BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – It’s a tough ask to find out exactly the last time the Fort Madison Bloodhounds won six of their first seven games.
It’s an even tougher ask to find out the last time they outscored their opponents 154-26 over just three games – or were ranked in the top 10 teams in the state – or had running clocks in three straight games.
But this isn’t your typical Fort Madison team.
The Hounds rolled to their fourth straight win with a 55-12 rout of Fairfield (1-5) in Class 3A District 5 action. Fort Madison had the running clock from kick-off of the second half.
“Our ones played really, really well. Our mentality is we focus on us and we try to control our controllables. We focus on execution, effort, attitude, and toughness and they’re doing that and I’m proud of them for that,” Doherty said.
He said he’s glad the kids have gotten to showcase their ability to win.
“I know the caliber of kids we have and I know their commitment and the work they put in in the dark and I was truly hoping they would get a chance to show that under the lights.”
The Bloodhound offensive juggernaut blew things open in the first quarter with four touchdowns, the first of which came on Fort Madison’s fourth play from scrimmage.
The Hounds forced a Fairfield punt on the Trojans’ first possession, but Fairfield’s punter shanked the punt to the left where it went out of bounds at the Fort Madison 35.
Landes Williams then took the third snap just off left tackle and rumbled 24 yards to open the scoring with Xander Wellman’s extra point making it 7-0.
The ensuing kick was brought back to the Fairfield 31 and after two Payton Cline 1-yard carries on 3rd and 8 the Trojans went to the air. Tate Johnson intercepted Isaac Harris’ pass over the middle and ran it back 33 yards for another quick score for a 14-0 Bloodhound lead. The pick six was the third this year for the Hounds and the fifth defensive touchdown scored.
After the Bloodhound defense forced another punt giving up just four yards on three plays, Fort Madison took over on their own 42 and on 1st and 10, Williams would dump a short screen pass left to senior Brock Califf, and the speedster left everyone behind going down the Bloodhound sideline for a 58-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead.
Cline would get things moving for the Trojans on the next series on carries of 3 and 24 on the first two plays, but a tackle for a loss on the 1st and 10 and back-to-back incompletions from Harris would force another Fairfield punt.
Three plays later Williams found Johnson down the middle. Johnson hauled the throw in after it bounced up off his fingertips behind the secondary and he raced 43 yards for a 28-0 lead.
Fairfield would get all the way to the 14 on the next series, but a field goal try went wide left.
After a couple of defensive stands by both teams, Williams would call Will Larson’s number in the next series. The two hooked up for 33 yards on two pass plays the second of which was 15 yards out for the score and a 35-0 lead.
The Trojans would struggle again after the kick gaining just one yard and then had another bad punt of just 17 yards. Fort Madison took over at the 42 yard line and six plays later Calem Maclearn would score his first touchdown of the season from a yard out just before halftime.
Maclearn was tackled at the one on a nine yard run, and last week was tripped up on his way to his first touchdow. But he said this week was special.
“I wanted that. Honestly, it’s nice finally getting down there with the ball and scoring,” Maclearn.
Maclearn said he’s looking forward to the Hounds getting a test in the next few weeks with playoffs opening next Friday.
“I want to get go up against a Clear Creek-Amana or Washington again,” Maclearn said.
Fort Madison took the 3rd quarter kick back to the 42 of Fairfield and three plays later with a running clock, Maclearn was in again this time from 12 yards for a 49-0 lead.
The Hounds would add another score when Califf would return his 3rd kickoff of the year for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. He almost broke a punt return for a touchdown on the next series, but was pushed out at the 18.
Fairfield would tack on a couple scores in the fourth quarter with Fort Madison moving the second and third string players in after the half.
On paper the offense looks a bit thin, with just 87 yards on the ground and 221 through the air, but again the Hounds created opportunities with special teams and defensive scores, as they have all season.
Williams led the Hounds with 62 yards on five carries and went 11 of 12 passing for 221 yards and the three touchdowns. Maclearn had 27 yards on eight carries.
Austin Ensminger had 7.5 tackles on the night. Jakob McGowan had three tackles, but two were for losses including a 4-yard sack.
Califf’s kickoff return for a touchdown tied him for the lead in the state as of Friday’s games.
Doherty said the lopsided scoring of the last three weeks makes both sides of the ball look good.
“We know what these kids are building and they deserve this. But we’re not done yet. We’re not happy and that’s what I love about these guys. It’s the next mission,” he said.
Doherty still isn’t talking about playoffs despite the end of the regular season.
“I’ve been kind of fingers in the ears and not listening,” he said. “We focus on 0-0 and we want to be 1-0 each week. We’ll celebrate this one, find out who it is, and start the next mission.”