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Webb, Yorba Linda have been unstoppable together
YORBA LINDA - Jaydyn Webb’s junior season for the Yorba Linda football team was in danger months before the season began.
During an offseason workout in February, Webb was going through a conditioning drill.
“I made one cut and I felt it,” he said.
The “it” would be a strange sensation in his right knee.
“I felt like I had hyper-extended it at first,” Webb added. “So I took some time off. I went back and I was running full speed and then one day I was playing basketball with my friends and jumped up and I felt it pop. That’s when I went to the doctor.”
The diagnosis: He had a torn ACL.
He underwent surgery in March. The early diagnosis was that he would not be able to play football for eight months, with a possible return in November.
Webb had other plans.
“He was focused,” Yorba Linda coach Jeff Bailey said of Webb. “He was motivated to come back and play his junior season.”
The road back was a daily grind. Webb began each day with 5:30 a.m. gym sessions with his father.
“I did a lot of stuff that my physical therapist told me to do, and I would take that to another level and do things my way,” Webb said. “After physical therapy, I would wait a couple of hours and go to the gym with my dad. I would go to the gym two times a day with my dad.”
Burbank at Yorba Linda, Friday, 7 p.m.
Webb said he dealt with the frustrations of rehab, but he never wavered from trusting in the extra work he was doing and his faith.
When the 2016 season began for Yorba Linda on Sept. 2, Webb, who split time at running back and linebacker as a sophomore, was on the sideline. He also missed the team’s next two games, but made his debut on Sept. 23 against El Dorado.
Webb touched the ball 13 times, gained 80 yards (59 rushing) and scored one touchdown in the Mustangs’ 21-6 victory.
“I was really emotional that game because a Iot of people didn’t expect me to come back so soon,” Webb said of his debut. “For me to work my butt off and see the hard work that I put in, it was really emotional and I was really blessed.”
Webb’s first start came the following the week against El Modena. He rushed for 143 yards on 31 carries and scored two touchdowns.
“We were just going to look at him, kind of like an emergency situation,” Bailey. “His practice that week was off the charts. He was basically the starter. ... He’s a gifted player.”
Webb has developed into one of the key components on offense for the Mustangs who will play in their first CIF-SS championship game Friday night. The Mustangs will be at home against Burbank in the CIF-SS Division 8 final.
Despite missing the first three games of the season, Webb has rushed for 969 yards on 187 carries with 11 touchdowns.
“He’s a really tough runner,” senior right tackle Troy Stiefel said of Webb. “Sometimes we’ll mess up blocks and there’s a free guy, he’ll still beat them and he fights for every yard. He’s definitely one of the toughest running backs you’ll see run.”
Webb directs the praise he receives toward the team’s offensive line.
“Without them, I’m nothing,” Webb said. “My touchdowns are their touchdowns, my yards are their yards. What I’m worried about is winning games and playing each game to my very best and fighting each day with brothers out here.”
The offensive line is an experienced group. Four of the five starters are seniors (Drew Dahlson, Stiefel, Bryce Johnson and Alec Arce), along with the two senior blocking tight ends (Justin Bailey and Max Thorp).
Left tackle Joe Thompson (junior) is the only underclassman in the group.
The strong play of the offensive line has made it possible for the Mustangs to have a balanced attack. Jonah Slack, Mason Winter and Kyle McManus have all rushed for more than 250 yards, and quarterback Luke Wilson has completed 65 percent of his passes with 21 touchdowns.
Webb and his family feed the linemen one night each week.
“He does what he can to make us happy, since we do what we can to help him,” Dahlson, the left guard, said.
It also helps, Dahlson added, that Bailey and his staff of assistant coaches have prepared the team well each week.
“We have to credit everything to our coaches,” Dahlson said. “They prepare us very well every week.
“When we get out there on the actual field, it makes hit kind of easier because of how we work in practice.”
If the Mustangs are going to win the program’s first football title, Webb and the offensive line will have to make big contributions Friday.
“You come out here your freshman year intent on winning a championship,” Dahlson said. “To work as hard as we have the last few years, we’ve come up short the last few years. But to be here your senior year, is like the culmination of all the hard work you’ve put in.”