Bobcats host Indianola, look for first home win
Marshalltown football has had an extra pep in its step at practice this week, both due to the beautiful fall weather they’ve experienced and to the fact that, though they didn’t come away victorious last week against Newton on Homecoming, the Bobcats played arguably their best game of the season.
Quarterback Sam Irwin had his best game last weekend against the Cardinals, throwing for 280 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, and running back Giorgio Diiorio had the best showing from any Bobcat in the backfield with 76 yards off six carries, all in the first half.
MHS head coach Adam Goodvin said he is proud to see how far the team has come in just his first six weeks as coach, but they still need to work on putting together an entire 60 minutes of play.
“We are trying to improve every single day and get these guys to be better football players to give us a better chance to be successful and win a football game,” Goodvin said after practice Wednesday. “These guys get it, they are putting in a lot of work and I am happy with that. We’ve been stressing to them a lot that both defensively and offensively we have to put two halves together and play our best football.”
Diiorio had a chance to make his presence felt last weekend for Marshalltown (1-4, 0-1) because usual starting running back Alex Rockingham was held out due to an ankle injury. Goodvin said Rockingham is still coming along in his recovery and is currently “day-to-day”, but he trusts what Diiorio and fellow running back Wyatt Himes can bring to the backfield if Rockhingham isn’t able to suit up.
“Our running backs are both downhill guys, they see a hole and they are going to cut and go downhill and that’s great to see because that’s what we need,” Goodvin said. “They do a great job of doing what we ask out of them.”
Goodvin also pointed to his receivers as a group of skill guys who have really come along this season, saying they “did an outstanding job” last Friday helping out Irwin while he was scrambling, which led to some big plays.
“They did a good job of competing and going to get some balls and after they caught balls they were going down field and breaking some tackles and that’s great to see,” Goodvin said of his receivers. “I think those are one of our stronger position groups on our football team and they really stepped up and did a good job and we look to continue on that this Friday.”
While the Bobcats’ receivers have come along, their Class 4A District 4 opponent Indianola (3-2, 0-1) has a good crop of wide outs as well, with five of their pass catchers totaling over 100 yards on the year.
“They run a lot of play action and try to get the ball to (Cole Scott), he’s a big dude,” Goodvin said of the Indians’ passing attack. “He’s 6-foot-5 and athletic and they will throw it to him even when he’s not open and hope he makes a play and a lot of times he does. Our secondary has to be aware of that and know where he is at at all times and play their best football.”
In order to run so much play action, Indianola leans on a running game led by tail back Dylan Hildreth, who has 742 yards and nine touchdowns on 135 carries in 2017.
Goodvin said to stop the Indians run game, his defense needs to bring the same brand of physical play that kept the Newton rushing attack in check in the second half last week.
“We told the guys on Monday that they need to start preparing now mentally for a hard-nosed game and be very physical,” he said. “Our line and our backers have to be really physical, Indianola likes to run some downhill with iso and zone lead, just power football, and they like to try to be more physical than the other team and get what they can. They’ve kind of done that the past few years and built their system around that.”
With the football season past the halfway point now, Goodvin said he is starting to see his vision for Marshalltown football take shape, he just hopes what they’ve been seeing on the practice field will translate into success on the gridiron under the bright lights of Friday night.
“They are starting to get the hang of things, a lot of people don’t get to see the improvements that these kids have made in practice every single day, they just see what they see on Friday nights,” Goodvin said. “I think if a lot of people saw what I saw and what the rest of the coaching staff saw they would think differently, the kids have made huge strides and we look forward to taking that over to Friday nights and being able to execute.”
Only one thing can truly show the progress the Bobcats have made, and that’s earning a hard-fought win over a tough opponent. Goodvin said the Bobcats are ready to end their current three-game skid, and they’re ready to earn their first win at Leonard Cole Field this season.
“Our guys are hungry for a win, whether it’s home or away,” he said. “It’s always nice to get one pulled out at home in front of the home crowd, but we definitely are just hungry to get a victory.”
Marshalltown tries for that elusive home victory on Friday night when it hosts Indianola, scheduled for a 7 p.m. kick off at Leonard Cole Field.