Prep Football

Iowa high school football districts released for 2018-19

Defending 3A champion Xavier faces a brand-new roster of district foes

Duane Schulte and the Cedar Rapids Xavier Saints celebrate their 31-13 win over Pella in the Class 3A state football final in November at the UNI-Dome. New districts for the 2018 and 2019 seasons were released Thursday. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Duane Schulte and the Cedar Rapids Xavier Saints celebrate their 31-13 win over Pella in the Class 3A state football final in November at the UNI-Dome. New districts for the 2018 and 2019 seasons were released Thursday. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Duane Schulte has learned that each football district develops its own identity.

“They all kind of have their own flavor,” he said.

If so, his taste buds are on high alert, because every team in Cedar Rapids Xavier’s new district is different than the previous cycle.

The defending Class 3A state champion, Xavier is sent eastward for its league opponents in 2018 and 2019.

District assignments were released by the Iowa High School Athletic Association on Thursday.

“I’m just trying to digest it all,” Schulte said. “Last time, we got sent north. This time, we’re going east.”

Xavier was 13-0 last season. The Saints were assigned to 3A District 4, along with Metro neighbor Marion, Center Point-Urbana, Dubuque Wahlert, Maquoketa and Western Dubuque.

The IHSAA whittled the Class 4A field from 48 schools to 42. Western Dubuque is one of the six to move down to 3A; the Bobcats competed as a 4A program the last two years.

“Schools like Western Dubuque, North Scott and Lewis Central, they’re going to make 3A that much deeper,” Schulte said.

Other area schools to move down a class: Benton Community and Vinton-Shellsburg to 2A, Cascade and Dyersville Beckman to 1A, Clayton Ridge, Highland, Maquoketa Valley, MFL MarMac and South Winneshiek to Class A, and Montezuma to 8-Player.


Two area schools are moving up a class. Tipton will compete in 2A, North Linn in 1A.

Iowa City Liberty will make its football debut this fall as a 3A school. The Lightning are part of District 5.

In 4A, Linn-Mar is part of District 4, the only Metro school in that district. The Lions will be joined by Iowa City West and Iowa City High.

“It’s a lot of traveling, but it is what it is,” Lions Coach Paul James said. “I’m not really surprised about going east, because Linn-Mar has gone north and south in the past.

“The state put it together, and now it’s up to us to win some games.”

Cedar Rapids Jefferson and Cedar Rapids Prairie are together in 4A District 3; Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Cedar Rapids Washington will reside in 4A-5.

The IHSAA revealed Wednesday that it would keep the playoff field at 16 teams in each class. That was met with mixed reviews:

“If you want to increase participation in football, you want to give more teams a chance to (compete) in the playoffs,” Mount Vernon Coach Lance Pedersen said. “It’s frustrating that (the Iowa Football Coaches Association) doesn’t have much say any more.”

Marion Coach Tim Lovell is OK with a 16-team playoff field, even though his team has just missed the postseason each of the past two years in that format.


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“The playoffs should be worth something,” Lovell said. “Thirty-two would have felt a little watered down.”

At first glance, Class 1A District 4 looks like a beast, with four strong teams in Cascade, West Branch, Bellevue and Beckman.

“The state must like to challenge Cascade,” said Cougars Coach Tim Frake. “Last year we had Waukon and Union. Now we think it will be easier in 1A, and we get some more quality opponents.

“But we like the challenge. It’s exciting for the kids.”

The priority list for non-district games will open Monday, and schools will have until Feb. 7 to complete the form listing seven preferred non-district opponents, which can include out-of-state opponents.

James confirmed that a Linn-Mar/Marion non-district matchup is off the table.

“At this point, we’re looking at playing a 4A schedule,” he said.

Frake said that when choosing non-district opponents, “we’re walking a fine line. We want to schedule quality opponents for our RPI, but we don’t want to kill our win-loss record.

“Do we coordinate with coaches from our district? Do we try to work together to elevate the RPI of our whole district?”

The IHSAA will release schedules in early March.

