Prep Football

Iowa high school football playoffs: A closer look at area third-round games

Prairie and Kennedy will play a rematch of the Cougars' OT win in Week 1

Max White of Cedar Rapids Kennedy runs to the outside as he evades a tackle against Iowa City West on Oct. 9. Kennedy ho
Max White of Cedar Rapids Kennedy runs to the outside as he evades a tackle against Iowa City West on Oct. 9. Kennedy hosts Cedar Rapids Prairie in a Class 4A third-round playoff matchup Friday at Kingston Stadium. (Justin Torner/Freelance for the Gazette)

Capsules for Cedar Rapids area high school third-round playoff football games. Games start at 7 p.m. Friday.

Class 4A

No. 7 Dubuque Hempstead (7-1) at No. 5 Iowa City West (5-0)

Two of the top quarterbacks in 4A will be on display. Hempstead’s Aiden Dunne is the big-school state leader in passing yards (1,531) and all-purpose yards (2,085). He has scored 25 touchdowns. His counterpart, West’s Marcus Morgan has accumulated 20 TDs in just five games. Morgan’s 15 TD passes have come against just one interception, and he has completed nearly 71 percent of his attempts. Both teams rolled in the second round — West downed Iowa City High for the second time this season, 35-7, and Hempstead whipped Iowa City Liberty, 42-7.

No. 9 Cedar Rapids Prairie (5-2) vs. Cedar Rapids Kennedy (3-3), at Kingston Stadium

Prairie is the ranked team and has the better record, but Kennedy earned home-field advantage by virtue of a 35-34 overtime win to open the season. The Hawks have won five straight games after an 0-2 start, including a 35-0 whitewash of Davenport North last week, allowing minus-5 yards on the ground. They’ll try to contain the legs of Kennedy QB Max White, who has rushed for 1,045 yards (third in 4A) and 15 touchdowns (fourth). He’s right behind Prairie’s Nick Pearson in the TD department; Pearson has run for 16 TDs to go with 1,017 yards (7.4 per carry).

Class 3A

Dubuque Wahlert (6-2) at No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier (8-0)

Xavier’s attack has been a metronome of excellence throughout the season. The Saints have scored between 39 and 45 points in each of their last five games, and haven’t faced a fourth-quarter challenge since Week 2. Xavier’s big three are quarterback Jaxon Rexroth (28 total touchdowns), Jack Lux (913 rushing yards) and Jack Breitbach (31 catches, 20.5 yards per catch, 7 TDs). They’ll get a good test from Wahlert’s defense, though. The Golden Eagles have held five of eight opponents to single digits, including a 10-0 shutout win over Decorah last week.

No. 9 West Delaware (9-1) at No. 4 Washington (8-0)

This is an encounter of two of the most dominant squads in 3A. West Delaware leads the class in scoring offense (49.6 points per game) and is third in scoring defense (8.3). Washington (46.0 points per game) is second in 3A and allows 12.0 points per contest. West Delaware has waxed everybody since a Week 3 loss to Decorah behind QB Jared Voss, who has rushed for 1,095 yards and 24 touchdowns. Wyatt Voelker is second in 3A in tackles, with 75.5. Washington set the tone for a memorable season with an opening-night win over Bettendorf, and the Demons haven’t looked back. They’ve done it with a squad based on balance on both sides of the ball.

Class 2A

West Liberty (5-2) at No. 2 Williamsburg (8-0)

West Liberty has proven to be a tough out in the postseason recently, and this year is no different. The Comets reached the Round of 16 by knocking off Mount Vernon in overtime. Jahsiah Galan ranks No. 4 among rushers in 2A, running for 1,383 yards. But yards and points will be tough to come by against Williamsburg, which allows 9.0 points per game and has posted three consecutive shutouts, including a 35-0 whitewash of West Burlington last week. Riley Holt has recovered three fumbles, and Kobe Julius has picked off three passes. The Raiders have some big-play potential, too; Levi Weldon’s 20.5-yard-per-completion rate is highest in 2A.

Monticello (6-1) at No. 4 Waukon (6-1)

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Last year’s 2A state runner-up, Waukon has rattled off six consecutive victories, winning all by 20 points or more. The Indians will be tested by a Monticello squad led by prolific quarterback Luke Lambert, who ranks atop 2A in passing yards (1,689) and all-purpose yards (2,127). Justin Recker has hauled in 11 of Lambert’s 17 touchdown passes. The Panthers edged Crestwood, 28-27, to advance. If you pay attention to the common-opponent game, Waukon beat that same Crestwood squad, 54-0. Waukon’s Creed Welch has passed for 861 yards, rushed for 472 and has 21 offensive TDs to his name.

