CEDAR RAPIDS - The Cedar Rapids Titans and Sioux Falls Storm have met in the conference title game in each of the past four seasons.
If the Titans have any hope to make it five, they will need to dig out of an ever-increasing hole.
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The Waterloo West conundrum has been rectified.
A week ago, the Wahawks appeared to be on thin ice, a team that could miss the Class 4A playoffs at 8-1, a team with no margin for error.
Sometimes, things have a way of taking care of themselves. Because Cedar Falls “only” beat Cedar Rapids Jefferson by four points lastFriday, West now has that margin for error, and the folks at the Iowa High School Athletic Association can breathe a little easier.
There’s still one more potential problem, and it involves 8-Player District 4.
Like 4A, 8-Player does not have wild cards available, so a three-way tie for first place means somebody will get left out. In 8-Player District 4, that’s a possibility, and that could mean an 8-1 Lone Tree team might be sitting out the postseason dance.
Here’s how it could happen: If Lone Tree (7-1, 4-1) beats Midland (7-1, 5-0) by a small margin, and if Iowa Valley (6-2, 4-1) wins big against WACO, the Lions could be sitting third in the point-differential tie-breaker.
A similar situation exists in Class A District 4, where an 8-1 Lisbon squad could be the third team in the tie-breaker. The difference there is that Class A — like 1A, 2A and 3A — provides for two wild-card teams statwewide, and a team in a three-way first-place tie gets first priority for such a berth.
Some districts have their playoff pecking order complete. In others, there’s much yet to be decided. Here’s a look as Week 9 approaches:
District 5 — If Waterloo West (8-0, 4-0) defeats Cedar Rapids Washington (7-1, 3-1), it’s pretty much academic: West is the champion, Cedar Falls (5-3, 3-1) is the runner-up. That is Cedar Falls’ only path to the playoffs. If Washington wins (Cedar Falls is a virtual shoo-in against winless Waterloo East), the result is a three-way tie, and the Tigers are eliminated by points. A Washington victory of six points or more vaults the Warriors to the title.
District 6 — Despite a 4-4 overall record, North Scott (3-1) has the inside track to the title, and can wrap it up with a win over winless Davenport West. Western Dubuque (6-2, 3-1) grabs the other spot if it defeats Dubuque Hempstead (4-4, 2-2). If not, the Bobcats could be in danger in a three-way points battle for second if Pleasant Valley (3-5, 2-2) handles Dubuque Senior (3-5, 2-2).
District 7 — Bettendorf (6-2, 4-0) is the champion; Iowa City High (6-2, 3-1) is the runner-up.
District 8 — Cedar Rapids Prairie (7-1, 4-0) has wrapped up the title, but the other spot is undecided. Cedar Rapids Kennedy (5-3, 3-1) joins Prairie in the postseason if the Cougars beat the Hawks by 12 points or more at Kingston Stadium. Otherwise, Iowa City West (6-2, 3-1) locks up the second slot, provided it handles winless Ottumwa.
District 3 — Cedar Rapids Xavier (8-0, 6-0) is the champion; Benton Community (6-2, 5-1) is the runner-up. Waverly-Shell Rock (5-3, 4-2) is in pretty good shape for a wild-card bid with a big win over Charles City.
District 4 — West Delaware (7-1, 5-1) claims the title with a win, and is a heavy favorite over Maquoketa. Assuming a Hawks win, the other bid will go to the winner between Davenport Assumption (6-2, 5-1) and Marion (5-3, 4-2) at Thomas Park Field. The Indians would be out of playoff contention with a loss. Clear Creek Amana (6-2, 4-2) still has hopes for a wild card.
District 5 — Solon (7-1, 6-0) is the champion; Oskaloosa (6-2, 5-1) is the runner-up.
District 4 — North Fayette Valley (8-0, 6-0) is in the playoffs, and will be the district champion if it defeats Waukon (6-2, 5-1) or if Union (7-1, 5-1) beats Cascade (6-2, 4-2). Union is in excellent shape for a playoff bid, win or lose. Waukon probably needs a win to qualify, because its chances as a wild card are slim. Cascade has not been eliminated, but needs a win and some assistance to qualify.
