Confident Bobcats ready to renew rivalry with Newton

The first meeting between Marshalltown and Newton on the gridiron took place in 1910. The Bobcats and Cardinals have played 81 times since that initial meeting and the two programs will renew their long-standing rivalry when they meet at Leonard Cole Field on Friday.

And both teams will come into the game 1-0 after winning in convincing fashion in the season opener last week.

The Cardinals racked up 481 yards of offense in a 41-7 win over Knoxville. Newton rushed for 276 yards and senior Tyler Wood threw for another 206, but the Cardinal defense also forced five fumbles, had four sacks and limited its Little Hawkeye Conference rivals to just 170 total yards.

MHS coach Aaron Shipley was happy that his team started 2014 with a win, but the celebrating ended Monday when the Bobcats turned their focus to their rivals to the south.

“Newton is going to be physical, they are well coached and they won’t beat themselves,” said Shipley. “Waterloo East hurt themselves in a lot of ways against us last week. We can’t count on everybody beating themselves. We have to go back to work and just know that the first win is just part of the process.”

Slowing down Wood will be one of the main focuses for the Bobcat defense. He was 10-of-19 through the air against Knoxville and tossed three touchdowns to Nick Easley, a dynamic receiver who gained 120 yards on his five catches last week.

“Their quarterback is coming off a good junior season. He is mobile and has good arm strength,” said Shipley. “Easley is a dynamic receiver that we are going to have contain. Then they have several guys in the backfield that can beat you too.”

Leading the way on the ground for the now-balanced Cardinals was sophomore Reese Rosenquist and junior Joseph Banfield. Rosenquist carried it just four times but scored twice and gained 82 yards, while Banfield had 76 yards and a touchdown on the ground and another 65 yards on two catches in the passing game.

“Tackling will be very important for us Friday,” said Shipley. “We have to stick to our assignments and responsibilities and play good assignment football. Newton is much more balanced than it once was. I think you have to do that these days to be more successful.”

The Bobcats had more success in the running game Friday than it did in any game last season when they finished 1-8. John Espinoza nearly tripled his career rushing output against the Trojans when he went for 92 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, but Shipley wants to see an improvement in the passing game against Newton’s opportunistic defense that is led by Jordan Travis, who had eight tackles and two sacks in the opener.

“We were not happy with our passing game,” said Shipley. “There were lots of positives to the game overall but we have got to run crisper routes and find a way to get open.”

The last time Marshalltown and Newton faced each other was 2009 when the Bobcats won 17-0. Marshalltown also won 40-34 in 2008. Newton’s last victory in the series came in the first round of the 2007 playoffs. The Cardinals won that game 42-28 and lead the all-time series 47-29-6.

“I think the community is excited about the game,” said Shipley. “It helps that we won our opener. Casual fans saw that we won and they see that Newton is next on the schedule and they know what that game means. Lots of people know about the rivalry. It is an important game to us.”

Notebook

Friday’s varsity game at Leonard Cole Field kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will follow the freshmen game. All three Marshalltown football squads won last week. The varsity beat Waterloo East 31-0 thanks to a 25-point second half. The sophomores won 44-6 and the freshmen beat the Trojans 44-0. The football weekly awards are back in 2014. Espinoza was named offensive player of the game against Waterloo East, while Peyton Williams was the defensive player of the game after recording five tackles in his first career start. Sam Rogers earned the “Hit of the Week” during Joe Rebik’s punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter and the scout team player of the week was sophomore Reese Hageman.