The Fort Dodge football team has been blown out of its first two games of the season, and has scored a total of 21 points in two games.
Still, Marshalltown head coach David Holdiman expects to see a hungry opponent inside Dodger Stadium on Friday night.
"They have talented individuals on that team, and we are expecting to see a hungry team," Holdiman said. "We've always played tough, close games against Fort Dodge, and I don't expect things to be any different this season."
The Dodgers are 0-2 and have been outscored 90-21 in those games. Urbandale beat Fort Dodge 42-14 in the opener and then Sioux City East pummeled the Dodgers last Friday, 48-7.
The Bobcats will travel more than 2 hours to play the game Friday night, but the long road trip is not what worries Holdiman.
"We are accustomed to traveling," Holdiman said. "They'll be looking to get that first win for sure. They play in a historic stadium, and they play well at home. And the opponents they play against never like playing there. We have played lots of games there, lots of close games."
Marshalltown (1-2) at Fort Dodge (0-2)
At Dodger Stadium, Fort Dodge, 7 p.m.
The Dodgers are led by Andrew Stover at quarterback and junior Devon Kirby at running back. Stover is 19-of-50 for 210 yards this season with three touchdowns and four picks. Kirby leads the team in rushing at 114 yards. The Dodger defense is led by senior Andrean Johnson, who has 22 tackles and one sack.
The Bobcats are a complete opposite offensively. Senior quarterback Blake Gimbel will likely throw it more than 50 times in Friday's game alone and could have more than 210 yards by halftime.
The running game also appeared last week as the Bobcats (1-2) got a 100-yard game from Connor Ruddick. Holdiman hopes the balance continues.
"We found a team last week that played five in the box, and if Fort Dodge does that again, then we will try to run it some more," Holdiman said. "Connor Ruddick ran well last week. That balance is what we're looking for. We took a big step in that regard last week. But we'll have our hands full this week trying to do the same thing."
The Dodger defense features a 3-3 stack with lots of blitzing linebackers. Holdiman called it a "high risk, high reward" defense. The Bobcats will need to react quickly to what they see Friday night.
"If we can catch them in the blitz, our offense will have a big day," Holdiman said. "But if we leave someone unblocked, then we could be in for the long day. We are going to have to recognize what they are doing pre-snap, and we are going to have to get the ball out of our hands quickly."
Gimbel enters the game leading the state in passing yards at 1,166, completions at 99 and attempts at 157. He has thrown seven touchdowns and four interceptions.
His favorite targets have been seniors Tad Steffensen and De'Quan McDowell, but Brandon Pettigrew and Dacoda Ewalt have also been impact players in the offense.
Steffensen leads the state in catches with 31 and is second in yards at 397. McDowell is second and third in those categories, respectively, with 29 catches and 388 yards. Pettigrew has 18 catches for 200 yards and Ewalt has hauled in 16 passes for 163 yards.
The Bobcat defense is led by senior Tyler Kluver's 27 tackles and one sack. Derek Mann has 18 tackles and Pedro Gomez is sitting at 15 tackles from his defensive tackle spot.
Holdiman said the Bobcats are about as healthy as you could expect to be at this point in the season. Colton Fuller suffered an injury against Pella two weeks ago and did not return last week against Waukee. The team was leery to throw him back into action too early, but it looks like he could return Friday.
Kickoff against the winless Dodgers is at 7 p.m.