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THE MAN BEHIND THE MEN

Dodger captain Ulrich helps steer the ship as an unsung standout

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla: Fort Dodge senior co-captain Jace Ulrich paves the way with a block against Denison-Schleswig inside Dodger Stadium.

A quick glance at any Fort Dodge football box score won’t tell Dodger fans much about Jace Ulrich.

Ulrich doesn’t mind. The senior co-captain just wants to help his team succeed — and they’ve been doing just that.

The 245-pound Ulrich does a little of everything when it comes to the dirty work on the gridiron. He is a fullback who also plays tight end in certain sets. Defensively, Ulrich spends time shifting between being a down lineman and a linebacker

It’s been a winning formula for FDSH, which just finished a 7-2 regular season. The Dodgers head to Bondurant-Farrar this Friday for a Class 4A playoff contest against the 8-1 Bluejays.

“Although you don’t see my name in the paper for stats like you would most running backs, my success comes from doing my job and helping the the team win every Friday night,” Ulrich said. “The people who understand the game give me credit. That means more than stats.”

Technically, Ulrich has just 27 rushing yards and one touchdown offensively this season, with 44.5 tackles and 5.5 for loss on defense. The statistics don’t even begin to tell Ulrich’s story, though; Dodger head coach Nik Moser often identifies Ulrich as an imperative piece both sides of the ball and an extension of the staff on the field.

Ulrich comes by it honestly. His father, Chris, was a fullback himself at FDSH. Chris Ulrich was a three-year starter and all-Big 8 performer, then served in the backfield at Iowa State University, where he rushed for a combined 810 yards in the 1992 and ’93 campaigns.

Chris’s fourth-quarter touchdown to help seal a 19-10 upset of No. 7 Nebraska in 1992 is still regarded as one of the program’s more iconic moments.

“Playing the same position that my father did in high school, as well as in college, is awesome,” Jace said. “It’s nice to have someone who understands the game and also knows the position so well. We often watch that week’s film together, and he’s always able to give me tips on what I could do different to better myself in future games.

“My father was very successful playing football and had many accomplishments. That’s what drives me to set goals: wanting to be as good as he was.”

Ulrich, who is also an all-CIML baseball honoree, takes his leadership role with the program seriously.

“I was honored to be named captain of the football team,” Ulrich said. “I feel like my role as a captain is to lead by example. I always bring the juice to practice, and I try to motivate my teammates to have the constant drive to succeed, coming to practice ready to get better, and to play every down like it’s your last.

“After Week 9, the next play or game isn’t promised.”

Ulrich added the Dodgers have “a lot to prove” in the postseason as an underdog on the road.

“Coach (Moser) told us we needed to win Week 9 to get a playoff berth. Going into the Le Mars game (a 35-15 Fort Dodge victory last Friday), it never crossed my mind that it could be my last potential high school football game. I believe everyone playing last Friday night knew we were going to take care of business.

“Every win is another week I get to play the game I love with my brothers, as well as trying to accomplish something that has never been done at FDSH (reach the UNI-Dome and pursue a state title).”

TIMEOUT WITH JACE ULRICH

Vacation destination: Alaska to shoot King eiders.

People I would like to have dinner with: my grandpa Kent.

It would surprise people that I: am a very good bowler.

Sports role model: Mike Rose. And a shout-out to Coach Moser!

My everyday role model: my mom. She is the most selfless person I know and would do anything for me.

Can’t go a day without: hanging with my best friend and dog, Bodie.

Nickname: JU.

Superstition: wearing the same socks and underwear for every game; eating a Pancheros burrito every Friday for lunch.

Most heated rivalry: Mason City.

Favorite road trip: elk hunting in Colorado with my dad.

What are you listening to right now? Cody Johnson or J. Cole.

Favorites…

Team: Iowa State.

Movie: Shawshank Redemption or Interstellar.

Book: “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins.

Phone app: TikTok.

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