With the Iowa high school football postseason narrowed to the traditional 16 teams in each class, The Gazette staff took a look around the state for some predictions.
We asked Jeff Johnson, Jeff Linder, K.J. Pilcher and Nathan Ford for their thoughts on a variety of questions regarding Friday’s third-round games, from most intriguing matchups to upset picks to revenge games.
And of course, picks for which teams will emerge from each pod and venture to the UNI-Dome for the semifinals are included as well.
Which Gazette area game is the most intriguing?
West Delaware at Washington (3)
Cedar Rapids Prairie at Cedar Rapids Kennedy (1)
No. 9 vs. No. 4. The Hawks lead Class 3A with nine wins. The Demons are one of five unbeaten 3A teams. West Delaware scores 49.6 points per game, while Washington averages 46. Two good QBs in West Delaware’s Jared Voss and Washington’s Trashaun Willis facing two strong defenses. — K.J. Pilcher
Which game outside the Gazette area is the most intriguing?
Davenport Assumption at North Scott (2)
South Central Calhoun at South Hamilton (1)
West Lyon at Spirit Lake (1)
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Assumption went undefeated but has to play on the road in the round of 16, and isn’t particularly happy about it. — Jeff Johnson
What’s your third-round upset pick?
Ballard over Lewis Central (2)
BGM over Montezuma (1)
Denver over Southeast Valley (1)
Ballard somehow hasn’t gotten much attention this year despite an 8-1 record with its only loss by a point to unbeaten Webster City. And that Week 2 win over Carlisle looks even more impressive after the Wildcats smashed Dallas Center-Grimes last week. So don’t be shocked if the Bombers take down a more familiar name this week. — Nathan Ford
Which rematch will have a different result this time?
West Sioux over Emmetsburg (4)
Emmetsburg beat West Sioux by a point in overtime in the regular season. So this pick is easy. West Sioux wins this time. — Jeff Johnson
What under-the-radar game should be getting more attention?
Cedar Falls at Ankeny (1)
West Des Moines Valley at Urbandale (1)
Monticello at Waukon (1)
Sergeant Bluff-Luton at Webster City (1)
This year’s team is only 3-4, but Valley is Valley. Would anyone really be surprised to see the Tigers end up facing Dowling in the playoffs again? I think Urbandale belongs among the Central Iowa contenders but it hasn’t had the toughest schedule, with only one win against a team with a winning record (5-3 Council Bluffs Lincoln). — Nathan Ford
Which pod is the toughest?
Class 3A Pod D — West Delaware, Washington, Davenport Assumption, North Scott (2)
Class A Pod D — MFL MarMac, Edgewood-Colesburg, South Winneshiek, Saint Ansgar (2)
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Four teams ranked Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 7, including two of Class A’s remaining unbeaten teams. All four teams won or shared district titles. They have a combined 31-2 record. — K.J. Pilcher
Which team are you most confident will reach the UNI-Dome?
Don Bosco (2)
Ida Grove OABCIG (1)
Southeast Polk (1)
For the past decade, Don Bosco and 8-Player football have been synonymous. The Dons are defending champs and maybe better than last year. They’ll be back in the Dome. — Jeff Linder
Pick the Class 4A semifinalists
Iowa City West (4)
Southeast Polk (4)
West Des Moines Dowling (4)
Pick the Class 3A semifinalists
Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley (3)
Webster City (1)
Cedar Rapids Xavier (4)
West Delaware (2)
Davenport Assumption (1)
Pick the Class 2A semifinalists
Central Lyon-GLR (2)
West Lyon (2)
Monroe PCM (4)
Pick the Class 1A semifinalists
Ida Grove OABCIG (4)
South Hamilton (4)
Van Meter (2)
Pick the Class A semifinalists
Council Bluffs St. Albert (1)
Grundy Center (4)
Iowa City Regina (4)
Saint Ansgar (2)
MFL MarMac (1)
South Winneshiek (1)
Pick the 8-Player semifinalists
Remsen St. Mary’s (3)
Anita CAM (3)
Martensdale-St. Marys (1)
Don Bosco (4)
Easton Valley (3)