Brake for no one
WEBSTER CITY – In 23 seconds of game time, Payton Kannuan took everyone on an excursion through his wide array of talents.
A quick cut. Precise vision of his surroundings. A burst of speed that left everyone in the dust. The ability to take a hit and keep on moving to the house. And, finally, a pretty decent throwing arm.
And in those 23 seconds, Webster City’s lead went from 14 points to 28 points. It was game over and there were still more than 31 minutes to play.
Kannuan’s exploits on a punt return touchdown and on a wingback toss for another score midway through the second quarter were just a small fraction of the licks that 10th-ranked WCHS put on Class 3A District 2 opponent Perry in a 55-0 shelling Friday night at Lynx Field.
The offense – humming.
The defense – demoralizing.
The result – a fourth consecutive victory for a team that has outscored those foes 167-23 and seemingly gets better each week.
“That’s how it has to be all the time. You have to be consistent and get better every week,” WCHS junior offensive guard and defensive tackle Cooper Lawson said. “Now we just have to keep it up.”
Lynx head coach Bob Howard hammered in a message of not getting complacent all week to his players and they obviously took his words to heart. WCHS (6-1, 4-1) out-gained Perry (2-4, 0-4) by 400 yards, 442-42. The Blue Jays finished with just 13 yards rushing, two first downs and they never even sniffed the end zone.
“The kids were ready to play and they prepared well,” Howard said. “The mark of a good team is to be prepared and play at the same level no matter who you’re playing and the kids did a nice job.”
Robert Frederiksen lumbered for 139 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and the senior tailback carried the ball just once in the second half. Dylan Steen made the most of his two carries; they chewed up 101 yards of real estate and both went for touchdowns. Kannuan picked up 87 yards rushing and 147 all-purpose yards.
Nothing is ever perfect, but WCHS came pretty close.
“We don’t want to take any team for granted,” WCHS nose tackle James Cherry said after owning the middle of the line all night. “If everybody says we’re good then we should play like it all the time. We shouldn’t play down to any opponent.”
While the Lynx offense put on a show on nearly every series – there was a turnover on downs after a touchdown was called back on a holding penalty in the first quarter and a fumble in the fourth – it was the defense that set the tone. Perry’s only first down of the first half came with 9:48 to go in the second quarter, and the visitors had six 3-and-out offensive series and punted eight times.
“That’s what we try to do to every team,” Cherry said.
Zane Carter and Drake Doolittle both had interceptions, and linebacker Caleb Olson made five solo tackles. Cole Briese had a sack and tackle for loss and Cherry also put a Blue Jay down in the backfield. Briese and Zane Williams both finished with four tackles.
“They’re not the greatest team on offense, but it really helped that we came out here and played our best,” WCHS cornerback Jordan Tanner said. “Early in the year we knew we could run the ball on offense and score points, but the defense was still shaky. But as a team we knew we had a good defense.”
Frederiksen scored on runs of 4 and 9 yards in the first half, and spinback Drew Fielder bulldozed his way up the middle for a 3-yard touchdown. But it was Kannuan’s exploits that stung the Blue Jays the hardest.
The long put return that went down the WCHS sideline made it 21-0 with 7:33 remaining in the second quarter. Perry fumbled the ensuing kickoff and on the next play Kannuan took the hand-off, sprinted out left, quickly pulled up and lofted a strike to a wide open Carter for a 30-yard touchdown pass.
Ahead 35-0 at halftime, WCHS was able to pull the majority of its starters early in the third quarter, but not before Steen, a sophomore and the heir apparent at spinback, got some time with the top offensive line.
Steen’s first rush went up with the gut and then he cut left and went past the defense for a 60-yard scoring sprint. His next carry took a similar trajectory and covered 41 yards to the end zone.
“I give a lot of credit to the line on those,” Steen said. “I’ve played football for a long time and nothing is cooler than seeing the line open up as wide as it was. It was pretty sweet.”
Howard quickly got Steen, who is also the Lynx starting free safety, out of the game.
“We’re not worried about next year, but it was good to get (Steen) some carries,” Howard said. “He handled it really well and did a good job.”
Gaping holes were a common theme thanks to the Lynx punishing offensive line. Perry made the mistake of letting WCHS know prior to the game that it was going to key its defense on Lawson, a pulling guard, and the Lynx responded. But it didn’t really matter what the Blue Jays attempted on defense because nothing worked.
“I think other teams knew that they were going to have to follow me too, but it doesn’t matter,” Lawson said. “If you know where it’s going, you still have to stop it. They tried and you saw what happened.”
Ten WCHS ball carries combined to rush for 412 yards. Trace Kepler finished with 33 yards, Fielder amassed 23 on just six totes, and Brady Auderer got into the scoring column with a fourth-quarter 1-yard plunge.
Perry, which had minus-5 yards rushing at the half, received a team-high eight yards on the ground from Donald Chavez. Quarterback Alexis Garrido completed 4 of 11 passes for 29 yards, but he also threw the two picks.
In control of its own playoff destiny with two weeks remaining in the regular season, WCHS will head down the road to face Iowa Falls-Alden (3-4, 1-4) on Friday. The Lynx will end the campaign with a home date against current district leader Boone (6-1, 5-0).