Fort Dodge closes against powerful SE Polk

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Fort Dodge is on the verge of establishing new school records in many offensive categories heading into its final game against Southeast Polk here on Friday.

Varsity kickoff for Senior Night is set for 7:30 p.m. inside Dodger Stadium.

Head coach Matt Miller is proud of his squad and the fact that they’ve been rewriting the program’s history books this year. Individual accomplishments are meaningful, but ring somewhat hollow in the face of FDSH’s 4-4 overall record.

Miller is the first to admit that.

”I know that our coaches and players, to a man, would trade all of (the statistics) in for two more wins,” Miller said. ”There is obviously an appreciation for something Trey (Mosley) has done, or Tyrnan (Lara) has done, or (Drake) has done, (relative to) the records here. We’ve been playing football for over 100 years, so it’s significant. Don’t get me wrong.

”With that being said, we’d love to be sitting here 6-2 right now. We’re literally just a few plays away. So it’s frustrating; we’d really like to be enjoying (all of the individual success) with two more wins on the board.”

Drake Miller and Mosley are on the verge of both a rare and symmetrical

accomplishment. Miller needs 67 yards to overtake Randy Reiners as the Dodgers’ single-season record holder at 2,235 passing yards. Mosley, meanwhile, is the exact same total behind Mark Wills on FDSH’s single-season receiving charts.

Reiners and Wills both established their marks during the Dodgers’ 1994 state quarterfinal campaign. Fort Dodge went 7-4 that year, and Reiners and Wills were both first team all-state selections.

“The game has evolved so much offensively in the last 25 years,” said Miller, who was the program’s offensive coordinator in ’94. “Because of that, you can’t really compare statistics or eras. (Passing) is much more prevalent now than it was back then, and (playbooks) are much more complex.

“I’m really proud of what our kids have done in the last 10 years or so, but that doesn’t make me any less proud of what they did 15, 20, 25, 30 years ago. I’ve been lucky to have a front-row seat for it all.”

Nothing will come easy for the Dodgers against the Rams (5-3, 3-1), who are just outside of Class 4A’s Top-10 and in prime position to secure another playoff bid. Despite playing one of the toughest schedules in the state — Southeast Polk has gone head-to-head with top-ranked Iowa City West, No. 3 West Des Moines Valley, sixth-rated Johnston and No. 8 Ankeny Centennial — head coach Brad Zelenovich’s team has won five of six overall to climb back into the thick of the postseason hunt.

”They’re big, they’re fast, they’re tough up front, and they play with an attitude,” Miller said. ”A really, really strong ballclub — one of the best they’ve had top to bottom, and right up there with Cedar Falls and Valley as the best we’ll see this year.

”Let’s just put it this way: they beat Centennial 34-7, and Centennial just beat (four-time defending state champion and nationally-ranked West Des Moines) Dowling last week. This is a huge challenge for us.”

Sophomore tailback Gavin Williams, who already has an offer from Iowa State University, has rushed for 576 yards and 10 touchdowns at nearly five yards per carry. Senior quarterback Shane Starcevich has been a dual threat for the Rams, passing for 1,612 yards and 13 scores while rushing for 534 yards and eight TDs.

SEP receiver Nathaniel Flynn has 36 catches for 622 yards. The Rams’ lone loss in district action was a 41-34 overtime road setback at Valley.

Miller has 16 seniors suiting up for the last time, including starters Mosley, Lara, Damond Lockner, Luke Jacobson, Alec Crimmins, Mitch Glass, Dakota Stenzel, Savion Poe, Joe Artis, Brayden Bell and Aaron Porter, as well as injured regulars Aidan Simonson and Chase Tepfer.

”Our senior class means a great deal to this program, so it will be an important night to recognize them and hopefully send them off by finishing up strong,” Miller said. ”They’ve accepted their roles and done what’s best for us under some often-difficult circumstances from an injury standpoint.”

The Dodgers are without another defensive player this week, as junior lineman Carson Spiker will sit out with a concussion. Spiker is the seventh FDSH player who has missed time from the front seven alone compared to the Week 1 lineup.

Miller has thrown for 2,168 yards and 30 touchdowns — already a single-sesason school record. Mosley (55 catches, 852 yards, 11 TDs) and Lara (39-568-10) have been the junior left-hander’s main targets. Freshman Dayson Clayton has 707 rushing yards and seven scores at 6.2 yards per carry.

Miller’s 38 overall touchdowns this year — 30 passing and eight rushing — are one better than Reiners’ 1994 total (16 passing, 21 rushing) on the program’s all-time list as well.

Lara ranks sixth in receiving yards (838) and fourth in receptions (74) on FDSH’s career charts.

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