WCHS to be challenged by another dual-threat QB

WEBSTER CITY – Think Keagan Parks, only smaller – that’s what Webster City has had to prepare for this week.

Parks was a 6-foot-2, 215-pound galloping train when he played for the Lynx, a career that ended in 2011 with a school-record 3,409 rushing yards. He had power and he had speed – lots and lots of speed that transferred over to the track where he won Class 3A 100- and 200-meter state titles in the spring of 2012.

Perry quarterback Will Whiton stands just 5-11 and weighs 175 pounds, but has enough of Parks’ running traits to get the attention of Lynx head coach Bob Howard.

“He’s fast. He’s a state-level 100-meter guy and he’s a 23-foot plus long jumper. He’s also a point guard in basketball and a shortstop in baseball, so he’s a very good athlete. “There isn’t anybody else like him and very few guys in the state that are that fast,” Howard said.

Whiton and the rest of the Bluejays (3-4, 2-2) will invade Lynx Field this evening to tackle Webster City (2-5, 1-3) in a Class 3A District 2 showdown of the utmost importance. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

As the playoff picture starts to develop, the winner of tonight’s game could very well scoop up the fourth and final postseason berth. While the victor won’t be a lock, the loser will certainly see its season end following Week 9.

“If we want to be in the playoffs we certainly have to win this one,” Howard, who has led WCHS to six consecutive playoff appearances, said. “The kids know that. They read everything and they’re on the Internet, so they know the playoff position.”

The fight for the playoffs adds another layer to what should be an intriguing match-up that pits the district’s Nos. 1 and 2 runners against one another.

WCHS junior Gavin Dinsdale – a 6-2, 220-pound power runner with enough speed to take defenses by surprise – sits atop the district hierarchy with 1,086 yards and 17 touchdowns. Whiton is right on his heels in the race for the rushing title with 1,017 yards and 13 scores.

The two backs have combined to carry the ball 348 times, or 47 percent of the total plays run by the two teams. Whiton – the fifth-place finisher in the 3A 100-meter dash last spring – has also thrown 93 passes and accumulated 521 yards; he’s had a direct influence on a staggering 71 percent of the Bluejays’ offensive plays.

Howard knows slowing down Perry’s spread attack won’t be easy. The Bluejays run the read option and also some veer with Whiton, which has led to seven 100-yard games this season.

“We haven’t seen anybody like him with his speed and how fast he can cut,” Howard said. “It’s probably 33 percent (of Perry’s offensive plays) are straight called for him, 33 percent of it is the option where he’s reading and 33 percent is him scrambling.”

It won’t be solely up to Dinsdale and Victor Jergens at the defensive end positions to keep Whiton bottled up, nor will all of the pressure fall onto the shoulders of inside linebackers Rylee Lawson and Drew Fielder.

This will be a team mission.

“It’s going to have to be the whole defense. You can’t leave big gaps because he can find them really fast,” Howard said. “You have to be sound all the way across in your gaps and your pursuit angles. The teams that have had the most success against him have cut off those angles really fast. They’ve penetrated and been in the backfield and there’s nowhere to go. That’s what we’ll attempt to do and we’ll see if we can do it or not.”

Dinsdale has topped 100 yards in each of his last three outings. Twice he’s surpassed 200 yards and it’s hard to forget his school-record 369 yards against highly ranked Carroll during Week 3.

Lynx wingback Domenic Khaleet added another dimension to the offense in last week’s 42-14 loss to 10th-ranked Humboldt when he reached 100 yards. It was the first time this season that WCHS had a pair of 100-yard rushers.

“Hopefully we can run the ball,” Howard said. “It’s a matter of us executing and not stomping ourselves on the foot.”

WCHS will finish out the regular season at Boone next Friday. How much importance that game will hold all hinges on tonight’s clash.