2018-19 Iowa high school football districts

Class 4A

District 1 – Ankeny, Des Moines Hoover, Des Moines Lincoln, Sioux City East, Sioux City North, West Des Moines Dowling

District 2 – Ankeny Centennial, Des Moines Roosevelt, Fort Dodge, Marshalltown, Sioux City West, Southeast Polk


District 3 – Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Dubuque Hempstead, Dubuque Senior, Waterloo West

District 4 – Davenport North, Iowa City High, Iowa City West, Linn-Mar, Muscatine, Pleasant Valley

District 5 – Bettendorf, Burlington, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Washington, Davenport Central, Davenport West

District 6 – Des Moines East, Indianola, Johnston, Mason City, Ottumwa, Waukee

District 7 – Ames, Council Bluffs Lincoln, Council Bluffs Jefferson, Des Moines North, Urbandale, West Des Moines Valley

Class 3A

District 1 – Denison-Schleswig, LeMars, Sergeant Bluff-Luton, Sioux City Heelan, Spencer, Storm Lake

District 2 – Boone, Carroll, Dallas Center-Grimes, Humboldt, Perry, Webster City

District 3 – Charles City, Decorah, Independence, Waterloo East, Waverly-Shell Rock, West Delaware


District 4 – Cedar Rapids Xavier, Center Point-Urbana, Dubuque Wahlert, Maquoketa, Marion, Western Dubuque

District 5 – Clear Creek-Amana, Clinton, Davenport Assumption, DeWitt Central, Iowa City Liberty, North Scott

District 6 – Fairfield, Fort Madison, Keokuk, Mount Pleasant, Solon, Washington (Iowa)

District 7 – Grinnell, Knoxville, Newton, Oskaloosa, Pella, South Tama

District 8 – Ballard, Bondurant-Farrar, Carlisle, Gilbert, North Polk, Norwalk

District 9 – Adel ADM, Creston, Glenwood, Harlan, Lewis Central, Winterset

Class 2A

District 1 – Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley, Central Lyon/George-Little Rock, MOC-Floyd Valley, Okoboji, Sheldon, Sioux Center

District 2 – Algona, Clarion CGD, Estherville-Lincoln Central, Garner GHV, Southeast Valley, Spirit Lake

District 3 – Clear Lake, Crestwood, Forest City, Hampton-Dumont/CAL, Iowa Falls-Alden, New Hampton


District 4 – Anamosa, Monticello, North Fayette Valley, Oelwein, Waterloo Columbus, Waukon

District 5 – Camanche, Louisa-Muscatine, Mount Vernon, Tipton, West Burlington/Notre Dame, West Liberty

District 6 – Albia, Central Lee, Davis County, Eddyville EBF, Mid-Prairie, Williamsburg

District 7 – Benton Community, Nevada, Roland-Story, Union Community, Vinton-Shellsburg, West Marshall

District 8 – Centerville, Chariton, Clarke, Des Moines Christian, Monroe PCM, Saydel

District 9 – Atlantic, Carroll Kuemper, Greene County, Ida Grove OA-BCIG, Red Oak, Shenandoah

Class 1A

District 1 – Emmetsburg, Sibley-Ocheyedan, Unity Christian, West Lyon, West Sioux, Western Christian

District 2 – Eagle Grove, Madrid, Ogden, Pocahontas Area, South Central Calhoun, South Hamilton


District 3 – Aplington-Parkersburg, Denver, Lake Mills, North Butler, Osage, Sumner-Fredericksburg

District 4 – Bellevue, Cascade, Dyersville Beckman, North Cedar, Northeast, West Branch

District 5 – Columbus Community, Mediapolis, Sigourney-Keota, Van Buren, Wapello, Wilton

District 6 – Dike-New Hartford, East Marshall, Iowa City Regina, Jesup, North Linn, South Hardin

District 7 – Colfax-Mingo, Interstate 35, Pella Christian, Pleasantville, Woodward Academy, Woodward-Granger

