GLASS IS HALF FULL
Lynx overmatched by No. 7 Go-Hawks, but they never quit
WEBSTER CITY — Ty McKinney wants to win just as much as he wants to breathe, and yet the Webster City junior spinback was able to see the bigger picture after he spent 48 minutes being a personal tackling dummy for seventh-ranked (Class 4A) Waverly-Shell Rock at Lynx Field Friday night.
“We got significantly better,” McKinney said. “That’s probably the best I’ve ever felt after a loss, but it’s still a loss.”
Yes, it was a loss, 31-14, against a physical Go-Hawks crew that was bigger, faster, deeper, more physical and, quite frankly, better. But WCHS (1-2) walked off the field more upbeat than you would expect, particularly after a second half in which it played W-SR (3-0) to a 7-7 draw and limited the explosive offense to just three first downs.
It might be a small step in the right direction, but it is a step nonetheless.
“I haven’t had many times that we’ve come out on the short end of a game where I felt really proud of how hard we played because we played hard,” WCHS head coach Bob Howard said. “We played a lot better in the second half and hopefully we grew in this game.
“We really used the second half to get better for (Week 4) and for what’s coming (in district play) because I don’t know if we’ll see anybody much better than them.”
The numbers bore out the second-half stalemate. After piling up 261 yards of offense en route to a 24-7 halftime lead, W-SR managed just 68 yards after the intermission and 22 of those came on a perfectly executed swing pass from quarterback Grant Halverson to Ryan Folkerts for a touchdown with 6:45 remaining. Really though, that play never should have happened. The Go-Hawks punted the ball away a few plays earlier, but a special teams penalty on the Lynx for having 12 men on the field enabled the drive to continue.
The Go-Hawks entered the non-district contest averaging 8.1 yards per carry, but its bruising backfield was limited to 3.4 yards by the Lynx. Outside of a 22-yard burst up the gut for a touchdown by Division I recruit Asa Newsom in the first quarter, neither he nor halfback McCrae Hagarty were able to gash the Lynx defense. Newsom finished with 59 yards on 12 carries and Hagarty picked up 58 yards on the same number of attempts.
“They have more size than we do, but we played pretty well,” WCHS senior defensive end Jamin Stuhr, who made 41⁄2 tackles, said. “It’s tough because once you get through their line, then you’ve got to tackle their big backs. But we showed good improvement. Right now we’ve just got to keep busting our butts in practice.”
Halverson’s right arm did most of the damage in the first half to give W-SR the 17-point cushion. A 58-yard connection with Layne McDonald over the middle moved the ball inside the WCHS 5 and set up a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown early in the second quarter. Halverson also found Hagarty open for a 25-yard gain late in the half that put the Go-Hawks in position to score again.
Halverson missed just one pass and threw for 163 yards in the field half, and finished with 212 yards through the air on the night.
“We played really well against the run, but they were able to hit some passes with max protection and one-on-one routes,” Howard said. “We just don’t have a lot of margin for error against somebody like that because they’re very good.”
Linebacker Skyler Scott and defensive back Evan Estlund both made seven tackles for the Lynx. Charlie Stansfield and Jaxon Cherry sacked Halverson on back-to-back plays in the second half, and Truman Klein had a tackle for loss.
The Lynx problem wasn’t on defense. The offense, now that’s another story.
WCHS was limited to 82 yards rushing, its lowest output since a 72-yard performance in a 28-14 loss to Spencer way back on Aug. 31, 2018. Tailback Connor Hanson and wingback CJ Hisler both gained 34 yards, again the lowest total for a WCHS leading rusher since the loss to Spencer more than three years ago.
Newsom, a highly-touted linebacker, flew through the gaps and made six tackles, including three in the backfield. W-SR made 10 stops behind the line of scrimmage, which left WCHS no option but to try to pick up first downs through the air.
“They’re big and they’re athletic on the edges, and we’re little,” Howard said. “We blocked them some, but the only way we’re going to get better is against a team like that.”