Independence (6-1) at No. 6 Solon (6-2)

Surging Solon has romped through its last six games following an 0-2 start, winning all of them by 22 points or more, with the last three games ending in similar scores of 42-14, 41-14 and 41-12. Quarterback Blake Timmons has accumulated 1,406 total yards with 19 touchdowns, while Jackson Ryan has rushed for 865 yards and 10 scores. After a breakthrough 9-1 season last year, Independence has followed with another fine year. The Mustangs have allowed 24 total points in the last three weeks. Offensively, Marcus Beatty ranks third in 2A with 1,434 rushing yards, scoring 14 times.

Tipton (5-3) at No. 9 Camanche (7-1)

Camanche earned a 35-12 regular-season victory over Tipton, but that was seven weeks ago, and the Tigers are picking up steam. They have won four consecutive games, capped by an 18-15 win over Mid-Prairie last week. Tipton averages about 280 rushing yards a game, and the ground attack is led by QB Payten Elijah (1,091 yards, 15 TDs). Camanche lost its opener to Mount Vernon, but has reeled off seven straight victories, allowing 33 points in the past five weeks. The balanced Indians are good for about 403 yards per contest, with QB Mike Delzell passing for 1,659 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Class 1A

Dyersville Beckman (6-2) at No. 3 Sigourney-Keota (8-0)

Sigourney-Keota was the only team in any class to miss the 2019 playoffs with an 8-1 record, and the Cobras have been on a mission all fall. Sam Sieren is third among 1A rushers with 17 touchdowns; he has run for 1,056 yards, averaging 10.5 yards per carry. S-K ranks second in 1A in scoring offense (45.1 points per game) and third defensively (8.8). If the game is close, that plays into Beckman’s favor; the Blazers are 3-0 in games decided by nine points or less, including a 19-14 second-round thriller over Durant. Trent has 39 receptions for 700 yards and eight touchdowns.

Class A

Alburnett (6-2) at No. 2 Iowa City Regina (7-1)

A state semifinalist in 1A last year, Regina figured to dominate in Class A this year, and the Regals haven’t disappointed. They have outscored their six Class A foes by a 306-83 count led by the big-play trio of Ashton Cook, Alec Wick and Theo Kolie, who are among the state leaders in multiple categories. Alburnett has won five games in a row after back-to-back losses to top-10 foes MFL MarMac and Edgewood-Colesburg in Weeks 2 and 3. Modest offensively, the Pirates are stellar on “D,” allowing 13.4 points per contest.

No. 7 South Winneshiek (8-1) at No. 3 Saint Ansgar (8-0)

With four teams ranked in the top seven, Class A Pod D ranks among the strongest and most balanced in any class. Saint Ansgar had a couple of close calls to conclude the regular season, but busted out again in a 56-14 playoff opener against West Fork. Ryan Cole ranks No. 2 among Class A running backs with 1,367 yards. South Winn will try to control the ball behind a balanced running attack that nets 227 yards per game. Five different backs have more than 200 yards this season, led by Jacob Herold with 559 and 14 touchdowns.

No. 5 MFL MarMac (8-1) at No. 4 Edgewood-Colesburg (7-0)

The most prolific offensive team in Class A, MFL MarMac averages 44.1 points per game, but Ed-Co provides perhaps the most challenging defense the Bulldogs will have faced to date. The Vikings are yielding 9.7 points per contest. MFL MarMac is led by the 1-2 backfield punch of Cullen McShane (1,133 yards, 18 touchdowns) and Gabe McGeough (921 and nine). Both are juniors. Ed-Co advanced via bye in the second round when Clayton Ridge was forced to bow out due to COVID-19, so the Vikings will be playing their first game since Oct. 9.

Lisbon (7-2) at No. 8 Wapsie Valley (8-1)

Lisbon will try to slow Wapsie Valley’s passing game spearheaded by quarterback Kobe Risse, whose 24 touchdowns are most in Class A. He’ll be locked in on Blayde Bellis, who has 11 receiving scores. The Warriors have outscored their last four opponents by a 193-13 margin. Lisbon has been similarly dominant lately, winning four in a row and scoring 206 points in that stretch. The Lions do nearly all of their damage on the ground, where they amass 314 yards per game. Lots of guys share the ball in the Lisbon attack, led by Jamien Moore (771 yards, 10 touchdowns).

8-Player

BGM (8-1) at No. 5 Montezuma (8-0)

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These archrivals did not meet in the regular season. Montezuma quarterback Eddie Burgess is a showstopper, even by 8-Player standards. Burgess, a junior, has accounted for 58 offensive touchdowns (37 passing, 21 rushing) and 3,185 total yards. Key targets the passing game are Trey Shearer and Cole Watts. A strong Class A program through the past decade or so, BGM has found similar success in the 8-Player game. The Bears score at a 40-point clip and allow just 15.1 points per game. Sophomore Jacob Maurer is a dual-threat big-play QB, passing for 1,410 yards and rushing for 1,467 with 32 total TDs.

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

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