24-1, Not Bad

Lynx fend off Ballard, add to regular season legacy

WCHS linebacker Caleb Olson offers a helping hand to Ballard running back Skyler Noftsger after throwing him down in the end zone for a safety, as Lynx defensive end Kooper Jondal signals, during the second half on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — At some point, probably a year or two down the road, Cooper Lawson says he’ll sit down and think about what he’s helped the Webster City football team accomplish over the past four years. For now, he’s focusing on the present and future, not the past.

“I don’t really look back now, but when it’s all said and done I will,” Lawson, the Lynx all-state offensive lineman, said after Friday’s 37-27 victory over Ballard, the program’s 24th win in its last 25 regular season games. “It will mean something next week if we’re 25-1.”

Only two other stretches in program history have been better. WCHS won 35 consecutive regular season games from 1984-1988 and 32 in a row from 1958-62. The Lynx current 11-game regular season winning streak is the ninth-best all-time for a program that has been around for more than 100 years.

It may not be the proper time to celebrate the achievements, but head coach Bob Howard says they should certainly be recognized.

“It says the program has raised the bar and raised the level of expectations, and that we’ve had three good classes in a row that have managed to keep it going because it isn’t easy,” he said. “That’s neat. Now, a 6-3 (record) probably wouldn’t feel good. Now, 7-2 or 8-1 should be the floor and we’ve managed the last couple of years to be better than that.”

WCHS linebacker Luke Rohmiller (2) tackles Ballard’s Reece Huen short of the first down during the second half on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Another strong effort from tailback Zane Williams and his blockers, as well as a better defensive effort against the run propelled sixth-ranked (Class 3A) WCHS to win No. 24 in the 25-game stretch over the Bombers at Lynx Field.

Settling for four and five yards a pop rather than the 60-yard sprints he ripped off repeatedly during the first four games, Williams churned out 177 yards and scored four touchdowns on 36 grueling carries. The state’s rushing leader, Williams went over 1,000 yards for the season on his longest run of the game midway through the second quarter — a 21-yard excursion that set up his third 1-yard touchdown of the half. It was the end of a 13-play, 72-yard drive that ate more than six minutes off the clock and gave the Lynx a 21-14 advantage.

“I’m dead. I’m just exhausted,” Williams, who also made 31⁄2 tackles including a touchdown-saving diving stop on a jet sweep late in the first half, said afterwards. “It was pretty intense out there. It’s a good feeling, but we’ve still got a lot of football left and hopefully there will be a lot more yards.”

Williams pushed the Lynx streak of having at least one 1,000-yard rusher to eight consecutive seasons.

Spinback Dylan Steen pounded the ball between the tackles for 103 yards and one touchdown on 19 totes. Trace Kepler gobbled up an additional 38 ground yards on nine carries.

Webster City’s Dylan Steen (16), Hunter Hayes (44) and Cooper Lawson (51) get out in front to block for tailback Zane Williams during Friday’s 37-27 victory over Ballard at Lynx Field. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WCHS (5-0, 3-0 District 2) put up 315 yards rushing and 361 in all.

“That’s the way we like to play,” Howard said after the Lynx methodical approach led to a nearly 12-minute time of possession advantage. “Obviously the big plays are fine, but you aren’t going to get those all the time against good teams. So, yeah, I thought that was pretty good (offensively).”

Up by seven at the break, the Lynx scored 16 unanswered points over the opening 15 minutes of the second half. Steen’s 16-yard rumble up the gut and to the house — he was aided by a textbook seal block by tight end Henry Hoversten — late in the third quarter made it a 28-14 Lynx lead.

A Ballard stumble at the 1-yard line on the ensuing kickoff led to a WCHS safety just 11 seconds later when linebacker Caleb Olson dropped Bombers’ tailback Skyler Noftsger in the end zone.

Williams’ fourth touchdown run, a tough 13-yard gallop that featured three broken tackles, upped the margin to 37-14 with 9:02 remaining.

Webster City’s Carter Bedford (25) drops Ballard’s Gannon Manfull as the ball squirts away on the opening kickoff of the second half on Friday. Ballard recovered and avoided a disaster. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

But Ballard (1-4, 1-2 District 2) was far from finished.

Bombers’ quarterback Isaac Schafbuch and receivers Reece Huen and Kegan Odden mounted a furious rally down the stretch. Back-to-back completions to Odden that covered 36 and 24 yards pulled Ballard within 16 points with 8:08 to go.

Following a WCHS punt, Ballard went into its bag of tricks. With Schafbuch lined up out wide, a backwards pass was thrown his way and he quickly lofted a rainbow down the field to a wide open Odden who went 77 yards to trim the deficit to 10 with 6:17 remaining.

It was a frustrating time, Howard said, as the Lynx had multiple opportunities to intercept Schafbuch throws.

“It’s frustrating when we don’t make plays,” he said. “Gosh, we had so many opportunities to put that game down, but our ball skills weren’t very sharp.”

WCHS wide receiver Jordan Tanner is unable to make a diving catch on a ball thrown by spinback Dylan Steen during Friday’s win over Ballard. Tanner caught two passes for 46 yards in the 37-27 Lynx win. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

It was still nail-biting time for WCHS as Ballard drove into the red zone as the clock ticked under one minute. But the Bombers’ rally was silenced for good when a desperation Schafbuch pass into the end zone was picked off by Steen. Schafbuch barely got the pass off before he was leveled by Lawson near the sideline.

“I just wanted to get in his face,” Lawson said. “He’s not going to throw it as well if I do that.”

Schafbuch, who also hit Huen on a 68-yard touchdown pass in the first half, finished with 347 yards through the air. He completed 17 of 34 throws; 15 of the completions when to Odden and Huen, who combined to rack up 303 of those yards.

“He’s a good quarterback. He’s quick and shifty,” Olson, who made a team-high eight tackles, said. “But we’ve got to do a better job of keeping him in the pocket and not allow him to scramble.”

Ballard, which entered the game ranked in the top 10 (3A) in rushing, was limited to just 95 ground yards. Noftsger was handcuffed and gained just 19 yards on 11 carries.

“That’s what we want to do to every team,” Lawson, who had his best performance of the season at defensive tackle with five tackles, including a sack, said. “This was good for us. I think we got better and I’m happy about that. I’m happy that we stayed together.”

Luke Rohmiller added seven solo tackles in the win.

Ballard 7 7 0 13–27

Webster City 7 14 9 7–37

First Quarter

BAL — Skyler Noftsger 2 run (Brenden Vincent kick), 3:51.

WC — Zane Williams 1 run (Nathan Ferrell kick), 0:01.

Second Quarter

WC — Williams 1 run (Ferrell kick), 9:45.

BAL — Reece Huen 68 pass from Isaac Schafbuch (Vincent kick), 7:42.

WC — Williams 1 run (Ferrell kick), 1:41.

Third Quarter

WC — Dylan Steen 27 run (Ferrell kick), 2:11.

WC — Safety, 2:00.

Fourth Quarter

WC — Williams 13 run (Ferrell kick), 9:02.

BAL — Kegan Odden 24 pass from Schafbuch (Vincent kick), 8:08.

BAL — Odden 77 pass from Schafbuch (pass failed), 6:17.