Top-ranked Valley routs Bobcats 49-0

WEST DES MOINES – Don Knock and the Marshalltown football team got to witness firsthand just how good the No. 1 team in the state is on Friday night.

The Tigers (9-0, 6-0 Class 4A District 4) put up 35 points in the first quarter en route to a 49-0 shutout in the final game of the regular season. The Bobcats finished 2-7, 1-5 with a sole district win against Fort Dodge.

“They earned that No. 1 ranking. A lot of players and a lot of plays,” Knock said. “We were just playing scared. The ‘V’ on the helmet scared us and we just didn’t have enough kids who wanted to suck it up and go out and play hard. We didn’t do too many things well. And that’s partly due to Valley. But we’ve got to come in here with a street fighter mentality. If you don’t do that, you don’t have a chance.”

The Tigers started fast, with a 56-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Rocky Lombardi to Tariq Brown on the fourth play of the game. A three-and-out by the Bobcats led to a 52-yard rushing touchdown from Jevon Mason, giving No. 1 Valley a 14-0 lead just two and a half minutes into the game.

“We were just too good to them. Once they got up on us, it was pretty much over with,” Knock said.

The Tigers led 35-0 at halftime, but were not without their own woes. For having one of the best defenses in the state, the Tigers gave up eight penalties for 98 yards. Only five of those were on the offensive side of the ball.

Three crucial pass interference calls – including one on receiver Josh Melde in the end zone, gave the Bobcats life time and time again. But the stout defense flexed its muscles in the red zone each time, and kept the Bobcats off the board.

“We couldn’t consistently move the football,” Knock said. “We couldn’t get four or five yards on first down, and then you’re looking at second and long, third and long. They just have too many weapons; we couldn’t get anything going offensively. We couldn’t run the football and Sam [Irwin] was running for his life.”

The Bobcats amassed just 5 yards of rushing, which didn’t happen until the final play of the game where Irwin scrambled for a 7-yard gain to put the Bobcats back in the positive in that category. Irwin threw for 91 yards and an interception near the goal line in the first half, finding his leading receiver in Melde, who caught three passes for 38 yards.

Austin Tullis got his first look of the year at quarterback, coming in for a drive, going 1-for-3 with a completed pass to TJ Snyder for three yards.

The Tigers racked up 99 yards through the air between Lombardi and backup Will Rodruck. The senior replacement went 4-for-7 with 30 yards, matching Lombardi’s 4-for-7 mark, but he threw for 69 yards and a touchdown.

Mason was the Tigers’ leading rusher with eight carries for 86 yards and two touchdowns. The Tigers ran for 270 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

Looking back at the 2016 campaign, Knock gave the biggest nod to the 8th-grade class of football players when talking about making a difference in changing the culture of Marshalltown football. The underclassmen gridiron giants went a perfect 6-0 this season.

“The eighth-graders probably did more to change the culture of the program more than anybody. They were 6-0,” Knock said. “It’s not all about winning though. There’s other things involved in changing a culture. We all can only do so much. It takes a community, it takes parents, it takes administration. It takes a lot of things to change the culture of a program, not just football, but an entire athletic program.”