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TEAM-FIRST MENTALITY

FD’s Kershaw shatters records, but winning remains main goal

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Tysen Kershaw of Fort Dodge makes a catch for a touchdown against Mason City earlier this season.

In a random moment during Fort Dodge’s loss at fourth-ranked Ankeny Centennial last Friday night, Tysen Kershaw quietly became Fort Dodge’s all-time leading receiver.

It happened with zero fanfare or recognition, which seemed unjust knowing the impressive career of the Dodgers’ first team all-stater.

Given Fort Dodge’s recent struggles and Kershaw’s mood at the time, though, the University of South Dakota commit was perfectly fine with the achievement going relatively unnoticed.

“I’d rather have zero catches and win than 20 catches and lose,” said Kershaw, who became just the 11th receiver in Class 4A history to surpass the 2,000-yard mark. “I only want what’s best for the team, and to do what I can to help us come out on top. So when it comes to (breaking the record in defeat), I honestly couldn’t have cared less when that happened.

“I’m proud of it, of course, but football is the ultimate team sport. So it wouldn’t make much sense for any of us to brag anything up (individually) until we get back on track.”

The 6-foot-4 Kershaw, who is also an all-conference basketball player and state track performer, passed former teammate Trey Mosley on FDSH’s career charts. He’s also just 11 catches away from overtaking Mosley for the reception record as well, which is in the Top-10 all-time in 4A.

Last season, Kershaw had 71 catches for 1,206 yards — both all-time Dodger bests, and totals that are among the Top-15 in 4A history. He garnered elite all-state honors for his efforts.

The Dodgers started this season with four consecutive victories and a Top-5 state ranking. Three straight setbacks — to No. 8 Southeast Polk, seventh-rated Des Moines Roosevelt and No. 4 Centennial, teams with a combined record of 17-4 — have forced Fort Dodge into must-win mode the rest of the way in order to qualify for the Class 4A playoffs.

“The main focus right now is making sure we stay together,” Kershaw said. “Every football team goes through adversity at one time or another. It’s all in how you respond to it. We know what we have to do these next few weeks, and we’re not going to lose sight of that. We’re still confident in each other, and we believe we can turn things around from here on out.”

Fort Dodge’s final two regular-season contests are against Sioux City West and Marshalltown inside Dodger Stadium. Given their strength of schedule to date, the Dodgers are all but assured of a postseason berth — which would be the program’s fourth since 2014 alone — if they win out.

Kershaw verbally committed to USD in July, though he admits the recruiting process has “been wild.”

“I thought that would be the end of it, but it was just the beginning,” Kershaw said of still being contacted by other coaches and programs almost daily. “It’s all about finding the best fit for me, both as a student (who wants to major in business) and as an athlete. South Dakota’s facilities are great, they really like to throw the ball, and they’re a young team overall.

“I understand that (academics) have to come first. Our coaches have always emphasized keeping our priorities straight when it comes to that. And business has always interested me, especially with my mom (Cori O’Brien) owning Tropical Smoothie (in Fort Dodge). I see what that’s all about, and (owning a business) is something I’d like to pursue for a career. I look up to her and all she’s done for me and everyone else through the years.”

Kershaw calls being a Dodger “everything to me.”

“Our coaches aren’t just worried about us becoming better athletes here. They want us to be better leaders and better people,” Kershaw said. “And the community is so supportive. It’s been great. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

“(Playing college football) is something I’ve been working toward for as long as I can remember. It’s crazy to think how close I am to that chapter in my life, but there’s a lot I still want to accomplish (at FDSH) before I get there.”

TIMEOUT WITH TYSEN KERSHAW

Vacation destination: Hawaii.

People I would like to have dinner with: Ezekiel Elliott, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James.

It would surprise people that I: really like to play video games.

My sports role model: Dez Bryant.

My everyday role model: my mom and my dad.

I can’t go a day without: video games.

Nickname: TK.

Superstition: listening to rap music before games.

Most heated rivalry: Mason City.

Favorite road trip: Marshalltown.

What are you listening to right now? Drake.

Favorites…

Team: Dallas Cowboys.

Class: history.

Movie: all of the Harry Potter movies.

Book: Harry Potter series.

Phone app: Snapchat.