WEBSTER CITY - The seasons were 2006 and 2007, and Bob Howard can give you a play-by-play rundown of what happened.
Or, more precisely, what went wrong.
Those two seasons hang like dark clouds over the coach's head because they are the only two falls in which his football teams finished with losing records.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City middle linebacker Nelson Ball (40) stops the forward progress of Humboldt running back Brady Ross last Friday night in?Humboldt. Ball leads the Lynx in solo tackles with 61 heading into tonight’s regular season finale against Storm Lake. Kickoff from Lynx Field is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
His final year at Sigourney-Keota ended at 4-5 in 2006, followed by his first year at Webster City in 2007 in which the Lynx compiled a 3-6 mark.
Thirty-six years. Two losing seasons.
"I can remember every play of every game," Howard said of those two seasons.
And now you can understand why tonight's non-district match-up against Storm Lake (3-5) is so important to Howard.
Webster City (4-4) is already in the playoffs, so that won't factor into tonight's 7:30 p.m. kickoff from Lynx Field. But what is on the line is another winning season, not only for the coach and his players, but for a program that has scratched and clawed its way to respectability over a five-year stretch that has included five consecutive postseason appearances.
"This is a big game because it's to have a winning season," Howard said. "Finishing 5-4 isn't what we want - we want to be competing for district championships - and none of the kids are happy with it, but we sure want that now. I think the kids have definitely raised their level of expectations and hopefully they play that way this week."
And as far as resting players in preparation for Wednesday's first round of the Class 3A state playoffs, well, you can forget it.
"We sure don't want to back in (to the playoffs) with a loss," Howard said. "The kids have practiced very well this week and I think they're going to play with a chip on their shoulder."
WCHS will try to end a three-game losing streak against an opponent it hasn't faced since 1931. Storm Lake's three victories this season have come against teams - Cherokee (0-8), Denison-Schleswig (1-7) and Sergeant Bluff-Luton (0-8) - that have a combined 1-23 record.
But don't expect WCHS to take the Tornadoes lightly. Mired in their own funk, it's a luxury the Lynx simply don't have.
"They've got three good athletes offensively. If they can just run the (I-formation) that's what they'll do, but I think we'll see lots of stuff," Howard said.
Storm Lake possesses 1,000-yard tailback Aaron Krier, who averages 7.1 yards per carry. He's scored 13 touchdowns on the ground.
Howard is also weary of talented tight end Ethan Kenkel, who has caught 24 balls for 368 yards from quarterback Nic Seaman (983 yards passing).
"They've got a real good athlete at end in the Kenkel kid, and they try to get it to him in different ways," Howard said. "And (Krier) is a good tailback. He runs real hard and he cuts back a lot."
For WCHS, it will be Week 2 of the Trey Tesdahl experiment at spinback - a move that worked out well in last week's 28-24 loss to Humboldt. Tesdahl showed he has the ability to throw the ball and he's always been one of the team's more dangerous runners.
"Trey has confidence and he runs the spread option stuff real well," Howard said. "Hopefully it's going to open up some new stuff for us, certainly things I've never run before, and another week of practice has certainly helped."
The loss of wingback Cal Zahn to a concussion opened the door for senior Austin Myers to move over to the position from tailback. Myers was thrown into the fire without any experience following Zahn's injury last week.
"That was a terrible position for him to be in because that was a position he hadn't ever played before," Howard said. "Trey was new too, so it was a perfect storm for something to go wrong, but Austin's looked very good in practice, plus he's a good athlete and a big blocker over there, too. Hopefully he'll look a lot more at home this week."
Howard also said that junior Alex Oswald will be in uniform tonight, although the extent of his playing time is up in the air. Oswald was the Lynx starting spinback prior to injuring his ankle in Week 7 against Waverly-Shell Rock; he owns more than 1,000 yards of total offense and 11 touchdowns.
"I don't know that he's going to play, but at least he is there if something happens at spinback," Howard said.
As for the playoffs, WCHS will face the winner of tonight's District 4 showdown between third-ranked Grinnell (8-0) and seventh-ranked South Tama (7-1) in Wednesday's opening round. But Howard won't even begin to prepare for that battle until after tonight's finale.
"We haven't said two words about the playoffs," he said. "That's not a big deal right now."