District 5 — Williamsburg (7-1, 6-0) hosts Mount Vernon (6-2, 6-0) Friday. Both teams have qualified, and the winner is the district champion. West Liberty (4-4, 4-2) has a chance for a wild card if enough dominoes fall its way.
District 2 — Denver (8-0, 6-0) is the champion. South Winneshiek (6-2, 5-1) snags the second berth if its wins at home against Belmond-Klemme (4-4, 4-2). The Warriors also are the No. 2 team with a loss and if Lake Mills (5-3, 4-2) creates a three-way tie by beating Sumner-Fredericksburg.
District 3 — Bellevue (8-0, 6-0) is the champion. The runner-up team will be determined at West Branch, where the Bears (6-2, 5-1) host Clayton Ridge (6-2, 5-1). The loser of that game has a chance at a wild card.
District 4 — Iowa City Regina (7-1, 6-0) is the champion. Second place is on the line at Sigourney, where Wilton (7-1, 5-1) and Sigourney-Keota (7-1, 5-1) tangle. If the game is extremely close, the loser is in good shape for a wild-card berth.
District 4 — There’s a three-way tie at the top, and if it stays that way after Friday, all three probably will earn postseason spots. Wapsie Valley (5-3, 5-1) is the leader on points at plus-72, but the Warriors have the toughest remaining game of the contenders, at North Linn (6-2, 4-2). East Buchanan (6-2, 5-1) is next at plus-69, followed by Lisbon (7-1, 5-1) at plus-52.
District 5 — Gladbrook-Reinbeck (8-0, 6-0) is the champion. Hudson (7-1, 5-1) claims the other automatic spot if it wins at home against Belle Plaine (6-2, 4-2). If not, it could create a three-way tie with those two teams and BGM (4-4, 4-2), which is favored to defeat North Tama. Hudson’s current point-differential is plus-64, followed by BGM at plus-38 and Belle Plaine at plus-32. Belle Plaine gets the second spot with a win and if North Tama upsets BGM.
District 6 — The champion will be crowned at Sully, where Montezuma (6-2, 5-1) faces Lynnville-Sully (8-0, 6-0). If Lynnville-Sully wins, Montezuma would be pushed into a second-place tie with New London (5-3, 4-2) and/or Pekin (5-3, 4-2). If so, the Braves are in good shape with their point differential.
District 2 — Turkey Valley (8-0, 5-0) is the champion; Ackley AGWSR (6-2, 4-1) is the runner-up.
District 3 — Elkader Central (6-2, 5-0) is the champion. The runner-up will be determined at Tripoli, where the Panthers (6-2, 4-1) host Don Bosco (7-1, 4-1).
District 4 — No matter how this shakes out, a very good team from this district will put the pads away Friday. Midland (7-1, 5-0) travels to Lone Tree (7-1, 4-1) while Iowa Valley (6-2, 4-1) is a solid favorite at WACO. If Midland wins, the Eagles and Iowa Valley are the playoff teams. If Lone Tree wins, it comes down to points in a three-way tie. Midland stands at plus-74, Lone Tree plus-51, Iowa Valley plus-47. None of the three teams are guaranteed anything yet.
District 5 — Twin Cedars (8-0, 6-0) and HLV (7-2, 6-0) both are playoff-bound. They meet at Bussey, with the winner claiming the district title.
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The playoff field will be determined late Friday, with the pairings released at 10 a.m. Saturday on a webcast at ihssn.com. The first round is scheduled for Oct. 28.
Here is my projected playoff field, in bracket order, with Week 9 results determined by the BC Moore computer.
After determining the 16 teams, I tried to place the teams in bracket order based on seeding and geography, with every effort made to separate the champion and runner-up from each district so they would not play until the semifinals.
