Dodgers face Ankeny in Top-10 clash
High-octane FDSH offense squares off with talented Hawks
The Fort Dodge football team played well enough during the first two weeks to earn a Class 4A ranking and Top-10 matchup with Ankeny.
Head coach Nik Moser knows his No. 10 Dodgers must graduate to a whole different level of excellence if they are to seriously challenge the eighth-rated Hawks.
Kickoff between FDSH and Ankeny is set for 7 p.m. inside Dodger Stadium.
Moser’s offense has taken the state by storm in eye-opening wins over Ames and Sioux City East. Fort Dodge (2-0) has scored 117 points — the best in 4A by a wide margin — and racked up a state-best 1,284 yards of offense behind a punishing ground attack.
Ankeny (1-1) has the speed and size of a championship-caliber defense, though. Ranked third at the start of the season, the Hawks completely dominated cross-town rival Ankeny Centennial, 48-6, before being caught from behind late by No. 6 Waukee last Friday in a relatively-surprising 21-17 defeat.
“They’ve got a little of everything,” Moser said of Ankeny. “Athletes all over the place. A ton of talent on offense. Studs on defense who are aggressive and run well.
“We knew coming into the season that (the Hawks) would be on a very short list of title contenders in 4A. There are no real weaknesses in what you see from them on the field. When you face a top suburban Des Moines program like an Ankeny or a Waukee, you have to push yourself and prepare on a different level physically and mentally. The speed of everything is going to really pick up. But we’ve worked hard to get to this point, and the kids are excited for the challenge.
“It’s a terrific opportunity. Our guys are fired up.”
Moser anticipates the Hawks will build their defensive gameplan around stopping Dayson Clayton and forcing the Dodgers to the air as much as possible. Clayton has been an unstoppable force through the first two weeks, running wild to the tune of a state-best 679 yards and nine touchdowns against the Little Cyclones and Black Raiders.
“(Ankeny) will probably be in cover zero and basically dare us to throw,” Moser said. “And that’s fine. What we’ve done these first two weeks isn’t how we expected the whole season to go. Teams will adjust, so we’ll have to do the same. Dayson’s going to get a ton of attention. We haven’t thrown the ball much yet because we haven’t needed to. But I have confidence in our passing game and what it could become. Our quarterbacks and receivers will have to be ready (Friday), because you can’t be one dimensional against (an opponent) like this.”
Six-foot-4 senior wideout Brody Brecht, a three-star University of Iowa recruit, grabbed all of the preseason attention and accolades. The Hawks are far from a one-man show, though.
Last week, senior quarterback Jase Bauer — who has offers from Northern Iowa, South Dakota State and a number of other FCS schools — threw for 236 yards and ran for 130 more. Senior receiver Kade Somers had 109 yards on seven catches. And junior Colin Kadolph rushed for 185 yards on 25 carries and three scores.
“Brecht is obviously an outstanding player, but you can’t just key on him and call it a day,” Moser said. “Bauer is really good. A high-level quarterback. Somers and (Brady) McCullough are tough. Kadolph is a strong runner.
“Defensively, their two outside linebackers — (Tamden) Webb-Tate and (Jackson) Pennigroth — are incredibly impressive. We’ll have our hands full. Hopefully, we’ll get some one-on-one matchups with our receivers and be able to take advantage to open some things up. We won’t be able to just run it right at them all night long (Ankeny has surrendered only 182 rushing yards so far this year).”
The Hawks led Waukee 17-7 in the fourth quarter and 17-14 with 10 seconds left in regulation before surrendering a late touchdown on the Warriors’ home turf.
Clayton shattered FDSH’s single-game rushing record with a 354-yard performance against East. His two-week rushing total is the best by a Dodger in the 108-year history of the program.
Junior quarterback Carson Peterson has completed 16 of 22 passes for 321 yards and four touchdowns. Senior Tyler Schreier has accumulated 232 yards from scrimmage.
Senior Sam Daniel is tied for the state lead with four interceptions.