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No. 8 Dodgers head to DM Roosevelt

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Dayson Clayton of Fort Dodge score a touchdown against Ames on Friday

DES MOINES – Fort Dodge learned a lot about itself in a loss last week.

Now, the No. 8 (Class 4A) Dodgers will find out if those lessons will lead to more growth as another ranked matchup looms large.

Head coach Matt Miller’s squad hits the road to take on ninth-rated Des Moines Roosevelt on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. inside Drake Stadium.

This is the second leg in what could potentially be three consecutive weeks of Top-10 showdowns for the FDSH program. The Dodgers visit No. 4 Ankeny Centennial next Friday.

Both Fort Dodge and the Roughriders enter this District 2 showdown with 4-1 records. The result of this game won’t make or break either squad, but Miller readily admits it will ultimately help to clarify the playoff picture now that October is here.

“The stakes are going to keep getting higher,” Miller said. “Roosevelt has really turned things around (under new head coach Mitchell Moore). They’re headed in the right direction. You can sense the confidence and belief in what they’re doing has taken off.

“That’s always big when you’re dealing with 16, 17 or 18 year old kids.”

The Dodgers suffered their first setback of the season last week. Despite never trailing until the final horn, Fort Dodge was edged by No. 6 Southeast Polk on a last-second field goal, 24-21.

“Our guys have responded well this week,” Miller said. “It’s been kind of a strange stretch with the weather and everything, but sometimes, breaking away from the normal practice routine and daily grind at this point in the year can be a good thing.

“It’s kind of like bouncing back (from a loss). You want it to be something that gets the kids’ attention and forces you to reset, to the point that you use it as motivation and turn it into a positive. That’s what we’re trying to do now.”

While the Dodgers are trying to get back on track, Roosevelt is coming off a record-setting performance at Sioux City West. The Roughriders led the Wolverines 79-0 at halftime last Friday on their way to a 93-0 victory.

“They have a lot of playmakers who can do some damage if you don’t stay in front of them,” Miller said. “This is going to be another big challenge for our defense. We just have to continue to focus on alignment and assignment; if we take care of those two things, we can be successful.”

Roosevelt senior quarterback Garrett Hutchison has completed 54 of 87 passes for 687 yards and six touchdowns. Junior Jaden Koger has rushed for 732 yards at over eight yards per carry, scoring 12 times.

Senior Trey Guerrero has 26 receptions for 314 yards. Senior standout Antonio Alzheimer has accumulated over 200 yards from scrimmage between his rushing and receiving totals.

Senior A.J. Vazquez has 11.5 tackles for loss, including five sacks. Junior Thomaj Davis also has five solo sacks.

“We’ll be seeing pressure all game long,” Miller said. “They like to force (opposing offenses) into quick decisions and, like us, make momentum-changing plays with their defense.”

Roosevelt’s only loss was to 10th-ranked Ankeny, 28-14.

Fort Dodge senior quarterback Asle Thorson ranks third in Class 4A with 1,047 passing yards and 11 touchdowns. Tysen Kershaw is fifth in 5A with 396 receiving yards and five scores.

The Dodgers are third in scoring offense and third in defense, while Roosevelt is first and second, respectively.

Fort Dodge led Southeast Polk 14-0 late in the third quarter last Friday before struggling to close the Rams out and eventually being caught from behind. Miller reiterated it was “a great effort against a Top-5 level opponent,” and “we just did some uncharacteristic things and kind of ran out of gas a little” down the stretch.

“We’ll be OK,” Miller said. “We just need to keep cleaning things up, find a higher level of consistency, and avoid some of the mistakes that take us out of position and tend to end drives (prematurely).

“This is going to be a battle. It’s Roosevelt’s Homecoming and I know they’ve had this one circled on their calendars. We’re looking forward to it.”