No pressure for Hounds as No. 1 Raiders come calling

Doherty says FM needs these games to measure program


FORT MADISON – Fort Madison football coach Derek Doherty couldn’t remember the last time a No. 1 team in the state came to play football at Richmond Stadium.
Without saying as much, he didn’t seem to care.
“I’ve been saying this all year. We don’t have any cupcakes on our schedule,” Doherty said. “If we want to be the program we say we want to be, these are the teams we have to play.”
This week, one of the best teams in the state comes to Youel Field to take on the 3-0 Bloodhounds. The Williamsburg Raiders, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, make the trip to Fort Madison to take on the 11th-ranked Hounds.
Fort Madison is just one rung off the AP rankings sheet this week, making tonight’s game at 7:30 one of the most compelling in the state. The Hounds will also be honoring cross-country and marching band seniors Friday night.
Williamsburg knocked off Class 4A's top team in Cedar Rapids Xavier in week two and has one of the most seasoned coaching staffs in the state.
But Doherty looks at these types of big-stage games as opportunities for the Bloodhounds.
“There’s a mental shift happening. What we're really focused on is being excited for the opportunity. In the past when teams like this would come to town, we’d be in a negative mindset. ’Oh, we have to do this.’ No. We get to do this,” Doherty said.
“We get to play football, No. 1. That’s fantastic. And we get the chance to see the No. 1 team come to town. That’s a great measuring stick of where this program is at.”
He said practices have been normal this week. The coaching staff is still  looking for consistency, but not experiencing pressure.
“There is no pressure. We get to go out and play football and test ourselves. As a competitor, you need to be excited about that. Our kids are multiple sport athletes and we’ve got kids that compete with other kids at national levels. Those experiences have helped with that mental shift here at Fort Madison,” he said.
This week is certainly laying it on the line as far as seeing how far the program has come, he said.
“And when you do that - lay it on the line - bad things can happen, but good things can happen, too.”
The Raiders bring a multi-faceted offense with smoke and mirrors in the backfield and they get rid of the ball quickly. Doherty says formations are cheap and plays are expensive, but senior quarterback Kellen Cockrell can be costly, completing 70% of his passes on the year for 12 touchdowns. He’s also rushed for three.  Running back Nile Sinn has the majority of the carries but only has 145 yards against some pretty good competition in the early weeks. Williamsburg has had nine other ball carriers in the three weeks.
Senior linebacker Derek Weisskopf, who’s committed to Iowa, anchors a defense that also shows a lot of looks and occasional presnap movement.
The one to watch for on that side may be junior Rayce Heitman. Heitman leads the Raiders in tackles with 30. He also has 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in just three games. His pressure from inside linebacker says Williamsburg isn’t afraid to send blitz and stunt packages. Reitman also has 119 yards and a touchdown, averaging 20 yards per catch as a receiver.
Fort Madison had a sea change of sorts last week in Centerville when the offense erupted for 42 points and the defense allowed just one score.
Junior quarterback Marcus Guzman holds up against Cockrell’s stats. Guzman has also completed 68% of his passes for six scores and rushed for four more. Guzman is a far stretch more confident in his ability to run off the run pass option than he was in week 1.
Fort Madison is also getting heads-up running from senior Hayden Segoviano. On multiple runs last week, Segoviano had his eyes up looking for the next cut, but would just get tripped up slipping through the middle of the Big Red defense.
Segoviano had his best night of the year catching the ball last week, hauling in nine catches for 117 yards and racked up 7.5 tackles.
Fort Madison is still missing Teague Smith in that one-two punch out of the backfield, but junior Brody Cashman has proved to be a fresh face running and catching. He has two catches and two touchdowns averaging 40 yards a snag.
Guzman has established good rapport with Henry Wiseman, Caleb Bolander, and Leif Boeding in the receiving corp.
Williamsburg was in the state finals last year and Doherty said the IQ there is very high which is the progression of a program that he said other coaches try to emulate.
He said the home field advantage is yet to be seen.
"At the end of the day, does the 12th man make a difference, I don’t know. I don’t hear them. After our first home game my wife was telling me the light show was so cool, and I was so zeroed in, I honestly don’t remember it. We were in a real tight game and had to make adjustments and I don’t know if I just blacked out or what,” he said.
“But we are so blessed for what we get here in Fort Madison. I couldn’t ask for better fan support, businesses, and media. We are just blessed for the support we get,” Doherty said.

Fort Madison, football, preview, Bloodhounds, Hounds, Williamsburg, Raiders, Derek Doherty,


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