AMES -- Fort Dodge got out of the blocks first in its Class 4A, Division 2 opener with Ames on Friday.
After that, the fifth-ranked Little Cyclones were off to the races.
Ames exploded for nearly 500 yards of offense and eight touchdowns in the first half alone, and the Dodgers simply couldn't keep up in a 63-21 setback on a warm, breezy evening here last night.
Seniors Clifford Kwaw-Mensah and Sam Straub stole the show for the Little Cyclones (5-0 overall, 1-0 Division 2) to kick off the school's weekend homecoming festivities. Kwaw-Mensah rushed for an eye-popping 259 yards on just 10 carries in the first half, while Straub eclipsed the 200-yard passing mark before the intermission. The talented tandem had a hand in all eight Ames first-half scores.
"They're as good as advertised -- as good as we feared they'd be," FDSH head coach Matt Miller said. "You can try to prepare for the speed, the power and the physical play as much as possible during the week, but until you see it up close and personal, I don't think you're anywhere near ready. And once they got the ball rolling, they were awfully tough to stop.
"(Head coach) Bruce (Vertanen) has had a lot of talented teams here through the years, but this one is as good as maybe any of them. They're definitely as physical as they've been in a long time. They're the real deal. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if they ran the table and were 9-0 heading into (the postseason). I'm impressed and happy for Coach Vertanen. He runs a classy program."
Fort Dodge Spencer Barber (22-yard pass from Andrew Stover), 5:28 left first. Ethan Schwendemann kick.
Ames Clifford Kwaw-Mensah (4-yard run), 5:09 left first. Sam Rathe kick.
Ames Spencer Shane (34-yard pass from Sam Straub), 2:41 left first. Rathe kick.
Ames Alex Brammer (69-yard pass from Straub), 1:31 left first. Rathe kick.
Ames Kwaw-Mensah (55-yard run), 10:59 left second. Rathe kick.
Ames Kwaw-Mensah (13-yard pass from Straub), 9:52 left second. Rathe kick.
Ames Jordan Stuve (9-yard pass from Straub), 6:54 left second. Rathe kick.
Fort Dodge Barber (20-yard pass from Stover), 5:08 left second. Kick blocked.
Ames Chris Woodard (4-yard run), 3:46 left second. Rathe kick.
Ames Kwaw-Mensah (66-yard run), 0:30 left second. Rathe kick.
Ames Woodard (4-yard run), 8:12 left third. Kick blocked.
Fort Dodge Joe Crooks (2-yard run), 4:25 left fourth. Keegan Myers run.
Rushing Fort Dodge: Sam Cook 14-94, Keegan Myers 2-44, Christion Garnica 2-7, Austin Halligan 4-4, Joe Crooks 1-2, Andrew Stover 6-(minus-15). Ames: Clifford Kwaw-Mensah 10-259, Chris Woodard 11-81, Seth Rogers 3-6, Zach Woodbeck 1-(minus-5).
Passing Fort Dodge: Andrew Stover 16-30-0-179, Kole Kampen 1-1-0-23, Johnny Bice 0-0-0-0. Ames: Sam Straub 14-18-0-230, Zach Woodbeck 2-2-0-27, Michael Frankl 0-1-0-0.
Kwaw-Mensah, a combination of speed, shiftiness and power, overwhelmed the Dodgers (2-2, 0-1) with his play both between the tackles and in the open field. The 5-foot-8, 185-pound scatback broke loose for four runs of 55 yards or more during a first half highlight-reel performance.
"If there's a better back in Iowa, I'd like to see him," Miller said. "I know there are some very good ones on this side of the state, but (Kwaw-Mensah) can do it all. He's obviously fast, but a lot more powerful than you may assume and really tough to bring down. Plus he keeps himself very low to the ground when he carries the ball.
"When you combine that with the experience and accuracy of Straub, who has started for three years, and the fact that they run a no-huddle offense now -- they just come at you from any and all directions."
The 6-foot-4 Straub completed 12 of his 16 pass attempts before halftime and had two long touchdown strikes to Spencer Shane (34 yards) and Alex Brammer (69).
Fort Dodge's defense struggled to contain the Little Cyclones, but the offense held its own. The Dodgers had 256 yards before the break themselves, with senior Andrew Stover accumulating 160 yards through the air and sophomore tailback Sam Cook adding 87 yards on just 11 carries.
Stover found junior Spencer Barber twice for scoring strikes, including one midway through the opening period as FDSH drew first blood for a brief 7-0 advantage.
"We moved the ball fairly well; I thought we might be able to do some things, but it wasn't as consistent as we'd hoped," Miller said. "They're very athletic up front, and we had problems with their quickness."
In addition to Cook's ground efforts, he boomed three punts of 45 yards or more, including a 60-yarder in the opening period. Cook also made an impressive defensive play with four minutes left in the second quarter, tracking Kwaw-Mensah down from behind on a long run that appeared to be going for another touchdown.
"That's what we need more of," Miller said of Cook's tackle. "Hustle plays. Guys going all-out and putting everything they have into a possession, regardless of the score. That was great to see.
"I'm a little frustrated right now because I'm not convinced all of our guys are on the same page and in it for the good of the team and the program. There's a little too much 'I' and not enough 'we' going on, given what we still have in front of us and what we want to accomplish in the weeks to come. That attitude both on and off the field, as minor as it may be, has to stop."
Stover had 179 yards and a pair of scores, moving into second place on Fort Dodge's career charts for passing yards (2,762) and touchdowns (23). Cook's 100-yard game streak was stopped at four, though he only ran the ball three times in the second half and still finished with 94 total yards.
Junior fullback Joe Crooks had the final TD for the Dodgers late in the fourth quarter, a short score set up by sophomore Keegan Myers' 38-yard run.
Fort Dodge welcomes winless Des Moines North (0-5, 0-1) for Homecoming on Friday. The Polar Bears were blanked by Sioux City North last night, 42-0.
"We have to regroup now, plain and simple," Miller said. "We had seven starters out for most of the game due to either injuries or discipline issues (against the Little Cylcones). The injuries are a part of the game. The extra-curricular stuff is something we have to flush and do without the rest of the way. There are some big home games coming up on our schedule, but we have to buy into these last four weeks together. That means everyone."