BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Burlington Grayhounds fired off a lot of canons in 2018 and shut out the Bloodhounds 31-0 at Bracewell Stadium
But this year, the Grayhounds (1-2) won’t have the services of Taven Harris, who torched FMHS for 245 yards and a couple scores in 2018.
The Grayhounds have found winning difficult with their first win coming last week against Clinton (0-3) 33-26. on the road. Their first two losses came by almost identical scores with a 21-47 loss to Ottumwa (1-2), and a 20-47 loss to Keokuk (3-0).
Burlington has a young quarterback in sophomore Brock Dengler. Dengler has a 46% completion rate with a couple of picks, but has thrown for six touchdowns in the three games. Senior KT Thompson is Dengler’s favorite target with three touchdown catches and a 29.5 yard per catch average.
The other touchdowns have gone to three different receivers, all sophomores.
Out of the backfield, Thompson and Bryant Williams, another sophomore, are splitting hand-offs. Williams has three scores and is averaging 3.2 yards per carry, while Thompson has another score on the ground and is running at 5.3 yards per attempt.
The Grayhounds defense is bit more experienced. Of the 17 that have tackles 16 are either a juniors or seniors led by senior Gage Webster who has 12 tackles on the year, but 66% of his grabs are for a loss including two sacks.
Fort Madison is 2-1 on the year with early season wins over Central Lee and West Burlington/Notre Dame, but Clear Creek-Amana pulled away in the second half to send the Bloodhounds to their first loss of the year 35-13.
In 2018, the Clippers hung a 38-0 loss on Fort Madison, but Friday was a bit different with the Bloodhounds staying with CC-A for all of the first half and closing to one point 13-14 on a Will Larson keeper to the left.
Larson is Fort Madison’s second leading rusher with 69 yards on the year and a couple of touchdowns. Senior Diego Lozano, who’s been dinged up the last couple games has four touchdowns and 265 yards on the ground, but averages over seven yards a touch.
Larson has one touchdown toss on the year and is completing right at 50% of his passes with a pick.
Seniors Romeo Maestro and Quentin Schneider lead the Hounds on defense with a combined 40 tackles from their rush-end spots, nine tackles for losses and three sacks. Lozano also has three sacks for Fort Madison.
Doherty said the Hounds just ran out of gas midway through the 3rd period.
“They did a nice job of making adjustments and we got dragged into some deep water and had some guys with no gas left in the tank,” Doherty said.
Doherty said the Grayhounds are very big up front and their skill players can do some nice things.
“Coach (Zach) Shay’s been there for quite a few years and he’s got his program going in the direction he wants,” he said. “We’re expecting another physical football game.”
Doherty said Burlington is a bigger school then Fort Madison. The Hounds are trying to figure out where they’re at and the game poses a good test.
“After a loss sometimes it’s tough to go out in public again and a lot of people are talking to us and have a lot of faith in us,” he said. “We’ll see how we respond. It’s going to exciting for us.”
He said last week the offense was clicking and the previous two weeks that was a struggle.
“The offense is set up to work – you just have to execute. Catch the ball, not fumble the football, staying disciplined, no penalties. That’s what we’re looking forward to week to week,” Doherty said.
He said the Hound defense was up to the task in the first two weeks, but Doherty said last week was a test.
“They faced some adversity last week and got rattled a bit, but they fought the entire time which was awesome to see. We’re excited to see how these boys respond to that.”
Kick off is at 7 p.m. at Richmond Stadium/Youel Field