Six Fort Dodge football players were placed on the Class 4A-2 all-division teams, the league announced recently.
A pair of Dodger senior linemen – Jacob Porter and Riley Prescott – joined sophomore standout Sam Cook on the first squad, while seniors Andrew Stover and Marquan Clayton and junior Austin Halligan made the second list.
”The kids who made it were very well-deserving,” said FDSH head coach Matt Miller, who is now 41-59 in 10 seasons at the helm. ”The format is a little different now, with the number of players from each team pre-determined based on where you finish (in the division). In addition, the spots aren’t evenly-distributed by position. So you see a lot more wide receivers, for instance, than linemen.
”With that being said, I’m proud of all of our guys. I just wish we could recognize more of them.”
The 275-pound Porter and 220-pound Prescott were both three-year starters in the trenches for the Dodgers. Porter was a two-time all-division selection.
”There are 58 varsity starts between those two – every single game for three straight seasons,” Miller said. ”There’s a lot to be said for both their reliability and their production. Our run game and our offense was as productive as it’s been in years this season, and Jake and Riley were a big reason for that.
”They did everything we asked and set a tremendous example for the kids of our program. To start nearly 30 career games at this level isn’t easy to do, yet they both did it and I truly appreciate that.”
Cook rewrote the record books in more ways than one for Fort Dodge this fall. The tailback rushed for 1,608 yards, shattering the school’s sophomore record and tying Jontel Clayton’s 2009 performance for the best in FDSH single-season history.
Cook also produced the top two individual performances ever in a Dodger uniform, piling up 352 yards in a win over Des Moines North and 265 more in the season finale against Sioux City North. His 178.7 yards per game ranked ahead of Clayton’s ’09 effort (160.8) and placed him second in all of Class 4A during the regular season.
”It was a pretty amazing year for Sam,” Miller said. ”I remember thinking we’d probably never see another back like Zach (Mason) and then saying the same thing when Jontel graduated. But Sam’s numbers have been right there with both of them. It’s been an incredible 10 years for tailbacks in our program.
”Sam will be the first to tell you how fortunate he was to run behind such a veteran offensive line, with five senior regulars.”
Cook was also third on the squad in tackles from his linebacker position, and averaged 37.8 yards per punt. In 2012, he was the first freshman football player ever to start at the varsity level for the Dodgers.
”He basically never left the field, other than to get a breather every once in a while defensively,” Miller said. ”Like Jake and Riley, what Sam did at such a high, steady level is not as easy as he made it look.”
Like Cook, Stover etched his name in the FDSH records as a steady two-year performer. Stover finished second to only Dodger great Randy Reiners (4,385 yards, 39 touchdowns) for both passing yards (3,265) and TDs (27) by a quarterback.
Stover had 1,261 passing yards and 13 touchdowns against only six interceptions this season.
”Andrew had a great career,” Miller said. ”He’s a smart kid who put up solid numbers night in and night out for us, and as the numbers would indicate, you could compare his overall body of work to just about anyone here at the quarterback position.”
The 295-pound Clayton was another two-year regular on the line whose ”best football could still be ahead of him,” according to Miller.
”I think Marquan is just starting to scratch the surface if he chooses to continue his career (at the collegiate level),” Miller said. ”He wasn’t even out for football as a sophomore, so through hard work, he could still do a lot of improving and growing on the field.”
Halligan was a ”jack of all trades” for FDSH. The all-state baseball player was a starter on both sides of the ball and the team’s leading tackler, while catching 19 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns.
”Austin was always around the ball and always making good things happen,” Miller said. ”He’s another kid that started as a sophomore, and we’ll really look to him to be a leader as a senior next year.”
Stover and Halligan were both second team all-division choices last year as well.
Nine Dodgers made the honorable mention list: seniors Brandon Archibald (LB and TE), Carlos Rocha (OL and DL) and Zach Anderson (SE), juniors Spencer Barber (SE), Joe Crooks (FB), Zach Lowery (LB) and Brian Murman (ZB), and sophomores Kole Kampen (S) and Kit McCarville (OL).
Fort Dodge went 3-6 overall this year, missing the postseason for the first time since 2007. Along with the eight total underclassmen on the all-division teams, the Dodgers are slated to welcome back starters Skyler Harris (DL), Ben Ahlers (TE), Josh Diosdado (NG) and Konner Pirie (LB).
Miller’s squad will also receive a revamped schedule and new two-year district assignment sometime in January.
District champion Ames (10-1 overall, 5-0 in 4A-2) had seven first-team selections. The Little Cyclones were followed by Johnston (6-4, 4-1), Ankeny (4-6, 3-2), Sioux City North (4-6, 2-3), the Dodgers and Des Moines North (0-9, 0-5).