CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s going to be a shorter prep football season for the vast majority of schools in the state. West Delaware is not one of them.
The Hawks actually could end up playing more games than they would in a “normal” year.
The Iowa High School Athletic Association released official pairings Saturday for the first and second round of the playoffs. West Delaware was assigned a first-round Class 3A game this week at home against Waterloo East, a team it just beat Friday night, 62-6.
“We are playing good football right now,” said West Delaware Coach Doug Winkowitsch. “There are still areas to improve. We started really slow Friday night, and I think a little of that was maybe expected. When you get into the postseason, you’ve just gotta go, and I think our kids are ready to do that. I think they are going to be well prepared. The team is playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
Winkowitsch’s Hawks had eight regular-season games to seven or fewer for everyone else. Southwest Valley, a Class A school, also got in eight.
Everyone who wanted to qualified for expanded playoffs this COVID-19 season, with the regular season chopped a couple of weeks to make room for them. Still, do some math here, and West Delaware could finish with 14 total games if it makes it all the way to the 3A championship game.
Audubon (in 8-Player) was the only school to play 14 last season. The other teams to make it to title games played 13.
Weird, huh? Here’s some more weirdness.
West Delaware is 7-1 and ranked ninth, its closest win coming by 35 points. But it was not among the 11 schools in 3A to get a first-round playoff bye.
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A 31-27 loss to Decorah in mid-September ended up allowing the Vikings to win District 3. The nine district champs automatically get first-round byes in the class, with two “at-large” byes.
There was a three-way tie for the District 1 title, with Sergeant Bluff-Luton, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley and Spencer beating each other, so the IHSAA gave all three of those schools byes. Tough luck for West Delaware, which certainly is quality enough to get a bye.
“To be honest, we were a little surprised that we didn’t get a bye,” said Winkowitsch. “But, honestly, there was a part of me that didn’t want one. I think it’s good for our guys to kind of keep this momentum going and continue to play and have a prep week. I think our biggest disappointment was that we play a team that we just played last Friday night.
“So we weren’t really as concerned about getting a bye as hoping we weren’t playing a team we just played the night before ... I’m really surprised by the outcome of the pods.”
Playoff assignments in each class were divided into 16 pods of two, three or four teams. The IHSAA will re-draw pairings after the second round.
In Class A, there are 59 teams, with five getting first-round byes. Those five are Edgewood-Colesburg (7-0), Iowa City Regina (6-1), Grundy Center (7-0), Saint Ansgar (7-0) and Logan-Magnolia (6-1).
Class 1A consists of 54 schools, with 10 first-round byes. Two of the nine districts had three-way ties for first place: West Sioux (5-2), Western Christian (4-3) and Emmetsburg (5-1) in District 1, and West Branch (5-2), Cascade (5-2) and Dyersville Beckman (4-2) in District 5.
The IHSAA awarded byes to West Sioux (5-2), Western Christian (4-3) and West Branch (5-2).
There are 54 schools in the 2A playoffs, with 10 receiving first-round byes: nine district champions and at-large West Lyon (6-1). Class 8-Player is the largest class with 61 teams, only three getting a first-round bye (undefeated teams Coon Rapids-Bayard, Martensdale-St. Marys and Montezuma).
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With the exclusion of the Des Moines public schools, due to having online learning only right now, the Class 4A playoffs consist of 36 teams. There will be only four first-round games Friday: Davenport West at Davenport Central, Sioux City West at Council Bluffs Jefferson, Ottumwa at Iowa City High and Cedar Rapids Jefferson at Ames.
Second-round games already have been set in several of the pods and include Linn-Mar at Waukee, Cedar Rapids Washington at Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids Kennedy at Dubuque Senior, Iowa City Liberty at Dubuque Hempstead and Davenport North at Cedar Rapids Prairie.
The IHSAA said in a release two weeks ago pairings would be based heavily on geography. That brought about four area first-round rematches of regular-season finales: West Delaware and Waterloo East in 3A, East Buchanan and Bellevue and MFL MarMac and Postville in Class A and Springville and Midland in 8-Player.
All games in every round will be played on Fridays, with no exceptions. If a team has to quarantine because of a COVID-19 situation, its game would be considered a no contest, with the opponent automatically moving on to the next round.
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