District football preview
By BRANDON HURLEY
The district’s top rusher is gone but several viable replacements should keep the ground attack alive and well amid a 2016 Class 3A district 2 shakeup.
Webster City, last year’s district 2 champion, enters the fall returning a 1,000 yard rusher in senior Payton Kannuan. The Lynx were one of five district 2 teams that featured a 1,000 yard rusher in which they deployed two 1,000 yard backs propelling them to an 11-1 record.
Gilbert, Ballard, Dallas Center-Grimes and Iowa Falls-Alden join district 2 for the 2016 season while Humboldt, Carroll and Algona depart.
Webster City returns after running for 2,148 yards on the ground en route to a 9-0 regular season record and two playoff victories before falling to Sergeant Bluff-Luton. Kannuan ran for 1,254 yards as a junior and also accounted for 11 touchdowns. Filling the shoes of Gavin Dinsdale shouldn’t be too tall of an order, though the departed senior did run for 1,958 yards and 29 touchdowns in Webster City’s ground-breaking 2015 season.
The remainder of the Lynx offense has a few holes to fill, having lost quarterback Avery Fuhs and leading wide receiver Alex Fuhs to graduation.
Avery threw for 12 touchdowns and ran for 817 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Alec was by far the Lynx’s top receiver, snaring 10 touchdowns and 568 yards. No other receiver caught more than one touchdown.
The Lynx will also have to lean on new blood on the defensive side. Webster City graduated the district’s top tackler, Victor Jergens, who made 99 tackles and six sacks a season ago as well as their next two top tacklers. The Lynx surrendered 55 points in their lone and season-ending loss to Sergeant Bluff-Luton.
Greene County lost one of the district’s top rushers as well in Daric Whipple. The dual-threat quarterback is now a walk-on at Iowa State University. He ran for 1,101 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior, also throwing for the third most passing yards in district 2 (1,508) and 17 touchdowns, also top three in the district. Whipple was the Rams’ top rusher and passer. Wide receiver Nick Schroeder does return for his senior season, as he caught 28 balls a year ago for six touchdowns and 517 yards. It is now just a matter of finding out who will get him the ball. Then freshman Clint Dennhardt got the start for the injured Whipple in a late season game a season ago.
Boone could emerge as a dark horse in the district as they return leading passing, Tanner Schminke, who threw for a district best 1,872 passing yards and 22 touchdowns in 2015. Schminke also ran for six touchdowns and 446 yards on the ground.
The Toreadors also return lanky junior receiver John Herrick, who caught 32 balls for 579 yards and 10 touchdowns a year ago. Senior Colbey Wadsworth was third in the district with 75.5 tackles and three sacks.
District 6 champion Gilbert joins the fold after blitzing through the district a year ago with a 6-0 conference record and a 9-2 overall record.
The Tigers bested Chariton, 49-7 in the first round of the playoffs then fell, 27-11 to Norwalk. District 6 second-leading rusher, Cody Dvorak returns for his senior season, as he ran for 1,055 yards and 18 touchdowns on just 86 carries, a 12.3 yards per carry clip. Gilbert did graduate Zach Becker who scored 15 touchdowns on the ground, but also return senior Steven Lawrence, who boasts a 7.1 YPC average and scored five touchdowns on the ground.
Ballard played alongside the Tigers in district 6 last fall, going 5-1 in conference and securing a first round playoff victory over former district 2 foe, Algona, 28-27.
The Bombers will look to junior running back Hunter Wright for offense this fall, who as a sophomore ran for 1,014 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015.
Ballard also will trot out a dual-threat at the quarterback position in senior Max Stoltz. Stoltz ran for 617 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground in 2015 while also throwing for eight touchdowns and completing 57 percent of his passes. The then junior threw just two interceptions in 88 pass attempts.
Ballard should be a force on the defensive side, as they return their top two tacklers from a season ago in seniors Seth Moore (98.5) and Cade Wilson (93). The duo led all of district 6.
Both the Bombers and the Tigers are familiar with their new district 2 opponents.
Gilbert lost to Webster City, 42-19 in last year’s season opener, but beat Boone (40-37) and Perry (44-0).
Ballard beat Boone, 29-23 in their fist game and fell to Dallas Center-Grimes in the second round of the playoffs (31-7).
District 8 co-champion DCG finished the year 9-3 in 2015 with a 5-1 district record and two playoff victories.
The Mustangs will need to revamp most of their offense this fall if they hope to repeat their success, as their quarterback and leading rusher, Austin Kloewer, departed due to graduation. Dallas Center-Grimes also lost Anthony Jacobsen, who scored 11 touchdowns on the ground as well as their top receiver, Keaton Moore, who caught five touchdown passes.
The Mustangs will have one back with experience to hand the ball to in senior Nathan Brown, who ran for nine touchdowns and 530 yards a year ago.
DCG will have several gigantic holes to fill on the defensive side as well, as the top three tacklers in the district were seniors for the Mustangs in 2015. The trio of Logan Buck, Dallas Miles and Nate Osborn combined for 253 tackles forming a stingy defense.
DCG defeated Boone, 48-7 and Ballard, 31-7 last fall. They fell to Norwalk, 19-14 in the third round of the playoffs.
Iowa Falls-Alden is now in the mix as well, moving up to Class 3A after spending 2015 in Class 2A district 6. The Cadets were 4-6 overall but qualified for the playoffs. They were dismantled by Albia in the first round, 56-0. The Cadets also fell to Webster City, 56-10 on Oct. 2.
Iowa Falls-Alden will look to fill the void left by quarterback Ross Norem, who threw for a district-leading 1,411 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Senior running back Logan Ward returns, after leading the Cadets in rushing in 2015 with 687 yards and four touchdowns on 71 carriers for a 9.7 per carry average - tops in the district.
Also in district 2 is Perry, who went 0-9 last fall.
Five of the eight district 2 teams qualified for the playoffs a season ago. Just the district champion and runner-up will automatically qualify for the playoffs. The 2016 field has been reduced to 16 teams from 32 a season ago.