Bobcats not letting wet weather ruin bid for 3-0 start

T-R GRAPHIC

There are precious few games for a football team to prepare for a new opponent every week, and this week the Marshalltown football team has had even less time than usual.

Thanks to the torrential downpours that have hit nearly the entire week lately, the Bobcats have only been able to practice outside one time, and that was a muddy, slippery practice on Tuesday afternoon.

MHS head coach Adam Goodvin said the guys are used to having to practice inside, considering at least one day each of the first three weeks has been forced into the Roundhouse, but at some point they need to put some work in on the practice field.

“It’s unbelievable, last week we proved we were able to stay focused and do it, so this is another test,” he said after the team’s indoor practice on Wednesday. “It really tests our focus and our mentality, last week we were able to do that, we just have to stay tough and focused throughout the week. We’ve only been out one time this week, but I think we will be alright. I’ve seen some good things this week.”

The Bobcats are off to their best start in three years at 2-0 so far in 2018, and a third-straight win to start the season hasn’t been done in Marshalltown since 2011.

Goodvin said the boys are enjoying the early success this season, but they aren’t satisfied with what they’ve accomplished so far.

“It’s all easy when you are winning games, but from what I’ve seen so far it’s been awesome,” he said. “The kids are buying in and they have had some success and they enjoy it, they want more of it. I always tell them, ‘don’t be satisfied, always want more, always want more and keep digging for that.’ Early in the year that’s what we’ve seen, hopefully we can sustain that.”

What’s gotten the Bobcats off to such a hot start is a dominant running game, as they’ve averaged over 300 yards on the ground in each of the first two contests. They are second in Class 4A with 639 total rushing yards through two games, and second in the class with 11 scores on the ground.

Last week against Ottumwa, Marshalltown added a new wrinkle to the system with an effective passing game by Jacob Smith, as the senior lefty went 7-for-9 through the air for 111 yards.

Goodvin said the offense will look similar this week as it has the first two, and they are going to ride their running backs until other teams take them away.

“We are not trying to get too cute with it right now, what we are doing is working and our main focus each of these first few weeks has been on us and what we do and less on what they do,” he said. “That’s how you improve I believe.”

Fortunately the week three opponent in Mason City is similar to the week two opponent in Ottumwa, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

“They have passed eight times this year, they definitely rely on their run game and that’s what they work on and try to improve each week,” Goodvin said. “We were really fortunate to play Ottumwa last week, who runs a very similar offense to what Mason City does. Talking with coach Mike Eggleston, it’s not going to be as hard of a change as it would be to play Ottumwa week two and Mason City week seven. It’s back-to-back, and a lot of the stuff we are going to do is still fresh in our minds, so we feel confident in our gameplan.”

Of the eight passes the Mohawks have thrown this season, none have been completed to Mason City players and two have been intercepted. They haven’t scored a single point this season, and they have accrued 308 yards on the ground on 100 attempts.

Defensively is where the Bulldogs and Mohawks differ, as Mason City runs a bit of a different look than anything the Bobcats have seen so far.

“They run a 3-4, odd run on defense and they’ve been doing that for a while now,” Goodvin said. “We’ve definitely had to spend some extra time this week going over the fronts we will see and how to attack that.”

Where the odd and even fronts differ most is how the offensive line attacks them, replacing the two-tackle inside approach of the even front for a nose tackle and edge rusher combination.

Goodvin said the offensive line, which has been spectacular at opening holes for the running backs so far, has been hard at work cracking the code of the new defensive look they will face.

“We got handouts to them on Monday and they’ve asked our coach Doug Bacon, our offensive line coach, a ton of questions,” he said. “They are eager to learn, a lot of those guys were upset we couldn’t get outside today but we would probably sink out there right now.”

Though the Mohawks have struggled to start the year, Goodvin said the guys know not to look past anyone on the schedule, especially after sneaking out of Mason City with a 16-13 win a season ago.

“They are hungry, we barely clipped them last year and they are definitely going to be ready to go and play a physical football game on Friday,” he said. “It’s way early in the year, I don’t think you can look at their records and go off that.”

Marshalltown and Mason City will face off on Friday night, starting at 7 p.m. at Leonard Cole Field.