This Lynx team has exceeded all of my expectations
I’ll admit it: Two months ago, I would have said you were either crazy or foolishly loyal if you would’ve told me that Webster City would go into Week 9 of the football season with a chance to win a second straight Class 3A District 2 title.
There were too many holes to fill off last season’s 11-1 state quarterfinalist, too many unproven commodities that not only had to play, but thrive to give the Lynx another crack at the crown.
Replace the program’s all-time leading rusher and scorer and a first team all-state running back (Gavin Dinsdale) with a kid (senior Robert Frederiksen) who had a grand total of two varsity carries under his belt? That’s simply way too much to ask.
Fill the void left by a first-team all-state middle linebacker (Victor Jergens) with a sophomore (Caleb Olson) who had never even dressed for a varsity game, let alone played in one? That’s crazy talk.
Put a senior (Drew Fielder) who missed all of the 2015 campaign because of injury and put him in at spinback, the most important position in the single-wing offense? There are no guarantees that is going to work.
But it has all worked. The players didn’t listen to the naysayers. If anything, they’ve thrived because of them. The “us against the world” mentality that head coach Bob Howard loves to preach has led to a five-game winning streak, a 7-1 record (5-1 in the district), a No. 8 ranking in the state and, yes, a chance to once again occupy the district throne.
I’m amazed. Not because I had such low expectations – I thought WCHS would to be in the chase for the playoffs, but maybe not fighting for a No. 1 seed – but because of the way this team has gone about its business week after week.
Has Frederiksen filled the bill? According to quikstats.com as of Sunday afternoon, he sits second on the 3A rushing leaderboard with 1,353 yards so, yeah, I’d say that’s worked out.
What about Olson, did the step up overwhelm him? Not once. In fact, he’s been the best middle linebacker I’ve watched this season.
Did the year off cause problems for Fielder? He’s performed like he’s played the spinback position his entire life.
The offense is one of the best in the class. The defense is, too. Seriously, if you saw all of this coming back in early August, then I bow to you and I have a favor to ask: Could you pick my lottery numbers for me?
It’s truly been a team effort from Howard down to all of his assistant coaches; from the ornery offensive linemen down to the last substitute. This crew has proven itself time and time again.
This team not only has a shot to make the playoffs, but it has a chance to do some damage if and when it gets there.
Still, with one week to go, nothing has been set in stone. Ninth-ranked Boone (7-1, 6-0), the Lynx opponent Friday night, has clinched one of the two playoff berths, but who occupies that second slot has yet to be decided.
OK, so here are the playoff scenarios for the Lynx …
If WCHS beats Boone – The two teams would share the district title at 6-1, but the Lynx would earn the No. 1 seed based on the head-to-head win.
If Boone beats WCHS (and Dallas Center-Grimes beats Gilbert) – It’s the Toreadors who are your outright District 2 champs and the No. 1 seed. WCHS and DC-G would both finish 5-2 in the district, but the Lynx would advance based on their 31-10 win over the Mustangs in Week 6.
If Boone beats WCHS (and Gilbert beats Dallas Center-Grimes) – Again, Boone is the district champion. WCHS and Gilbert would both finish 5-2 in the district, but the Tigers would be headed to the playoffs on the strength of their 31-25 victory over the Lynx in Week 3.
Essentially, DC-G doesn’t have much to play for other than pride against Gilbert, but a Mustangs’ victory would put Boone and WCHS into the playoffs regardless of that outcome. And at 6-3, maybe DC-G would have a shot at one of the two wildcard entries.
But I can guarantee you that Howard and his players won’t spend one second thinking about Gilbert or DC-G this week. Reaching the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season is the priority, there’s no doubt about that, but they want to do it on their terms. They want to enter through the front door, not by sneaking in the back door.
I’m not about to doubt the Lynx again. Not after they’ve outscored their last five opponents 212-30 and not after an eight-week stretch in which it has performed like a grizzled veteran group that it’s simply not.
This is a team to applaud, folks. Now and for many years to come.