Bobcats celebrate win, No. 1 Dowling up

Marshalltown football coach Aaron Shipley gave his Bobcat squad the weekend to celebrate their victory over Mason City.

The Bobcats held off a late Mohawk charge at Leonard Cole Field last Friday night but moved on to its next game as early as Monday.

And with a date with Class 4A No. 1 Dowling Catholic on the schedule in the final week of the regular season, there will be no time to waste in the preparations.

“I told the guys to celebrate the win and feel good about things through the weekend but when Monday came we shifted our focus to Dowling,” Shipley said. “The win last week did more for our program as a whole than it did for this week. A lot of our guys have bought into what we are coaching and it was good to see it finally pay off.”

Shipley hopes to carry over some of the momentum gained from getting that first win into this week’s road game at Valley Stadium against the top-ranked Maroons.

The task won’t be easy. Dowling comes into the game with an unblemished 8-0 record. The two closest wins came in a four-point victory at No. 10 Urbandale and an 11-point win over No. 8 West Des Moines Valley. The other six games have resulted in wins by an average of 37 points per game.

“On paper and on the film, they are the best team in the state,” Shipley said. “You would be hard pressed to find a better team. They are used to deep runs in the playoffs and it will take a really good effort to beat them.”

The Maroon offense is led by quarterback Ryan Boyle, who has thrown for 1,220 yards, rushed for a team-high 682 and scored a combined 29 touchdowns. He also has thrown just one interception. Chase Dowell has gained 492 yards on the ground and scored five times, while Rico Gafford, who transferred in from Des Moines East in the offseason, is the playmaker on the outside. Gafford has 417 receiving yards on 17 catches and eight touchdowns. He also averages 42 yards per kickoff return.

“They’ll do whatever you allow them to do offensively,” Shipley said. “The last few games they have been 60-40 run to pass. But we can’t relax on the pass. They can do both very well.”

The Dowling defense gave up 27 points to Urbandale and 26 to Valley but hasn’t allowed more than 14 in any other game this year. The most impressive performance may have been the 42-10 win over Ankeny Centennial or the 62-7 win over Des Moines Hoover last week.

The defense is led by lineman John Swisher, who leads all of 4A with 21 tackles for loss and 13 sacks this season. The Maroons also have picked off 14 passes in eight games.

“That (Swisher) kid is as good of a DL as we’ve seen this year,” Shipley said. “He is always causing problems. And we’ll have to beat one-on-one coverage in the passing game.”

The Bobcats still have an outside shot at the postseason. Ottumwa, Hoover and the Bobcats all have one win in Division 3 play. The Bulldogs and Huskies face off Friday so one of them will have two wins at season’s end. If Marshalltown can knock off Dowling, the Bobcats could end up in the fourth and final playoff slot based on points.

“I haven’t even looked into the playoff scenarios,” Shipley said. “We just want to play hard. We hope to carry over some of the momentum from the win and represent Marshalltown football the best we can. This is the last time the seniors will be able to put on a Bobcat uniform so it should mean a lot to them.”

MHS quarterback Dylan Diveney went beyond the 1,000-yard plateau through the air last week. He now has 1,071 passing yards and 370 rushing yards on the season, while Austin Sowers leads the receivers with 494 yards, 31 catches and three touchdowns.

Senior Derek Mann leads all of Class 4A in tackles with 105 and junior Blair Van Staalduine is third in 4A with 16 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

The last time Marshalltown (1-7, 1-3) ended a season with just one win was 2000. The Bobcats also went 1-8 in 1988. They last finished 2-7 in 2001.


The players of the week for the Mason City game were Diveney (offense), Josh Sowers (defense) and Austin Tullis (scout team). … The only other 4A undefeated team on the Western half of the state is No. 3 Ames. … Dowell lived in Marshalltown as a kid for a few years. His father – Dr. Richard Dowell – is a gynecologist at Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center.