116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A dozen of the top Metro/Iowa City and area Iowa high school football games for Week 1:
Iowa City West at Cedar Rapids Kennedy
Time and place: 7:15 p.m. Thursday, at Kingston Stadium
Records and rankings: Class 5A eighth-ranked Kennedy was 10-1 last year; West was 2-7.
Overview: How much can the outcome of a season opener set the tone for a season? Well, Kennedy topped West in a back-and-forth opener last year, 27-20, and it vaulted the Cougars to a perfect regular season, while the Trojans struggled. Kennedy welcomes back second-team all-state lineman Andrew Meyer. West quarterback Jack Wallace is a sophomore now, and showed glimpses of promise as a freshman. Ryne Vander Leest led the Trojans in tackles last year as a junior, with 67.
Cedar Rapids Washington vs. Cedar Rapids Jefferson
Time and place: 7:15 p.m. Friday, at Kingston Stadium (Washington is designated as the home team and its fans will sit on the west side)
Records and rankings: Class 4A ninth-ranked Washington was 5-5 last season; Jefferson was 0-9.
Overview: Ed Miles will try to get Jefferson’s program off the mat. The J-Hawks have lost 13 straight games, and none of their contests last year were competitive. But numbers are better, and Jefferson should put a markedly better product on the field this fall. Washington has some burners at the skill positions in Watts McBride, Miles Thompson and Michael Blank, all part of the Warriors’ elite sprint relays last spring at the state track meet. McBride compiled 10 offensive touchdowns last fall and earned third-team all-state honors.
Cedar Rapids Prairie at Pleasant Valley
Time and place: 7:15 p.m. Friday at Pleasant Valley H.S.
Records and rankings: Both teams were 8-3 last year. Prairie is ranked ninth in Class 5A; Pleasant Valley is No. 3.
Overview: Prairie prevailed in last year’s battle with the Spartans, 27-21, but this will be a tough battle along the Mississippi River. Pleasant Valley welcomes back three all-staters, including first-teamer Rusty Van Wetzinga, who amassed 56.5 tackles in 2021 as a junior. Both teams bring back a high-yardage running back: Prairie’s Makelle Taylor ran for 1,150 yards and 15 touchdowns; PV’s Caden McDermott netted 957 yards and 13 TDs.
Cedar Rapids Xavier at Western Dubuque
Time and place: 7:30 p.m. Friday, at Epworth
Records and rankings: Class 4A fifth-ranked Xavier was 11-2 last year; Western Dubuque was 4-5.
Overview: This has become one of the best 4A rivalries throughout the past five years, with Xavier claiming last year’s battle, 28-14. That helped ignite the Saints to a season that extended all the way to the state finals. They hope for a happier ending this year, and have some elite pieces, led by first-team all-staters Aidan McDermott and Thomas Sundell. McDermott caught 58 passes last year for 759 yards, and also picked off seven passes. Western Dubuque will try to return to the playoffs after a one-year absence, but must shore up a defense that allowed 26.6 points per game.
Iowa City Liberty vs. Iowa City High
Time and place: 7:15 p.m. Friday, at Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City
Records and rankings: Liberty was 3-6 last year; Class 5A sixth-ranked City High was 10-2.
Overview: High school football returns to Kinnick, and the top player on the field will be future Iowa Hawkeye football player/wrestler Ben Kueter. The 2021 first-team all-stater compiled 101 tackles on defense, and caught nine touchdown passes on offense. Drew Larson and Quinton Tran shared quarterbacking duties, and the duo made it work effectively. Liberty started 0-5 last season, including a 41-0 setback against the Little Hawks, then nearly made the 4A playoffs.
Linn-Mar at Muscatine
Time and place: 7:15 p.m. Friday, at Muscatine
Records and rankings: Linn-Mar was 7-3 last year; Muscatine was 1-8.
