SO FAR, SO (SO) GOOD
No. 8 Lynx, unbeaten Ballard ready for battle
WEBSTER CITY — However you slice it, the Webster City football team has been dominant this season.
Offense. Defense. You name it. Dominant.
But it’s only been two weeks.
That’s the phrase head coach Bob Howard used multiple times this week in the lead-up to tonight’s confrontation with fellow unbeaten Ballard (2-0) at Lynx Field. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
No. 8-ranked (Class 3A) WCHS (2-0) owned both Spencer (21-7) and Carroll (55-0), but the Bombers are a new and much more ferocious beast. So how good are the Lynx? We’re all about to find out.
“This will be by far the biggest challenge we’ve had,” Howard said.
The WCHS defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown through two games — the streak reaches three if you trace back to the end of the 2019 season — and has yielded just 196 yards to its previous opponents. The unit is sure to be tested tonight though, as Ballard boasts 6-foot-7, 230-pound quarterback Connor Drew, an all-state basketball player who led the Bombers to the 3A state tournament in March. Drew completed 22 of 33 passes for 278 yards and four touchdowns in wins over North Polk (27-7) and Carlisle (28-14) over the last two weeks.
“They throw the ball well and they have good skill kids,” Howard said. “They’ve got a nice offensive line too.”
WCHS has yet to be tested through the air. First-team all-state free safety Tyler Olson has been relatively quiet due to the lack of chances to attack the ball, but that could change this evening.
Howard says his team will still focus on stopping Ballard’s ground game, which is plenty dangerous. Running back Sam Peterson is quick and averages 6.0 yards per carry.
“If you try to stop everything, you don’t stop anything,” Howard said. “Hopefully they have to throw the ball, but we’ll see.
“We’re playing good defense, but we had a lot of kids back and a lot of them are bigger, faster and stronger. We’ll certainly be tested (tonight).”
But can Ballard slow down the WCHS ground game? The Lynx have the No. 2 rushing attack in the class and the top two backs in District 2. All-state tailback Trey Mathis has 268 yards — he averages 7.1 yards per tote — and three TDs through two games. Spinback Chase Rattenborg (222 yards, 7.2 ypc, 2 TDs) is right behind him in the district, and wingback CJ Hisler (111 yards, 5.3 ypc, 3 TDs) ranks seventh.
Mathis gouged Carroll for 174 yards behind an offensive line that showed noticeable improvement from the previous week. Ballard allowed 238 yards rushing to Carlisle a week ago.
“They’ve got some big kids on defense,” Howard said of the Bombers. “But if our line continues with another week’s growth, then hopefully we can move the ball on them.”
Field conditions could also play a role in the final outcome. A dreary week has left the field saturated, and rain is also in the forecast for this evening. That appears to play into the Lynx ground and pound plans, at least Howard hopes it does anyway.
“If it’s a muddy game, if it’s a wet game, I think we’re suited for that. And I think our kids believe that too,” he said.
A WCHS win would propel Howard into the No. 6 spot on the state’s all-time wins leaderboard. He enters this evening with 343 career victories; former Cedar Falls head coach Pat Mitchell currently holds the No. 6 position with 344 wins.
But Howard isn’t thinking about his standing, nor is he comforted by what his team has done in the previous two weeks. The season is far from over, and this is just the next step.
“It’s just been two games,” he said. “It’s not like we’re 8-0 or 9-0. There’s a lot of football left and we just concentrate on one day at a time.”
TONIGHT: BALLARD AT WEBSTER CITY
Where: Lynx Field.
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Ballard 2-0, Webster City 2-0.
Last year: Teams have not met since 2017.