Record run for Cook

Fort Dodge’s 2013 Homecoming contest was dominated by rain, restarts and records here Friday.

The Dodgers navigated their way through two lengthy weather delays, but the end result was well worth the wait as they bulldozed through Des Moines North 43-15 behind an unprecedented performance by sophomore tailback Sam Cook.

Cook shattered the school’s single-game rushing mark, finishing with 352 yards on 31 carries to spearhead a relentless FDSH rushing attack. The total – 78 yards clear of Blake Oleson’s number that stood for 52 years – also allowed Cook to surpass Jontel Clayton’s 2008 single-season sophomore effort. Cook is now the first Dodger 10th-grader ever to eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau on the ground.

”When I was younger, I dreamed of just getting the opportunity to play at this level inside (Dodger Stadium),” said Cook, who became the first ninth-grader ever to start as a varsity linebacker a year ago. ”It was a goal of mine, just like it is for all of us growing up.

”Our offensive line deserves all the credit. They opened huge holes for me and the (other backs). Of course you never really think about (establishing new records), but it’s awesome and something I consider to be a program accomplishment. I wouldn’t be able to do anything without my teammates.”

Fort Dodge (3-3 overall) had 471 rushing yards – also a single-game program record – and 540 yards of total offense against the winless Polar Bears (0-6). The Dodgers scored three times in the third quarter to pull away despite having to wait through a pair of lightning stoppages that lasted for 90 total minutes. The game didn’t finish until 11 p.m., and by then, a large FDSH Homecoming contingent had dwindled into sparse crowd – especially when the latter delay delivered a deluge of rain and whipping winds.

”I thought we did a pretty good job of weathering the storm, so to speak,” Dodger head coach Matt Miller said. ”Given how eventful this week was and then adding all of the starts and stops after halftime into the equation, we were able to stay pretty focused. I’m proud of our kids for handling the night well, because it wasn’t easy and North had made it a ballgame (at 22-15 early in the third period) before we were able to kick it into high gear.

”Sam obviously ran very well and extremely hard. He gets going with a full head of steam and he’s awfully tough to slow down. Our line play was solid and consistent again, which is where it starts, and Sam took advantage. He’s posted some incredible numbers, given how many great backs we’ve had play here through the years. It’s quite an accomplishment.”

Cook scored four times, including bursts of 66 and 51 yards to paydirt in the third period as North began to wear down. His night was over after a nine-yard TD with 4:32 left in the quarter.

Fort Dodge didn’t always keep the speedy Polar Bears contained, as senior Shymere Williams rushed for 152 yards of his own. The Dodgers did record four sacks though – including three by junior linebacker Zach Lowery – and four fumble recoveries. Seniors Gunnar Conrad and Cory Alexander, junior Kyle Hanson and Cook all pounced on loose balls.

”We struggled in the open field, which has been an issue all year,” Miller said. ”North has some playmakers, and I give them credit for hanging in there and really pushing us until we were finally able to get some distance (in the second half).

”We still have some things we need to clean up, some things we need to do better, and we need everyone back at full strength for these last three games. (Senior lineman) Carlos (Rocha) was sick. We lost (Senior cornerback) Berch (Fritz) to a concussion. (Junior defensive end) Skyler (Harris) was out with a concussion. In order for us to compete down the stretch of the season, we have to be as close to 100 percent on the depth chart as we can possibly get.”

Senior quarterback Andrew Stover scored on a short sneak to break the ice on the Dodgers’ opening drive, and junior Z-back Brian Murman sped to the end zone on a nifty reverse later in the first quarter.

Sophomore Keegan Myers contributed 92 yards rushing in the victory.

North’s two TDs were both set up by FDSH miscues – a busted kickoff return that went for 67 yards down to the Dodger 1-yard line after a touchdown, and a fumbled punt near the red zone early in the third period.

Fort Dodge returns to action at Johnston (3-3, 2-0) on Friday. The Dragons defeated Sioux City North on Thursday night, 28-17.