'A bad pill to swallow' for Alburnett, left out of Iowa high school football playoffs

IHSAA ruling sends New London, not the Pirates, to Class A playoffs

The Mount Vernon Mustangs take the field prior to their 42-14 win over Williamsburg on Friday. (Justin Torner/Freelance for the Gazette)
The Mount Vernon Mustangs take the field prior to their 42-14 win over Williamsburg on Friday. (Justin Torner/Freelance for the Gazette)

Three hours of sleep did nothing to decrease the bitter disappointment in Nick Breuer’s voice.

“It’s a bad pill to swallow,” Breuer said, referring to the circumstances that left Alburnett out of the Class A football playoffs.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association released the postseason pairings early Saturday morning. Sixteen teams in each of the six classes will be playing first-round games Friday.

Alburnett (7-2) is the “last team out” in Class A, despite a better district record (5-2 in District 4) than New London (6-2 overall, 4-2 in District 6), which — along with LeMars Gehlen — received the two wild-card bids.

All of the District 6 teams played one fewer district game than other Class A schools because Danville cancelled its season in August and opted to combine its team with West Burlington-Notre Dame.

And that led to confusion on terms between “cancellation” and “forfeiture.”

New London — and all other District 6 teams — were given credit for a theoretical win for their bye week, though the win is not reflected in their record.


“When Collins-Maxwell-Baxter split, we came up with a policy that all teams in their district would receive a certain number of points, determined between Weeks 3 through 7, for the game that was lost,” said IHSAA official Todd Tharp.

Breuer called the IHSAA office to plead Alburnett’s case, and so did athletics director Mike Mitchell, to no avail.

“(The IHSAA) says they can’t control it,” Breuer said. “They gave them points like it was a forfeit, when it should have been treated as a cancellation and there’s no credit for a win.”

Tharp said, “I can respect and understand the disappointment Alburnett feels. I visited with (Breuer) and explained the situation. I asked him to put himself in New London’s situation.”

Breuer’s response: “I understand New London shouldn’t be penalized, but somebody got penalized, and it was us. It stinks for the kids. We went from 1-8 last year to 7-2, and we were getting better each week. We played in a much tougher district.

“This is hard for our seniors, everything they’ve been through, five coaching staffs in four years ... but for the kids that are coming back, this will be motivation and they’re going to come back on a mission next year.”


While Alburnett suffered through a bitter night, Union Community got a reprieve.

Credit the alphabet.

Williamsburg received the first at-large bid in Class 2A, while Union (6-3 overall) and Sheldon (7-2) were tied for the second one. Both finished with 5-2 district records, and both finished with plus-56 point totals.

The last tie-breaker was the alphabet, a random draw before the season, backwards from the letter D to A, then Z to E.

In this case, the U in Union trumped the S of Sheldon.


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“First of all, I feel so much pain for Sheldon,” Union Coach Joe Hadachek said. “I feel really bad for the way they missed the playoffs.”

Union lost a last-minute heartbreaker to Cascade, 28-21, Friday. The Knights got on the bus for home with uncertainty.

“We had a chance to win the game, but it escaped us,” Hadachek said. “One person told us that the scores (throughout the state) didn’t go out way, and we felt a lot of hurt that it was over. Then another gentleman said that we still had a shot.”

The Knights travel to Aplington-Parkersburg for their first-round game.

“What better place to play than The Sacred Acre (in Parkersburg),” he said. “It’s a special place. (A-P athletics director) Aaron Thomas hired me when he was at Union. I don’t care who we play. It’s a chance to play.”


Cedar Rapids Prairie defeated Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 32-19, for the second bid in Class 4A District 8. The Hawks (8-1) play a first-round road game against Cedar Falls (8-1), but it won’t be at the UNI-Dome.

According to Tharp, USA Wrestling contracted the Dome for an event next weekend. The Prairie-Cedar Falls game has been assigned for Wartburg College in Waverly.


First Round


Cedar Rapids Washington (5-4) at Iowa City West (9-0)

Cedar Rapids Prairie (8-1) vs. Cedar Falls (8-1), at Wartburg College

Pleasant Valley (7-2) at Bettendorf (8-1)

Davenport Central (6-3) at North Scott (8-1)

Lewis Central (8-1) at West Des Moines Valley (8-1)

Waukee (6-3) at Ankeny Centennial (7-2)

Southeast Polk (6-3) at Johnston (8-1)

West Des Moines Dowling (8-1) at Urbandale (6-3)


Oskaloosa (6-3) at Cedar Rapids Xavier (9-0)

Washington (8-1) at Davenport Assumption (7-2)

Decorah (7-2) at Solon (9-0)

Waverly-Shell Rock (8-1) at West Delaware (7-2)

Glenwood (8-1) at Sergeant Bluff-Luton (9-0)

Sioux City Heelan (7-2) at Harlan (8-1)

Carlisle (8-1) at Dallas Center-Grimes (9-0)

Webster City (8-1) at Pella (8-1)


Union Community (6-3) at Aplington-Parkersburg (8-1)

West Liberty (6-3) at Cascade (9-0)

Centerville (6-3) at Mount Vernon (8-1)

Williamsburg (7-2) at Monroe PCM (8-1)

Carroll Kuemper (7-2) at Boyden Hull/Rock Valley (8-1)

Sioux Center (8-1) at South Central Calhoun (8-1)

Waukon (8-1) at Clear Lake (7-2)

Dike-New Hartford (6-3) at New Hampton (7-2)


South Winneshiek (6-3) at Iowa City Regina (7-2)

Wilton (8-1) at Bellevue (8-1)

Sigourney-Keota (5-4) at Pella Christian (9-0)

Pleasantville (7-2) at West Branch (9-0)

IKM-Manning (7-2) at West Lyon (9-0)

Western Christian (7-2) at Avoca AHSTW (8-1)

Belmond-Klemme (7-2) at Van Meter (9-0)

South Hamilton (8-1) at Denver (8-1)


Gladbrook-Reinbeck (8-1) at Wapsie Valley (9-0)

East Buchanan (8-1) at Saint Ansgar (9-0)

New London (6-2) at Lynnville-Sully (8-0)

Pekin (8-1) at Hudson (9-0)

Sioux Central (7-2) at West Sioux (9-0)

West Hancock (6-3) at Algona Garrigan (9-0)

LeMars Gehlen (7-2) at Southwest Valley (9-0)

Westwood (7-2) at Council Bluffs St. Albert (8-1)


Janesville (6-3) at Midland (7-2)

Tripoli (8-1) at Riceville (8-1)

Moravia (9-1) at Don Bosco (9-0)

Lone Tree (8-2) at HLV (8-2)

Boyer Valley (7-2) at Remsen St. Mary’s (8-0)

Newell-Fonda (8-1) at Audubon (9-0)

Fremont-Mills (7-2) at Stanton (8-1)

Lenox (5-4) at Sidney (9-0)

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com



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