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Iowa high school football 2023 schedule: A 9-week tour of the best area games
It starts with a Week 1 Friday-Saturday doubleheader: Winfield-Mount Union at Central City, then Dowling visits Cedar Rapids Kennedy
The 2023 Iowa high school football schedules are out. And Week 1 isn’t so far away.
Eighteen weeks, to be precise. But who’s counting?
With Friday’s schedule release by the Iowa High School Athletic Association, The Gazette is offering a one-time, 10-game, nine-week tour of the best games in our circulation area, with no stadium visited more than once. As far as admission and concessions ... you’re on your own.
Week 1 (Aug. 25)
Winfield-Mount Union at Central City
In one year, Central City advanced from 3-6 to 8-2. And the best may be yet to come for the Wildcats, who return the majority of their roster, including Aiden Klostermann (1,224 rushing yards, 20 TDs). Winfield-Mount Union (6-4 in 2022) also is relatively intact from last year and features University of Iowa commit Cam Buffington (1,484 rushing yards, 24 TDs, 95.5 tackles). Don’t be surprised if both of these teams are preseason 8-Player top-five outfits.
West Des Moines Dowling at Cedar Rapids Kennedy (Sat., Aug. 26)
Who’s afraid of the mighty Maroons? Apparently not Kennedy (7-3 in 2022), which put Dowling (10-2) on its wish list of opponents, with the caveat that the game would be played at home, on Saturday night. Both teams were eliminated in the 2022 Class 5A playoffs earlier than they would have liked: Dowling by a point to West Des Moines Valley in the semifinals, Kennedy by a 9-0 count at home to Waukee Northwest in Round 1. The Maroons’ C.J. Phillip and Ra’Shawd Davis combined for more than 1,600 rushing yards, and Kennedy returns its passing combo of Vincenzo Gianforte and Cyrus Courtney.
Cedar Falls at Cedar Rapids Prairie
Cedar Rapids Xavier at Waverly-Shell Rock
Monticello at Mount Vernon
North Linn at Alburnett
Solon at Davenport Assumption
Sumner-Fredericksburg at East Buchanan
West Branch at Williamsburg
Western Dubuque at West Delaware
Week 2 (Sept. 1)
Williamsburg at Cedar Rapids Xavier
Both of these teams extended their 2022 seasons to the very last day. Xavier (13-0) was crowned the Class 4A champion, and Williamsburg (12-1) advanced to the 2A final before dropping a 10-6 heartbreaker to Central Lyon/George-Little Rock. The Raiders possess, arguably, the area’s top Class of 2024 male athlete in University of Iowa commit Derek Weisskopf, who caught 12 touchdown passes and intercepted six enemy aerials. Xavier was hit hard by graduation, but by now, we all know it would be foolish to underestimate Duane Schulte and the Saints. QB Ronan Thomas is back for his senior year after throwing for 21 touchdowns last season.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy at Pleasant Valley
Iowa City High at Iowa City Liberty
Linn-Mar at Cedar Rapids Washington
Week 3 (Sept. 8)
Center Point-Urbana at Marion
This selection was easy, and it’s all about the venue. The Wolves (5-4 in 2022) make their first appearance in their brand-new on-campus facility, and the program is one with momentum, winning its final three games last season to finish on the plus side of .500. Kaleb Diers is back for his junior season at quarterback, and leading tackler Trey Franck also returns. CPU (4-5) might have made the 3A playoffs last year had a Week 8 overtime loss to Hampton-Dumont/CAL gone the other way, but the Pointers’ offense was more consistent in the last four weeks of the season.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy at Linn-Mar
DeWitt Central at Solon
Maquoketa Valley at East Buchanan
Western Dubuque at Cedar Rapids Xavier
Week 4 (Sept. 15)
Solon at Mount Vernon
It’s a rivalry again. Mount Vernon (12-1 in 2022) flipped the Highway 1 script, 17-14, after playing Little Brother to its archrival for nearly two decades, then proved it was no fluke by blanking the Spartans in the rain, 17-0, in the Class 3A quarterfinals. The Mustangs made it to the 3A final before falling short to Harlan. QB Joey Rhomberg is back after throwing for 2,543 yards and 25 TDs, and Jackson Jaspers collected 110.5 tackles. Brett White (922 rushing yards, 12 TDs, team-high 77 tackles) is a two-way stud for Solon (8-3).
