Lynx, Waterloo East meet tonight for first time since 11 days before the start of The Great Depression
WCHS eyes to reenergize offense, slow down Trojans’ QB?in non-district clash
BY TROY BANNING
WEBSTER CITY — It’s been nearly 89 years since the Webster City and Waterloo East football teams crossed paths, but that will change this evening at Lynx Field.
It was Oct. 18, 1929 — just 11 days before Black Tuesday and the start of The Great Depression — when they last lined up against one another, literally a lifetime or two ago.
The rivalry might not be there, but that doesn’t mean both teams won’t be energized when the ball is kicked into the air at 7:30 p.m.
After all, both have plenty to prove.
WCHS (1-1) is coming off a 28-14 loss to Spencer a week ago, a game in which the Lynx were limited to just 64 yards rushing, their lowest output in nine years. It snapped a streak of 89 consecutive games with at least 100 yards on the ground.
But the numbers mean very little to head coach Bob Howard. He’s not concerned with the statistics, never has been and never will. Instead, he’s interested in the why it happened and rectifying the problems that Spencer’s massive defensive front presented.
“Points allowed and points scored are about the only (numbers) that count,” Howard, who will again go in search of his 332nd career victory that would move him into a tie for eighth on the state’s all-time leaderboard, said. “The issue was they were moving the line of scrimmage into our backfield … they were bigger and more physical up front, but we didn’t block the perimeter either.
“The (64) yards certainly isn’t what we’re after. That’s not how we want to play.”
Howard challenged his players following the loss. But he also stresses that one loss isn’t the end of the season.
“The (players) that haven’t committed, they go up and down a lot faster,” he said. “We’ve got kids here who are three-year starters and most of our starters have spent an awful lot of time in the offseason and they understand perspective.
“The best two practices we’ve had were (Tuesday and Wednesday night). We’ve improved this week and sometimes you have to get that kind of lesson to get better. And our senior leadership — (Dylan) Steen, (Caleb) Olson, (Austin) Lampman, (Drake) Doolittle — they’ve made sure we’ve had better practices.”
Olson, a three-year starter and two-time all-state performer at middle linebacker, intentionally took some of the heat for the more than 400 yards WCHS allowed against Spencer. Was he to blame? Not at all, but Howard was happy to see one of his leaders shoulder some of the responsibility.
“It certainly wasn’t his fault, but I really am glad he made those comments,” Howard said. “That’s being a leader; they take that accountability. That’s how you get the rest of your teammates behind you. That was a good deal.”
Olson, who had 101⁄2 tackles against Spencer, and the WCHS defense will face a challenge this evening in trying to stop East quarterback Dylan Reyes, a dual-threat weapon for the Trojans who has passed for 245 yards and rushed for 60 more in the opening two weeks of the season.
East (0-2) has losses to crosstown rival Waterloo West and Iowa City Liberty, but Reyes kept his team in both games. He completed 18 of 25 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown in last Friday’s 18-6 loss to Liberty, but he has been picked off four times.
“He’s a PlayStation quarterback and he’s the key to their offense,” Howard said about Reyes. “The big danger with him is when he gets out of the pocket and scrambles. If he does get outside, we have to make sure we have somebody on him.”
And in what will be a central theme throughout the season, WCHS will be undersized against East’s massive offensive and defensive lines. Trojans’ running back Kendall Robinson, who averages 5.2 yards per carry, will look to seize on that advantage.
“At some point we have to quit using that as an excuse,” Howard said. “But they’ll run the ball if we let them. Like always, we have to make sure we put them in passing situations.”
WCHS would like nothing more than to get its own ground game back on track. Tailback Trace Kepler will be a focal point, as will spinback Dylan Steen, who threw for 124 yards and a touchdown a week ago.