No. 6 Lynx living off high-octane O, long TD’s

Ballard presents challenges with its own weaponized run game

Webster City spinback Dylan Steen (center) is hit from both sides after a nice gain during the first quarter against Greene County last Friday night in Jefferson. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — It’s a preposterous statistic, one that screams for a second round of calculations.

Webster City’s average — average! — yards per play on its touchdowns: 40.05.

It’s not like the sixth-ranked (Class 3A) Lynx have only scored a couple of touchdowns either; that number sits at 22 heading into tonight’s District 2 tussle with Ballard at Lynx Field.

And it’s not like they had just one game where they broke one long play after another. It’s been this way through four weeks in which head coach Bob Howard’s team has averaged a shade under 38 points per game, the third-most in the class.

So what is the secret?

WCHS offensive tackle Austin Lampman eyes the defensive front of Gilbert during the Lynx 42-20 win earlier this month in Webster City. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“It’s an anomaly and I don’t know why it’s worked out that way,” Howard said. “For one thing, people are piling a lot of people at the line of scrimmage to stop the run and when you get it blocked and have a fast running back, he’s gone. And there’s also the chance to hit a lot of big passes.”

A punishing offensive line and a lightning quick tailback have certainly done the trick for the Lynx. Led by pulling guards Cooper Lawson and James Cherry, the big boys up front have been able to spring tailback Zane Williams on a dizzying number of big plays. Williams has scored 13 touchdowns this season and 10 of them have ranged from 30- to 80-yard plays.

Williams’ ability to get to the outside and utilize his sprinter’s speed has catapulted him to the top of the 3A rushing leaderboard. He enter’s tonight’s 7:30 p.m. kickoff averaging 10.5 yards per carry and his 934 yards leaves him just 66 yards shy of 1,000.

Williams has been particularly devastating to opposing defenses in the last three games. He dissected sixth-ranked (2A) Clear Lake for 201 yards and three TD’s in a 41-27 victory, gouged Gilbert for 302 yards and three more scores in a 42-20 rout, and then topped both performances with a 336-yard, three-TD spectacle in last week’s 40-18 win over Greene County.

Throw in spinback Dylan Steen’s 396 yards on the ground and 7.3 yards per tote average, and it’s easy to see why WCHS (4-0, 2-0) has the top rushing offense (1,514 yards) and overall offense (1,862 yards) in 3A.

WCHS wingback Drake Doolittle moves the chains with a first-down run against Gilbert during Week 3 of the football season. Doolittle has proven to be a solid blocker as well for a Lynx offense that ranks No. 1 in Class 3A entering tonight’s home game against Ballard at 7:30 p.m. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

There has been one glaring issue with the high-octane offense, however.

“It’s great, but it’s also part of what’s wrong with the defense,” Howard said. “The defense is always on the field. But it’s not like we’re going to tell kids to run 20 yards and fall down.”

Williams, Steen and their formidable offensive line will be challenged by Ballard (1-3, 1-1). The Bombers’ record is deceiving; they were forced to forfeit a Week 2 thumping of ADM because it was later learned they used an ineligible player, and dropped contests on the field to a high-scoring Carlisle squad and to second-ranked Dallas Center-Grimes.

“They have as good a defense as any we’ve faced, so I would imagine the yards per play (WCHS is second in 3A at 8.4 yards) would slow down,” Howard said. “I don’t expect them to gamble near as much and pile people on the line of scrimmage.”

The defense under the microscope tonight could very well be WCHS, which will face Ballard’s powerful ground attack that ranks third in the class (1,220 yards). Stopping the run was a problem for the Lynx last week, as they allowed Greene County to go over 200 yards despite the fact that the Rams entered with just 50 yards in three games.

Tackling has been an issue and Bombers’ tailback Skyler Noftsger (392 yards) could have a field day if that isn’t resolved.

Missing from the Ballard backfield will be 2016 all-state tailback Hunter Wright, who is no longer with the team. Wright rushed for 1,566 yards a season ago. But Howard says his team will have its hands full with Noftsger and Bombers’ quarterback Isaac Schafbuch.

“They’re good. They run the ball well,” Howard said. “Noftsger is good and Schafbuch, for as tall as he is, he’s a very dangerous runner at quarterback. They always have big linemen, too.”

WCHS is now entering the meat of its district schedule. Following tonight’s game, the Lynx will face DC-G in Week 6 and 10th-ranked Boone looms in Week 9.

“It’s just like last year,” Howard said. “You have to raise your level every week and you certainly have to raise your consistency. If you’re up and down, you’re going to pay for it.”