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IT STARTS NOW FOR NO. 6 LYNX

WCHS out to handle Mohawks for second time this evening

WCHS sophomore linebacker Skyler Scott (23) forces a fumble on a tackle against Boone earlier this month. The No. 6-ranked Lynx will host Mason City in the second round of the Class 3A postseason this evening. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — Mason City’s introduction to the single wing offense last month was unkind, to say the least. Will Round 2 be any better?

That’s one of the central questions that will be answered over 48 minutes tonight when No. 6-ranked Webster City hosts the Mohawks in the second round of the Class 3A postseason.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

The District 2 rivals will meet for the second time in four weeks for the right to advance to the Round of 16 and, officially, a spot in the playoffs. WCHS rolled, 42-7, when the two teams met on the same chunk of dirt on Sept. 25, and head coach Bob Howard’s team will be the decided favorites in the rematch.

Speed, athleticism and skill — they’ve been the central themes to the Lynx unblemished run through the season to this point. But WCHS (7-0) does lack intimidating size, and that’s something Mason City (3-3) will attempt to exploit.

WCHS wingback CJ Hisler (22) fights off Boone defenders during Week 7 of the regular season. Hisler had 174 yards rushing and 222 yards of total offense when the Lynx last met Mason City during Week 5 on Sept. 25. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Because — news flash — the Mohawks are big. Really big, actually.

“I’m sure they’re excited and they get a chance for revenge or however you want to put it,” Howard, in his 14th season with the Lynx, said. “We can’t match their size, but I like our speed.”

Buoyed by a pair of monsters on the offensive line — 6-foot-5, 300-pound Ben Pederson and 6-4, 275-pound Carter Gorder — Mason City rushed for 190 yards in its 16-14 come-from-behind win over Gilbert in the first round of the postseason last week. Tailback Ben Amundson accrued 169 yards and scored twice in the second half, as the Mohawks rallied from a 14-0 deficit.

Howard and some of his players were in the bleachers to watch Mason City beat Gilbert. And there were no gimmicks or wrinkles to the Mohawks’ game plan. They ran straight ahead and down hill all night.

Don’t expect that to change this evening.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Mason City gained 184 yards on the ground in its previous meeting against WCHS, the most the Lynx have allowed this season. And the Mohawks did it primarily with simple dives over the right side of the line, which is where Pederson and Gorder reside.

“They do what they do,” Howard said. “They ran (51) times (against Gilbert) behind the two big kids and they were able to do it. The key for us is you can’t back up. You’ve got to attack them. The first time we did pretty well and I think we’re a better team than we were when we faced them the first time.”

Senior quarterback Connor Dalan ripped off 136 yards rushing against WCHS last month, but he’s been absent under center in recent games due to an injured thumb. He carried the ball five times as a tailback against Gilbert.

“When Dalan is in there, there’s potential for halfback passes,” Howard said. “But it really doesn’t matter a whole lot who the tailback is, it’s those two kids up front and not having them create a big bubble.

“I guess we feel good about our preparation, but there’s nothing you can do in practice to duplicate 300 and 275 pounds.”

The WCHS defense has been up to every task put in front of it this season. It ranks fifth in the class, allowing fewer than 9 points per game, and has 261⁄2 tackles for loss. Defensive end Jamin Stuhr has a team-high three sacks, and eight of his 361⁄2 total stops have been behind the line of scrimmage.

Even if Mason City does have success running the ball, it still has to figure out a way to slow down the Lynx single wing scheme — something it didn’t do in September. WCHS had the Mohawks spinning in circles, as it went off for 417 yards on the ground. Sophomore wingback CJ Hisler ripped off a career-high 174 yards, and all-state tailback Trey Mathis chewed up 164 more. Spinback Chase Rattenborg was effective as well with 80 yards.

Mathis ranks third in 3A with 1,143 yards and 14 touchdowns on the season. Over the final four weeks of the regular season, he averaged 186 yards and three scores per game.

WCHS led Mason City 22-0 after one quarter, 28-0 at the half and 35-0 after three quarters in the first meeting. It was never close and the Lynx would certainly like to see a similar contest tonight.

“We’ve had good practices and I think we got something out of (the bye week),” Howard said. “We’re ready to play a game.”

TONIGHT’S GAME

Mason City at Webster City

What: Class 3A postseason second round.

Where: Lynx Field, Webster City.

Time: 7 p.m.

Records: Mason City 3-3, Webster City 7-0.

Previous Meeting: Webster City rolled 42-7 on Sept. 25.

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