MARION - As the prep volleyball season nears the midway point, Cedar Rapids Xavier identified a vital ingredient if the Saints are to retain their No. 1 ranking in Class 4A.
Now is the time to turn up the defense.
The top-ranked Saints s ... »
Q: Which 2-0 and 0-2 teams have been the biggest surprises?
JL: After a 4-7 season last year, Iowa City West has been a surprise with its 2-0 start, particularly when you consider the Trojans’ first two opponents (Southeast Polk and Muscatine). It’s too early to jump off the Mount Vernon bandwagon after an 0-2 start, but you have to be concerned after the Mustangs gave up 72 points in the first two weeks.
Gazette poll: This week's prep football rankings
Q: With 62 8-player teams, is a second class coming and will it eliminate Class A?
KJP: More programs, especially in Eastern Iowa, have dropped to the 8-player game. According to Jeff Linder, 80 is closer to the number of programs that would necessitate a second class. I don’t think that will occur in the next couple years. If that were to happen in the future, it would only make sense to drop an 11-player class. Seven classes are unnecessary in Iowa.
Q: Now that Marion has a victory, how many will the Indians get this season?
JJ: I’m going with 3. That was an impressive victory last week for the Indians, stopping a nasty 18-game losing streak. The schedule is tough the rest of the way, but I think getting that “monkey off their back” will be a real good thing and lead to a couple more Ws.
Q: Who has been the offensive player of the area through the first two weeks? Maliki Wilson, Oliver Martin or someone else?
JL: Both have impressed early, but I will submit a write-in candidate in quarterback Ryan Reighard of Washington (Iowa). He combined for 552 yards of total offense (including 7 TDs) last week, and 861 through two weeks. Most impressive is his passing accuracy — 32 of 38. That’s unimaginable.
JJ: Hard to argue against Maliki Wilson. He leads the state in rushing with 554 yards in two games. And that’s more than any 8-Player back, a game in which it’s easier to rack up yards. That 13.5 per-carry average is impressive! Saints Coach Duane Schulte always talks about his guys just doing their jobs. Well, Wilson and his offensive line certainly have been doing theirs.
KJP: Both have been exceptional in the opening week. Maliki Wilson (with the help of a much-improved offensive line) set the Cedar Rapids Xavier single-game rushing mark in the opener (291 against Iowa City Regina), following it with 263 yards and three fourth-quarter TDs against Linn-Mar. Wilson leads the entire state with 554 rushing yards, averaging 13.5 per carry, and has six TDs. Martin has been impressive, hauling in 16 passes for 267 receiving yards, which is tied for fourth in the state. Martin also has three TDs and is a worthy pick.