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FDSH puts playoff chips on the table

Dodgers head to Le Mars in make-or-break finale

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Javion Jondle of Fort Dodge

LE MARS — A complex football season filled with many twists and turns has reached a moment of clarity.

Win and Fort Dodge is in.

The Dodgers (6-2 overall, 2-2 in Class 4A, District 1) head to Le Mars for the first time ever on Friday, facing the Bulldogs (4-4, 2-2) with all of their playoff chips on the table.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Head coach Nik Moser’s squad is comfortably within the confines of the 4A race at the moment, according to the latest Rating Percentage Index computer-generated rankings. With the first 12 postseason bids going to district champions and runner-ups, four programs will receive at-large invitations on Saturday morning when the brackets are revealed.

Fort Dodge is currently 12th in the RPI, and has the potential to move into the Top-10 with a victory. A loss, on the other hand, would all but eliminate the Dodgers from consideration.

“We know what’s at stake. We have, actually, for the last three weeks,” Moser said. “We had to go 3-0 (after consecutive losses to Webster City and Spencer). Now we’re here: The opportunity to go 1-0 and make the playoffs.

“This actually doesn’t feel like a Week 9 game. It’s like we’re in a new season, and this is the opener. Our guys are excited; we’re going to try and make the most of this and earn our way in.”

The Bulldogs faded late against district leaders Webster City and Spencer in 21- and 15-point losses, respectively. Moser saw enough positives on film, though, to realize what FDSH is up against on Friday.

“They’re a really good team that’s gotten better every week,” Moser said. “They run some stuff offensively that reminds me of both Marshalltown and Ames. A lot of motion and pre-snap movement that we haven’t really seen the first eight weeks.

“The Spencer game (last Friday, a 42-27 Tiger win) was close. (Le Mars) gave up two kick returns for touchdowns that were the difference. (The Bulldogs) had over 300 yards of offense, but had a hard time stopping (Spencer) on the ground.”

Le Mars is balanced. Junior Tyler Iverson has thrown for 905 yards and seven touchdowns, with classmate Elijah Dougherty running for 770 yards and nine scores. Senior David Leusink is a two-way threat, averaging over eight yards per carry and leading the team in interceptions.

Senior Cal Eckstaine returned an interception for a score versus Spencer.

Fort Dodge junior Connor Carver currently ranks third in 4A with 1,737 passing yards — the eighth-best single-season total in school history. Senior tailback Jon Presswood has rushed for 912 yards and added 174 receiving to go over the 1,000-yard mark from scrimmage.

Junior Javion Jondle (41) and senior Bradley Vodraska (39) both rank in the Top-10 for receptions. Jondle tied Spencer Cady’s school record with four touchdown grabs last week, thanks to a seven-catch, 165-yard first half performance in a 43-8 win over Denison-Schleswig.

Dodger senior Jake Erickson is second in 4A with 67.5 tackles despite missing the Webster City game earlier this season.

Fort Dodge is trying to reach the playoffs for the sixth time since 2014, and the round of 16 in 4A for the third time in the last four seasons. The Dodgers can also reach seven regular-season wins for the fifth time since 2009 with a victory.

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