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MHS at the bye: Looking good, hungry & back home

September 24, 2011
By MARK PAWLAK - Assistant Sports Editor (mpawlak@timesrepublican.com) , Times-Republican

The road ahead has a heavy dose of Cole for the Bobcats, and that's a great thing for a group that has used an extended starring cast to race out of the gates.

After a bye Friday during Week 5 of the Iowa high school football season, Marshalltown will return to action Sept. 30 for the final month of the regular season that includes three home games.

The Bobcats will go into their Homecoming contest next Friday against Waukee at Leonard Cole Field with a 4-1 record.

"We're doing pretty good right now," said senior safety Bennett Mann. "It's good to get a break right now because some guys are injured and it's good for the team to get them back. We'll be ready to go by Homecoming and it'll be a really good game."

After a rough end to 2010 left MHS with a 3-7 record, the 4-1 start this fall marks fifth time in the last 35 years that the Bobcats have won at least four of its first five contests.

"We're a little bit more of a team this year," Mann said. "Everyone is together."

The Bobcats like the position that they put themselves in with a strong first half of the season and are eyeing continued growth in the second half.

"It's been a very good start for us. We've seen a lot of good things out of a lot of players," said Marshalltown head coach Dave Holdiman. "We still obviously want to improve. From our film study, we've seen a lot of things we have to work on. We're trying to heal up this week and get sharper in those areas where we feel we need to sharpen up. I think the kids have responded well this week and hopefully the rest and a lot of brain work we're doing will pay off."

The Bobcats were Class 4A's top scoring team coming into Friday's play at 46.8 points per game. Marshalltown has games of 63, 60 and 53 points to mark the first time in school history with three games of 50 or more points in a single season.

The passing attack has inflicted much of the damage on opposing defenses with the Bobcats averaging 393.8 passing yards per game. The line has given junior quarterback Blake Gimbel time to operate and he has been able to find a talented group of receivers led by the Steffensen brothers -Ty and Tad.

Defensively, MHS ranks 20th in 4A at 24 points per game, a number that jumped up after last week's 63-41 shootout win over Sioux City East and a 45-24 loss to third-ranked Valley. The Bobcats have shown a knack for creating turnovers as they are tied for second in 4A with nine interceptions and are tied for fourth in fumble recoveries (six).

Kyle Carnahan has 34 solo and 30 assisted tackles to go with four interceptions from his safety spot. Lineman Pedro Gomez has a team-high 6.5 tackles for loss.

After next Friday's Homecoming contest against Waukee, Marshalltown travels to Ames the following week and closes out the regular season with Fort Dodge and Mason City at home.

"We like that we're going to finish with three of the four at home. All four opponents are very capable CIML Iowa foes and we're going to have to play our best every night out to come out of it the way we want to," Holdiman said.

"I think our kids know that. You just don't know which plays are going to be big plays in ballgames so you've got to treat every play as a big play, that's been our philosophy and I think our guys have bought into it."