BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – After a disappointing loss on Friday to Fairfield, head coach Tony Shiffman has his sights squarely set on Keokuk on the road this week.
The Bloodhounds are coming off a three-game losing skid including two losses to Mt. Pleasant and Fairfield that the Hounds may have been hoping would go in the win column.
“I still firmly believe this team should have won six or seven games. We’ll look back at Fairfield and Mount Pleasant as games we should have and could have one. Osky was too much for us and good luck to anyone beating Solon this year.”
The Chiefs are in the middle of a rough year as well, yet to find their first win. Keokuk starts freshman quarterback Corey Skinner who’s 28 of 93 through the air for 381 yards, one touchdown, and five interceptions. He also leads the team in rushing with 72 carries for 156 yards and three scores.
Fort Madison counters with Lennon Barker who’s thrown for more than 1,000 yards this season with 75 completions on 159 attempts for 1,045 yards, 10 touchdowns, and six interceptions.
Shiffman said Keokuk is a tradition-rich program and they’ll come into Friday’s game thinking this will be the game they win.
“He’s had unfortunate numbers all year. One of their best players broke their leg against Washington so he hasn’t had a lot of luck this year, but you look at Keokuk and they have tradition and they have a state championship. I believe they went into every game thinking they were gonna win. That’s a mindset and mentality and that’s good. We’re trying to get there,” Shiffman said.
“They’re gritty and they’re tough and it’s gonna be a ballgame if we let it be a ballgame. If we come out and play to our top potential who knows what will happen, but if we let them stay in it they will.”
Gully, who didn’t run last week, has 768 yards on the season and 10 touchdowns.
The Hounds suffered a few setbacks on Friday and will be without a couple players. Starting inside linebacker Diego Lozano’s status is up in the air with a shoulder injury he suffered trying to block an extra point. Shiffman said currently two players are out, one battling the flu and another with a concussion.
Friday’s game has a different start time and will begin at 7 p.m.
We’re at the point in the season at week 8 where kids are going to play where we need them to play. We’re not going to necessarily have everyone in their normal spots. We’re going to get kids out on the field,” Shiffman said.
He said Keokuk will bring a spread offense with young kids in the backfield and some experience in the receiver positions.
Sophomores Keegan Carter and Braylon Martinez will see carries out of the backfield along with Junior Jamin Klose. Skinner will look downfield to seniors Matt Wyatt and Antonio Smith, but Wyatt leads the team in receptions with just eight on the year for 131.
Senior Shance Redd-Donald is in the lineup for the Hounds. He leads the team with 35 receptions for 596 yards and eight touchdowns. Against Fairfield, Redd-Donald had eight catches for 126 yards and a score.
The Hounds are currently 3-4 on the season and Shiffman said he wants to give the community a winning season.
“We had such great success in weeks 1 and 2, but we just couldn’t keep it going. It’s still success and it’s still things we can build on, but I just don’t like to lose. I tell the kids, ‘I don’t want you guys to have that mentality that it’s OK to lose. You have to want to give 100% and play your hardest’,” Shiffman said.
“We’ve had a couple games where you could see the kids didn’t think they could get it done, but that’s all part of changing the culture and building a program.”