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Preseason Iowa high school football rankings: Defending champion Xavier leads the pack in 3A

Dowling, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley, West Sioux, Hudson and Don Bosco are No. 1 in the other classes

Cedar Rapids Xavier Coach Duane Schulte (right) hugs his son, Quinn Schulte, after winning their Class 3A semifinal game over Solon. Quinn Schulte is back as quarterback, Duane Schulte returns for his 20th season at Xavier, and the Saints are ranked No. 1 in the Gazette/KGYM preseason football poll. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Xavier Coach Duane Schulte (right) hugs his son, Quinn Schulte, after winning their Class 3A semifinal game over Solon. Quinn Schulte is back as quarterback, Duane Schulte returns for his 20th season at Xavier, and the Saints are ranked No. 1 in the Gazette/KGYM preseason football poll. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

It’s a new season. And the Xavier Saints start it the same way they finished the last one.

As the top team in Class 3A.

The defending state champion, Xavier opens 2018 at No. 1 in the preseason football poll conducted by The Gazette and KGYM-AM radio.

Xavier went 13-0 last season, defeating Pella, 31-13, in the state final at the UNI-Dome.

“We’re on to 2018,” Xavier Coach Duane Schulte said for a season preview story. “We haven’t really talked about last year, to be honest with you. We celebrated it last year when it happened, but we haven’t really talked about it (since).”

Joining Xavier as the preseason No. 1 choices are five-time defending champion West Des Moines Dowling (4A), Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley (2A), West Sioux (1A), Hudson (A) and Don Bosco (8-Player).

Xavier returns quarterback Quinn Schulte, running back/special-teams ace Braden Stovie and elite lineman Josh Volk, among others, in its bid to repeat.

The Saints received five of six first-place votes and are followed in 3A by Lewis Central (9-2), Sergeant Bluff-Luton (10-1) and North Scott (9-2).

Lewis Central, which upset West Des Moines Valley in the first round of the 4A playoffs last year, is down a class this season. So is North Scott.

Led by Dowling (12-1), the top three teams in 4A hail from Central Iowa. Johnston (9-2) and Valley (8-2) are second and third. Cedar Rapids Prairie (8-2) is sixth, Iowa City West (12-1) — the runner-up in 2016 and 2017 — is No. 7.

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A 2A semifinalist last year, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley was 10-2 last season. The Nighthawks’ top challengers are Monroe PCM (8-2) and Williamsburg (10-3), the 2017 runner-up which brings back Gage Hazen-Fabor, the state’s leading rusher with 2,388 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Last year’s Class A champion, West Sioux (13-0) is up a class and leads a strong 1A field. Dike-New Hartford (6-4) is down from 2A and holds the second spot, then it’s perennial powers Iowa City Regina (10-3) and West Branch (9-1), which lead a list of five River Valley Conference schools in the 1A top 10.

Hudson (12-1) reached last year’s Class A final and is projected as the heir apparent. North central Iowa squads Algona Garrigan (9-1), Saint Ansgar (11-1) and West Hancock (7-4) are the next three teams.

Don Bosco (13-0) is the two-time defending 8-Player champion. The Dons have compiled an 84-7 record since 2011, including 21 consecutive wins. Fremont-Mills (9-3) is No. 2.

Gazette staffers Jeff Johnson, K.J. Pilcher, Jeff Linder, Douglas Miles and Nathan Ford vote in the poll, as does Scott Unash of KGYM.

Class 4A

1.

West Des Moines Dowling

58 points (4 first-place votes)

Last year: 12-1, Class 4A champion
Week 1: at No. 10 Waukee
 
2.

Johnston

49 points (2 first-place votes)

Last year: 9-2, Class 4A quarterfinalist
Week 1: at Urbandale
 
3.

West Des Moines Valley

45 points

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Last year: 8-2, Class 4A playoff qualifier
Week 1: vs. No. 8 Southeast Polk
 
4.

Bettendorf

39 points

Last year: 10-2, Class 4A semifinalist
Week 1: vs. No. 10 Pleasant Valley
 
5.

Cedar Falls

36 points

Last year: 9-2, Class 4A quarterfinalist
Week 1: at Ames
 
6.

Cedar Rapids Prairie

30 points

Last year: 8-2, Class 4A playoff qualifier
Week 1: at Cedar Rapids Washington
 
7.

Iowa City West

22 points

Last year: 12-1, Class 4A runner-up
Week 1: vs. 3A No. 4 North Scott
 
8.

