Dodgers extend streak to 15
Fort Dodge dominates Mason City from start to finish; Miller breaks career passing record
MASON CITY — Fort Dodge senior lineman Logan Finowski brought perfect perspective to just how sustained his program’s dominance of arch rival Mason City has become.
“We have a lot of kids at our school now who weren’t even alive the last time (the Mohawks defeated the Dodgers),” Finowski said after his team’s 48-0 season-opening dismantling of MCHS. “When you think about it that way … a lot of people don’t really know or think about what this means to us. And it’s just kind of assumed that we’ll keep up (the tradition). But a lot of hard work and preparation goes into this. We don’t just show up and win.
“It’s a very emotional game for us and, as a senior (three-year starter), an emotional moment.”
Though it’s always easier said than done to continue such an improbable streak — now at 15 games and counting — Finowski’s Dodgers made it look easy here on Friday night. Quarterback Drake Miller threw for an efficient 370 yards to zoom past former Iowa Hawkeye quarterback Randy Reiners and become the program’s all-time leading passer, and FDSH’s defense allowed less than 100 yards as the squad retained the Decker Sporting Goods Trophy for the 14th consecutive time since its inception in 2005.
“I’m really proud of the way we came to play, even after the (one-hour weather delay due to tornado warnings in the area right before kickoff),” Dodger head coach Matt Miller said. “It was a total team effort, which is always the best kind of win.
“Given the field conditions, I thought both our offense and our defense did a terrific job. We were far from perfect, but this is a great starting point. And I don’t care what anybody says: it’s never easy in this game to beat a team 15 straight times, let alone a 100-plus year rival.”
Miller completed 14 of 17 passes in a little over three quarters of work. Sophomore tailback Dayson Clayton added 133 yards on the ground, and junior receiver Tysen Kershaw hauled in six passes for 146 yards and two of Miller’s four TD strikes.
Juniors Russell Potratz (68 yards) and Brycen Bell (74) also caught long scoring tosses from Miller, who now has 4,498 passing yards in his career. Reiners accumulated 4,385 yards from 1992-94.
“It was just great to see us come out and get into a rhythm. Everything was clicking,” Drake Miller said. “It’s awesome to know that I passed a true Dodger legend (in Reiners). It was a goal since I started as a sophomore to break a record that stood for many years.
“All of this is only possible because of the talented athletes I’ve been lucky enough to have around me, though. I can’t thank my teammates, coaches, and the Dodger community enough for the support and everything they’ve done for us (through the years).”
Fort Dodge’s opening drive dictated the tempo of the entire evening. The Dodgers marched 87 yards on 11 plays, capped by a 16-yard Clayton touchdown jaunt.
“Dayson was great, and the line was outstanding in its protection of Drake and opening up holes,” Miller said. “Dayson probably could have had an even bigger game, and he had a long touchdown run called back on a hold. I told him afterward, ‘your week is coming.’ And he said, ‘Coach, whatever is best for the team. I just want to win.’ That shows his maturity, even though he’s just a sophomore.”
Potratz (84 yards), Bell (74) and fellow junior Nick Bice (52) all got in on the receiving act. Aside from Kershaw, the Dodgers are relatively untested there, with all-time leader Trey Mosley and Tyrnan Lara having graduated from a year ago.
“I’ve said that you don’t just replace Trey and Tyrnan, which is true,” Miller said. “But we have some kids who are really emerging, especially from that junior class (which accounted for 356 of Miller’s 370 yards).”
The rest was left up to the defense and the hulks in the trenches.
After the Mohawks marched 59 yards on their opening possession, they managed only 15 total yards from scrimmage the rest of the night. Mason City didn’t complete a single pass.
Junior Asle Thorson — the grandson of Dodger legends Sherwyn Thorson and Sam Moser — intercepted a pass in his first career start at safety. Sophomore James Daniel recovered a fumble.
Fort Dodge shut out Mason City for just the second time since 1985.
“The defense really settled into a groove after the opening drive,” Miller said. “(Defensive coordinator) Blake (Utley) made some nice adjustments, and the players really responded. Our linebackers were all over the place.”
Back-up Dylan Zimmermann, a sophomore, scored on a late quarterback keeper for the final Dodger points. The contest was played under a 35-point continuous clock rule for the last 16-plus minutes of regulation.
The Dodgers have out-scored the Mohawks on their home field by a combined point margin of 95-6 the last two seasons. FDSH has now beaten Mason City by at least 24 points six times in the last 11 meetings.
“It’s great to be a senior and know we kept the streak going,” said 6-foot-5, 280-pound lineman Dalton Schmidt. “You never want to be the class or the group that loses that (Decker Sporting Goods) trophy. We take a lot of pride in that as one of (the program’s) main goals.
“It was good to see younger guys like (sophomore) Sawyer Springer step up and play well (up front). We have to come together as a group and be as consistent as we can, and for guys like Logan and me, it’s important to be leaders.”
Drake Miller added, “you never take a win over Mason City for granted.”
“There are former Dodgers everywhere who are a part of this run,” Miller said. “And they’re as fired up (Friday) as we are. It’s a goal to never lose this game, which has been passed down by the guys before us. And that’s what Dodger football is: a brotherhood.”
Fort Dodge’s 2018 home opener is Friday against Ames.
First Downs 19 5
Rushes-Yards 31-154 38-74
Passing 14-18-0 0-5-1
Passing Yards 370 0
Total Offense 524 74
Punts-Avg. 2-26.5 5-40.2
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 6-1
Penalties-Yards 7-58 2-19
Fort Dodge 6 14 15 13 — 48
Mason City 0 0 0 0 — 0
Fort Dodge — Dayson Clayton (16-yard run), 8:08 left first. Kick failed.
Fort Dodge — Tysen Kershaw (58-yard pass from Drake Miller), 11:14 left second. Ben Nebel kick.
Fort Dodge — Russell Potratz (68-yard pass from Miller), 6:18 left second. Nebel kick.
Fort Dodge — Brycen Bell (74-yard pass from Miller), 9:32 left third. Nebel kick.
Fort Dodge — Miller (1-yard run), 4:47 left third. Miller run.
Fort Dodge — Kershaw (27-yard pass from Miller), 11:01 left fourth. Nebel kick.
Fort Dodge — Dylan Zimmermann (2-yard run), 0:40 left fourth. Run failed.
Rushing — Fort Dodge: Dayson Clayton 21-133, Demarius Bush 2-19, Hunter Alexander 1-3, Dylan Zimmermann 3-3, Drake Miller 4-(minus-4). Mason City: K.J. Barkema 12-64, Marcos Cervantes 3-8, Logan Houang 1-7, Chris Keller 3-1, Jake Kaune 15-0, Kevin Rossow 1-(minus-2), Joseph Quintero 3-(minus-4).
Passing — Fort Dodge: Drake Miller 14-17-0-370, Dylan Zimmermann 0-1-0-0. Mason City: Jake Kaune 0-4-1-0, Joseph Quintero 0-1-0-0.
Receiving — Fort Dodge: Tysen Kershaw 6-146, Russell Potratz 3-84, Brycen Bell 1-74, Nick Bice 3-52, Jace Peterson 1-14.