For the second straight week, the Marshalltown football team will go head-to-head with one of the elite programs in the state of Iowa.
Des Moines Sunday Register's Class 3A No. 3 Pella comes to town to take on the Bobcats at Leonard Cole Field on Friday. Kickoff for the home opener will be 7:30 p.m.
"We do not know too much about them, but they are a perennial power program," Marshalltown head football coach David Holdiman said. "They are an elite program in their class. We have tons of respect for them, and we're going to have to play four quarters of good football to win."
The Dutch are coming off a 10-2 season that extended all the way to the Class 3A quarterfinals. They lost to Newton in the season opener and then did not lose again until the playoffs when they dropped a 24-13 decision to ADM, Adel. But this year's team is missing a lot of players from that squad, including the top two leading rushers, eight of the top nine pass catchers and several of the team's leading tacklers from last season.
Holdiman said the fact that they lost so much from last year and that they did not play in Week Zero means there is a lot of unknowns. But that also works both ways.
"Ankeny lost a lot, too, remember," Holdiman said. "There's a trade-off with them not playing last week. If they played, we could have scouted them and knew a little bit more about them. But since they didn't play, they'll have some unknowns of their own to figure out like we did last week. There's positives and negatives for sure."
Pella at Marshalltown
Leonard Cole Field
The Bobcats (0-1) ran into what appears to be one of the best teams in Class 4A last week in the Ankeny Hawks. Ankeny piled up more than 500 yards of total offense against Marshalltown's inexperienced defense and came up with some timely turnovers on the defensive side of the ball.
Still, Holdiman believes his team should have scored more points. The Bobcats' Blake Gimbel did throw for 405 yards, and the offense got deep into Ankeny territory three times without getting any points. That has to change Friday if the Bobcats want to earn their first victory of the year.
"We need more consistency, and we have to punch in those drives we get deep into the opposing team's territory," Holdiman said. "It is not a perfect game, and I am not saying we should be perfect, but we have got to be more efficient on offense."
Gimbel tied his own Class 4A pass completions mark with 42 last week. Fans can most likely expect the signal caller and the high-powered Marshalltown offense to set more records this season. Receivers Tad Steffensen and De'Quan McDowell both hauled in 12 catches against Ankeny to lead the offensive attack.
Perhaps the biggest improvement from last week though has to be on defense, where Ankeny moved the ball at will against the young and inexperienced Bobcat defense.
There were rumblings on the sidelines last week that changes may have to be made. Holdiman said the goal is to add more depth and find more athletes that help the team on defense.
"We are working hard to create more depth for our defense," Holdiman said. "We learned last week that the kids we thought would be inexperienced are inexperienced. It took us a half of football to get our sea legs. It was a much more competitive game in the second half."
Pella brings back starting quarterback Josh De Waard, who threw for 734 yards and eight TDs last year but graduated top rushers Austin Fuller and Sam Davis, who combined for 1,962 rushing yards and 28 rushing TDs.
The leading returning rushers are Chris Brogden and De Waard. Brodgen compiled 359 yards and five TDs on the ground, while De Waard added 350 yards and five scores last year.
The only pass catcher in the top nine from last year is Jacob Vollmer, but he only grabbed three catches for 50 yards. The defense does welcome back junior Nathan Clayberg, who led the team in tackles with 93 and also had two sacks. Sophomore Garrett Jansen added 48 tackles and four sacks as a freshman. Clayberg also saw some snaps at quarterback in 2011.
This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools. And having the game at home pleases Holdiman.
"It a chance for us to get some redemption from last week," Holdiman said. "It's always an advantage for us playing at home. We love playing at Leonard Cole Field. It's a great atmosphere and it's familiar to us, which always helps."
The Bobcat Booster Club also is calling for a 'whiteout' Friday. Fans are encouraged to wear white Marshalltown attire to the game in support of the Bobcats in their home opener.
"We think that is great," Holdiman said. "Anything that can bring excitement to our team this early excites us. Hopefully we can take advantage of it by playing well."
The Bobcats remain at home to play Class 4A rival Waukee at Leonard Cole Field next Friday. That contest also begins at 7:30 p.m.