District 8 – Clarinda, Guthrie Center ACGC, Mount Ayr, Panorama, Van Meter, West Central Valley

District 9 – Cherokee, East Sac County, Missouri Valley, Mapleton MVAOCOU, Treynor, Underwood

Class A

District 1 – Akron-Westfield, Hartley HMS, Hinton, LeMars Gehlen, Marcus MMCRU, South O’Brien


District 2 – Alta-Aurelia, Fort Dodge St. Edmond, IKM-Manning, Manson Northwest Webster, Ridge View, Sioux Central

District 3 – Algona Garrigan, Belmond-Klemme, Graettinger GTRA, North Union, West Fork, West Hancock

District 4 – Central Springs, Mason City Newman, Nashua-Plainfield, Postville, Saint Ansgar, South Winneshiek, Starmont

District 5 – Alburnett, Clayton Ridge, Edgewood-Colesburg, Lisbon, Maquoketa Valley, MFL MarMac

District 6 – Belle Plaine, BGM, Cardinal, Durant, Highland, Pekin

District 7 – Conrad BCLUW, East Buchanan, Garwin GMG, Grundy Center, Hudson, North Tama, Wapsie Valley

District 8 – Central Decatur, Grand View Christian, Lynnville-Sully, Martensdale-St. Marys, North Mahaska, Wayne

District 9 – Avoca AHSTW, Council Bluffs St. Albert, Earlham, Nodaway Valley, Riverside, Southwest Valley

District 10 – Lawton-Bronson, Logan-Magnolia, Tri-Center, West Monona, Westwood, Woodbury Central



District 1 – Clay Central-Everly, Harris-Lake Park, Kingsley-Pierson, Newell-Fonda, Remsen St. Mary’s, River Valley, West Bend-Mallard, Westside Ar-We-Va

District 2 – Don Bosco, Dunkerton, Janesville, North Iowa, Northwood-Kensett, Riceville, Rockord, Tripoli

District 3 – Central City, Easton Valley, Elkader Central, Lansing Kee, Midland, Springville, Turkey Valley, West Central

District 4 – English Valleys, HLV, Iowa Valley, Lone Tree, Montezuma, New London, Tri-County, WACO, Winfield-Mount Union

District 5 – Ackley AGWSR, Baxter, Collins-Maxwell, Colo-Nesco, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Melcher-Dallas, Meskwaki, Twin Cedars

District 6 – East Union, Lamoni, Lenox, Moravia, Mormon Trail, Murray, Seymour/Moulton-Udell, Southeast Warren

District 7 – Bedford, Clarinda Academy, East Mills, Essex, Fremont-Mills, Griswold, Sidney, Stanton

District 8 – Anita CAM, Audubon, Boyer Valley, Coon Rapids-Bayard, Exira-EHK, Glidden-Ralston, West Harrison, Woodbine


The Classes

Class 4A: 42 teams. Seven districts of six teams each. Five district games, four non-district games.

Classes 3A, 2A and 1A: 54 teams. Nine districts of six teams each. Five district games, four non-district games.

Class A: 62 teams. Eight districts of six teams, two districts with seven teams. Six-team districts will play five district games and four non-district games. Seven-team districts will play six district games and three non-district games.

8-Player: 65 teams. Seven districts of eight teams, one district with nine teams. Eight-team districts will play seven district games and two non-district games. The nine-team district will play eight district games and one non-district game (Week Zero is possible).

Determining the playoff field

• Each class will have 16 qualifiers.

• District champions are automatic qualifiers.

• The rest of the playoff field is determined by outcomes in all nine games, not just district games.

• The 17-point rule has been eliminated. Margin of victory/defeat is no longer a factor in determining the playoff field.

• At-large qualifiers will be determined by an Ratings Percentage Index (RPI formula), similar to what is used for determining NCAA basketball qualifiers.

How is RPI calculated?

There are three components:

• Winning percentage (37.5 percent)

• Opponents’ winning percentage (37.5 percent)

• Opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage (25 percent)

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