Southeast Polk

13 points

Last year: 6-4, Class 4A playoff qualifier
Week 1: at No. 3 West Des Moines Valley
 
9.

Ankeny Centennial

10 points

Last year: 9-3, Class 4A semifinalist
Week 1: at Ankeny
 
10.

Pleasant Valley

7 points

Last year: 7-3, Class 4A playoff qualifier
Week 1: at No. 4 Bettendorf
 
10.

Waukee

7 points

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Last year: 6-4, Class 4A playoff qualifier
Week 1: vs. No. 1 West Des Moines Dowling
 

Others receiving votes: Cedar Rapids Kennedy 5, Ankeny 4, Council Bluffs Jefferson 3, Indianola 2

Class 3A

1.

Cedar Rapids Xavier

59 points (5 first-place votes)

Last year: 13-0, Class 3A champion
Week 1: at 1A No. 3 Iowa City Regina
 
2.

Lewis Central

49 points

Last year: 9-2, Class 4A quarterfinalist
Week 1: vs. No. 3 Sergeant Bluff-Luton
 
3.

Sergeant Bluff-Luton

44 points (1 first-place vote)

Last year: 10-1, Class 3A quarterfinalist
Week 1: at No. 2 Lewis Central
 
4.

North Scott

35 points

Last year: 9-2, Class 4A quarterfinalist
Week 1: at 4A No. 7 Iowa City West
 
5.

Pella

31 points

Last year: 11-2, Class 3A runner-up
Week 1: at Dallas Center-Grimes
 
5.

Solon

31 points

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Last year: 11-1, Class 3A semifinalist
Week 1: vs. 2A No. 5 Mount Vernon
 
7.

West Delaware

22 points

Last year: 8-3, Class 3A quarterfinalist
Week 1: vs. Dubuque Wahlert
 
8.

Waverly-Shell Rock

19 points

Last year: 8-2, Class 3A playoff qualifier
Week 1: vs. North Fayette Valley
 
9.

Harlan

16 points

Last year: 10-2, Class 3A semifinalist
Week 1: vs. Denison-Schleswig
 
10.

Glenwood

7 points

Last year: 8-2, Class 3A playoff qualifier
Week 1: at Carroll
 

Others receiving votes: Sioux City Heelan 5, Dallas Center-Grimes 4, Newton 3, Western Dubuque 3, Davenport Assumption 1, Washington 1

Class 2A

1.

Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley

57 points (3 first-place votes)

Last year: 10-2, Class 2A semifinalist
Week 1: vs. 1A No. 1 West Sioux
 
2.

Monroe PCM

48 points (2 first-place votes)

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Last year: 8-2, Class 2A playoff qualifier
Week 1: at Newton
 
3.

Williamsburg

38 points

Last year: 10-3, Class 2A runner-up
Week 1: vs. No. 10 West Marshall
 
4.

Union Community

35 points

Last year: 8-4, Class 2A semifinalist
Week 1: vs. Dyersville Beckman
 
5.

Clear Lake

29 points

Last year: 7-3, Class 2A playoff qualifier
Week 1: at Osage
 
5.

Mount Vernon

29 points

Last year: 9-2, Class 2A quarterfinalist
Week 1: at 3A No. 5 Solon
 
5.

Sioux Center

29 points

Last year: 8-2, Class 2A playoff qualifier
Week 1: vs. Le Mars
 
8.

Waukon

23 points (1 first-place vote)

Last year: 12-1, Class 2A champion
Week 1: at Decorah
 
9.

Carroll Kuemper

8 points

Last year: 7-3, Class 2A playoff qualifier
Week 1: at A No. 7 Council Bluffs St. Albert
 
10.

West Marshall

7 points

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Last year: 6-3
Week 1: at No. 3 Williamsburg
 

Others receiving votes: Spirit Lake 6, North Fayette Valley 3, Roland-Story 3, Sheldon 3, Southeast Valley 3, West Liberty 3, Centerville 2, New Hampton 2, Algona 1, Garner GHV 1

Class 1A

1.

West Sioux

56 points (4 first-place votes)

Last year: 13-0, Class A state champion
Week 1: at 2A No. 1 Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley
 
2.

Dike-New Hartford

45 points (1 first-place vote)

Last year: 6-4, Class 2A playoff qualifier
Week 1: at Denver
 
3.

