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Postseason opener to be ‘Cat-battle

October 25, 2011
By MARK PAWLAK - T-R Asst. Sports Editor (mpawlak@timesrepublican.com) , Times-Republican

Marshalltown and Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln have traveled two different roads to get to the same point.

The Bobcats are having more success than any other team in Iowa high school football passing the ball.

The Lynx of Abraham Lincoln again have produced one of the state's top rushing attacks.

Both programs are in the process of building a playoff tradition and square off Wednesday at 7 p.m. as Class 4A West No. 6-seed Marshalltown (7-2) hosts No. 11-seed Abraham Lincoln (5-4) in the state playoffs.

This fall marks the 40th year of the state playoffs and the Bobcats are in the postseason field for the seventh time, while the Lynx are making their sixth appearance.

Nearly all of those playoff-qualifying years have occurred recently.

Fact Box

Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln (5-4) at

Marshalltown (7-2)

Class 4A Playoffs First Round

Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Leonard Cole Field

This marks the third straight year Marshalltown is in the playoffs and fourth time in the last five years.

Abraham Lincoln joins the postseason for the fourth consecutive season.

The 4A playoff field expanded from eight to 16 teams for the 2008 season and that has affected the Bobcats only once in their three-year playoff run as they were the No. 2 seed from the West in 2009, No. 16 in 2010 and their current No. 6.

The 2007 Bobcats were the school's first playoff team since 1992, while the 2009 squad captured the first playoff win for the program on its way to a state championship game appearance.

"We're trying to build a tradition," said Marshalltown senior Ty Steffensen, 4A's leader in receptions and receiving yards. "It's kind of what Tyler Peschong and that team (in '07) started, going to the playoffs for the first time in however long. Then winning a playoff game for the first time in '09 and going all the way to the state championships.

"Now people recognize Marshalltown as a threat, not as much as a pushover anymore."

The Bobcats have 3,443 passing yards this season, an average of 382.6 per game, and have more than 700 yards more than any other team in Iowa for the season.

The Lynx are 13th in 4A in rushing with 2,075 yards - 230.6 per contest. They led 4A in yards per carry (9.5) in 2010 and were second in overall yards (3,514). Abraham Lincoln also led the state's largest class in yards per carry in 2009 (7.6).

Five-foot-10, 175-pound senior Cleo Harris leads this year's group with 156 rushes for 1,368 yards.

"It's been a tradition with Abe Lincoln to hand that ball off and run," said Marshalltown head coach Dave Holdiman. "They had Austin Ebertowski a year ago, now they've got Harris. They just seem to find a guy that is going to be the guy that carries the mail. The constant in all of that is they have a good offensive line."

Harris has 16 rushing touchdowns and is averaging 8.8 yards per tote.

"When you watch him on film, he's a quality back, he's quick, he's fast, he's elusive and obviously we have to play great team defense to try to keep him in check," Holdiman said.

Marshalltown's defense has put together three pretty good games in a row, allowing a combined 40 points, after seeing three straight opponents score over 40 points.

"People are playing well together for us on that side of the ball," Holdiman said.

"There are a lot of little drills coaches do that show themselves in a course of a ballgame and our guys are starting to make that connection. They are playing well together and funneling ballcarriers back to the pursuit, taking the correct angles and we've been getting a lot of guys to the football.

"We're going to have to do a lot more of that."

Holdiman and Lynx head coach Justin Kammrad worked together during the past Shrine Bowl with Kammrad an assistant for head coach Holdiman on the South squad.