WEBSTER CITY - The Algona football team is a lot like that box of chocolates that Forrest Gump talked about incessantly.
It's true - you never know what you're gonna get.
Will Webster City (3-1, 2-0) see the Bulldog team that has won two games by an average of 28 points, or is it going to be the squad that dropped two decisions by 29 when the Class 3A District 3 rivals tangle tonight at Lynx Field?
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City wingback Trey Tesdahl (10) stretches for a pass thrown well over his head by spinback Alex Oswald against Iowa Falls-Alden last Friday in Iowa Falls. The Lynx will host Algona on homecoming tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Lynx head coach Bob Howard would love to know the answer prior to the 7:30 p.m. homecoming kickoff.
"(Teams) sure have been up and down," Howard said of the District 3 terrain where only his team and Clear Lake (3-1, 1-0) are unscathed heading into the third week of contests. "The big ones are Algona beating Waverly-Shell Rock, Humboldt beating Algona and Iowa Falls-Alden beating Humboldt. There are a lot of even football teams capable of beating anybody any night."
Algona (2-2, 1-1) has lived and died on turnovers. The Bulldogs forced six, including a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown, in a 34-7 rout of Waverly-Shell Rock two weeks ago. But last Friday they returned the favor, coughing it up four times in a 35-6 loss to previously winless Humboldt.
Hello box of chocolates.
"If you give teams lots of short fields they're going to make you pay, and Algona is real tough with their inside running game," Howard said. "They could be the most physical team we've seen so far. They're different than Ballard, but as far as playing smash-mouth style, they'll be the most physical team we've played."
The Lynx first four opponents - Ballard, Gilbert, Charles City and Iowa Falls-Alden - all tried to spread the defense out to some degree. Ballard and Gilbert ran the read option, Charles City opted for quick, short passes, and Iowa Falls-Alden ran a hybrid scheme.
Algona will take the what you see is what you get approach with bruising fullback Michael Erpelding (189 yards rushing, three touchdowns) and halfback Sawyer Frideres (242 yards rushing, two touchdowns).
It will be the job of WCHS defensive linemen Boone Myers, Dylan Fielder, Chris Goodrich and Gus Gasca to plug those holes between the tackles.
"This will be the first team we've seen where the priority is to stop the fullback and stop the running between the tackles," Howard said. "Hopefully we can close things off to the inside because I think the strength (of the WCHS defense) is speed to the football and getting the ball on the edge."
Algona quarterback Weston Shaw has completed just 35 percent of his passes (12 of 34) and has thrown six interceptions against just one touchdown.
The WCHS offense will have its hands full as well against a Bulldog defense that surrenders just 143 yards rushing per game. The Lynx have averaged 300 on the ground during their recent three-game winning streak, keyed by three consecutive 100-yard performances from junior tailback Connor Larson.
Larson owns a team-best 431 yards and six TDs this season. He averages 7.3 yards per tote.
"I do know Algona is tough on defense," Howard said. "They're fast to the ball."
The Bulldogs will have to respect the WCHS passing game though. Junior spinback Alex Oswald had his most efficient aerial game to date in last week's 27-7 win over Iowa Falls-Alden, completing 9 of 13 passes for 181 yards. He's rifled in four touchdown passes and thrown only one interception this season.
The Lynx have won seven consecutive home games dating back to the tail end of the 2010 season, but homecoming presents the opportunity for distractions if players aren't careful.
Howard says his players have been more than careful.
"As far as I can tell it isn't even homecoming with the football team," he said. "If we're to the point now - with all of the offseason training and weight room stuff that we do - where we can be thrown off by people dressing up and all the stuff that goes on then we're in trouble anyway."
A WCHS win tonight would also set up the potential for another heavyweight showdown against Clear Lake next Friday at Lynx Field. The Lions won a 28-27 thriller a season ago on their home field when the two teams were ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the Associated Press poll.