Lynx, Toreadors meet for second time in 14 days in quarters
WEBSTER CITY – After a knock-down, drag-out slugfest 14 days ago, Webster City head coach Bob Howard and his players were all too happy to say goodbye to Boone.
Round 1 wasn’t for the faint of heart. It was a never-ending demolition derby in the trenches, neither team willing to give an inch. So when the Lynx scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter and then held on for the 21-14 victory, Howard was able to expel a sigh of relief.
But two weeks later, here we go again. Round 2. And the stakes are even bigger.
Sixth-ranked Webster City (9-1) and Boone (8-2) will shake hands and go to battle again this evening in the quarterfinal round of the Class 3A state playoffs at Lynx Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The winner will advance to the semifinals to face either third-ranked Carroll (10-0) or 10th-ranked Glenwood (8-2) next Thursday, Nov. 10, inside the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. WCHS hasn’t reached the round of four since 1986, the end of a stretch in which it came within two wins of a state championship in four consecutive seasons.
Among the 24 quarterfinal games tonight in the six classes, 11 are rematches from the regular season. There are many theories as to whether or not that fact is a good or bad thing, but Howard, the Lynx head coach in his 10th year at the helm, wasn’t about to bite at the low-hanging fruit.
“It is what it is,” he said. “You can spin it either way. It can be a good thing that we know what they did the first time, but it can be a bad thing because they know what we did. It’s going to be whichever team executes and makes the plays.”
WCHS and Boone are certainly not strangers. This will be the sixth meeting since 2010; the Lynx have walked away victorious in each of the previous five contests.
WCHS also possesses a 15-game winning streak at home. Its last loss at Lynx Field came way back on Sept. 26, 2014, against Greene County, 17-14.
But all of the historical context will have no bearing on what happens tonight. WCHS standout running back Robert Frederiksen certainly isn’t putting much stock in what happened in 2011. Boone all-state quarterback Tanner Schminke could care less what the outcome was in 2013.
For the Lynx, Howard says they’ve tried to treat the lead-up to the rematch like it was any other week. It’s worked well for them up to this point in the season.
“It’s another game, another week,” Howard said. “If you make too big of a deal about it, you’re not living in the moment.”
WCHS possesses the top-ranked rushing offense in 3A with 3,517 yards – an average of 351.7 yards per game – but Boone held its own in the Week 9 bout, as it limited the Lynx to a season-low 255 yards on the ground. The Toreadors put 10 players within five yards of the line of scrimmage and all but dared WCHS to beat them with the pass, but Howard stuck with what worked all season and, in the end, it did again.
What will Boone’s stingy defense do this evening? Howard expects the status quo and says the onus will be on the Lynx physical offensive line to perform better than it did two weeks ago.
“I think we saw what they’re going to do, now we’ll see if we can block it,” Howard said. “They played very well on defense the first time and we didn’t block what they did up front very well. Hopefully we’re going to be improved from where we were two weeks ago.”
Frederiksen (1,586 yards rushing, 20 touchdowns) was in the Toreadors’ crosshair in the first meeting, and yet he still managed to churn out 118 yards. He’s rushed for more than 100 yards in nine consecutive outings.
Schminke will again be a serious threat against a WCHS defense that allows just 11.6 points per game, the third-best total in the class. Inexperienced when the season began, the Lynx secondary has been besieged by passing attacks all season, including last Friday when it held its own against Norwalk legend Brady Brandsfield.
Schminke completed just 10 of 28 passes in the Week 9 game.
“Under fire is a good way to put it, but they have held up well,” Howard said of his secondary. “But Boone has got a chance to watch us for two weeks too and decide where they want to try to hit us.”
WCHS is in the state quarterfinals for the second consecutive season. A year ago it traveled west in this round and got upended by Sergeant Bluff-Luton, 55-35.
This version of the Lynx was never expected to get this far and yet here they are.
“It’s fantastic for these kids and it’s fantastic hopefully for the kids that are coming to see what hard work and staying focused is about,” Howard said. “That’s what this is; it’s not single wing, it isn’t schemes. It’s a bunch of kids that started lifting and running last December and have made the most of the opportunity they’ve got. This isn’t the first team to do this, but this team didn’t have much hype coming into the season.”