Try, Try Again: Lynx look to erase long, frustrating history against Lions
WEBSTER CITY – As rivalries go, this one has been pretty much one-sided, over the last 16 years anyway.
So much so that the word “rivalry” probably shouldn’t even be used.
Webster City hopes to change that tonight.
With sole ownership of the Class 3A District 3 lead on the line, the No. 8-ranked Lynx (5-0, 3-0) will step onto the grass at Lions Field looking to end the recent dominance of No. 5 Clear Lake (5-0, 2-0) at 7:30 p.m. The Lions have won 14 straight in the series over the past 16 years – the two teams didn’t meet in 2006 or 2007 – and the truth is very few of the battles have been close.
The 2011 contest when they were ranked Nos. 1 and 2 – a 28-27 nail-biter – is the only clash decided by fewer than 10 points. Clear Lake has won 10 of the last 14 by more than 20 points and its average margin of victory has been 26.
Clear Lake was the decided favorite in the majority of those games and that will ring true again tonight.
“We’re coming in under the radar and, yeah, they’re the favorites and that’s going to push us harder,” WCHS senior wingback Alex Oswald said. “Everybody is going to come out harder and stronger than they have the past two weeks because we know it’s Clear Lake. We know they’re No. 5 or whatever.”
WCHS head coach Bob Howard is still in search of his first victory over his Clear Lake counterpart Fred Wieck. They have a combined five state championship rings between them, and Wieck again possesses a juggernaut, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
The Lions wear out scoreboards, averaging 38 points per game – the sixth-best total in the class. They can beat teams throwing, playing power football and with their speed.
In other words, it’s going to be a challenge.
“Clear Lake is a very good offensive team. It’s the best Clear Lake offense I’ve seen since I’ve been up here and it will be a good challenge,” Howard said. “We’re going to have to be really salty on defense.”
That hasn’t been a problem for WCHS through five games. The Lynx have pitched three shutouts – the last two in back-to-back weeks – and allow just 6.4 points per game. Only Carroll’s defense has been stingier in 3A; the Tigers allow just 5.6.
WCHS has not allowed a touchdown since Charles City found the end zone in overtime back on Sept. 13. More than 102 minutes of game time have elapsed since an opponent put up points in regulation.
A quick and active front four – anchored by nose tackle Dylan Fielder – and the reliable linebackers that take direction from senior Nelson Ball will have their hands full with Lions’ quarterback Brock Adams and his supporting cast.
Adams – a big reason why Clear Lake handled WCHS 24-7 last season – has passed for 595 yards and seven touchdowns, and he’s rushed for 238 more yards.
The Lions have three backs – the others are Carter Hand (370 yards) and Pete Swenson (243 yards) – that rank among the top 11 rushing producers in the district.
Stopping Clear Lake’s triple-option attack may be impossible, even for this defense. But slowing it down will be paramount for the Lynx.
“Hopefully our defense can keep us in the game until the second half and then anything can happen. The ball bounces funny sometimes,” Howard said. “We’re going to do everything we can to go up there and try to upset them and it would be an upset because they’re dang good.”
Some of the pressure will fall on the Lynx own offense, which has steadily improved in recent weeks. Near the bottom of the district’s rushing leaderboard three weeks ago, WCHS now ranks second behind Clear Lake with 1,666 yards.
Bruising senior tailback Connor Larson has churned out 226 and 222 yards and scored six touchdowns in the past two weeks. He leads the district in yards rushing with 755 and averages 6.3 yards per carry.
Larson is well aware of the recent history in the series, too.
“We haven’t beaten Clear Lake since I’ve been playing, I know that,” he said. “We hate losing to Clear Lake. We just hate it.”
Howard doesn’t expect Larson to rip off 200 more yards tonight, but the offensive leader and backfield mates Trey Tesdahl at spinback and Alex Oswald at wingback have to move the chains in order for WCHS to stay in contention.
“We’re not going to go up and down the field on them for 500 yards obviously, but hopefully we can control it enough,” Howard said.
Series Notebook: WCHS holds a 44-22-3 all-time advantage on Clear Lake, dating back to the first game in 1938 won by the Lynx, 20-7 … WCHS won 25 of the first 30 meetings and was 44-8-3 against the Lions prior to their recent 14-game winning streak.