A STANDING D
CLEAR LAKE – Thomas Storbeck had to run for his life. Not once, twice or even three times. It was every time the ball was snapped into his hands.
The Clear Lake quarterback found out what it feels like to be under siege at Lions Field Friday night, and the Webster City defense was unrelenting in its pursuit.
Webster City 44, Clear Lake 13. Any questions?
“It was everyone reading their keys and doing their things, and that’s what it’s going to take every week,” WCHS senior defensive end Cole Briese said after he and the 10 other members of the unit shackled the Lions to the tune of 96 yards of total offense. “We’re pretty strong on defense this year, but we always have room for improvement.”
Oh sure, there were a few hiccups on bubble screens and one quick slant that turned into a Clear Lake touchdown. But the other 45 or so plays? The Lions didn’t even sniff success.
“I felt like the whole team played well,” WCHS sophomore middle linebacker Caleb Olson said after recording a game-high nine solo tackles. “We had a couple of bad drives, but that’s going to happen. Everybody did what they were supposed to do.”
It was the 13th consecutive regular season victory for the Lynx (2-0), who have not lost outside of the postseason since Oct. 10, 2014, and the program’s most lopsided win over Clear Lake in 20 years. But it wasn’t as easy as the final score indicated.
Leading just 9-7 at halftime after an opening 24 minutes that was marred by four turnovers – all interceptions by Lions’ cornerback Zach Lester – WCHS coughed the ball up for the fifth time on its first possession of the third quarter.
But that was all the charity the Lynx were willing to donate.
With the offensive line motivated by a tongue lashing from head coach Bob Howard during the intermission, WCHS found the end zone on five of its final six drives to turn the contest into a rout. With Robert Fredericksen churning out yards in chunks, the Lynx accrued 285 of their 388 yards rushing over the final 24 minutes.
“Quit reading your press clippings and quit listening to everybody telling you what a great offensive line you are, that was pretty much the message at half,” Howard said. “We didn’t do anything in the first half, plus we turned the ball over four times. But in the second half we came off the ball better and it showed, and we wore them down.”
Fredericksen, a 6-foot, 210-pound senior tailback, inflicted plenty of punishment himself. Surprisingly quick and agile at reading blocks and finding open lanes, Fredericksen showcased finesse and power en route to 213 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
Not bad for a kid who was never the featured back until Friday night.
“I wasn’t making it up. He’s good,” Howard said.
Fredericksen ran through two arm tackles to score his second touchdown from four yards out to put WCHS in front 16-7 with 4:42 remaining in the third quarter.
After Clear Lake (0-2) had cut its deficit to 23-13 with 8:31 remaining, Fredericksen took over. Back-to-back runs of 18 and 24 yards set up a 5-yard burst across the goal line by Drew Fielder to make it 30-13 and the Lions never threatened again.
Fredericksen added another 4-yard scoring run off tackle with 4:46 to go, and Trace Kepler – the third of the Lynx talented tailbacks – busted through a gaggle of Lions to streak into the end zone from 27 yards out with 3:18 showing on the clock.
Fredericksen had 10 runs of nine or more yards on the night.
“It felt good to be out there,” Fredericksen said. “The offensive line came out in the second half and started strong and we just had to get it going.”
Fredericksen’s first touchdown came early in the second quarter on a 3-yard jaunt over left guard. It occurred just 1:31 after WCHS went in front 2-0 on a safety after Lester, Clear Lake’s punter, inadvertently stepped out of the back of the end zone while attempting to get the ball off.
Payton Kannuan chewed up 88 yards on just nine touches, highlighted by a cutting 28-yard touchdown run on a counter around the left end late in the third period. Fielder finished with 40 ground yards and Kepler tacked on 36 more.
WCHS failed to complete a pass in the game, however.
“We obviously have to have some passing game because Clear Lake had nine guys in the box,” Howard said. “And it’s Clear Lake and they play defense.”
The Lynx defense overshadowed whatever deficiencies they had on the other side of the ball though. Storbeck was sacked three times – Briese, James Van Diest and Kooper Jondal all got to him in the backfield – and the Lions finished with just six yards rushing on 29 carries and four first downs. Storbeck was 11 of 24 passing for 90 yards and one touchdown.
Olson, who also picked off a pass, was everywhere chasing down runners, but he knows why he was able to make so many plays.
“I get the tackles because everybody else does their jobs and they come to me,” he said. “I’m finally starting to read the guards, too. Last year in freshman (football) I was just able to run right through everybody, but (assistant coach Marty) McKinney has been helping me with the guards and I’m finally reading them and filling the holes.”
For the second week in a row, defensive tackle Cooper Lawson and nose guard James Cherry had as much to do with the defensive dominance as anyone. They plugged every gap up front and combined to make seven tackles.
“The run defense was very good,” Howard said. “If you don’t double Lawson and Cherry, typically they’re going to make a play. If those two take up four (players), it’s hard to get out on Van Diest and Olson.”
Zane Williams added 4 1/2 tackles.
WCHS will now begin preparations for a grueling Class 3A District 2 slate that begins this Friday at Gilbert (2-0), another formidable foe that has playoff aspirations as well.
“Everyone’s 0-0 now, you can throw the records away,” Briese, who had 21?2 tackles against Clear Lake, said. “We want the district (title) just like last year.”