Lynx on ropes, but not ready to pack it in
WCHS looks to end 2-game slide against Perry tonight
But it’s been a long time since Webster City encountered such a drought — 4 years, 16 days, to be exact.
A three-game skid at the beginning of the 2014 season was the last time the Lynx suffered consecutive losses prior to back-to-back setbacks against fourth-ranked (Class 2A) Algona and Carroll in their last two outings.
But it’s not time to panic, WCHS head coach Bob Howard says as his team gets set to host winless, but dangerous Perry (0-5, 0-1 3A District 2) on homecoming this evening at 7:30 p.m.
“We can’t change what’s happened, we can only go forward and play each one of these games one at a time because they’re all big for us,” Howard said. “People say athletics build character, but that’s not right. Athletics exposes character; it shows what you’re made of and I think the leaders of our team are pretty smart kids. They’re also mature enough to not sit around and pout about it. They’ve got four guaranteed games left in their career and they want to win all of them.”
WCHS (2-3, 0-1) will need to win out and get some help down the stretch to reach the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season. But the postseason isn’t even a thought at this point. Right now, the Lynx just want to turn things around.
“All I can base it off is how we practice,” Howard said. “Tuesday night was great and Wednesday night was great.”
A step in the right direction would be to get the offense on track, something that was lacking in the 28-14 loss to Carroll. The unit turned the ball over five times and WCHS had six turnovers in all. Senior all-state spinback and free safety Dylan Steen had a dominant showing on the defensive side of the ball with two interceptions, one of which he returned 96 yards for a touchdown, but offensively he struggled.
Entering the Week 4 contest with no interceptions thrown, Steen was picked off three times. But, as Howard says, no one wants to make up for that performance more than Steen.
“There’s nobody I trust more than Dylan Steen and there’s nobody that cares more and wants to fix it,” Howard said. “Everything went wrong that could go wrong (against Carroll) and it snowballed.”
WCHS still owns the top-rated offense in the district entering tonight with 1,358 total yards — 1,035 rushing and 323 passing. Tailback Trace Kepler (424 yards) sits atop the rushing leaderboard, while wingback Drake Doolittle (310 yards) is fourth and Steen (236 yards) sixth. Steen is also third in passing; he’s completed 30 of 57 throws.
“We didn’t move it great against Carroll, but I think we can move the ball (against Perry),” Howard said. “But they’re better than an 0-5 team. The approach we’ve been using is Perry led Dallas Center-Grimes 13-0 in the fourth quarter (last week before DC-G rallied for a 14-13 win).”
Perry’s defense has been stout up to this point. The Blue Jays have allowed 14 or fewer points in four of their five outings and all four were decided by eight points or less. They have one-, two- and three-point losses on their resume.
“They’ve got some good size, which is a recurring theme against us,” Howard said. “They really seem to play hard and they’ve got a couple physical kids inside.”
The WCHS defense will look to put the clamps on an opponent for the first time since it allowed just six points in a Week 1 win over Gilbert. Over the last four games the Lynx have allowed 31.5 points on average.
Perry ranks at the bottom of District 2 in total offense (729 yards), but quarterback Kaleb Olejniczak is a weapon. Just like Doolittle, he’s a standout on the wrestling mat and an all-around hard-nosed athlete that knows how to make plays.
Olejniczak has thrown for 242 yards, but he’s a bigger threat with his legs and ranks fifth in the district in rushing yards with 302.
“He’s a bigger version of Drake Doolittle and just a tough kid,” Howard said of Olejniczak. “By far, he’s the key to the whole thing. He pretty much looks to scramble more than he looks to pass and he breaks tackles. He’s a good football player.”
Tonight will open a two-game home stand for WCHS, which will host Humboldt in Week 7 before ending the regular season with back-to-back road games at Dallas Center-Grimes and Boone.
Class 3A District 2
Boone 1-0 3-2
Carroll 1-0 2-3
Dallas Center-Grimes 1-0 1-4
Webster City 0-1 2-3
Humboldt 0-1 1-4
Perry 0-1 0-5
Perry at Webster City
Carroll at Boone
Humboldt at Dallas Center-Grimes