New coach, new opponents and a new system for a brand new season.
And on Friday before their preseason scrimmage, the Ottumwa football team named a new captain. That new honor started a big day for senior Seth Griffiths.
“It’s a great honor. Just to know my teammates think that much of me to vote me into that role is an honor,” Griffiths said.
Griffiths showcased his ability to be a major weapon in head coach Zach Pfantz’s new “pistol” offense. The undersized running back darted and dashed around defenders throughout “Meet the Bulldogs” night Friday, racking up over 100 first-half yards while scoring three of Ottumwa’s first four touchdowns. The Bulldogs’ first-team offense sparkled throughout the night, leading the Ottumwa red team to a 54-0 win over the white squad Friday night at Schafer Stadium.
“Being captain is great, but I didn’t really think about it that much when I was out there,” Griffiths said after leading Ottumwa’s rushing attack with 121 yards on 13 carries in the intra-squad scrimmage. “We’re 11 as one out here. It’s a team effort. We just all have to work together.”
The ability shown by his team put a smile on the face of Pfantz, whose enthusiasm was evident well after the scrimmage was over. The first-year Bulldog coach got to see several players shine as new excitement has led to new depth on the Bulldog roster.
“We decided to platoon this year. Our guys aren’t going both ways and I think, with that, our offense and our defense can be asked for a little bit more from a knowledge standpoint,” Pfantz said. “We’re able to learn more of the schemes and, because of that, we’re able to be more versatile.
“If the guys are going to work hard in the offseason the way we’ve asked them to do, then we certainly want to get as many people involved as we can on Friday nights.”
Griffiths showcased his ability to be very elusive on the ground on Friday, taking several draw handoffs from quarterback Alex Goodvin before darting and dashing through defenders. Griffiths had several rushes of 10-plus yards and scored touchdowns from 12 and two yards out to cap the first two drives for Ottumwa’s top offensive unit.
“I’m more fast to the hole then I am to the outside of it,” Griffiths said. “This offense is good because, if the line does what it’s supposed to do, I’m going to do what I’m supposed to do.”
“I just have to hand it to him a few times and watch him squirt through those holes,” Goodvin said of Griffiths. “It also works out where I can tuck it away and find some room to run myself.”
Goodvin, who is expected to be the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback next week when Ottumwa opens their season at home, talked about running the pistol for the first time ever. The senior quarterback passed for three touchdowns and 152 yards while happily implementing the new offensive change under his new head coach.
“I’ve seen it on college football a lot and I always wanted to run it myself,” Goodvin said. “It’s been a lot of fun getting ready for this season. Coach Pfantz has done a lot. He’s excited all of us and he’s had us working really hard for the new season.”
Goodvin and Griffiths were hardly the only players to have their chance in the spotlight on ‘Meet the Bulldogs’ night. Cooper Smith starred in the second half of the scrimmage, collecting 62 yards on the ground while scoring the final touchdown on a 13-yard pass from Goodvin. Kyle Keck added a pair of touchdown catches while Tyler Johns showed his skills on special teams, returning a punt 47 yards for a touchdown.
It was a positive start to Pfantz’s first season, which has had to move along quickly as the Bulldogs open their season with just over two weeks of practice under their belts.
“The improvement has been tremendous. We’ve stressed every day in practice to get a little better every day,” Pfantz said. “With the short amount of time we have to prepare for week zero, every day has to be important to us.
“We’ve seen a lot of improvement due a lot to the fact every guy gets to focus on their one position. That’s another good part the depth we have on this team.”
Ottumwa’s new season, which will include six new opponents and a brand new division in Class 4A, will start with a very familiar opponent next Friday at Schafer Stadium. Defending state champ West Des Moines Valley, who ended the Bulldogs’ season in the opening round of the postseason last year, will be the Bulldogs first opponent of this season.
After Friday night, the Bulldogs are certainly not lacking in either confidence or enthusiasm for the season to start.
“Words can’t describe it. I’ve been ready since I found out the schedule at the end of the last school year,” Goodvin said. “I’m ready for them.”
“This is exciting. I wish we could get this season going year round,” Pfantz joked.
Ottumwa ‘red’ 54, Ottumwa ‘white’ 0
Scoring By Halves
Ottumwa — Seth Griffths 12 yard run (Justin Vonderhaar kick)
Ottumwa — Griffiths 2 yard run (kick failed)
Ottumwa — Kyle Keck 32 yard pass from Alex Goodvin (Vonderhaar kick)
Ottumwa — Griffiths 6 yard run (Vonderhaar kick)
Ottumwa — Alec Maas 13 yard run (Vonderhaar kick)
Ottumwa — Keck 40 yard pass from Goodvin (kick blocked)
Ottumwa — Tyler Johns 47 yard punt return (Vonderhaar kick)
Ottumwa — Cooper Smith 13 yard pass from Goodvin (Vonderhaar kick)
RUSHING — Seth Griffiths 13-121 yards, 3 td; Cooper Smith 7-62 yards; Alec Maas 5-35 yards, td; Colton Gray 2-(-2) yards; Avery Palen 5-(-10) yards.
PASSING — Goodvin 8-15, 152 yards, 3 td, 2 int; Keck 1-5, 11 yards, int.
RECEIVING — Keck 4-107 yards, 2 td; Smith 3-21 yards, td; Maas 2-20 yards; Clayton Cudworth 1-15 yards.
New coach, new opponents and a new system for a brand new season.
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