Is it a trap?

Unbeaten Lynx set to face winless Waterloo East

WCHS tight end JJ Moore (99) makes a catch over the middle inside the 5-yard line during the first quarter against Spencer last Friday night. It set up the Lynx first touchdown of the game in a 22-20 win. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — Let’s be honest, not a lot of people expected the Webster City football team to be 2-0 at this early juncture of the season. And let’s add another layer to that storyline: reaching 3-0 will be more difficult than many people probably believe as well.

Coming off a mildly surprising 22-20 victory over Spencer seven days ago, the Lynx will head back out on the road this evening to collide with Waterloo East inside Memorial Stadium in Waterloo at 7 p.m.

WCHS (2-0) has played with a chip on its shoulder through two games, and the us-against-the-world mentality has paid dividends. But are the Lynx still the hunter, or are they now the hunted?

Enter East (0-2), a program that has seen nothing but hard times over the past six-plus seasons. Currently mired in a 17-game skid, the Trojans are just 2-54 since the start of the 2013 season. Their last win came over Marshalltown, 18-15, more than two years ago.

And here’s where it gets tricky for WCHS because the reality is this: East has more than enough athletes to not only challenge the Lynx, but also beat them if the visitors don’t play well.

WCHS spinback Gabe Humphrey (front) is hit from the backside by Spencer’s Ethan Heiter (65) last Friday night in Spencer. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“They provide a lot of challenges for us,” WCHS head coach Bob Howard said. “They’ve got some athletes, they’ve got a four-year starter at quarterback who is a real good athlete and they’ve got a 230-pound, fast tailback who is bigger than any lineman we have on our team.”

The aforementioned quarterback for East is senior Dylan Reyes, who left quite an impression on WCHS a season ago. In a 45-36 loss to the Lynx, Reyes threw for 323 yards and a touchdown, and also used his legs to score four more times. And his favorite target from the 2018 encounter, senior Tyrell Newman, returns as well. Newman burned WCHS for 144 yards and a TD on just two catches 12 months ago.

“They throw a lot and (Reyes) lit us up pretty good last year with deep balls,” Howard said. “If we don’t tackle well, and if we don’t contain their quarterback when he runs, those are going to be issues too.”

Reyes has thrown for 396 yards through two games this season, losses to crosstown rival Waterloo West (26-19) and Iowa City Liberty (14-0). Tailback Kjuan Owens, just a sophomore, averages 5.7 yards per carry on 23 touches.

WCHS was twice beat on deep throws during last week’s 22-20 win over Spencer, but the run defense has been punishing through two games, which also includes a 33-20 triumph over Gilbert. Linebacker Trey Mathis leads the unit with 16 tackles, including two in the backfield.

Spencer safety Griffin Garnatz (6) jumps on the back of Webster City wide receiver Malachi Montes (82) on a pass over the middle last Friday night in Spencer. Garnatz was flagged for pass interference and the Lynx marched down to score the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Putting up bloated numbers and points haven’t been the issue for East during its downward trend in recent years. Instead, it’s the defensive side of the ball where the Trojans have struggled, to the tune of 45.1 points allowed per game over the previous 17 games.

WCHS piled up 411 yards of offense, 336 of them with its vaunted running game, against East a season ago. And the Lynx offense has the capabilities of being even more dynamic this season. With an improved offensive line and versatile weapons in the backfield, Howard’s offensive group has been a pleasant surprise.

Mathis at tailback and wingback Garrett Whitmore have combined to rush for 467 yards through two games, and although spinback Gabe Humphrey has been held in check on the ground, he’s shown an ability to hit passes that will keep opposing defenses honest.

And after fumbling the ball six times in Week 1, WCHS put the ball on the turf just once a week ago. Howard saw plenty of other improvements too.

“The execution offensively was 95 percent better (than against Gilbert),” he said. “The pad level on the offensive line was better, especially in the second half and especially in the fourth quarter.”

A win this evening would send WCHS into a Week 4 non-district showdown with third-ranked (Class 2A) Algona with a mountain of confidence.