116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Gazette’s Jeff Linder, Jeff Johnson, K.J. Pilcher and Nathan Ford answer questions about the Iowa high school football season. This time, we have another Facebook submission.
1st & 10: Who is your Coach of the Year front runner?
Linder: Mitch Moore of Iowa City High. Mojo, juice, whatever you want to call it, the Little Hawks have it again. Honorable-mention nods to Tim Lovell of Linn-Mar and Jared Collum of North Linn.
Johnson: It's gotta be Mitch Moore at Iowa City High, right? The Little Hawks are 6-0 and one of the top teams in Class 5A. Not sure anyone saw that coming. Tim Lovell at Linn-Mar also gets strong consideration. I'll throw Jared Collum at North Linn in there, too. Even if he gives me guff about my dislike of going out of the shotgun from the opponent's 1-yard line. LOL.
Pilcher: This might be the deepest category of candidates. You have coaches in their first year as head coach or first year with a new program — Iowa City High’s Mitch Moore, Linn-Mar’s Tim Lovell, Iowa City Regina’s Jason Dumont and Matt Haddy at Clear Creek Amana. Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Mark Bliss has the Hawks in the rankings, despite missing a number of starters. Right now, I’m going with Dyersville Beckman’s Mark Atwater. The Blazers are 6-0 and ranked sixth in a competitive Class 1A. They have four wins over teams .500 or better, including Waterloo Columbus. Beckman averages 42 points per game with an average winning margin of 30 points a contest.
Ford: Mitch Moore of Iowa City High. A proud program is back among the big-school elites in his first year in charge. You can sense the excitement around the program, from pregame hype videos, to a robust social-media presence, to a banner the cheerleaders displayed before a recent game that read, in part, "IN MOORE WE TRUST." That's all been backed up on the field during a 6-0 start.
2nd & long: What is the most impressive defensive feat — team or individual, game or season — this fall??
Linder: The best I saw personally was Linn-Mar's cumulative effort against Cedar Rapids Washington in Week 4. The Lions held the Warriors to minus-35 yards rushing and forced five turnovers in a 36-7 rout. Washington was below zero yards of total offense prior to its final series.
Johnson: I'm just going to give you one in a game that I saw that really stuck out to me. Two weeks ago against a Class 4A top-five Cedar Rapids Xavier team, Cedar Rapids Washington linebacker Chase Mahoney had 13 tackles. Nine of them were solo, five for loss. The game got out of hand late (Xavier won, 31-0), but Mahoney was all over the field before it did.
Pilcher: North Linn’s defense has been impressive this season. The Lynx are 6-0 with four shutouts, allowing 3.3 points per game. South Winneshiek took a 6-0 lead in Week 5 only for the Lynx to shut them down the next three quarters. Bellevue is the only school to score more than once in a game. Before the 43-0 win Friday over Starmont, North Linn allowed just 137 yards per game, including 43.4 yards through the air. Only one team through the first five weeks passed for more than 39 yards. Wow.
Ford: I think Montezuma's Eddie Burgess deserves a mention in this space every week, so I'll make sure that happens here. We know about his incredible numbers on offense. Did you know he also leads all classes with eight interceptions this season? Twin Cedars hasn't uploaded its stats from last week's game, but going in, 5.2 percent of Montezuma opponents' passes had been picked off by Burgess. By the way, he's only thrown one INT out of 125 attempts this season.
3rd & short: If your life depended on a 4th-and-goal from the 1 touchdown, what school’s offensive line are you banking on to save you?
Linder: Year in and year out, you can't beat Cedar Rapids Xavier's dudes in the trenches. I'll line up behind the Saints, and you can be darn sure I'm not running out of the shotgun.
Johnson: Well, I hope that never happens! But I'll say if I needed that 1-yard TD, I'd tuck myself behind Southeast Polk 5-star offensive tackle prospect Kadyn Proctor and take my chances.
Pilcher: Iowa City Regina will get my full confidence. The Regals have 11 rushing touchdowns in four competed games this season. Eight of those have been 5 yards or less, including two from the 1. The offensive line was expected to be a bright spot this season, including 6-foot-4, 230-pound offensive tackle Josh Gaffey.
Ford: Give me Waukon, a team that has two players averaging 11-plus yards per carry (and 8.2 as a team). Surely I could get at least a yard, right?
4th & goal: Facebook submission from Jennifer Schulte: Do you anticipate an increase in female football players in the next 2-5 years?
Linder: Maybe a minor increase, probably not major. Will the increase in female wrestlers translate to more football players? Maybe. But I don't think it will be a major impact.
Johnson: Wow, good question, Jennifer! In my opinion, I just don't see it happening. With that being said, kudos to Muscatine's Sophia Thomas. She's her team's regular kicker and is 6-for-6 in extra points this season and has also made a 27-yard field goal.
Pilcher: I really don’t know the number of current female players. I think it would be much different compared to wrestling. Even though some girls have been a part of football programs — Iowa City West and North Scott come to mind, recently. I just don’t see it being a growing trend. Never say never.
Ford: It's possible, especially as we've seen the growth of girls' wrestling in Iowa, but it probably wouldn't be a significant increase. I hope girls who want to play tackle football get the opportunity, but I also wonder if one day we'll be talking about girls' flag football like we're talking about girls' wrestling now. The highlights from Florida, where it's a sanctioned sport, look like a lot of fun.