CN Breakdown: Sandvig and Neal

CN staff writer Mark Hersom breaks down ISU recruits Zac Sandvig and Patrick Neal after West Des Moines Valley's game against Fort Dodge last Friday night.

In a flash, he was gone. That's what Iowa State recruit Zac Sandvig did last week when West Des Moines Valley played at Fort Dodge in a game of undefeated teams.


Sandvig showed break away speed as the Tigers lead the Dodgers 17-0 early in the third quarter after Valley received the second half kickoff and pushed their way to the Dodger 50 yard line. This is where Sandvig sealed the game as the Dodgers contained him for the most part with his biggest run being of 11 yards, but you had a feeling on the sidelines that he would break one open.


That he did, with first down at the 50, Zac went to the right in between the guard and tackle and broken one tackle of the linebacker and cut to the outside down the sidelines for the touchdown. He pulled away from the pursuit and looked like a sprinter, something the current Cyclones need.


On Valleys next possession, Sandvig broke open another long run of 59 yards to the Dodger two yard line. This time it was to the left and off tackle as he ran untouched till about the Dodger 20 when a Fort Dodge defensive back had the angle on him but Sandvig's awareness allowed him to slow down just enough to let the defender over run him and then another defender came in to make a play and Zac cut back to the right in between both player's and on his way to the two. Valley's quarterback Bobby Noyce, behind an outstanding offensive line, punched it in for a 31-0 lead with the rest of the forth quarter to be played.


Zac's final numbers in the Dodger game was 18 carries for 203 yards with three touchdowns and almost a fourth. Early in the first quarter he had a touchdown run of nine yards when Valley had a 4th & 1 as he busted through the line and went in for the touchdown standing up. On his twelfth carry of the game in the second quarter, again Zac ran up the middle with a slight cut back left for an eight yard score. He did not have any receptions as they did not throw to him at all.


For the year, Zac Sandvig leads the CIML with thirteen touchdowns on the year. It will be interesting if he is switched to safety at the next level but his running speed and ability to see the field, with what's happened this year to the Iowa State Cyclones, it will be hard to not let him have a chance at running back. He can take a hit and bounce off tackles to gain yards after contact like a real running back should.


DE Patrick Neal again showed his quickness but did not have much for stats in tackles. His play is to force the ball up the middle where Valley's strength in the defense is. LB's Brian King and Jason Faulk have played very well all year and are in on many plays and create havoc for the opposing quarterbacks. They are both seniors and roughly both around 6 feet tall.


King weighs at 195 pounds and Faulk at 175 pounds. Other than that these two make up a great linebacking corp in all of Iowa high school action. A couple other players that have caught my eye for Valley has been DL Jake McDonough as he is only a sophomore about 6-foot-2 and weighing around 215 pounds.


He recorded a key sack in the opening quarter against Fort Dodge and has shown steady improvement. He is #49 if you have a chance to see him. On the offensive side look at #78 Adam McElderry at 6-foot-3, 268 pounds and only a junior. The Valley offensive line is outstanding but he has the size to play at the next level, at least if not Division one UNI would be a great fit with the system that Valley runs is similar to the Panthers.


The Dodgers have at least one player that may be a sleeper and that is TE/ DE Matt Halverson at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, he has played well all year for the Dodgers. He has 11 catches, four for touchdowns and 290 yards in receptions. He however suffered a leg injury in the Valley game and we will keep an eye on his recovery to see what he does as the Dodgers (5-1) play host to Marshalltown and Ames with Newton being there last road game. They have a good chance at the playoffs which they haven't been to since 1994.


Etc………In my nine years of covering high school football, one thing I always try to do is make it to a Madrid High School home game. If you are close by and haven't been to a Class A game at Madrid, try and stop in as these Class A players not only for Madrid but the other teams in their league really go all out as most play both ways. Madrid mics the referees and gets the crowd into the game early when the team is led on the field by either AC/DC or Guns & Roses.


Throughout my time covering their games, one thing is for certain with coach Randy Hinkel…he will run the ball. I've even seen them run on 4th & 10 at the opponents' ten yard line because they know they can score almost on any play. This year's game I covered was two weeks ago when Earlham Cardinals came to town and took Madrid to the wire losing 27-20. The Tigers have another outstanding ground game with Caleb Blattle and he is only a junior. So if you're in the area and looking for excitement every time a play is run, check out the Tigers as they march on again toward the playoffs. 

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