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Dodgers will take the field

Fort Dodge works out last-minute game with Sioux City East in Sergeant Bluff

SERGEANT BLUFF — Fort Dodge’s rollercoaster ride of a week will let its football team off at Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School on Friday night.

Originally set to visit Mason City, the Dodgers picked up a game at the 11th hour to replace the Mohawks for what almost became a vacant week. Head coach Nik Moser’s squad will square off with Sioux City East — also its Homecoming opponent a month from now — at 7 p.m. on the SB-L campus, with the Black Raiders serving as the defacto host.

Welcome to the COVID-19 fall sports season. Expect the unexpected.

“The bottom line is we’re playing,” Moser said. “It was looking pretty bleak on Wednesday night, and our guys were disappointed knowing we were probably going to have to spend Friday alone and start to focus on Ankeny next week.

“I give (FDSH activities director) Kevin Astor, (East head coach) Brian Webb and (EHS activities director) BJ Koch a lot of credit. All things considered, we put it together pretty quickly. Within a matter of about an hour and a half, we went from nothing to something. And as I remind our guys time and time again, you just have to feel fortunate every week you have the opportunity to play this year: whether it’s a Dodger Stadium, on the road or in a corn field.”

Fort Dodge’s game against the Mohawks was canceled on Tuesday when Mason City announced its coaches had been exposed to a positive test case. The school spent the next two days knocking on doors to try and find an opponent with an open date; Bettendorf, Des Moines Hoover, Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson and Clear Lake were all considered, but didn’t work out for different reasons.

The Black Raiders, meanwhile, found out early Thursday that Le Mars — their previously-scheduled Friday opponent — went into a two-week quarantine period due to COVID exposure. FDSH officials reached out to see if East would be interested in working out the details for a contest, which could potentially turn this into an incredibly rare “home-and-home” series for 2020.

The Dodgers and Black Raiders are also slated to meet on Oct. 2 in Fort Dodge.

“The plan is to play twice now,” Moser said. “I’m OK with that, and I think East is, too. You have to kind of improvise at this point and try to make things work while you still have the chance. That (second) game is a month away; who knows where we’ll be then.

“A while back, we were talking about how much things change on a day-to-day basis. It’s much crazier than that, though. In reality, it’s more hour-by-hour.”

East won its opener in thrilling fashion last week, topping Sioux City Heelan 48-41 in three overtimes. Kyler Peterson rushed for 83 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and quarterback Luke Longval had 94 yards passing and two scores through the air.

Davares Whitaker intercepted two passes, returning one for a TD. The Black Raiders rallied from a 21-7 halftime deficit.

“They’re going to be tough, no doubt,” said Moser, who was scrambling to put a gameplan together and scouting East as much as possible on Thursday. “Kyler Peterson is legit. At 5-foot-10 and 238 pounds, he’s a bowling ball of knives. Their quarterback is solid. They have some weapons offensively, good receivers, and they’re physical up front.

“We’re taking a crash course (in preparation), but they are, too.”

Fort Dodge is coming off a record-setting performance in a wild 81-54 win over Ames. The Dodgers racked up an all-time school best 746 yards, with senior tailback Dayson Clayton rushing for 325 yards and five touchdowns to lead the charge.

Junior quarterback Carson Peterson had 253 yards passing, senior wingback Tyler Schreier accumulated 150 yards and a pair of scores, and senior Sam Daniel recorded a rushing TD, recovered an on-side kick, and intercepted a pair of passes.

“This is a shot in the arm for us, finding out we’re a go,” Moser said. “A lot had to fall into place, and there had to be cooperation and compromise by school officials from both sides.

“Our kids should appreciate this and feel blessed. We’re going to make the most of it.”

East holds a 26-14-2 lead in the all-time series, and the Black Raiders haven’t lost to FDSH since 1984. The programs last squared off in 2013.

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