Bobcats shift focus to pass defense against DM Hoover

The Marshalltown football team will go from one extreme to the next Friday night when it hits the road to take on Des Moines Hoover in a Class 4A Division 3 contest.

The Bobcats faced Class 4A’s seventh-best rushing attack last week in Ottumwa, but will have to turn their defensive focus to the passing game Friday because the Huskies trail only undefeated Ames in passing yards thrown through the first five games.

“The fact that they throw more than they run doesn’t really change anything for us,” MHS coach Aaron Shipley said. “We adjust to the offenses every week, but for the most part we stay in our base sets. We just need to be in the right spots and play assignment football.”

The Huskies come into the game at 2-3 overall and 0-1 in division play. In their two wins, Hoover has averaged 50 points per game on offense and allowed just 20 points defensively. But in the three losses, the Huskies scored just 13 points per game and allowed 44.

Hoover beat Des Moines North and Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson in back-to-back weeks by scores of 49-14 and 51-27, but the losses to Des Moines Roosevelt, No. 6 Urbandale and Ankeny Centennial were by a combined 132-39.

Marshalltown, looking for its first win of the season, is hoping to face the Hoover squad that struggled to score in the losses rather than the Husky team that put up 101 points in the two wins.

“We have had success earlier this year with getting turnovers, so we are hoping to be able to do that against a quarterback who has turned it over some this season,” Shipley said.

The Hoover quarterback is junior Brock Larsen. He has thrown for 1,197 yards, which ranks sixth in the state, and 13 touchdowns. But Larsen is completing just 47 percent of his attempts and has thrown six interceptions. Four of those picks were tossed last week in the loss to Centennial.

“(Larsen) is turnover prone, and he’ll force it where it shouldn’t go,” Shipley said. “We have been able to get some interceptions this year and are going to be ready for them to throw it all over the field.”

Three Husky wide receivers could be the leading pass catcher Friday. Senior Kalen Toliver has 23 catches for 377 yards, while juniors Dejorian Thedford (18-302) and Nic Snider (17-270) also present a threat. All three have hauled in three touchdown receptions as well.

The Bobcats (0-5, 0-1) are coming off their best game of the season in a loss to Ottumwa. They eclipsed the 250-yard mark for the first time in 2013 and will look to continue to take steps forward against Hoover, which will likely force the Bobcats into passing situations.

“They have had a tendency against us in the past to put eight and nine guys in the box, so we are going to have to be prepared to make plays on the perimeter in the passing game,” Shipley said. “We need to take what the defense gives us.”

One of the biggest reasons the Bobcats didn’t leave Ottumwa with a win last week was because they committed an obscene amount of penalties. MHS suffered 96 penalty yards after being flagged 14 times against the Bulldogs. Ottumwa was called for 13 fouls and turned it over three times as well but still managed to win the game after rushing for more than 350 yards.

“We need to flush that past and move on to the next game,” Shipley said. “We have watched plenty of film to address those penalties. We’ll learn from the mistakes, but we haven’t had a problem with hangovers from the previous week though. Last week’s game doesn’t matter at this point.

“We also have strong senior leadership that we are going to count on to help with the penalties. There is a fine line between playing aggressive and playing aggressive in a smart way. We need to make better decisions.”

Marshalltown is 4-0 all-time against Hoover. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Des Moines. The Bobcats are 0-5 for the first time since they lost their first seven games in 1988.


The Marshalltown players of the week for the Ottumwa game were Austin Sowers (offense), Ben Rebik (defense) and Sam Arneson (scout team). MHS senior linebacker Derek Mann has 68 tackles on the season. The next closest Bobcat is Rebik, who has 31. … After taking on Hoover, the Bobcats return to their home turf the next two weeks, facing Ankeny Centennial and Mason City. The final game of the season will be played at Valley Stadium against top-ranked Dowling Catholic.