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Dodgers face Monarchs in home finale

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Javion Jondle of Fort Dodge

Fort Dodge’s senior football players hope their final game inside Dodger Stadium will be one to remember.

Needing two more wins to enter the Class 4A postseason discussion, Fort Dodge (5-2 overall, 1-2 in District 1) faces Denison-Schleswig (3-4, 1-2) at 7 p.m. here on Friday night.

“Last week we said we needed to go 3-0, but to do that, we had to go 1-0 first,” FDSH head coach Nik Moser stated. “Well now to get to 2-0 we have to go 1-0. It’s as simple as that. This isn’t the time of year to waste any opportunities. Our kids know, as of now at least, this is the last time we’ll be on our home field in 2021. And for the seniors, this could be it.

“There are a lot of emotions that go into a night like this. We have to just stay focused on the task at hand and be physically and mentally sharp once we get going.”

The Dodgers blanked Storm Lake last Friday, 42-0, one week after the Monarchs did the same to the Tornadoes in a 40-0 final. Denison-Schleswig is coached by former Iowa State University all-Big 12 standout Kamari Cotton-Moya, who is in his first year at the helm.

“They have a really solid, experienced running back in (junior Jaxson) Hildebrand. He’s an active linebacker, too,” said Moser, also an ex-Cyclone defensive back. “Their quarterback (sophomore Luke Wiebers) is a good athlete. They’ve got some big guys up front.

“This will be a challenge for us. We had the players write down their purpose, or mission statement, for the rest of (the season). The answers were very similar. Everyone knows what’s at stake from here on out.”

The 215-pound Hildebrand has rushed for 361 yards and five touchdowns for the Monarchs. Wiebers has thrown for 915 yards and rushed for 172 more, with 11 total TDs to his credit.

Hildebrand is the squad’s leading tackler.

Denison-Schleswig owns wins over Carroll, Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson and Storm Lake. The Monarchs lost to Le Mars last Friday, 42-14.

Fort Dodge, which is currently 15th in the Class 4A RPI rankings to determine the 16 playoff qualifiers, got a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 69-yard scoring reception from junior Javion Jondle at Storm Lake last week. The Dodgers raced out to a 35-0 halftime lead and never looked back.

Seniors Amaris Harris and Jace Ulrich had the first touchdown catch and run of their respective careers. Sophomore kicker Parker Schillerstrom converted his first four PAT kicks as well.

In the first half alone, junior Connor Carver threw for 185 yards, and senior Jon Presswood rushed for 93.

Carver has 1,399 yards passing and 10 scores so far this year. Presswood has 735 yards and six TDs on the ground.

Jondle (34 receptions, 534 yards, 2 touchdowns) and senior Bradley Vodraska (36-480-5) are FDSH’s top receivers. Senior safety Jake Erickson is the leading tackler.

All senior players, cheerleaders and band members will be recognized before kickoff. Fort Dodge will also honor its 2021 state softball championship program at halftime of the contest.

Friday marks the first meeting ever between the Dodgers and Denison-Schleswig on the gridiron.

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