Iowa City West at Iowa City High
North Scott at Western Dubuque
Week 5 (Sept. 22)
North Linn at East Buchanan
East Buchanan (9-2 in 2022) averaged 43 points per game and amassed a slew of rushing yards, but only found the end zone once last year in a 14-8 loss to the Lynx (9-2) in Week 2. The Buccaneers had three 1,000-rushers last season, and two of them — Tanner Thurn and Hunter Bowers — are back. So is Hawkeye-to-be lineman Cody Fox, and expect the Bucs to be at or near the very top of the preseason Class A state rankings. North Linn’s Mason Bechen rushed for 900 yards last year as a sophomore.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy at Iowa City High
Iowa City Liberty at Cedar Rapids Prairie
Linn-Mar at Cedar Falls
Sumner-Fredericksburg at MFL MarMac
Week 6 (Sept. 29)
Iowa City Regina at West Branch
Friday night lights won’t be nearly as bright this fall in West Branch. Butch Pedersen, who coached the Bears (11-1 in 2022) to 338 wins and three state championships in 40 seasons, died April 3. But football goes on, and so does the Bears’ rivalry with Regina (5-4). Both will have quality teams once again. Receiver Trenton Schutte is probably the Bears’ top skill-position threat, while the Regals bring back the aerial duo of Gentry Dumont and Jackson Naeve. The Bears and the Regals figure to be part of a congested title race in Class 1A District 5, along with Wilton and Cascade.
Davenport Assumption at Mount Vernon
North Scott at Cedar Rapids Xavier
Week 7 (Oct. 6)
Williamsburg at Solon
Tried really hard to avoid repetition on this list, but the Raiders and the Spartans are just too good to pass up. Don’t be surprised if Williamsburg — up a class after earning 2A runner-up honors last year — starts 2023 as the No. 1 team in 3A. Solon, of course, will be strong again, and the additional presence of Benton Community and Grinnell makes 3A District 5 a deep league indeed.
Benton Community at Grinnell
Cedar Rapids Washington at Iowa City West
North Linn at Maquoketa Valley
Week 8 (Oct. 13)
Independence at West Delaware
Indee’s recent ascent has made this once-lopsided matchup one of the best in the area. The Mustangs’ 10-2 mark last year included a 21-20 victory at Manchester. They’ll miss dual-threat QB Mitchell Johnson, but they welcome back leading rusher Treyton Weber, and a pair of good receivers in Brady Kurt and Brady McDonald. Quarterback Brent Yonkovic returns for his junior season at West Delaware (5-5), which figures to battle with Indee and DeWitt Central for the 3A District 3 crown.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy at Cedar Falls
Iowa City Regina at Wilton
Linn-Mar at Iowa City High
Week 9 (Oct. 20)
Pleasant Valley at Linn-Mar
On a day in which the smaller four classes veer off into the postseason, this could be the big-school game with the highest stakes, which might include home-field advantage for the Class 5A playoffs. Linn-Mar (6-4 in 2022) could be a darkhorse for doing some big things. Iowa State commit Keaton Roskop shines on both sides of the ball, and the Lions have a quality air game returning piloted by QB Austin Waller. Pleasant Valley (9-1) enjoyed an unbeaten regular season before getting tripped up in the first round of the playoffs by West Des Moines Valley, and the Spartans should be the best team along the Mississippi River once again.
Benton Community at Williamsburg
Cedar Rapids Prairie at Iowa City West
Iowa City High at Bettendorf