Dodgers are playoff bound

Dominant win at Le Mars caps 7-2 regular season

LE MARS — The Fort Dodge football team didn’t want to quietly back into the Class 4A postseason conversation.

Showing an obvious sense of urgency, the Dodgers fittingly played their best game of the season in a 35-15 rout at Le Mars on Friday to clinch an at-large playoff bid.

FDSH (7-2 overall, 3-2 in District 1) dominated the line of scrimmage and left no doubt it belongs in the 16-team 4A bracket. The Dodgers will face Bondurant-Farrar (8-1) on the road this Friday night.

Head coach Nik Moser’s squad put the finishing touches on a seven-win campaign — the program’s fifth in the last 13 years. From 1951-2008, only four Dodger teams had seven or more victories in the regular season.

“I think it’s great that our guys came out with a real purpose and wanted to kind of make a statement,” Moser said. “When we lost back-to-back games, a lot of people wrote us off. The team could’ve let things spiral from there, but they rallied around each other instead and just kept working on getting better.

“It’s been fun to watch them, and it’s a big deal for our program to enjoy success like this. We’ve had to earn it. We wanted to be the more physical team and really establish ourselves up front early, and I thought we did that. I’m very proud of all of them.”

Jon Presswood did most of the heavy lifting — especially in the second half. The senior tailback rumbled for a career-high 249 yards and a pair of second-half scores behind a powerful performance from the FDSH offensive line and fullback Jace Ulrich.

Presswood cleared the 1,000-yard mark for the season in the process.

“It was awesome,” Presswood said. “The line and my teammates did an amazing job (blocking and creating holes).

“It feels good to be in the playoffs, but it’s just the beginning for us. We’ve got to keep working.”

Junior quarterback Connor Carver, meanwhile, threw for 150 yards in a near-flawless first quarter. The Dodgers set the tone by taking a 15-0 lead on early Carver touchdown strikes to junior Javion Jondle (37 yards) and senior Bradley Vodraska (20).

Carver ended up with 184 passing yards, as Fort Dodge racked up 435 yards of total offense.

The defense, meanwhile, kept the Bulldogs (4-5, 2-3) in check. Le Mars threatened twice in the second quarter, but the Dodgers made two stops in goal-to-go situations — one on a fumble recovery by senior linebacker Ben Egli, and another on a wicked 4th-down hit by senior cornerback Amaris Harris.

Egli stripped the ball on a 16-play, 95-yard Bulldog possession to swing momentum back in FDSH’s favor just when Le Mars seemed ready to threaten in the second quarter.

“We knew what we had to do and came out and executed on both sides of the ball,” said Egli, a captain who also intercepted a pass and nearly returned it for a touchdown. “It feels great to reach the playoffs in this fashion. Obviously just reaching (the postseason) isn’t the ultimate goal, but I thought we played a good game (Friday) aside from a few mistakes we can correct.”

Harris would add an interception of his own as the Dodgers carried a shutout deep into the fourth period. Le Mars scored for the first time with 3:45 left in regulation, then added a touchdown in the closing seconds against the Fort Dodge reserves.

“I just like how we played as a unit (on defense),” Harris said. “Everyone is firing to the ball, and we’re putting our offense in a position to go score.

“It’s truly great to be in the playoffs and begin our (postseason) trek. (The goal) is to just keep going 1-0 each week.”

Moser also noted the maturation of the defense.

“At the start of the year, if we had a big hit or a key play, it was almost always (senior safety) Jake Erickson,” Moser said. “Now we have a lot of different guys who are around the ball or stepping up at different times to (complement Erickson).

“It’s great to see how far this defense has come.”

The offense, which went from quick striking and reliant on Carver and the receivers early to methodical and churning on the ground late Friday, “has shown similar progression,” according to Moser.

“Jon’s yards were just bruising. By the second half, I don’t think their defense wanted anything to do with him or our line. He’s come so far and is really running with confidence.

“I thought Connor played his best game again, also. He made some incredible throws early, and just one or two mistakes. Even those were aggressive and ones we can live with. Javion and Bradley are getting better every week, too. I like where we’re at heading into (this Friday).”

Jondle had seven catches for 115 yards, while Vodraska added five receptions for 62 yards. Presswood rushed 12 times for 117 yards in the third quarter alone.

Senior Ashton Patrick recorded a sack for Fort Dodge.


First Downs 20 19

Rushes-Yards 35-251 41-135

Passing 14-23-2 14-24-1

Passing Yards 184 189

Total Offense 435 324

Punts-Avg. 2-32.5 2-38.0

Fumbles-Lost 3-1 2-2

Penalties-Yards 6-62 2-6

Fort Dodge 15 0 7 13 — 35

Le Mars 0 0 0 15 — 15

Scoring Summary

Fort Dodge — Javion Jondle (37-yard pass from Connor Carver), 10:24 left first quarter. Parker Schillerstrom kick.

Fort Dodge — Bradley Vodraska (20-yard pass from Carver), 3:36 left first. Vodraska pass to Jon Presswood).

Fort Dodge — Presswood (15-yard run), 6:32 left third. Schillerstrom kick.

Fort Dodge — Carver (4-yard run), 7:36 left fourth. Schillerstrom kick.

Le Mars — Tyler Iverson (6-yard run), 3:45 left fourth. Iverson pass to Keeyan Butcher).

Fort Dodge — Presswood (34-yard run), 1:55 left fourth. Kick failed.

Le Mars — Iverson (1-yard run), 0:22 left fourth. Jovany Kabongo kick.


RUSHING — Fort Dodge: Jon Presswood 30-249, Connor Carver 2-20, Ben Egli 1-1, Jace Ulrich 1-(minus-2), Team 1-(minus-17). Le Mars: Elijah Dougherty 24-89, Connor Jalas 3-20, Tyler Iverson 6-14, David Leusink 5-8, Keeyan Butcher 3-4.

PASSING — Fort Dodge: Connor Carver 14-23-2-184. Le Mars: Tyler Iverson 13-23-1-163, David Leusink 1-1-0-25.

RECEIVING — Fort Dodge: Javion Jondle 7-115, Bradley Vodraska 5-62, Jake Erickson 1-6, Jace Ulrich 1-1. Le Mars: Derek Allen 2-57, Reece Spieler 2-43, Elijah Dougherty 2-39, Keeyan Butcher 2-25, David Leusink 4-15, Connor Jalas 1-11, Cal Eckstaine 1-0.


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