116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
TROY MILLS — Sometimes the smallest tweak can make all the difference.
Say to safe, North Linn’s offensive tweak has paid dividends this season.
Spectators saw a lot of “Haughenbury-to-Hilmer” Friday night as the sixth-ranked Lynx (5-0) outlasted South Winneshiek, 20-6, in a gritty, Class A District 4 battle.
But it hasn’t always been Haughenbury-to-Hilmer.
Following a 2-6 season in 2020, the Lynx decided to make a switch and move junior Tate Haughenbury to quarterback and senior Austin Hilmer to receiver. The move actually came toward the end of the 2020 season, but it’s been particularly effective in 2021.
Why the switch?
“We decided we wanted to get Hilmer in more space,” North Linn Coach Jared Collum said. “He was getting touches, but they weren’t meaningful touches we didn’t think at the quarterback spot. So we got him in space, and we move him all over.
“Haughenbury is 6-foot, 5-inches. He can see, he can zing it. It was evident tonight.”
Haughenbury completed 16-of-24 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to Hilmer.
“I’ve always liked the quarterback position,” Haughenbury said. “Austin’s got such a good skill set, to get him the ball out there in space, he can make a lot happen.”
“Last year I did a lot of the quarterback jobs,” Hilmer said. “In the playoff game, we switched it up and he (Haughenbury) really shined. I shined at receiver, so we thought that was a better option going into this season.”
South Winn (2-3) struck first as Sam Conway found a hole and sprinted in for a 66-yard TD with 8:06 left in the first, giving the Warriors an early 6-0 lead.
The Lynx defense held the Warriors scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Following South Winn’s score, Hilmer beat the secondary and Haughenbury found him in stride for a 41-yard touchdown. Haughenbury then bolted into the end zone for the two-point conversion.
Then, with 8:51 left in the second quarter, Haughenbury rolled to his left and found Hilmer for a 2-yard score on a crucial fourth-and-2. That gave the Lynx a 14-6 lead they carried into intermission.
The only score in the second half came on a 42-yard pass from Haughenbury to Cael Bridgewater, who made several defenders miss on his way to the end zone.
South Winn completed just one pass in the game.
“We made a commitment this summer that we were going to be better,” Haughbenbury said. “Last year after having a bad season like that, it was almost embarrassing for a lot of us, so we took that kind of personally.”
Cade Haughenbury didn’t score, but he controlled the ground game for North Linn, rushing for 101 yards on 17 carries.
North Linn travels to Starmont next Friday, while South Winneshiek plays at Wapsie Valley.