Bulldogs are back-to-back district champions

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Junior Kaden Stocker caught two receptions for 20 yards and a touchdown Friday night, in MFL MarMac’s 60-0 win over Postville. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Corbin McElwaine (left) and Tyler Wille were part of a stout offensive line that allowed the Bulldogs to accumulate over 100 yards passing and 279 on the ground against the Pirates.

At Postville, MFL MarMac quarterback Max Havlicek completed nine of 14 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball twice himself for 35 yards and another touchdown.

Austin Schlee vaulted over a Pirate defender in the 60-0 MFL MarMac win on Oct. 9.

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

For the second straight year—and the second time ever—the MFL MarMac football team has won a district title. With a 60-0 win at Postville on Oct. 9, the Bulldogs tied with South Winneshiek and Wapsie Valley for the top spot in Class A District 4.

“They’ve accomplished a lot,” head coach Dan Anderson said of his team. “Starting the season, maybe even I was a doubter a little bit. But you should never doubt these guys.”

“These young guys have grown up so much in the past five, six weeks, that you wouldn’t know who the freshmen are out there, who are the sophomores, who are the seniors,” Anderson added. “They all play really well together and they all want to get in there and are excited for each other when they make big plays.”

Running back Cullen McShane started the scoring for the Bulldogs Friday night, with a nine-yard touchdown five minutes into the game. After a failed extra point, MFL MarMac was up 6-0.

Three minutes later, fullback Gabe McGeough made it into the end zone on a 43-yard run. McShane picked up the two-point conversion, giving the Bulldogs a 14-0 advantage.

The remainder of the first half was quiet, with the Bulldogs staying off the score board until a short touchdown reception from quarterback Max Havlicek to receiver Cayden Ball with just over a minute left in the second quarter. The score was 20-0 after the extra point failed.

On Postville’s following drive, Havlicek showed off his defensive skills, intercepting Pirate QB Riley Rankin and returning the ball 33 yards. With 18 seconds remaining in the half, the Bulldogs capitalized on the Postville miscue, as Havlicek connected with receiver Kaden Stocker to make it 26-0.

Despite the big lead at halftime, Anderson felt the team was a bit flat.

“We didn’t have that fire to start the game,” he explained. “I was frustrated. They knew what they were supposed to do and were blocking—most of the time—who they were supposed to block, but we missed some assignments too.”

Much of that was attributed to the Bulldogs being without three key starters: explosive back and special teams threat Karter Decker and linemen Josh Reichard and Hunter Meyer. 

“So we had two different offensive linemen in spots where they hadn’t played the rest of the year. It took a little while to get things figured out and get the ball rolling,” Anderson said. 

All three players, he noted, should return this week.

The Bulldogs really ran away with the game in the second half, starting with a McShane 29-yard pick six less than two minutes into the third quarter. The two-point conversion made it 34-0 MFL MarMac.

At the 8:13 mark in the same quarter, Havlicek had a quarterback keeper that, paired with the extra point, upped the lead to 41-0. Then McShane scored again with three minutes remaining in the quarter, making it 47-0.

Midway through the fourth quarter, sophomore Cole Allert got in on the action, snagging a Pirate interception and returning it 59 yards for a touchdown. That gave the Bulldogs a 53-0 advantage.

Five minutes later, Allert added an offensive touchdown. The score was capped off by a successful extra point from fellow sophomore Jonah Wille that made it 60-0 and had the team erupting in celebration.

“[Wille] hasn’t been in a game yet this year except some JV games kicking off. He hasn’t had a chance to kick an extra point in even a JV game,” Anderson said. “He’s been working his butt off every day in practice. You saw how excited they were for him—they know how hard he works and understand, if you work hard in practice, everyone deserves to get in there and contribute.”

It was a true team effort Friday night. Offensively, Havlicek completed nine of 14 pass attempts for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He threw one interception. Ball caught five of those passes for 64 yards and a touchdown, while Stocker picked up 20 yards and a touchdown on two receptions.

On the ground, the Bulldogs rushed for 279 yards, including 101 yards and two touchdowns from McShane and 91 yards and a touchdown out of McGeough. Havlicek ran the ball twice himself for 35 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, 20 MFL MarMac players made it into the tackle column. McShane led the team with 6, to go with his interception. McGeough tallied 5 and Austin Schlee and Gavin Meana each secured 4.5. Tristen Koehn earned 4 tackles and a sack, while Wyatt Powell had 3.5 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Havlicek and Allert each picked off the Pirate quarterback.

The win cemented the Bulldogs’ regular season record at 6-1 and district mark at 4-1. They’ll begin postseason play this Friday, Oct. 16, hosting a familiar opponent: Postville. The winless Pirates will come to Monona for the game, which will start at 7 p.m. The winner will then face the winner of the East Buchanan (2-5)/Bellevue (3-2) game.

Anderson said he and the team have appreciated the school and community support this season. 

“With the whole COVID deal, I think we’ve handled it well. I’m just happy with the whole school district, how we’ve been handling things,” he remarked. “It’s been a rough year, and I think football is kind of bringing everybody together and keeping everybody excited. It’s nice to have winning football when there are so many negative things in the world. It takes your mind away from all the negatives—you can just forget that stuff when you’re out here. These guys can be kids, hootin’ and hollerin’ with their buddies.”

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