Prep football: 'Fun' returns to Bulldogs in opening win

Ottumwa High School defensive lineman Jesus Jaime (left) recovers a fumble on the second play of the game, while teammate Zach Ross (center) and Burlington’s Julius Harris pursue, during the Bulldogs’ 47-21 win over the Grayhounds Friday at Bracewell Stadium.

BURLINGTON — If the majority of the rest of the schedule looks anything like Friday’s performance, it’ll be a fun year for the Ottumwa High School football team.

For sure, the Bulldogs looked better than they had in two years, and it showed up in their most points scored in almost seven.

Aside from a fumble in the first minute of the game, Ottumwa set the tone on both sides of the ball in a 47-21 win over Burlington, a longtime rival. The Bulldogs hadn’t scored that many points since late in the 2012 season, but more importantly, it was a momentum-builder for a program needing an identity.

“Our goal is one play at a time, and it helped to have that mindset tonight,” said Ottumwa coach Brian Goodvin, who earned his first win as Bulldogs head coach. “We had some bumps and bruises coming into the game, but we fought through it.”

A look at what went right and wrong in the season opener:

What went right

The Bulldogs had confidence in every facet, and it led to big plays. Quarterback Adam Denniston and a deep group of running backs looked like they’d mastered and owned a brand-new scheme based on misdirection. The run set up the pass, and all three of Denniston’s three touchdown passes covered longer than 20 yards, including a fourth-down TD to Trae Swartz on a tipped ball. Defensively, they stymied Burlington’s run game for the most part, and aggressive play on special teams led to a blocked punt for a touchdown.

Ottumwa simply looked like it was having fun. When you’ve struggled to win games over the last three years, one loss kind of blurs into the next. But this is the second year in a row the Bulldogs have won their season opener. And it was built on the physical style Goodvin wants to play.

What went wrong

Once again, slippery running backs create problems for Ottumwa’s defense. Burlington’s KT Thompson, like Taven Harris last season, was elusive against an aggressive defense. He was tough to bring down, rushing for 151 yards in the contest (the rest of the team had minus-13 yards). There will be more running backs who have a similar style, particularly when district play begins.

The Bulldogs may have come out a little tight, but it was quickly reversed. A big kickoff return set them up in Burlington territory, but Ottumwa fumbled the first snap of the season. One play later, it had its first takeaway, and four plays after that its first touchdown.

Up next

Ottumwa (1-0) hosts Marshalltown (1-0) in the home opener at Schafer Stadium. This will also be the first time Goodvin will be a head coach against his son, Marshalltown head coach Adam Goodvin. Last season, the Bobcats sent the Bulldogs into a seven-week tailspin they didn’t recover from until the final week of the season.

Marshalltown is coming off a 55-14 win over Des Moines North, as quarterback Brendan Bates completed 16 of 18 passes for 166 yards and four touchdowns.

“Our scout team is going to see a lot of what we do offensively, because Marshalltown runs exactly what we do,” Brian Goodvin said. “That will be huge for us.”

Around Class 4A District 6

Teagan Johnson rushed for 227 yards as Dowling Catholic edged Waukee 21-17 to win a season opener for the eighth year in a row; Waukee scored all of its points in the first half, and quarterback Mitch Randall threw for 192 yards. ... Mason City suffered its worst loss in the 107-year series history against Fort Dodge, losing 65-0 and run its losing streak against the Dodgers to 16 years; the Dodgers outgained the Mohawks 515-58. ... Kael Kolarik rushed for 141 yards, but Indianola couldn’t turn its drives into points in a 26-3 loss to Norwalk. ... Des Moines East couldn’t convert a two-point attempt in the final seconds of a 20-18 loss to Des Moines Lincoln; Lincoln’s Cayden Storm threw for 244 yards and three TDs, and the defense forced four turnovers. ... Johnston limited Urbandale to just 189 yards, and surrendered only a fourth-quarter touchdown pass in a 28-6 win over the J-Hawks.

This week’s schedule

Marshalltown (1-0) at Ottumwa (1-0); Des Moines East (0-1) at Des Moines North (0-1); Indianola (0-1) at Des Moines Hoover (0-1); Johnston (1-0) at Ankeny (0-1); Waterloo West (1-0) at Mason City (0-1); Southeast Polk (0-1) at Waukee (0-1).

Chad Drury can be reached at cdrury@ottumwacourier.com, and on Twitter @ChadDrury

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