MASON CITY — AJ Dolphin can tell you a little bit of everything about playing defense.
He can tell you how to play in the secondary. The same goes for playing linebacker.
And after his performance last week against Clear Lake, the Mohawk senior certainly knows about defensive line play.
The once 150-pound sophomore has turned into one of Mason City’s best defenders, and when the Mohawks host Waverly-Shell Rock at 7:30 tonight, he’s hoping his defense paves the way to a crucial victory.
“Last week felt good but it didn’t matter because we didn’t win,” Dolphin said.
Dolphin has transformed from a 150-pound sophomore to a chiseled 200-pound defensive end. He made his presence felt early against Clear Lake, tallying 10 tackles, a sack and recovering a fumble.
Throughout his career, Dolphin has played at every level of the defense, including cornerback.
“I’ve kind of kept that speed for the transition,” Dolphin said.
He’s also transitioned into one of the leaders on the Mohawks’ defense.
Coach Justin Penner said it’s a night-and-day difference between Dolphin’s personality over the course of one season.
“Some of the things he’s said recently show me he is maturing as an individual,” Penner said. “He’s getting the whole team concept and I told him that in front of the team. That’s enjoyable as a coach.”
The coach would enjoy a victory tonight, too.
The opposition is a Waverly-Shell Rock team just on the outside of the Class 3A rankings and coming off a 17-14 loss to defending Class 3A champion Decorah last Friday.
For the Mohawks, trying to bounce back from a 41-20 setback against Clear Lake, it’s about time of possession.
Mason City kept Clear Lake’s offense on the sideline early in the game and that led to four scoring drives for the Mohawks in the first half.
But three consecutive 3-and-outs in the third quarter resulted in three Clear Lake touchdown drives that decided the game.
“We need this win to jump-start our season,” Dolphin said. “We need to play like we did in the first half against Clear Lake.”
The defense should get a lift with a pair of cornerbacks returning from injury.
Brad Petersen and Billy O’Neill will each see time at corner, giving the Mohawks some much-needed depth in the secondary.
Matt Danielson, who caught five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown last week, will be sidelined with a sprained MCL. Penner said he will be out a couple of weeks.
Penner added there’s one other hurdle that needs to be cleared for his team to move forward.
“There’s that demon of the third quarter that is looming over us,” the coach said.
W-SR AT Mason City
Mason City High
Ht. Wt. Yr.
QB — Matt Meyer 6-5 195 sr.
WR — Shandon Green 6-0 165 so.
WR — Jareese Williams Jr. 6-0 145 so.
WR — Wyatt Cooper 6-4 210 so.
WR — Jared Lichman 6-3 195 sr.
WR — Austin Hemmen 5-9 165 jr.
LT — Brock Rezabek 6-1 240 sr.
LG — Andrew Smuck 6-0 255 sr.
C — Tom Schiffer 6-0 250 sr.
RG — Chirstian O’Banion 5-10 215 sr.
RT — Autsin Thoms 6-0 230 sr.
DE — AJ Dolphin 6-3 200 sr.
NT — Tom Schiffer 6-0 250 sr. or Hunter Miller 6-0 185 so.
DE — Hunter Miller 6-0 185 so.
or Brock Rezabek 6-1 240 sr.
LB — Andy Bartel 5-11 170 sr.
LB — Austin Thoms 6-0 230 sr.
LB — Isaac Gibbons 5-10 175 jr.
LB — Alec Watson 6-2 180 sr.
CB — Cody Eckenrod 5-8 150 jr.
or Brad Petersen 6-0 160 sr.
CB — Calvin Houang 5-5 140 jr.
FS — Stone Sturges 5-11 170 sr.
SS — John Enright 5-10 170 sr.
K — Miguel Recinos 6-1 175 sr.
P — Miguel Recinos 6-1 175 sr.