A CURTAIN CALL
At their best, Lynx batter Boone to secure winning record
BOONE — It wasn’t an easy fall, not by any stretch of the imagination. But it was always fun and never more so than the curtain call.
No, it wasn’t in the state playoffs and that hurt mightily. There were celebrations, but also tears and embraces.
For 17 seniors, it was the end. But what an ending it was.
“It was a tough season and we were outmatched in some aspects, but we just played our hearts out,” WCHS senior Dylan Steen said after he logged 237 yards and four touchdowns running the ball in a 45-6 pasting of Boone Friday night. “Us seniors, all 17 of us, just wanted it. We pushed it.”
By winning its last two games, WCHS (5-4) earned its fourth consecutive winning season and seventh in the last nine years. It also finished in a three-way tie with Boone and Humboldt for second place in Class 3A District 2 behind champion and playoff qualifier Carroll.
Friday’s tussle was expected to be a toss-up where a play or two flipped the outcome one way or the other. But from the opening kickoff, it was complete and utter domination by the Lynx, who out-gained Boone (5-4) 431-87.
“I thought we could win, but I didn’t think we’d put the hammer on them like that,” WCHS head coach Bob Howard said. “I was very surprised.”
WCHS essentially put the game away in the first half when it built a 24-0 advantage. And the statistics were staggering.
Boone ran just 15 plays and accrued 12 yards without a first down over the opening 24 minutes. WCHS, meanwhile, ripped off 234 yards and 13 first downs. Steen ran the ball 21 times for 103 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and also cashed in on a 49-yard scoring strike to Henry Hoversten in the first half alone.
“Everybody was jacked up for this game because it was Boone,” Hoversten said. “It was our last game and we wanted to go out with a boom.”
Steen reached the end zone two more times in the second half and, fittingly, raced through and around the Toreadors for a 37-yard touchdown with 4:28 remaining to expand the lead to 39 points and start the running clock on his final play.
“I wanted that (touchdown) bad,” Steen said. “That was a neat way to end it all.”
And as Steen reached the sideline, he shook hands or hugged each and every teammate and member of the Lynx coaching staff. He also offered parting words to the players who will return a year from now.
“I just told them that it’s their team now,” Steen said. “Hopefully us seniors did our jobs and we taught them what a good work ethic is, and hopefully they’ll take that into their offseason.”
That final scamper pushed Steen over 1,000 yards on the season and solidified the District 2 rushing title. Over his last four games, he accumulated 769 yards and 12 touchdowns, and three times surpassed 200 yards.
Garrett Whitmore chewed up 71 yards on 12 carries, and Drake Doolittle added 56 more ground yards, including a 1-yard dive into the end zone in the second half. Doolittle finished third on the district’s final rushing leaderboard.
As good as the Lynx offense was, the defense was even better. Boone’s wide open passing attack worried Howard prior to the game, but the play up front, particularly by defensive ends Trace Kepler and Brayden Berg, and the linebackers led by all-stater Caleb Olson, overwhelmed the Toreadors.
“We knew we had to leave it all out there on the field,” Olson, who had eight tackles in his final game, said. “It was a good way to end.”
Boone finished the game with minus-11 yards rushing and quarterback Tyler Casotti completed just 10 of 19 passes for 103 yards. Casotti entered the game without an interception on the season, but Malachi Montes ended that streak late in the first half and then added a second pick in the fourth period.
“I thought Trace Kepler had a tremendous game and Berg had a great ballgame,” Howard said. “(Berg) has got a great motor and can pass rush, and then Caleb was all over the field. This was his kind of game because Caleb really shines when he can run sideline to sideline like that.”
Casotti ran for his life most of the night and Olson or Doolittle, who piled up a game-high nine tackles, were right there to put him on the turf. Casotti was sacked twice by Berg and Carsen Johnson; WCHS had seven tackles for loss.
“Those rollouts were where (Casotti) was dangerous, so when he got outside the pocket I knew I had to get there,” Olson said.
Boone briefly came to life in the third quarter and pulled within 24-6 on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Casotti to Tegan Bock, but WCHS answered 21⁄2 minutes later with another touchdown to quell the momentum. A big kickoff return by Kepler put the Lynx at the 50 and a few plays later Steen went 21 yards around the right end to the house to increase the advantage to 31-6.
And that was ballgame.
“That took the air out of them again,” Howard said. “If they would have stopped us on that drive and then hit another deep ball, then who knows.”
Kicker Nathan Ferrell added to the blowout with a first-half 22-yard field goal. The senior also connected on six extra points and finished the season 29 of 29 on PAT’s.
Whether intentional or not, Casotti stayed away from Steen, one of the state’s premier free safeties, when he dropped back to pass. Steen had one chance to add to his interceptions haul in the fourth quarter on a bomb near the WCHS sideline, but the ball went through his hands and he dove to the turf.
Steen finished his career with 22 interceptions, the third-most in 11-player history in the state. But coming up two INT’s short of the record was just fine with him as the final seconds ticked off clock.
“(The win) is better,” he said. “It’s an honor, it really is, knowing I’m there and I’m among those great athletes. It’s just really neat.”
Webster City 7 17 7 14 — 45
Boone 0 6 6 0 — 6
WC — Dylan Steen 1 run (Nathan Ferrell kick), 5:14.
WC — Ferrell 22 FG, 9:55
WC — Steen 3 run (Ferrell kick), 4:51.
WC — Henry Hoversten 49 pass from Steen (Ferrell kick), 3:39.
BO — Tegan Bock 11 pass from Tyler Casotti (run failed), 5:56.
WC — Steen 21 run (Ferrell kick), 3:18.
WC — Drake Doolittle 1 run (Ferrell kick), 6:01.
WC — Steen 37 run (Ferrell kick), 4:28.
First downs 23 4
Rushing 21 0
Passing 1 3
Penalty 1 1
Rushes-yards 66-372 16-(-11)
Passing yards 59 98
Comp-Att-INT 2-5-0 11-23-2
Return yards 34 221
Sacked-yards lost 0-0 2-16
Punts-Ave 2-30 4-31
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 9-84 9-93
Time of Possession 30:31 17:29
Webster City Lynx
Player Att Yds TD
Dylan Steen 37 237 4
Garrett Whitmore 12 71 0
Drake Doolittle 14 56 1
Gabe Humphrey 2 8 0
Caleb Olson 1 0 0
Player Com Att Yds TD
Dylan Steen 2 5 59 1
Player Rec Yds TD
Henry Hoversten 1 49 1
Carson Struchen 1 10 0
Player So Ast Tot
Drake Doolittle 9 0 9
Caleb Olson 7 2 8
Cade Felts 3 0 3
Brady Auderer 2 1 21⁄2
Tyler Olson 2 1 21⁄2
Carsen Johnson 2 0 2
Alex Ford 1 2 2
Brayden Berg 2 0 2
Carson Struchen 1 0 1
Trace Kepler 1 0 1
Hunter Collicott 1 0 1
Jack Van Diest 1 0 1
Casey Kolbeck 1 0 1
Malachi Montes 1 0 1
Dylan Steen 0 1 1⁄2
Player Att Yds TD
Tyler Casotti 12 -1 0
Norbert Riyazimana 1 -1 0
Gage Morain 1 -1 0
Quali Sporaa 2 -8 0
Player Com Att Yds TD
Tyler Casotti 10 19 103 1
Christian Bushore 1 4 -5 0
Player Rec Yds TD
Quali Sporaa 1 42 0
Tegan Bock 5 39 1
Jackson Hora 4 22 0
Tyler Casotti 1 -5 0