The Gazette's Jeff Linder, Jeff Johnson and K.J. Pilcher tackle prep football questions entering Week 9 of the prep football season.
1st and 10
Q: Will the third-place team in Class 2A District 5 receive an at-large berth?
JL: Depends who it is. Let’s set the stage: Williamsburg (7-1, 5-1) travels to Mount Vernon (7-1, 6-0), and that winner is the district champion. West Liberty (5-3, 4-2) is virtually a lock against Camanche. If Williamsburg loses and becomes the third-place team. The Raiders are in excellent shape to qualify. If West Liberty is No. 3, the Comets are unlikely to advance.
2nd and long
Q: Is this the last time we see the current playoff format?
JJ: So difficult to tell what the Iowa High School Athletic Association will do. I think a lot of people would like to see 24 qualifiers in each class, which would be a first-round bye for district champs. But that would likely mean beginning the season a week earlier. If I had a vote, that’s what I vote for. But, again, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the status quo for another two-year cycle.
3rd and short
Q: What is the most intriguing matchup this week?
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KJP: The final week of the regular season is stocked with big matches that will impact the postseason field. Seventh-ranked Union Community (6-2, 5-1) plays at No. 2 Cascade (8-0, 6-0). Cascade can win the district outright. If the Knights win by nine or more and Waukon wins, Cascade drops to third. Waukon is pretty much assured of a playoff berth with a win, but could slide into first place. Union victory paired with a Waukon loss to North Fayette Valley and the Indians are third. So many “what ifs” not to be intrigued.
4th and goal
Q: What team could miss the playoffs but be a power in 2018?
JL: Should Sigourney-Keota fall to Wilton on Friday, I’m going to go with the Cobras. They return a big-time running back in Carson Crawford (1,673 yards, 20 TDs), and will bring back six of their top seven tacklers.
KJP: The first answer is the loser between Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Prairie. Outside of that, Belle Plaine has the chance for a big season next year, if it can’t overcome Hudson. The Plainesmen have six wins and their top skills players will all return, in addition to three of their top tacklers. They were in a tough district behind Hudson and Gladbrook-Reinbeck — two of Class A’s toughest teams.
JJ: The loser of Friday night’s Cedar Rapids Kennedy-Cedar Rapids Prairie game leaps to mind, as both teams return a lot of quality and had very good sophomore teams.
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