BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Head coach Tony Shiffman, with the football season winding down, now wants the Fort Madison Bloodhounds to play to have fun and for their legacy.
But tonight’s game with Mt. Pleasant features another quarterback that can throw and run in senior Zach Beason who has been involved in 17 of the Panthers 28 touchdowns on the year. The Panthers are 4-3 on the year and gave undefeated Solon some fits in a rain interrupted affair in last weekend’s 34-28 loss.
Shiffman said the Panthers will lean on Beason heavily offensively, but they are a senior team that has been playing together for a long time.
“They’re a good football team. They are senior heavy and have been playing in that system for a long time and have played together for a long time so they’ll be a challenge,” Shiffman said.
He said Mt. Pleasant won’t change much for the Bloodhounds, but it’s a Friday night and anything can happen.
Beason has 93 carries off reads and sweeps for 337 yards and nine touchdowns, which leads the Panthers on the ground. Junior Kyle Samples is second with 34 carries for 217 yards and three touchdowns.
Beason has also thrown for close to 1,500 yards on the year and eight scores. The most prolific target is senior Chase Lamm who has 471 yards and three scores. But three other receivers have more than 200 yards in receptions on the year, so Beason will move the ball around. Senior Tucker Johnson can make you miss with 344 yards and three scores on just 17 catches for averaging 20 yards per catch.
“He’s gonna throw the ball 30-40 times and he’s gonna run the ball 15-20 times. He’s a big strong kid, and a good quarterback. Our kids are gonna have to contain and wrap up and play as best as they can,” Shiffman said.
The Hounds counter with Lennon Barker who had one of his best rushing performances last week on a soggy Chase Field in Washington. Barker got loose through the left side of the line and broke free for a 53-yard run, but finished with a net 51 yards after several tackles for losses. The senior signal caller has 1,153 passing yards on the year with only three touchdowns. He’s been picked off five times.
Dominic Frantz, Mike Mosena and Sheymouhr Redd-Donald each have more than 200 yards receiving for Fort Madison. Frantz has two touchdowns and Mosena has the other touchdown reception.
Kali Maestro leads the Hounds on the ground with 242 yards on 65 carries and one touchdown. Junior Diego Lozano has 191 yards on 22 carries and three scores.
A trio of juniors, Lozano, Quentin Schneider and Danen Settles are tops for the Hounds on defense. Lozano has 53 tackles on the year and will have his eye on Beason and Samples out of the backfield. Schneider is on containment from the outside end spot, and Settles will make a push from the inside to keep the Panthers off balance. Junior Romeo Maestro has seven tackles for losses on the year including four sacks.
Settles chased Washington’s Luke Turner around the backfield last Friday recording 2.5 sacks and helped throw a wrench into the Demons’ offense.
Shiffman said the Hounds are playing for their own reputation now.
“They have to play for their own legacy right now. They’re playing for their memories and for what they are going to be remembered for. Not for what any of us are going to be remembered for. That’s what needs to be in their back of their minds,” he said.
“I want them to play and play hard and see what happens and surprise themselves. Make themselves proud and the people around here proud of them,” Shiffman said.
The game kicks off a 7 p.m. at Richmond Stadium.