FIRST TIME … IN A LONG TIME
No. 7 Lynx put unbeaten record on line vs. Mohawks
WEBSTER CITY — The schools are separated by just 70 miles — not much more than an hour by car if you’ve got a heavy foot like most drivers on Interstate 35 — and yet Webster City and Mason City have met just once on the football field.
That came 78 years ago, a 25-7 win for the Mohawks during the 1942 season.
Typically a much larger school, Mason City has fallen on lean times in recent years. Its enrollment dropped it down to Class 3A this fall and put it in Webster City’s path for tonight’s Class 3A District 2 showdown at Lynx Field. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
The Mohawks (2-0, 1-0 District 2) had games against Fort Dodge and Gilbert in Weeks 2 and 3 cancelled after COVID-19 infiltrated the program, but they returned a week ago and remained unbeaten with a 26-12 win over Boone.
Seventh-ranked WCHS (4-0, 2-0 District 2), meanwhile, has survived scares against Ballard (8-7) and Humboldt (21-14) in each of the past two weeks and it enters this evening’s showdown looking to hand a fifth consecutive opponent its first loss of the season.
What does Lynx head coach Bob Howard expect? With limited game tape on the Mohawks, he’s really not sure. But his team will once again be tasked with toppling a much bigger opponent.
“They’re huge,” Howard said. “They have some really big linemen and a big quarterback that runs well. And they’re 2-0.”
A member of the Central Iowa Metropolitan Conference since 1992 and prior to that the Big Eight, Mason City has struggled on the gridiron over the past decade. It hasn’t had a winning record since a 6-4 mark in 2009, and from 2010-19 it went just 18-72 with no more than three wins in any season. WCHS went 82-33 over that same stretch.
But Mason City is no longer playing West Des Moines Dowling or Ankeny, and so far it’s proven to be a formidable 3A program. It will look to take that next step tonight against one of the premier 3A programs over the last decade and match its best start since 2009.
“I’m sure there’s enthusiasm and optimism there,” Howard said. “Coming down, I’m sure they’d rather play 3A teams than Valley and some of the teams they were stuck playing before.”
WCHS is no stranger to playing up though. The Lynx faced Waterloo East, which has a similar enrollment to Mason City, in 2018 and 2019 and won both contests.
WCHS will be tasked with slowing down 200-pound senior quarterback Connor Dalen, who leads the team in rushing with 202 yards. He’s attempted just 11 passes; when the Mohawks do air it out, that usually falls on the shoulders of sophomore Kale Hobart, who has completed 11 of 24 passes for 227 yards.
“They’ve got a power running game and they throw deep,” Howard said. “We can’t allow them to run the quarterback for three, four or five yards a pop, and when they want to throw deep we have to make sure our eyes are where they’re supposed to be.”
The Lynx defense was nicked for the first time a week ago against Humboldt. It was the first time the unit allowed more than seven points to an opponent, and a slew of missed tackles highlighted the frustrations. Howard says that’s been addressed this week, just like it is every week.
“It’s the same we’ve done every week except we had their attention a little more this week,” he said. “Hopefully that’s going to improve and it has in practice.”
WCHS will continue to ride its district-leading running game that gutted Humboldt seven days ago. Senior tailback Trey Mathis went over 200 yards for the first time this season and he enter’s tonight’s confrontation with a district-best 607 yards — he averages 7.1 yards per carry — and three touchdowns. Senior spinback Chase Rattenborg is third in the district with 354 yards on the ground and he’s found his way into the end zone four times. Rattenborg has also completed 8 of 16 passes for 152 yards and a pair of scores.
Mason City at Webster City
Where: Lynx Field.
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Mason City 2-0, 1-0 District 2; Webster City 4-0, 2-0 District 2.
Last year: Did not meet.