Mason City 28

Mason City defensive lineman Jeff Shurtz during a game last season.

CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette

For the first time this season, the Mason City Mohawks returned to practice after a win.

“We’ve had probably our most physical week of practice all year,” head coach Matt Berkley said. “And I think it’s that focus of being determined to get better.”

The Mohawks are coming off a 40-18 trampling of Waterloo East, in which they managed 435 yards of total offense.

Senior Danny Kamm went 8 for 9 for 169 yards passing and also rushed for a team-high of 94 yards. The Mohawks broke the 200-yard mark on the ground, rushing for 266 yards, their second best being against Fort Dodge for 192 rushing yards.

Berkley tributes the offensive production to the return of injured players, including a completed offensive line.

Seniors Kevin Seaman, Noah Demaris, Azik Barragan and Jeff Shurtz were all back for the game on Friday. Shurtz’s return was long awaited after a hamstring tear sidelined him during the first game of the season.

Shurtz is a key component to both the offensive and defensive lines. Last week, he eased himself back only playing on offense.

“I was really anxious,” Shurtz said. “I got back a little bit last game for O-line, but this game I’m 100 percent full go.”

During Shurtz’s absence, junior Harrison Nagel has emerged as one of the leaders of the offensive line. Nagel played a few games on varsity last year, but has started every game this year on both sides of the ball.

“I’ve worked on my footwork and moving at offensive line and getting better on defense, just using my hands more,” Nagel said.

Individual progression is important, Berkley notes, because players can focus more on their individual roles than trying to cover additional positions on the field. Nagel and Shurtz feel the offensive line has that understood chemistry.

“I think we just know what we’re doing,” Shurtz said. “Knowing that the guy next to us has our back and knowing he will do his job. We’re going to do ours and that’s how we’re going to make stuff happen.”

Nagel tributes this growth to the communication on the sideline, staying dialed in to game situations in front of them.

“We’re also communicating and talking to each other when we’re not in,” Nagel said. “Talking about what the d-line is doing what we’re seeing on defense to pick things up and move the ball down field.”

With Shurtz back on the defensive line this week, the Mohawks will have all hands on deck against Cedar Rapids Washington.

Shurtz knows what they’re capable of if all the pieces are in place.

“We’re just ready to go. We’re hungry for more now,” Shurtz said.

​Reach sports reporter Leah Vann at 641-421-0526.

Follow her on twitter at @GG_LeahVann

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