of the last 29 meetings overall. The programs have met every year on the gridiron since 1923, and in all but one season since 1918.
The rivalry began in 1912. According to unofficial records, it is the 94th-longest prep gridiron series in the country. Only Des Moines East and Des Moines North — established in 1903 — have met more times in the history of Iowa high school football.
”Our guys embrace the tradition and the importance of this week,” Miller said. ”We haven’t always been the better team (during the streak), but the better team doesn’t always win a football game. It’s more about who steps up and make plays when (the result) hangs in the balance.”