Doolittle, Kepler gain 268 yards in Lynx shootout win over Trojans

Webster City wingback Drake Doolittle (3) is swarmed by four Waterloo East defenders on a nice first-half gain on Friday. He rushed for 146 yards for the Lynx. DFJ photo/Troy Banning



WEBSTER CITY — News flash: Drake Doolittle isn’t a big kid. He just plays one on the football field.

The Webster City senior has a smile on his face when he says he weighs 135 pounds. A few seconds later he relents and admits it’s actually 133. The truth truth? It’s probably closer to 130.

He put those 130 or so pounds to good use Friday night in the form of a battering ram running style in Webster City’s offensive shootout 45-36 victory over Waterloo East at Lynx Field.

WCHS cornerback Cade Felts (22) goes airborne to disrupt a deep pass intended for Waterloo East’s Ramir Scott (4) during the fourth quarter on Friday. WCHS won the game, 45-36. DFJ photos/Troy Banning

Doolittle rushed for a career-high 146 yards and two touchdowns against an East defense that noticeable issues keeping up with the single wing scheme. The Trojans (0-3), losers of nine consecutive games, overloaded on the strong side and that allowed Doolittle to exploit them going the other way on the counter.

His first carry went 56 yards — just six fewer than his previous career-high in a game — to the house. He averaged

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WCHS sophomore linebacker Trey Mathis (32) dumps Waterloo East quarterback Dylan Reyes (5) to the turf after Reyes attempted to hurdle Mathis in the open field late in the fourth quarter on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

10.4 yards per tote.

“There were huge holes,” Doolittle said. “I’ve got (offensive tackle) Austin (Lampman) leading up in front of me and I’ve got (tight end) Henry (Hoversten), you can run behind those guys all night. With our offense, we have so many plays and different directions that you can’t line up right on every play.”

Consider WCHS head coach Bob Howard impressed.

“It’s the best ballgame he’s had and that’s saying something,” Howard said. “He was the most consistent of our offense players and we hardly ever give a wingback that many carries (14), but that was the play that was there.”

Tailback Trace Kepler did plenty of damage as well. He churned out 122 yards and scored three touchdowns, part of the Lynx 324 yards of ground offense. Dylan Steen picked up 54 more yards and also threw for 75 and a score.

Webster City defensive lineman Carsen Johnson (53) and Waterloo East quarterback Dylan Reyes (5) both dive for a fumble as WCHS lineman Jack Van Diest races in on Friday at Lynx Field. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“When we have a huge game like this running the ball, that gets the ball rolling,” Doolittle said.

WCHS (2-1), which notched the 599th win in the history of its program, needed every yard and every point it could muster because East had its own arsenal of weapons.

Trojans’ quarterback Dylan Reyes rushed for four touchdowns and threw for 321 yards and a TD. East out-gained WCHS by a single yard, 400-399, but also turned the ball over twice on two Reyes interceptions. The Lynx held the ball for almost 15 more minutes and that eventually wore down the Trojan defense, proven by the seven injury timeouts they took in the second half.

“I’m happy we won, but we’ve got so much room for improvement,” Howard said after he picked up career victory No. 332, which moved him into a tie with Pekin’s Tom Stone for eighth on Iowa’s all-time wins list. “They’ve got some nice athletes and they got the ball to them, but giving up 36 points, that isn’t good.”

The two teams combined for five touchdowns and 36 points in the first quarter. Doolittle’s second score on a 12-yard run and Steen’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Carson Struchen just a few plays after the spinback converted on a fourth-and-8 with a 12-yard strike to Malachi Montes allowed WCHS to move in front, 21-15.

WCHS wide receiver Carson Struchen hauls in a pass from Dylan Steen that resulted in a 33-yard gain in the third quarter on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Kepler reached the end zone for the first time on a 3-yard rumble late in the second quarter to give the Lynx a 29-22 lead at the intermission.

Reyes notched three touchdowns in the initial 24 minutes on sprints of 1, 3 and 25 yards. But WCHS limited the dual-threat signal caller to just 39 yards rushing in all and sacked him twice. The passes he torched the Lynx for weren’t ideal, but Howard says his defense took care of priority No. 1.

“We did a nice job on limiting his runs,” he said. “We blew one (the 25-yard TD), but other than that we contained him pretty well and rushed him pretty well. What I was most worried about was his running.”

WCHS pushed its margin to 36-22 midway through the third quarter on another 3-yard touchdown by Kepler, but East answered with back-to-back scores to knot it at 36 with 11:12 remaining. Reyes connected with Tyrell Newman on a 70-yard bomb down the right sideline to bring it back to even.

Newman had just two catches in the game, but they covered 144 yards of real estate.

