BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – At 2-4, the Hounds will be hard pressed to find a winning season in Head Coach Tony Shiffman’s second year.
The pass-happy Bloodhounds who only have about 300 yards of rushing offense through six games, travel to Washington Friday to face a 3-3 team that’s probably a little better than their record indicates with losses to Oskaloosa, Solon, and Marion with combined 14-4 records.
The Bloodhounds fell to Fairfield on Friday and aside from a couple of big plays, didn’t have as many snaps on the offensive side of the ball as Head Coach Tony Shiffman would have liked.
He characterized Friday’s loss as a ‘combustion’.
“Last week was kind of like homecoming last year (vs. Fairfield), everything that could go wrong did,” Shiffman said. “It was a combustible situation that combusted for everyone involved in the program.”
He said the underlying problem is still numbers because the skill positions are playing well, but the team is very thin on the lines.
” A lot of it is we just don’t have a burner like we had with Shance (Redd-Donald) last year and we have a thin offensive line that has taken all the reps. We have some new receivers and they are playing well, but it’s like a perfect storm of everything right now.”
Shiffman said he has nine starters and seven of them play just about every snap.
“With the exception of Lennon and AJ (Nolting, the Bloodhound placekicker) none of them played a lot last year. Dom didn’t play a lot. Sheymouhr didn’t play offense last year, Trey Kuntz was a role player. They’re still learning how to play football,” he said.
Washington is led by junior signal caller Luke Turner, who stepped in last year as quarterback when Ryan Reighard broke his hand. Turner also patrols the secondary for the Demons and has one pick on the year.
Turner’s averaging 16 yards per reception and has thrown for more than 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns. He’s also has 396 yards on the ground and seven rushing touchdowns, which means he’s either thrown or run for every Washington offensive touchdown with the exception of senior Garrett Ikerd’s one rushing touchdown. Senior Cade Hennigan has been the recipient of six of Turner’s scoring strikes and has 312 yards on the season.
“Turner was the QB last year when Reighard got hurt and only played defense,” Shiffman said. He took over and he’s a good athlete and plays safety for them, too. He handles the offense well for them, he’s coached up well and knows what he’s doing.”
The Demons also have sophomore Trashaun Willis, who leads the team in tackles with 41.5 including four for losses and a sack.
“They have some good athletes that force you into situations you don’t want to be in and make you account for everyone on the field.”
The Bloodhounds couldn’t get much going last week offensively outside of a 55-yard jailbreak screen from senior Lennon Barker to junior wideout Mike Mosena. Mosena made a nice cut on the Hound sideline and made two Fairfield defenders miss, and then outran everyone to the endzone. Jace Burgher took the opening kick off 77 yards for a touchdown for the only two FMHS scores on then night.Shiffman said the running game has featured Kaeli Maestro for most of the carries, but Junior Diego Lozano has more yards per carry on the season. Shiffman said the coaching staff is watching the running game closely as the Hounds haven’t been able to use the run as they would like.
Lozano also had 11.5 tackles against the Trojans Friday and will be looked on to help contain Turner in the Demon’s spread offense. He as 48.5 tackles on the year.
Shiffman said the Hounds will have to be tough off the snap and get to the football quickly to contain Washington’s offense.
“We’ll have to be stout on the point of attack and get 11 hats to the football,” he said. “It’s just basic football stuff and there’s no magic pill or magic answer to it. You’ve got to play hard and want it more than the other guy. We’re not doing a good job of that as a team, or as a coaching staff and I take full responsibility for that. It’s very frustrating.”