After stopping W-SR on fourth-and-1 at its own 29 early in the first quarter, WCHS had a chance to steal the momentum. But the offense went nowhere and turned the ball over on downs after gaining just four yards. McKinney put some of the blame on himself after he missed a wide open Cherry down the sideline on first down, opting instead to try to hit tight end JJ Moore down the seam. The ball was just out of Moore’s reach near the goal line.
“I think that would have changed the entire game,” McKinney said. “If I hit my pass, that’s a touchdown because Cherry was wide open. If we’re up 7-0 in the first quarter, our confidence is up and they’re down because they haven’t been behind all season.”
McKinney carried the WCHS offense though, as he completed 6 of 15 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns. He lofted a toss right into Moore’s arms inside the 5, and Moore took it the rest of the way for a 34-yard score to cut the Go-Hawks’ lead to 17-7 with 1:54 remaining in the first half. Cherry was on the receiving end of a 31-yard touchdown pass with 1:08 left in the game, as he out-jumped Go-Hawk defensive back Mikey Santoiemma near the 20, and then broke a tackle and took it the rest of the way.
Hisler and Devon Stoakes had two receptions each for 29 and 17 yards, respectively.
“After the first week, I’ve been very comfortable (throwing the ball),” McKinney said. “My receivers have been getting open, I’ve been finding them, and I’m proud of the offensive line. We keep getting better each week.”
WCHS hopes it can take the second-half improvements into this week’s road game against Mason City (1-2), the last chance to iron out the kinks before the start of Class 4A District 1 play against 10th-ranked Fort Dodge.
“Once Fort Dodge comes, hopefully we’ll put on a show,” Stuhr said.
Waverly-SR 7 17 0 7 — 31
Webster City 0 7 0 7 — 14
W-SR — Asa Newsom 22 run (Simon Ott kick), 2:34.
W-SR — Grant Halverson 1 run (Ott kick), 8:36.
W-SR — Ott 23 FG (4:02).
WC — JJ Moore 34 pass from Ty McKinney (Levi Mussman kick), 1:54.
W-SR — Ryan Folkerts 3 run (Ott kick), 0:35.
W-SR — Folkerts 22 pass from Halverson (Ott kick), 6:45.
WC — Jaxon Cherry 31 pass from McKinney (Mussman kick), 1:08.
First downs 12 10
Rushing 6 6
Passing 5 3
Penalty 1 1
Rushes-yards 34-117 40-82
Passing yards 212 112
Comp-Att-INT 8-10-0 6-15-0
Return yards 143 93
Sacked-yards lost 2-8 2-13
Punts-Ave 2-36 5-41
Fumbles-lost 2-1 2-0
Penalties-yards 3-35 2-20
Time of Possession 21:42 26:18
Webster City Lynx
Player Att Yds TD
CJ Hisler 11 34 0
Connor Hanson 10 34 0
Jaxon Cherry 7 23 0
Ty McKinney 12 -9 0
Player Com Att Yds TD
Ty McKinney 6 15 112 2
Player Rec Yds TD
JJ Moore 1 34 1
Jaxon Cherry 1 32 1
CJ Hisler 2 29 0
Devon Stoakes 2 17 0
Player So Ast Tot
Evan Estlund 6 2 7
Skyler Scott 6 2 7
Devon Stoakes 5 2 6
Ty McKinney 5 0 5
CJ Hisler 4 1 41⁄2
Jamin Stuhr 4 1 41⁄2
Jaxon Cherry 3 4 4
Connor Hanson 3 0 3
Kyzer Stanley 2 1 21⁄2
Keegan Hisler 2 0 2
Charlie Stansfield 2 0 2
D. Burnette-Bingham 2 0 2
Truman Klein 1 2 2
Waverly-Shell Rock Go-Hawks
Player Att Yds TD
Asa Newsom 12 59 1
McCrae Hagarty 12 58 0
Ryan Folkerts 3 9 1
Dylan Stockdale 1 8 0
Team 3 -4 0
Grant Halverson 6 -13 1
Player Com Att Yds TD
Grant Halverson 8 10 212 1
Player Rec Yds TD
Kaiser Luck 4 103 0
Layne McDonald 1 58 0
McCrae Hagarty 1 25 0
Ryan Folkerts 1 21 1
Asa Newsom 1 5 0