The Marshalltown defense won't have to look too far away to find an offense similar to what Mason City runs.
The Mohawks will line up four and five wide Friday night at Leonard Cole Field and there may not be a better team in the state more prepared for that kind of an attack than the Bobcats themselves.
"The coaches and I kind of joked around and said that we won't really need a scout team this week because we have things in our actual offense that Mason City will run," Marshalltown coach Aaron Shipley said. "We may have a little bit of an advantage, but we still need to be in the right spots and be sound with our assignments."
The Bobcats hope that advantage is enough to avoid their first 0-8 start since the program went 0-9 in 1984 and 1985.
"The Mason City offense thrives in opposing defenses making mistakes," Shipley said. "It's designed to create confusion. It helps though that I can pick coach (Adam) Hoop's brain on what they may be doing because we do a lot of that stuff here, too."
The Mohawks began the season 0-5 but have since won back-to-back games in Class 4A Division 3 play. They edged Ottumwa 17-14 and blew out Des Moines Hoover, 47-7. A win over the Bobcats would secure Mason City (2-5, 2-1) of at least the No. 3 seed out of Division 3. The top four teams out of each 4A division advance to the postseason.
Mason City (2-5, 2-1) at Marshalltown (0-7, 0-3)
Friday, 7 p.m.
At Leonard Cole Field
The No. 1 priority for the Bobcat defense Friday will be Mason City quarterback Matt Meyer. He has thrown for 1,550 yards but also leads the Mohawks with 318 rushing yards. Five receivers have at least 17 catches but Wyatt Cooper is the big-play threat with 419 yards and four scores on just 17 receptions.
"Meyer is their biggest option in the running game, so we are going to have to do what we can do to make them one dimensional," Shipley said. "We will have to limit his yards and production."
The Bobcat offense could also see a familar looking defense when it faces Mason City on Friday. The Mohawks will use schemes similar to previous opponents and is especially comparable to Des Moines Hoover.
But Shipley said the offense is more worried about themselves at this point.
"We need to focus on our own assignments and worry about us," he said. "We have seen these schemes so we should be prepared for what they will throw at us. We just have to execute."
Penalties have plagued the Bobcats in recent weeks. Shipley said the coaches gave heightened awareness to the miscues during film sessions, but the improvements need to come from the guys on the field.
"The good news is that the guys haven't quit," Shipley said. "We have had some of our best practices of the year this week. That is partly because we are a young team, and we are hungry for a win. I was really happy with the effort this week."
Shipley expects to continue to shake up lineups to find the best combinations on the field. Marshalltown added leading tackler Derek Mann to the offensive backfield a few weeks back and then inserted defensive starters Blair Van Staalduine and Jordan Paone at wide receiver last week against Ankeny Centennial.
"The guys have to be ready to go in on a moment's notice," Shipley said. "We are going to mix and match guys until we find the right combination. We want to get our best athletes on the field and are not concerned with conditioning at this point."
The only player not expected to play Friday for MHS is starting tailback Joe Rebik, who continues to recover from a concussion.
The players of the week for the Centennial game included Austin Kluver (offense), Josh Edel (defense) and Luke Severson (scout team). ... Mann leads the Bobcats in tackles with 91 and the next best is Austin Lovin's 40. Mason City's Andy Bartel also has a healthy team lead in tackles with 85 and also has two interceptions. ... Dylan Diveney leads the MHS offense with 894 passing yards, 316 rushing yards and 11 total touchdowns. His favorite target through the air has been Austin Sowers, who has 26 catches, 398 yards and two scores. ... The final game of the regular season for Marshalltown will be against top-ranked Dowling Catholic at Valley Stadium on Oct. 25.