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: What has been the biggest upset to date?
JL: I’ll go with the 8-Player shocker last week at Gilbertville: Elkader Central 44, Don Bosco 34. That snapped a 40-game regular-season win streak for the Dons and a 29-game district run. Didn’t see that coming, especially when you play the common-opponent game (Don Bosco beat Midland handily; Midland defeated Central).
Q: Which team helped their playoff bids more last week — Cedar Rapids Prairie or Western Dubuque?
JJ: In my opinion, it was Cedar Rapids Prairie. Again, my opinion, but there are three “haves” and three “have-nots” in that district. You beat Iowa City West, which was one of the top contenders, and you still have to play Cedar Rapids Kennedy, which is the other top contender. I think Prairie set itself up nicely there with that win. I see Class 4A District 6, including Dubuque Senior, Pleasant Valley and North Scott, as a tossup and none of the teams will come out of it unbeaten.
Q: What playoff contender has the toughest remaining schedule?
KJP: Look no further than the top three teams in Class 2A District 4. Top-ranked North Fayette Valley, No. 2 Union and No. 7 Waukon all face each other over the final three weeks. They are a combined 14-1. They will be battling for the top two spots. Not only does Union face Waukon next week and the Tigerhawks in Week 8, the Knights close the regular season with a strong Cascade team, whose only losses have come to Waukon and North Fayette Valley. Anything Union gets it will have earned.
Clear Creek Amana faces a tough stretch in the next three weeks. The Clippers have a home showdown with unbeaten and sixth-ranked West Delaware on Friday. They travel to Marion, in the midst of a turnaround season, and perennial power Davenport Assumption. Those next three opponents are 11-4 combined.
Q: Who presents the biggest challenge to Class 1A top-ranked Iowa City Regina?
JL: The pick here is Pella Christian, who I have had No. 2 behind the Regals in my 1A ballot all season. The Eagles brought back so much from last year’s team, and haven’t disappointed in their 5-0 start. If Pella Christian is on the east side in the playoffs, and if Regina beats them to return to the state final, I see both West Lyon and Western Christian as viable threats.
JJ: I’ll go with Pella Christian. With a healthy David Kacmarynski at quarterback, that’s my answer and I’m sticking to it. There are some decent teams in Class 1A.
KJP: Taking the advice of Montgomery Brewster, I vote for “None of the Above.” Since I have to pick a team, I’m going with Pella Christian. The Eagles are second in Class 1A with 2,300 total yards of offense, thrashing five opponents by a total score of 287-34. The Eagles’ defense has three shutouts with more than 42 tackles for loss. West Lyon is another team that could present a challenge, but all the rest are no more than good matchups on paper.