I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was ‘that guy’ last week
Don’t be that guy. That’s my favorite thing to say to pessimistic people.
Don’t be that guy that always searches out the worst case scenario. Don’t be that guy that isn’t happy unless he’s really miserable. Don’t be that guy that remains guarded and tense to the point that you might miss something monumental.
Having said that, I’ve got to make a confession: In some ways, over the past week, I was exactly that guy.
I’ll admit it, when I heard that sixth-ranked Webster City was rewarded for a second straight Class 3A District 2 football title by getting paired up against fifth-ranked and 2015 state runner-up Norwalk, I groaned.
This was not good. Lousy, in fact. Norwalk was too big, too fast, too talented for the Lynx, a feel-good story that I suspected was 48 minutes away from seeing the end of the season.
I compared it to the wrestler who wins a district title and is feeling excited about his first-round state match, only to find out that he got stuck with a district runner-up that was actually one of the top-ranked grapplers.
You see? I was that guy. No, I didn’t think Norwalk would embarrass WCHS, but had someone given me a million bucks and told me I had to bet it all on one team to win, I would have picked the Warriors and it probably wouldn’t have been a tough decision.
Hey, I’m not proud of it. But Norwalk had Brady Brandsfield, who, statistically speaking, is one of the top quarterbacks the state has ever produced. The Warriors also had a roster that dwarfed WCHS and a proven pedigree of success deep into the playoffs.
But it took only 7 minutes and 20 seconds of game time on Friday to see how foolish I had been. That’s the amount of time it took WCHS to stop Norwalk’s pass-happy offense and then carve up the Warriors’ defense on a 68-yard drive that ended with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Drew Fielder to Payton Kannuan for a 7-0 Lynx lead.
It was 14-13 Norwalk at the half, but WCHS held the edge in yards and time of possession, and there was no doubt in my mind that it was a game the Lynx could win. More importantly, the players thought that, too.
“We knew we could do it at that point,” WCHS senior linebacker James Van Diest said. “Actually, we never had a doubt about it from the start.”
The one thing everyone wanted to know over the weekend was whether or not I thought WCHS won because of the fact that Brandsfield left the game with an ankle injury with five minutes left in the third quarter. I can’t state this any clearer: the answer is no.
The game most likely would have been closer had Brandsfield been able to play, but to say WCHS won because he couldn’t go isn’t only incorrect, it’s foolish. He’s a premier player and a talent that doesn’t come along every day, but he doesn’t play defense.
And so now it’s on to Friday’s quarterfinals against familiar foe Boone with the winner advancing to the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls for the state semifinals. WCHS won the first meeting, 21-14, just 10 days ago, but it was far from easy. Expect this next battle to be the same.
“That game is to go to the dome, so it will be a lot of run,” WCHS head coach Bob Howard said. “Knowing the expectations two months ago to where they are now, it’s a blast, and I’ll hate it when the season is over, whether it’s next week or four weeks from now.”
A Lynx team that a lot of people picked to finish no better than fourth in their district is one win from the dome. And what really surprises me is that it no longer surprises me. Go ahead and try to figure that one out.
“There’s nothing that this team can’t do,”?WCHS spinback Drew Fielder said. “It’s been a great ride, but we’re not ready for it to end,”
I’m not either, Drew. And if WCHS continues to play the way it has – inspired, physical and determined – it won’t end.