BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Three different Bloodhound football players lead the state in Class 3A in different offensive categories, but the Bloodhounds get their first road test Friday at Oskaloosa.
Senior Shance Redd-Donald leads the state in Class 3A in touchdown receptions with five in two games and also leads in reception yards with 245. Lennon Barker hurled all five at Redd-Donald and added another to lead the state in touchdown passes after two weeks with six. Redd-Donald and Senior tailback Alex Gully were both recognized for their performances on area television stations.
“They’re focused and we want to see it on Friday when we come on the field,” Shiffman said of the squad. “We had a great practice Monday and had a good week of superlatives. Shance was top player for Chris Duerr and Gully was the player of the week. We’ve had a good week and are letting them know that people are noticing them. Hopefully that gives them some swagger. We don’t want them to play cocky, but we want to them to play confident.”
The Hounds will certainly need the confidence going into Friday’s 2-hour road trip to Oskaloosa, who lost out of the gate to top-ranked Pella 35-7 at home, but made easy work of Grinnell 41-0 in week 2.
“It’s a lot different. It’s always tough, not difficult, but a different animal on the road, especially when you have to go on the road two hours,” Shiffman said. “The added negative is we don’t have school on Friday. We’re getting them up early and they’re going to Hy-Vee for a team breakfast. So at least they’re up and then we’ll get on the road at 3:30.”
Shiffman said the biggest difference Oskaloosa presents is they will run a spread offense with sometimes as many as four wideouts in the set.
Senior quarterback Seth Howard is 21-of-45 on the year with a touchdown but will regularly look to three or four different receivers in the offensive set.
Junior Cole Henry stands 6’8″ tall at one of the wideouts and has the only touchdown through the air for Oskaloosa. Senior Jared Kruse leads the Osky offense with six receptions for 76 yards.
“The biggest difference is they’re gonna be spread out. Typically they’ll have one back and they will spread the ball out with the four wide,” he said. “It’s something we haven’t seen yet with the exception of our own offense and we saw a little at Mediapolis. But on the flip side of that we’ve been seeing it all summer in 7-on-7s.”
Shiffman said the Hounds don’t want to find themselves in a shootout like last week in the 56-35 win over Central Lee and hopes his team adjusts to the Osky offense quickly.
“It’s still different and we don’t want to have to take a quarter to get used to it. With a team like Osky it could be 21-0 at the end of the first quarter. I know they beat us last year like 49-0 and I heard most of that was in the first half,” he said.
Defensively the Hounds have been opportunistic with four interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Shiffman said the Hounds with Redd-Donald, Shaymour Redd-Donald, and the rest of the secondary have the speed to keep up with Oskaloosa and possibly create some turnovers.
“It’ll be a different animal going from seeing two wide receivers to four and even five,” Shiffman said.
He said all the players are healthy but he’s playing smart and using Diego Lozano to give Gully breathers throughout the game.
“We want Alex to get his 20 carries a game. I’m also smart enough to not wear him out by week 3 and 4. He needs those carries all year.”
Shiffman said he typically doesn’t hear the crowd during the games, but said he’s aware that people are taking notice of the Hounds and their success and wants to build on the program, not just week to week but year to year.
“We want people to take notice of the football game. I was talking with Coach (Derek) Doherty and some of these kids who went off to Central Lee or Burlington in the past, hopefully we can show them a great program and they will stick around. And maybe get some more kids from HTC to come over and play. We want to get numbers like Washington and Osky and Solon where we have 85 kids in the program. We don’t want to be a flash with one good year or two good games and trail off. We want to keep it rolling and moving.”
Shiffman said he was at the Tuesday night volleyball game and saw a packed house and he said he wants to help the community buy into all the Bloodhound sports.
“I want that to transfer to basketball…we had a packed house at the volleyball game and we want everyone in and on board with the Bloodhound train,” Shiffman said.