No. 6 Lynx look to build off Week 1 blowout

WEBSTER CITY – Week 1 was good, great, fantastic. To say otherwise would be the definition of misleading.

Webster City 53, Humboldt 14. Lynx head coach Bob Howard couldn’t have scripted it any better. But now comes the hard part – proving it was the start of something and not just a one-week occurrence.

The blowout victory earned plenty of respect, proven by the fact that WCHS jumped into the Associated Press Class 3A top-10 at No. 6 in the first week of the rankings. But that number will only serve as motivation for Clear Lake tonight when it makes its home debut at Lions Field against the Lynx at 7:30 p.m.

The two North Central Conference schools will resume their rivalry in the final non-district game of the season. After this final tune-up it’s on to district play and the push for the playoffs.

Still, this is a big game for both programs.

“Clear Lake is Clear Lake,” Howard said when asked about the game back in the preseason. “It’s always a big game.”

The Lions enter with the sting of a Week 1 loss to Mason City, 20-14, still fresh. They also no doubt remember the 21-7 defeat they suffered at the hands of WCHS one year ago – the Lynx first win in the series in nearly two decades.

But this may not be the same Clear Lake team of years past, one that ran the triple option with precision that made defenses run in circles, a fate WCHS suffered on several occasions. In its place is a passing attack run by quarterback Thomas Storbeck, who completed 17 of 34 throws for 120 yards and a touchdown last week.

“It looks like that’s what they do now,” Howard said of the Lions’ offense. “They run more spread stuff and more of a spread running game, so it appears they’re not running the same system they’ve run in the past.”

Mason City was able to shackle the Lions’ ground attack, which netted just 32 yards and averaged only 1.2 yards per carry. Zach Lester, who was the Clear Lake starting quarterback a season ago, led the team with 22 yards rushing and he also collected 81 receiving yards.

Should Clear Lake opt to rely on the pass, that will once again put the focus on the Lynx defensive line, which harassed Humboldt quarterback Drew Thomas into a 10 for 33 passing night last week. Nose guard James Cherry and defensive tackle Cooper Lawson were able to plug up the middle, while ends Cole Briese and Riley Mishler applied the pressure from perimeter.

“If you give (Storbeck) time he’s going to be capable of hurting you,” Howard said. “So pressure will be a key and so will tackling out in the flats. Most of their completions in the first game were on bubble screens and short stuff.”

The Lynx young defensive secondary wasn’t a liability a week ago and it will likely be tested again tonight.

“That was a big positive last week,” Howard said. “They’ve got to keep getting better and they’ve got to keep improving, but that was certainly a better start than we might have had there, especially against Drew Thomas.”

The bigger question may be can Clear Lake find a way to neutralize the Lynx punishing ground game? Humboldt certainly couldn’t, as Payton Kannuan (149 yards) and Zane Williams (141) yards both picked up yards in chunks. Behind a big and talented offensive line, WCHS piled up 371 yards on the ground.

And that vaunting run game may be even better tonight.

Senior tailback Robert Fredericksen is expected to see action for the first time tonight. The 6-foot, 215-pounder was No. 1 on the depth chart throughout the preseason.

“I think we’ve got three very capable tailbacks (in Fredericksen, Williams and sophomore Trace Kepler),” Howard said. “All three of them may play and we’ll just kind of see how it plays out. It’s a good problem to have.”

WCHS will open up District 2 play on the road at Gilbert next week.