Overview: Linn-Mar piled up 63 points on the Muskies last year at home, and the Lions will be heavily favored to start the season in positive fashion Friday. Linn-Mar brings back virtually all of its running backs, including Carter Henderson, who compiled 1,180 rushing yards and 16 TDs. Muscatine should be quite a bit better than last year, welcoming back its statistical leaders in most categories.
Marion at Clear Creek Amana
Time and place: 7:30 p.m. Friday, at Tiffin
Records and rankings: Marion was 1-8 last year; CCA was 6-4.
Overview: Last year’s encounter was decided late, tipping CCA’s way on a blocked punt that led to the Clippers’ 36-35 victory. The Wolves struggled offensively after that game, averaging just 9.5 points through their final eight games. They do return the dynamic Alex Mota for his senior year before he departs for the University of Iowa. Mota passed for five touchdowns and ran for seven last year, and also compiled 28.5 tackles.
Iowa City Regina at Williamsburg
Time and place: 7 p.m. Friday, at Williamsburg
Records and rankings: Class 1A sixth-ranked Regina was 9-1 last year; 2A No. 3 Williamsburg was 8-4.
Overview: When it comes to assembling non-district schedules, few are as ambitious as Williamsburg. Friday starts a three-week gauntlet that also features games with Van Meter and Solon. This will be plenty of a challenge in itself, because the Regals bring back the backfield duo of Jack Tierney and Levi Daniel. The Raiders overcame an 0-3 start last year to make the 2A semifinals, and have a speedy nucleus that includes 2021 first-team all-stater Owen Douglas and second-team pick Derek Weisskopf, a University of Iowa recruit.
Alburnett at North Linn
Time and place: 7:30 p.m. Friday, at Troy Mills
Records and rankings: Alburnett was 4-5 last year; Class A No. 4 North Linn was 9-1.
Overview: North Linn is going to be one stingy outfit. The Lynx allowed just 4.3 points per game (with six shutouts) last year, and return their top four tacklers, led by Landen Paul, a junior and a second-team all-state pick last year. North Linn started its string of 2021 shutouts with a 38-0 triumph at Alburnett. The Pirates are our pick to win a tightly-bunched Class A District 5 this season, thanks in no small part to the return of Carson Klosterman, who rushed for 602 yards and compiled 63 tackles.
Lisbon at West Branch
Time and place: 7 p.m. Friday, at West Branch
Records and rankings: Lisbon was 8-2 last year; Class 1A No. 8 West Branch was 7-3.
Overview: These teams generally play tight, low-scoring games, and West Branch won one of them last year, 12-6. The Bears have a good crop of skill guys coming back, led by third-team all-state selection Andy Henson, who rushed for 1,320 yards as a junior. Lisbon faces a reloading project around seniors Kaden Caspers and Cohen Kamaus.
Monticello at Cascade
Time and place: 7 p.m. Friday, at Cascade
Records and rankings: Class 2A No. 6 Monticello was 7-3 last year; Cascade was 3-6.
Overview: Rarely are hopes as high as they are this fall in Monticello. The Panthers figure to be even more explosive after scoring 32.7 points per game last season. Quarterback Preston Ries was a second-team all-state selection after throwing for 2,594 yards and running for 1,343. His top target is Tate Petersen, who caught 60 passes for 810 yards. First-team all-state kicker Christian Castillo provides another dimension. Cascade’s defensive duo of Luke Ruggeberg and Cade Rausch will try to slow the Panthers’ attack.
Solon at West Liberty
Time and place: 7:30 p.m. Friday, at West Liberty
Records and rankings: Class 3A No. 3 Solon was 11-1 last year; West Liberty was 3-6.
Overview: Another big season is in store for Solon, with the return of three all-staters (QB/DB Blake Timmons, RB/DB Sean Stahle and TE/LB Brett White). Timmons passed for 19 touchdowns and ran for 10 more last season in leading the Spartans to the 3A semifinals. Stahle ran for 1,138 yards and 17 scores, while White anchored the defense with 94 tackles. West Liberty probably is the top challenger to Monticello in Class 2A District 5.