MASON CITY - Despite the early struggles of both teams, the intensity won't be missing from Fort Dodge's football matchup with Mason City here Friday.
The 98th contest all-time between the Dodgers (0-3 overall) and Mohawks (0-4) may not feature playoff implications or even count in the conference standings for the first time in the modern era, but something just as important serves as the main focus for all players involved.
Fort Dodge will try to extend its win streak in the series to a record nine games and keep the Decker Sporting Goods traveling trophy in its possession for yet another season. To do so, the Dodgers will have to stop Mason City on its homecoming weekend for a second consecutive year.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
''We're both anxious and hungry,'' FDSH head coach Matt Miller said. ''I know our guys are looking forward to trying to right their ship, and I'm sure (the Mohawks) are thinking the same thing.
LT: Jake Porter, 265, jr.
LG: Michael Carlson, 280, sr.
C: Kyle Johnson, 220, sr.
RG: Carlos Rocha, 230, jr.
or Marquan Clayton, 295, jr.
RT: Connor Hubbard, 260, sr.
SE: Tyler Vaughn, 170, sr.
SE: Keegan Jones, 175, sr.
WB: Zach Anderson, 150, jr.
HB: Tommy Halligan, 180, sr.
TB: Austin Halligan, 170, so.
QB: Andrew Stover, 175, jr.
DE: Riley Prescott, 220, jr.
DE: Skyler Harris, 210, so.
LB: Adrean Johnson, 180, sr.
LB: Sam Cook, 200, fr.
LB: Brandon Archibald, 175, jr.
LB: Austin Anderson, 170, sr.
LB: Anthony Credit, 185, sr.
CB: Brandan Schoenfeld, 165, jr.
''We don't want to let go of this trophy. Our kids have been going against theirs in different sports since they were about eight years old. They all know each other well. That's what makes this rivalry so special, regardless of what our records happen to be coming into the game. We have a history with them given it's the longest (current football series in the state), but also with our track records in other sports growing up.''
The Dodgers have beaten the Mohawks by at least 24 points in three of the last four contests, including a 24-0 triumph last fall.
The past means very little right now to an FDSH defense that has surrendered 142 combined points and nearly 1,400 total yards in losses to No. 9 Urbandale, Sioux City East and Marshalltown. Mason City, meanwhile, has sputtered offensively in falling against Ames (27-7), Clear Lake (34-7), Waverly-Shell Rock (13-6) and Waukee (34-10).
''We have plenty to prove on both sides of the ball, and I know they probably feel the same way,'' Miller said. ''Our defense has to shore things up in a hurry, and we have to start showing more efficiency on offense, especially in (the opponent's territory).
''I feel like whoever gets off to the better start while limiting their mistakes will have a distinct advantage. With both teams (winless), the mental part of the game will be in play just as much as the physical for the side that's able to gain the upper-hand.''
Fort Dodge senior wingback and defensive back Wesley Castro is doubtful with an injured ankle. Junior offensive lineman Carlos Rocha (shoulder) is questionable.
Junior quarterback Andrew Stover has thrown for 431 yards and five touchdowns, while senior Tyler Vaughn (160 yards) is the squad's leading receiver. Tailbacks Devon Kirby (120 yards) and Austin Halligan (117) have split time in the backfield.
The Dodgers and Mohawks first played on the gridiron in 1912, and they've met every season since 1922. Fort Dodge leads the series 48-41-8 thanks to its recent success. The Decker Sporting Goods trophy has been in play since 2005.