Iowa City Regina

42 points (1 first-place vote)

Last year: 10-3, Class 1A runner-up
Week 1: vs. 3A No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier
 
4.

West Branch

40 points

Last year: 9-1, Class 1A playoff qualifier
Week 1: vs. West Liberty
 
5.

Pella Christian

31 points

Last year: 11-1, Class 1A semifinalist
Week 1: vs. Oskaloosa
 
6.

Cascade

24 points

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Last year: 10-1, Class 2A quarterfinalist
Week 1: vs. Monticello
 
6.

Wilton

24 points

Last year: 9-2, Class 1A quarterfinalist
Week 1: at Durant
 
8.

Bellevue

21 points

Last year: 8-2, Class 1A playoff qualifier
Week 1: at Edgewood-Colesburg
 
9.

West Lyon

15 points

Last year: 11-1, Class 1A semifinalist
Week 1: at Central Lyon
 
10.

Aplington-Parkersburg

11 points

Last year: 8-2, Class 2A playoff qualifier
Week 1: at New Hampton
 

Others receiving votes: Emmetsburg 6, Interstate 35 4, Western Christian 4, Denver 2, Van Meter 2, Dyersville Beckman 1, Sigourney-Keota 1, South Central Calhoun 1

Class A

1.

Hudson

55 points (4 first-place votes)

Last year: 12-1, Class A runner-up
Week 1: at Jesup
 
2.

Algona Garrigan

40 points (1 first-place vote)

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Last year: 9-1, Class A playoff qualifier
Week 1: at Emmetsburg
 
3.

Saint Ansgar

37 points

Last year: 11-1, Class A semifinalist
Week 1: at West Fork
 
4.

West Hancock

32 points

Last year: 7-4, Class A quarterfinalist
Week 1: vs. Garner GHV
 
5.

Avoca AHSTW

26 points

Last year: 8-2, Class 1A playoff qualifier
Week 1: at Underwood
 
6.

Lynnville-Sully

19 points

Last year: 9-1, Class A quarterfinalist
Week 1: at Pleasantville
 
7.

Council Bluffs St. Albert

16 points (1 first-place vote)

Last year: 10-2, Class A semifinalist
Week 1: vs. 2A No. 9 Carroll Kuemper
 
8.

Belle Plaine

14 points

Last year: 6-3
Week 1: at Grundy Center
 
8.

Belmond-Klemme

14 points

Last year: 7-3, Class 1A playoff qualifier
Week 1: vs. Eagle Grove
 
10.

Sioux Central

11 points

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Last year: 7-3, Class A playoff qualifier
Week 1: at Pocahontas Area
 

Others receiving votes: Le Mars Gehlen 10, Earlham 8, Hinton 8, Wapsie Valley 8, Mason City Newman 7, Southwest Valley 7, Logan-Magnolia 5, Ridge View 5, East Buchanan 4, Alburnett 3, Hartley HMS 1

8-Player

1.

Don Bosco

60 points (6 first-place votes)

Last year: 13-0, 8-player champion
Week 1: vs. No. 3 Gladbrook-Reinbeck
 
2.

Fremont-Mills

48 points

Last year: 9-3, 8-player semifinalist
Week 1: at No. 5 Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton
 
3.

Ar-We-Va

22 points

Last year: 7-3
Week 1: vs. Boyer Valley
 
3.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck

22 points

Last year: 9-2, Class A quarterfinalist
Week 1: at No. 1 Don Bosco
 
5.

Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton

17 points

Last year: 5-4
Week 1: vs. No. 2 Fremont-Mills
 
5.

Lone Tree

17 points

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Last year: 8-3, 8-player playoff qualifier
Week 0: at Midland
Week 1: at Montezuma
 
5.

Stanton

17 points

Last year: 8-2, 8-player playoff qualifier
Week 1: vs. Lamoni
 
8.

New London

16 points

Last year: 6-3, Class A playoff qualifier
Week 1: vs. HLV
 
9.

Iowa Valley

15 points

Last year: 6-3
Week 0: at Collins-Maxwell
Week 1: vs. WACO
 
9.

Remsen St. Mary's

15 points

Last year: 11-1, 8-player runner-up
Week 1: at Audubon
 

Others receiving votes: Newell-Fonda 13, Moravia 11, HLV 9, Audubon 8, Harris-Lake Park 7, Midland 7, Southeast Warren 7, Anita CAM 5, Montezuma 5, Sidney 5, Tripoli 2, Baxter 1, Kingsley-Pierson 1

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