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MOVIN’ ON UP

Lynx a member of 4A District 1 in 2021, 2022

WCHS running back Connor Hanson drags several Mason City defenders down the field during a game last fall. Hanson, a junior-to-be next fall, and the Lynx will jump up to Class 4A and will be a member of District 1, it was announced by the IHSAA on Friday. DFJ file photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — Some advice to all Webster City football fans who are planning to follow the team out of town in the fall: Make sure you’ve got plenty of gas.

Extended road trips are the common theme following the release of the new districts for the 2021 and 2022 seasons by the Iowa High School Athletic Association on Friday.

As expected, WCHS has jumped up to Class 4A and will be housed in District 1 alongside Denison-Schleswig, Fort Dodge, LeMars, Spencer and Storm Lake.

The Lynx will face each of the five district teams during the regular season, as well as four non-district opponents that will be announced sometime in mid-April. The first- and second-place finishers in the district will automatically qualify for the state playoffs.

A road trip to Fort Dodge (22 miles) is no problem, and even an excursion to Storm Lake (84 miles) wouldn’t be awful. But Denison-Schleswig (111 miles), Spencer (118 miles) and LeMars (145 miles) will be significant hauls.

WCHS head football coach Bob Howard watches from the sideline during a game last fall. Over the past 13 seasons, Howard has led the Lynx to a 99-38 record with 11 state playoffs appearances. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

But WCHS head football coach Bob Howard says none of what was announced on Friday — the district or the travel — was unexpected.

“I called this,” Howard said, noting he even wrote his correct prediction on the board in the WCHS coach’s office. “This wasn’t a surprise at all and we knew (there was going to be travel) because it’s now six districts.”

Rather than being one of the largest 3A schools, which has been the norm for WCHS in recent years, the Lynx will now be one of the smallest 4A programs. And with Fort Dodge dropping down from the largest classification, Howard says it puts his program in the role of hunter again.

“As we’ve told the kids, we control what we can control and it’s going to be a challenge because (Fort Dodge) is going to have 100 kids out or more,” he said. “But it’s a neat challenge. I usually work better with chips on the shoulder and this is a big one when you’re basically one of the smallest teams in the class.”

What won’t change is the worth ethic that helped WCHS become one of the state’s premier programs during its time in 3A. Over the last 13 seasons, the Lynx are 99-38 — a .723 win percentage — with 11 state playoffs appearances. They were the 3A state runner-up in 2016, and this past fall went 9-1 and reached the state quarterfinals.

“We’re going to get as big and fast as we can, and as strong as we can,” Howard said. “I know that’s coach talk and that’s how we approach every year, but this year it’s a big deal. We can’t be wasting workout days.”

For the four non-district games, Howard says he’s hopeful the Lynx will face Mason City and Humboldt, two programs that have agreed to put WCHS on their request sheet that is submitted to the IHSAA. After that, he says it’s anybody’s guess.

“We’ve got to find four teams that will agree to play us, that’s the problem,” Howard said. “I’m pretty sure we won’t get that, so we’ll get assigned two (opponents) probably.”

HAWKS IN 1A DISTRICT 2

The South Hamilton football team will be a member of Class 1A District 2 for the next two seasons.

Joining the Hawks in District 2 will be Belmond-Klemme, Eagle Grove, Manson-Northwest Webster, South Central Calhoun and Woodward-Granger.

The Hawks will play eight regular season games — five district games and three non-district contests against opponents that will be announced in April.

In 1A, 32 teams will qualify for the state playoffs.

Class 4A Districts

2021 and 2022 Seasons

District 1 — Denison-Schleswig, Fort Dodge, LeMars, Spencer, Storm Lake, Webster City.

District 2 — Decorah, Western Dubuque, Marion, Mason City, Waterloo East, Waverly-Shell Rock.

District 3 — Burlington, Clinton, Fort Madison, Iowa City Liberty, Mount Pleasant, North Scott.

District 4 — Cedar Rapids Washington, Clear Creek-Amana, Newton, Oskaloosa, Pella, Cedar Rapids Xavier.

District 5 — Bondurant-Farrar, Boone, Carlisle, Indianola, Norwalk, Perry.

District 6 — Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson, Dallas Center-Grimes, Des Moines Hoover, Glenwood, Council Bluffs Lewis Central, Winterset.

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