Lynx face obstacles other than ’Cats tonight

WEBSTER CITY – Trey Tesdahl gritted his teeth and internalized the pain for more than a week. But, eventually, his little secret had to be told.

Webster City’s senior starter at spinback and free safety will be forced to watch from the sideline tonight when his teammates attempt to lock up the No. 2 seed in Class 3A District 3 against Humboldt at Lynx Field. Tesdahl broke the index finger on his left hand – his non-throwing hand – two weeks ago in a 22-7 loss to third-ranked Clear Lake, yet kept the injury to himself long enough to play the entire 48 minutes in last Friday’s 28-21 comeback victory over Waverly-Shell Rock.

Tesdahl underwent surgery earlier this week to fix the finger. His status for the remainder of the season will be evaluated next week.

“He’s out for this game and we don’t know for how long,” WCHS head coach Bob Howard said. “He’ll almost certainly be able to play in the playoffs, but whether he plays offense, I don’t know.”

Tesdahl has accounted for 797 yards of offense – 494 passing and 300 rushing – and five touchdowns this season. But the lost production is not what bothers Howard.

“The tragedy is for Trey Tesdahl … he busted his butt for us this year and he’s a dang tough kid,” Howard said. “I think we’ll be all right as far as the offense goes.”

The loss to the district’s top-ranked defense could be just as compelling. Tesdahl was forced to play on both sides of the ball after senior Tyler Lockwood missed time with a rib injury. Lockwood returned last week against the Go-Hawks, but injured his knee early in the second half and Howard says he’s also been ruled out for tonight’s clash.

“It’s probably right now a bigger deal on defense just because of Lockwood, too,” Howard said.

Senior Alex Oswald will take over at spinback and the transition shouldn’t be difficult. He played the position most of last season and split time with Tesdahl behind center last week when he rushed for 83 yards on 16 carries against W-SR. He’s attempted just one pass this year on a halfback pass; he completed it for seven yards.

Oswald completed 32 of 77 passes for 535 yards and six touchdowns last season.

“Having Alex there to play spinback is a good situation,” Howard said. “Obviously it was good fortune him playing there last week because he got the reps, so we’re not starting cold turkey.”

Tonight’s bout features two of the state’s premier tailbacks and they’ll certainly be in the spotlight. Humboldt (5-2, 2-2), which is still trying to lock up a spot in the postseason, relies on bruising junior Brady Ross, who sits third in 3A with 1,119 yards and 15 touchdowns. Power and speed have pushed him to seven yards per carry this season and he is sure to test a Lynx defense that has bottled up opponents’ running games this fall.

“He’s just good and he’s a classic tailback,” Howard said of Ross. “You’ve got to be in your gaps and you sure can’t be soft because then he’ll run over you. He breaks a lot of tackles and he gets a lot of yards after contact.”

WCHS (6-1, 4-1), already assured of a spot in the postseason, counters with arguably the district’s best defensive front seven. Linebackers Nelson Ball and Rylee Lawson have combined for 74 solo tackles.

“I think our front seven is as good as any front seven in the district,” Howard said. “The deal is we need to contain (Ross) with the front seven. Hopefully we’ll be able to use the speed we have up front and get people to him before he gets rolling. That’s the plan, but everybody’s plan changes once you get hit in the mouth.”

Connor Larson, the Lynx senior tailback, is no slouch either. He’s fifth in 3A with 1,014 yards – he averages six yards per tote – and 15 touchdowns.

No other running back in District 3 has crossed the 800-yard threshold going into this week.

It will be crucial for the Lynx offensive line to open up holes for Larson, who will have 11 sets of eyes on him prior to every snap.

“We’re getting better on offense all the time,” Howard said. “We get better in practice every day and that’s because the line is getting better faster.”

Humboldt also possesses weapons at fullback in Nikko Wheeler and quarterback in Jaxon Heinz. Wheeler has 273 yards on the ground and six TDs, while Heinz has completed 50 of 75 passes for 510 yards and five scores.

“They’ve got a good fullback and a darned good quarterback who is mobile,” Howard said. “(Heinz) ability to scramble is what worries me, and if you load up to stop Ross then they’re going to try to pop the fullback up the middle, or that’s when the quarterback can scramble.”