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Dodgers’ game at Mason City called off

Rivalry paused for first time in 97 years; FDSH now looking for an alternative

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Sam Daniel of Fort Dodge dives into the end zone last Friday against Ames inside Dodger Stadium.

The Fort Dodge-Mason City football rivalry lived through 97 consecutive years of trials and tribulations away from the field.

The COVID-19 global pandemic will almost assuredly bring one of the state’s longest streaks to a halt this season.

The Dodgers’ upcoming trip north to face the Mohawks was officially canceled on Tuesday, when the Mason City School District announced members of the coaching staff had been in direct contact with a person who tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

“We’re disappointed, but first and foremost, we’re hoping the people affected in Mason City are safe and healthy,” new FDSH head coach Nik Moser said. “There are things bigger than football, and the safety of student-athletes, coaches, teachers and communities definitely comes first.

“I’m sure (the Mohawks) are just as frustrated as we are. No one wants this to happen. The kids are obviously ready to play, but it is what it is.”

Fort Dodge and Mason City have played every fall since 1923 and 104 times overall, making it one of Iowa’s oldest high school grid battles. The Dodgers hold a 55-41-8 all-time edge, and own 16 consecutive victories dating back to 2004.

The programs square off annually for the Decker Sporting Goods trophy.

According to the Globe Gazette, no varsity Mohawk players were directly exposed. Athletes will continue to attend classes.

“The announcement (Tuesday) to suspend football two weeks is not an easy call,” the Mason City football program tweeted. “But to keep people safe, it had to be done.

“Now we will see you for Homecoming on (Sept.) 18th.”

Fort Dodge suddenly finds itself in the market for a game this Friday night.

“We’re trying to find out if anyone else is in the same boat (with an open date),” Moser said. “We could pick anyone up between now and even Friday morning. We’ll just have to see how it goes, and it obviously has to be OK’d by the district.

“If we can play, we’ll play. That’s still the goal.”

The Dodgers and Mohawks could potentially meet down the road if similar circumstances surfaced for their respective opponents.

“It’s a pretty extreme long shot, but I guess you never know,” Moser said. “All of the stars would have to align for that particular week.”

Fort Dodge opened its season with a record-breaking 81-54 victory over Ames last week. Mason City blanked Marshalltown, 28-0.

“We told the kids (about the cancellation), then went out and had one of our best practices to date,” Moser said. “They were very focused. We keep telling them, all we can do is be safe and prepared. The goal is still to play as many football games as possible before all is said and done.”

The Dodgers and Mohawks first squared off in 1912. They played for two consecutive seasons, then again from 1918-21.

After a one-year hiatus, the rivalry picked back up in 1923 and has continued ever since.

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