But the Lynx had the answer, just like they did after a fumble on the game’s opening kickoff led to an East end zone celebration. A 66-yard drive that ate more than 4 minutes off the clock culminated with Kepler’s third 3-yard touchdown.

The WCHS defense stood up on the ensuing drive and sophomore linebacker Trey Mathis made a pivotal play on third-and-long. With the Lynx pursuing to the left, Reyes whipped around and threw a backside screen, but with no help behind Mathis made the hit and forced a punt.

“We practiced making sure that when the running back goes to that side for a pass, I’ve got to make sure I make that play and don’t miss my tackle,” Mathis, who made a game-high 11 tackles, said.

East gut-punched itself moments later. Lined up near its own 20, the ball sailed over the head of Reyes, also the team’s punter, into the end zone for a safety to make it a two-score game with 5:31 to go.

The Trojans had one more chance to draw closer in the final minute, but Lynx cornerback Tyler Olson stepped in front of a Reyes pass near the WCHS sideline for an interception.

And just like that, WCHS could breathe.

“That was not really a Webster City kind of game,” Steen said. “But it was really important to get the win and we played well.”

Steen picked off Reyes near the end of the first half. It was the 17th career interception for the WCHS senior and it moved him into a tie for 11th place on the state’s all-time 11-player leaderboard. He needs just one more to crack the top 10, and the state record of 24 isn’t out of his reach with six regular season games remaining.

“That’s really neat, but that’s not what I’m thinking about right now,” Steen, who also made 51⁄2 tackles, said when asked about the career total. “At this point I’m just wanting the team to get better and I want to make an impact for the team.”

Montes made 51⁄2 stops as well, while Lampman and Carsen Johnson collected the sacks. But Johnson, a key on the line on both sides of the ball, went down with an apparent leg injury late in the game and had to be helped off the field.

Scoring Summary

Waterloo East 15 7 7 7 — 36

Webster City 21 8 7 9 — 45

First Quarter

WE — Dylan Reyes 1 run (Dakota Albright kick), 10:23.

WC — Drake Doolittle 56 run (Nathan Ferrell kick), 9:24.

WE — Reyes 3 run (Tavious Jenkins pass from Reyes), 7:49.

WC — Doolittle 12 run (run failed), 4:52.

WC — Carson Struchen 13 pass from Dylan Steen (Steen run), 1:32.

Second Quarter

WE — Reyes 26 run (Albright kick), 5:57.

WC — Trace Kepler 3 run (Kepler run), 1:46.

Third Quarter

WC — Kepler 3 run (Ferrell kick), 6:03.

WE — Reyes 2 run (Albright kick), 4:03.

Fourth Quarter

WE — Tyrell Newman 70 pass from Reyes (Albright kick), 11:12.

WC — Kepler 3 run (Ferrell kick), 7:04.

WC — Safety, 5:31.

Team Statistics


First downs 11 22

Rushing 3 18

Passing 8 3

Penalty 0 1

Rushes-yards 26-79 61-324

Passing yards 321 75

Comp-Att-INT 12-27-2 5-12-0

Return yards 134 137

Sacked-yards lost 2-14 1-11

Punts-Ave 4-28 4-25

Fumbles-lost 1-0 5-1

Penalties-yards 9-89 1-5

Time of Possession 16:32 31:28

Individual Statistics



Player Att Yds TD

Drake Doolittle 14 146 2

Trace Kepler 29 122 3

Dylan Steen 17 54 0

Garrett Whitmore 1 5 0


Player Com Att Yds TD

Dylan Steen 5 11 75 1


Player Rec Yds TD

Carson Struchen 2 46 1

Malachi Montes 1 12 0

Drake Doolittle 1 9 0

Trace Kepler 1 8 0


Player So Ast Tot

Trey Mathis 10 2 11

Dylan Steen 5 1 51⁄2

Malachi Montes 5 1 51⁄2

Drake Doolittle 2 3 31⁄2

Caleb Olson 2 2 3

Hunter Collicott 2 0 2

Austin Lampman 2 0 2

Tyler Olson 2 0 2

Carsen Johnson 1 0 1

Brayden Berg 1 0 1



Player Att Yds TD

Kendall Robinson 13 62 0

Dylan Reyes 11 39 4

Ahkil Muhammad 1 2 0

Aidan Ernst 1 -2 0


Player Com Att Yds TD

Dylan Reyes 12 27 321 1


Player Rec Yds TD

Tyrell Newman 2 144 1

Aidan Ernst 3 85 0

Kendall Robinson 3 36 0

Ahkil Muhammad 2 29 0

Griffen Bender 1 14 0

Scott Bickel 1 13 0