Six teams all in the same boat as Class 3A District 2 play gets underway Friday night

WCHS heads to Carroll for showdown without LB?Mathis, who will miss rest of season

Webster City sophomore linebacker Trey Mathis (32) returns an interception for a touchdown during a Week 2 loss to Spencer at Lynx Field. Mathis, one of the Lynx top tacklers, broke his hand on the first series against Algona last Friday and will miss the rest of the season. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — Which team is the favorite in Class 3A District 2 as the six combatants begin the journey inside the district on Friday? Picking a name out of a hat might be your best bet.

Wide open. Unpredictable. Confusing. Pick whichever you prefer; they’re all correct when talking about the district.

Webster City (2-2) opens on the road at Carroll (1-3) Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Both were thought to be contenders for the district’s automatic berth into the playoffs prior to the start of the season and that hasn’t changed. But it sure isn’t clear-cut.

The six teams — Webster City, Carroll, Boone (2-2), Humboldt (2-2), Dallas Center-Grimes (0-4) and Perry (0-4) — combined to go 7-17 in non-district play, easily the worst among the nine 3A districts. Only one other — District 4 (11-13) — put up a losing mark, compared to District 1 (19-5) that dominated in non-district action.

It’s no doubt disappointing to the District 2 teams, but that doesn’t mean the next five weeks won’t be packed with excitement.

WCHS tailback Trace Kepler (middle) absorbs hits from Algona’s Wyatt Wegener (4) and Carson Devine (21) last Friday in Algona. Kepler enters Class 3A District 2 play against Carroll on Friday with 365 yards on the ground, the most of any running back in the district. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Anything. Can. Happen.

“It’s kind of wide open and I don’t think there’s a favorite,” WCHS head coach Bob Howard said. “Every week is going to be a big game and there’s potential for the district to be a three-way tie or something like that because everybody could beat everybody, so who knows.”

WCHS and Dallas Center-Grimes, the district’s two playoff qualifiers a season ago, were both hit hard by graduation. Boone and Humboldt both have first-year head coaches, and Carroll has played one of the tougher non-district schedules against Glenwood, Ballard, Harlan and Fort Dodge, which own a combined record of 12-4.

All six find themselves in the same boat with regards to the postseason as well. Go ahead and throw the possibility of an at-large berth right out the window, which means there is no wiggle room inside the district.

“It’s five games and every one of them is for the district championship, and our kids know that,” Howard said. “The at-large thing, that’s not in our thoughts.”

WCHS hopes to rebound following a 34-21 loss to fifth-ranked (Class 2A) Algona in which it surrendered more than 500 yards of total offense. The Lynx defense took an even bigger hit, if that’s possible, this week when it learned sophomore linebacker Trey Mathis would be lost for the season with a broken hand sustained on the first drive against Algona. Mathis entered Week 4 as the team’s leading tackler and was arguably the unit’s most athletic player.

Algona gashed WCHS on running plays between the tackles. In their two losses, the Lynx have allowed 768 yards on the ground.

But Carroll’s offensive strength is through the air, as quarterback Colby Vincent has amassed 575 passing yards and three touchdowns through four games. The Tigers rank 51st out of the 54 teams in 3A in rushing yards with 284.

“They’re going to throw the ball and they’re all over the place with formations,” Howard said. “But, and I say this every week, I want to make them pass so we know what they’re going to do and then we can get some pressure on them.”

After what Algona fullback Jacob Durant was able to do against the Lynx last week — 253 yards rushing, including 208 in the first half — Howard says he won’t be surprised if Carroll attempts to establish a running game.

“They ran the ball a little bit on Fort Dodge (in a 35-7 Week 4 loss), but not a lot,” he said. “But I”m sure they’re working on their running game really hard this week. I’d run the trap the first play and see if we could stop it.”

WCHS hopes to be more consistent on offense as well, which showed flashes against Algona. The Lynx finished with 177 yards on the ground and 233 in all, but were limited to just 69 total yards in the first half.

Establishing senior tailback Trace Kepler would be a step in the right direction. In the team’s two wins, he’s averaging 148 yards per game. In its two losses, his average plummets to 35 yards per game.

“It kind of depends on what the other team wants you to do, or what they try to stop,” Howard said. “If we’re moving it like at Gilbert or against East Waterloo, if we’re making 5 or 6 yards a carry, he may get 30 carries. But the other night (against) Algona, it wasn’t there. They took it away.

“If he gets 25 carries, usually we’re going to win because we’ve controlled the ball.”

Kepler leads the district in rushing with 365 yards.

How do the nine districts in Class 3A stack up against one another? Here’s a look a how each district fared during the non-district portion of the season, rank

ed from best to worst.

•District 1: 19-5

•District 5: 16-8

•District 9: 16-8

•District 3: 15-9

•District 6: 13-11

•District 8: 13-11

•District 7: 12-12

•District 4: 11-13

•District 2: 7-17

A look at the number of 4-0 and 3-1 teams in each of the districts.

4-0 3-1

District 1 1 5

District 2 0 0

District 3 1 3

District 4 1 2

District 5 1 3

District 6 1 0

District 7 1 1

District 8 0 3

District 9 2 2