Bobcats make changes after disappointing Week 1 loss to state-ranked Pella
Marshalltown football coach Aaron Shipley expressed concerns in his offensive and defensive lines during the preseason.
Those concerns grew a little bigger last Friday after Class 3A No. 6 Pella rushed for 245 yards on offense, while the defense held Marshalltown’s prolific offense to 210 total yards in the 38-13 win.
That forced Shipley and the rest of the coaching staff to make changes as the Bobcats will search for answers against Class 4A No. 9 Waukee on Friday.
“We are definitely going to have a couple extra guys playing both ways this week,” Shipley said. “Mostly on the offensive and defensive lines. We need to balance that with keeping guys fresh though, too.”
One of the changes expected to be made will be putting the Bobcats’ best defensive linemen – Connor Overstake – at offensive guard to help ignite a Marshalltown offense that rushed for just 43 yards against Pella.
“We are going to be rotating guys in and out,” Shipley said. “We were all disappointed in our performances. There will be changes.”
The offense will not get a boost from junior wide receiver Austin Kluver as he will miss his second straight game due to a hip injury. Sophomore running back Jordan Banes also continues to miss time for the Bobcats.
Waukee is coming off a 23-17 loss to West Des Moines Valley last week. The Warriors had a close call go against them late in the contest as Trevor Allen’s apparent touchdown reception was called off. The Tigers also took the lead on a 61-yard touchdown run with less than 2 minutes to play in the game.
“They are a talented, deep team that is well-coached,” Shipley said. “They won’t give you any extravagent plays. They will try to out-execute you.”
Allen is the Warriors’ best offensive player. He was held to just 50 yards on 18 carries against Valley on Friday but rumbled for 210 yards against the Bobcats last year as the Warriors scored 14 points in the final quarter and won 49-35 at Leonard Cole Field.
“He is going to get his yards,” Shipley said. “He’ll be effective no matter what anyone throws at him. Our job is to limit the yards after contact. We need to play assignment football and bring him down with more than one guy.”
Bringing down ball carriers at first contact was a real issue for the Bobcats in their opener against Pella. That is something Shipley and the coaching staff is trying to fix immediately.
“We got away from the team tackling style we usually play with last week,” Shipley said. “We have to give our guys a chance to get there and help when the first guy gets there. We need to run to the ball as a unit.”
Sophomore Ben Ferkin leads the offense at the quarterback position for Waukee (0-1).
Ferkin was 8-of-25 for 155 yards and two scores in the loss to Valley last week. His favorite target was senior Alex Sturm, who caught four passes for 79 yards and a touchdown.
“They want to get Trevor Allen the ball as much as possible, but the quarterback is athletic and has a strong arm,” Shipley said. “They want to get him in play-action passing situations and get him on the perimeter. We’ll need to focus on our assignments.”
The Warriors defense is led by senior A.J. Allen (six tackles last week) as well as junior Patrick Gray and Kyle Boulanger, who had seven and six tackles, respectively, in the opener.
“A.J. Allen is a great pass rusher but is equally good in stopping the run as well,” Shipley said. “We are going to shuffle some kids in and out on the offensive line to try to shore things up in there.”
Despite last week’s loss, the Bobcats remain in high spirits. They will need a total team effort and everyone to be on the same page to pull off the upset over Waukee on Friday.
“Our mantra this year is worrying about ourselves,” Shipley said. “They understand the big picture. We had 89 guys in the weight room (Wednesday morning). The kids are working hard and the seniors are taking ownership of this team.”
Friday’s game will kick off at 7 p.m. from Waukee Stadium. The series between the two teams began in 2006. Waukee is 5-3 all-time against the Bobcats.
Shipley and the coaching staff are starting something new this season. They are giving out weekly awards to the top offensive, top defensive and top scout team players for the week. The offensive player of the week was senior quarterback Dylan Diveney, while senior linebacker Derek Mann was the defensive player of the week. Peyton Williams, a back-up QB, was voted as the top scout player for the week. Diveney threw for 154 yards and a score and rushed for a team-high 28 yards, while Mann led the defense with 12 tackles and eight solo tackles.