Southeast Polk (5-4, D-3 runner-up) at Waukee (7-2, D-1 champion)
Lewis Central (6-2, D-3 runner-up) at West Des Moines Dowling (8-1, D-2 champion)
Ankeny Centennial (8-1, D-2 runner-up) at Ankeny (6-3, D-3 champion)
Johnston (5-4, D-1 runner-up) at West Des Moines Valley (9-0, D-4 champion)
Western Dubuque (7-2, D-6 runner-up) at Cedar Rapids Washington (8-1, D-5 champion)
Iowa City High (7-2, D-7 runner-up) at Cedar Rapids Prairie (8-1, D-8 champion)
Waterloo West (8-1, D-5 runner-up) at North Scott (5-4, D-6 champion)
Iowa City West (7-2, D-8 runner-up) at Bettendorf (7-2, D-7 champion)
Glenwood (7-2, wild card) at Webster City (8-1, D-2 champion)
Sergeant Bluff-Luton (7-2, D-1 runner-up) at Creston/Orient-Macksburg (9-0, D-7 champion)
Norwalk (8-1, D-6 runner-up) at Boone (7-2, D-2 runner-up)
Carroll (8-1, D-7 runner-up) at Storm Lake (9-0, D-1 champion)
Davenport Assumption (7-2, D-4 runner-up) at Solon (8-1, D-5 champion)
Oskaloosa (7-2, D-5 runner-up) at Cedar Rapids Xavier (9-0, D-3 champion)
Benton Community (7-2, D-3 runner-up) at West Delaware (8-1, D-4 champion)
Waverly-Shell Rock (6-3, wild card) at Pella (9-0, D-6 champion)
South Central Calhoun (7-2, D-7 runner-up) at Dike-New Hartford (7-2, D-3 champion)
Central Lyon/George-Little Rock (7-2, D-1 runner-up) at Monroe PCM (8-1, D-6 champion)
Roland-Story (7-2, D-3 runner-up) at Carroll Kuemper (8-1, D-7 champion)
Southeast Valley (6-3, wild card) at Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley (8-1, D-1 champion)
Union (8-1, D-3 runner-up) at Crestwood (7-2, D-2 champion)
Central Lee (7-2, D-6 runner-up) at Williamsburg (8-1, D-5 champion)
New Hampton (8-1, D-5 runner-up) at Mount Vernon (6-3, D-5 runner-up)
Centerville (6-3, D-6 wild card) at North Fayette Valley (9-0, D-4 champion)
Hinton (8-1, D-1 runner-up) at Madrid (8-1, D-6 runner-up)
West Lyon (7-2, wild card) at Logan-Magnolia (8-1, D-7 champion)
Avoca AHSTW (8-1, D-7 runner-up) at Western Christian (8-1, D-1 champion)
Pleasantville (8-1, D-5 runner-up) at Van Meter (9-0, D-6 champion)
Clayton Ridge (7-2, D-3 runner-up) at Iowa City Regina (8-1, D-4 champion)
Sigourney-Keota (7-2, wild card) at Denver (9-0, D-2 champion)
South Winneshiek (7-2, D-2 runner-up) at Bellevue (9-0, D-3 champion)
Wilton (8-1, D-4 runner-up) at Pella Christian (9-0, D-5 champion)
Earlham (6-3, D-7 runner-up) at West Sioux (8-1, D-1 champion)
Akron-Westfield (5-4, wild card) at Algona Garrigan (9-0, D-2 champion)
Ridge View (6-3, D-2 runner-up) at Lynnville-Sully (9-0, D-6 champion)
Westwood (7-2, D-1 runner-up) at Council Bluffs St. Albert (9-0, D-7 champion)
Hudson (8-1, D-5 runner-up) at East Buchanan (7-2, D-4 champion)
Montezuma (6-3, D-6 runner-up) at Saint Ansgar (9-0, D-3 champion)
West Hancock (7-2, D-3 runner-up) at Wapsie Valley (6-3, D-4 runner-up)
Lisbon (8-1, wild card) at Gladbrook-Reinbeck (9-0, D-5 champion)
Bedford (8-1, D-6 runner-up) at Harris-Lake Park (9-0, D-1 champion)
Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton (6-3, D-7 runner-up) at Audubon (9-0, D-8 champion)
Coon Rapids-Bayard (8-1, D-8 runner-up) at East Union (8-1, D-6 champion)
Newell-Fonda (7-2, D-1 runner-up) at Fremont-Mills (9-0, D-7 champion)
Don Bosco (8-1, D-3 runner-up) at Midland (8-1, D-4 champion)
Ackley AGWSR (7-2, D-2 runner-up) at Twin Cedars (9-0, D-5 champion)
Iowa Valley (7-2, D-4 runner-up) at Elkader Central (7-2, D-3 champion)
HLV (7-3, D-5 runner-up) at Turkey Valley (9-0, D-2 champion)
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