WEBSTER CITY - Practice makes perfect.
Or in Webster City's case, practice makes, hopefully, improvement.
Coming off just its second shutout loss since 2006 - a 27-0 handcuffing at the hands of Ballard last Friday - the WCHS football team will make its first appearance of the season at Lynx Field tonight when it entertains Gilbert in non-district play at 7:30 p.m.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City junior wingback Trey Tesdahl cuts to the outside during the first quarter of last Friday’s non-district game against Ballard in Huxley. Tesdahl and the Lynx were contained throughout the 27-0 loss. They’ll look to get going tonight when they make their 2012 home debut against Gilbert at 7:30 p.m.
Head coach Bob Howard has digested the game tape from last week. He noticed the positives and negatives, and he hopes the necessary improvements have been made.
"We've had two real good days of practice in the heat, and I think we've gotten better. But how much better, I guess we'll find out," Howard, who directed the Lynx to a 6-0 record at home a season ago, said. "Things we could identify have hopefully been addressed."
The most glaring issues occurred on the offensive line. Missed blocks and Ballard's quickness put the Lynx at a standstill at times. They finished with just 123 yards on the ground - a meager average in Howard's usually explosive single-wing scheme - and no back averaged more than 4.1 yards per carry.
That must improve.
"We had movement at the point of attack with our offensive line, but we didn't block anyone that was coming," Howard said. "Learning to block people in space, that's one of the toughest things to do in the offense. And we had some execution problems in the backfield that we should have seen during the game. A lot of it is attributable to the new kids, but we're not going to use that as an excuse for much longer."
Junior tailback Connor Larson picked up 66 yards on 16 carries, and junior spinback Alex Oswald gained 39 yards on 15 totes.
Larson will get some much-needed help this week with the return of senior ball carrier Austin Myers, who was forced to stand idly by and watch a week ago. Myers will also start in the defensive secondary, allowing Oswald - the starter at cornerback a week ago - a chance to concentrate on directing the offense.
"Having Austin back will help," Howard said. "He gives us good depth at tailback and he was a (defensive) starter for us last year."
Gilbert (1-0) allowed 258 yards rushing a week ago in its 34-32 victory over Collins-Maxwell-Baxter, a game in which the Tigers rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to take. CMB's Zach Samson churned out 208 yards on just 17 carries.
Gilbert had no answer for the WCHS (0-1) offense a season ago in a 66-7 Lynx rout in Week 1. WCHS bullied the Tigers for 404 ground yards and led 53-0 at the half.
But Gilbert's offense showed it can be dangerous last Friday, particularly running the ball. Senior tailback Chris Culek (131 yards) and senior quarterback Jordan Knock (107 yards) spearheaded the comeback, as the Tigers didn't throw a pass over the final two quarters.
"Jordan Knock is a good athlete. He's a big kid and he runs well," Howard said. "So that's where we're going to start is trying to limit his playmaking ability."
Culek will have a little extra incentive tonight when he returns to the foreign turf. He tore his ACL against the Lynx last fall and missed the entire season.
The Lynx defense was sturdy against the run last week, limiting Ballard to just 80 yards on 30 carries, and 31 of those yards came on one run early in the contest.
"Run defense is where we think we're the strongest," Howard, who owns 283 career victories, said. "Ballard did more side-to-side running and Gilbert's going to do more quick-hitting stuff, so that will be different.
"They're 1-0 and I'm sure they're going to have a lot of confidence."
This will be the Lynx final tune-up before they open up Class 3A District 3 play at Charles City next week.