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Bobcats hope to slow down prolific Scarlets, QB James

October 24, 2012
By TROY HYDE - T-R Assistant Sports Editor ( , Times-Republican

If you are a fan of high-scoring football games, then Leonard Cole Field is the place to be tonight.

The Bobcats will take on Des Moines East in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs and both teams have put some up gaudy offensive numbers this season.

"We like to score a lot of points, but we also like when the other team does not score a lot of points," Marshalltown coach Dave Holdiman said. "It could be a very entertaining and interesting game for the fans, but not for the coaches."

Like Marshalltown with Blake Gimbel, Des Moines East will rely heavily on quarterback Quentin James. James has thrown for 2,107 yards and 19 scores but also has rushed for a team-high 870 yards and 14 touchdowns.

James also has some dynamic receivers in Rico Gafford, Abu Sama and Malique Ziegler, which is why Holdiman is not sure they can be completely stopped.

"They are a dangerous team with a lot of quality skill position players," Holdiman said. "We hope to contain them because I am not sure anyone can stop them. I am not sure if a shootout favors us or not. They have a lot of big-play potential and are similar to us in that regard."

Fact Box

Des Moines East (6-3) at Marshalltown (6-3)

At Leonard Cole Field

Tonight, 7 p.m.

Marshalltown should get one of its big-play guys back for the game. Holdiman said he expects wide receiver Brandon Pettigrew to play. Pettigrew suffered from an apparent concussion Friday in a loss to Dowling Catholic.

Senior linebacker Tyler Kluver also missed parts of the Dowling Catholic game after getting scraped across his face. Holdiman said he is good to go as well. Blake Gethmann missed Friday's game with a concussion, and his status for tonight has not yet been determined.

Having both Kluver and Pettigrew back in the lineup against the Scarlets is crucial. Kluver leads the defense with 78 tackles and three sacks, while Pettigrew is the team's third leading receiver with 51 catches for 752 yards. Plus, the Bobcat offense already will be without speedy wideout Tad Steffensen, who suffered a torn ACL earlier this season.

Des Moines East will try to beat Marshalltown (6-3) with James and his assortment of wide receivers. Gafford, Sama and Ziegler all have better than 500 yards receiving. James also will be tough to stop when he is asked to run the ball.

"He's a very talented athlete," Holdiman said. "We are going to have to have a disciplined effort on defense. We are going to have to take intelligent angles, fly to the ball and be real smart. We can't let him escape the pocket."

On the flip side, the Bobcats offense will try to counter the Scarlets' overly-aggressive defense.

Gimbel is less than 100 passing yards away from moving into third on the state's all-time career passing yards list. Current Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg sits at No. 3, but Gimbel should push him aside Wednesday night.

Gimbel also is the only player in Iowa high school football history to throw for 3,000 yards or more in multiple seasons. Gimbel set the all-time record for passing yards in a season with 3,979 in 2011 and has 3,376 yards in 2012.

"They do things we have seen before," Holdiman said of the Scarlet defense. "We need our receivers to be able to separate some. They have given up some yards. They are aggressive, and we hope to call the right plays to counter that aggressiveness."

Both teams are 6-3 and have played two common opponents. Marshalltown lost to Waukee and beat Ames earlier this year, while two of the Scarlets' three losses have come against the Warriors and Little Cyclones. The other loss came to Southeast Polk, which is the most likely second-round opponent for Wednesday's winner.

Des Moines East has scored at least 47 points in five of its six wins this season but has allowed nearly 50 points in the three losses, including a 63-47 loss to Ames and a 48-28 loss to Waukee.

"You can look at those common opponents, but the scores can be deceiving because every game has different circumstances to them," Holdiman said. "But what we can look at is what those teams did to be successful against (East). We'll need to bring our 'A' game though. It's one and done or extend the season, and we hope to extend the season."

Kickoff for Wednesday's playoff opener is set for 7 p.m. The Marshalltown-Des Moines East winner will face off against either Southeast Polk (7-2) or Mason City (1-8) at 7 p.m. Monday. The Bobcats won their first-round game a year ago and then lost to Southeast Polk, 60-20, in Round 2.

Marshalltown has been to the postseason in four straight seasons and in five of the last six years. The Bobcats advanced past the first round twice, including a state runner-up finish in 2009.