Unbeaten Lynx, Tigers battle for leg up in 3A District 2

WEBSTER CITY – This was Robert Frederiksen’s chance, but nothing was going to be given to him. If he wanted it, he had to earn it.

And so he went to work. Monday through Friday, pushing himself in the summer heat, with the goal of being the guy the Webster City football team counted on to take the ball and pile up yards.

Was it worth it? What do you think?

“It was a very hard summer, but I kept dedicated and pushed myself to keep getting better,” Frederiksen said. “I lost 20 or 30 pounds running 2.3 miles per day. But it was worth it, 100 percent.”

Frederiksen’s first outing as the centerpiece of the Lynx offense was impeccable, as the now 210-pound senior tailback rushed for 213 yards and scored three touchdowns in eighth-ranked (Class 3A) Webster City’s 44-13 shelling of Clear Lake last Friday night.

It was a night to remember, one that was born out of an offseason when he mentally pushed himself.

“I don’t know what the specific turning point was, but he knew if he wanted to play that he needed to get in shape,” WCHS head coach Bob Howard said. “He started last December with the rest of the kids and he stuck to it. We saw him doing it from month to month, and it was very good for Robert and very good for us.”

WCHS (2-0) will need Frederiksen to be the shifty, cutting battering ram again tonight when it travels south to face fellow unbeaten Gilbert (2-0) in the District 2 opener for both teams. Kickoff from Tiger Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m.

Nobody disagrees that the race for the two playoff spots in the district will be a dog fight, which is why this opener between two of the expected frontrunners is so important.

“Whoever wins this one is in a heck of a lot better position than the one who loses it,” Howard, who has directed the Lynx to 13 consecutive regular season victories, said. “This is the big game of the week in our district for sure.”

WCHS has certainly had an easier time in its first two games, outscoring its foes by 70 points, 97-27. The Lynx rank second in 3A in points per game (48.50) and 14th in points allowed (13.50).

Gilbert throttled Roland-Story, 33-13, in its opener and rolled out to a 30-7 halftime lead on Carlisle last Friday before being forced to hang on for a 30-29 victory.

While the Lynx offense has been exemplary, it’s the defense that has shined brightest, highlighted by last week’s dominance that issued just six yards rushing and 96 yards of total offense to Clear Lake.

But Gilbert presents a different kind of animal. Talented tailback Cody Dvorak blew by Roland-Story for 216 yards and four touchdowns, while equally impressive quarterback Steven Lawrence accounted for 287 yards – 158 rushing and 129 passing – and three scores against Carlisle.

“Dvorak is a great tailback and if you give him room he’s sure going to make you pay for it,” Howard said. “If you let Lawrence get out and give him some room, he has some speed, too. This will be the best (offensive) line that we’ve seen so far as well. But we’re pretty such set up to stop the run and that’s what we’ll do going into (the game).”

But will Gilbert be able to slow down Frederiksen and company? The Tigers weren’t up to the task in Week 2, as they allowed Carlisle to pile up 334 yards on the ground.

Frederiksen will get the bulk of the carries, but wingback Payton Kannuan (237 yards, 12.5 yards per carry) is the Lynx most explosive back. Spinback Drew Fielder (92 yards) will also get his chance to power runs up the middle.

Howard says the plan is to have Frederiksen be the work horse. Back-up Zane Williams showed he was more than capable in Week 1, but the idea of platooning the two hasn’t been discussed.

“We don’t have any intention of rotating,” Howard said. “Zane Williams needs to play defense because he’s way too valuable on that side of the ball. It’s a nice situation to have where we can have a one-way tailback. But if (Frederiksen) gets a cramp or something like that, we’ve got a couple kids who are more than capable of carrying the ball.”

What WCHS will need to prove it can do is throw the ball, something it struggled to do against Clear Lake. The Lynx failed to complete a pass and tossed four first-half interceptions.

“We’re set to be a power running team, that’s where we’ll start out,” Howard said. “But we have to be able to complete a pass.”