Prep Football

Iowa high school football playoffs 2019: Previewing all 20 area first-round games

The road to the Dome starts Friday night

West Liberty's Gavin Chown (center) yells as he celebrates with teammates after their district high school football win over the Tipton Tigers at City Park Stadium in Tipton, Iowa, on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. West Liberty won 14-13. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
West Liberty's Gavin Chown (center) yells as he celebrates with teammates after their district high school football win over the Tipton Tigers at City Park Stadium in Tipton, Iowa, on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. West Liberty won 14-13. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

A closer look at Gazette area Iowa high school football first-round playoff games Friday night. All games kick off at 7 p.m.

Class 4A

Fort Dodge (6-3) at No. 5 Cedar Rapids Kennedy (8-1)

Playoff history: Fort Dodge is making is 17th appearance and owns a 2-16 postseason record. Kennedy has qualified for the 19th time. The Cougars were 4A runners-up in 2015.

Fast facts: Kennedy’s Cade Parker has collected 284 tackles in the past three seasons, and he leads a Cougars defense that allows just 13.2 points per game. Fort Dodge’s Tysen Kershaw is fifth in 4A in receptions (45), and has caught eight touchdown passes.

BC Moore computer projection: Cedar Rapids Kennedy by 18.

No. 7 Bettendorf (7-2) at Linn-Mar (6-3)

Playoff history: Bettendorf is making its 35th appearance, its 22nd in a row. The Bulldogs are seven-time champions, most recently in 2007. Linn-Mar is in the field for the 19th time, the first since 2015. The Lions have won three 4A titles, most recently in 1990.

Fast facts: Bettendorf’s Harrison Bey-Buie is second in 4A in rushing (1,551 yards) and leads the big-school class in rushing touchdowns (27). The Bulldogs are averaging 40.8 points per game. Linn-Mar’s Jeron Senters has a 4A-leading seven interceptions.

BC Moore computer projection: Bettendorf by 14.

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Read more: Linn-Mar returns to playoffs under veteran coach Paul James

No. 10 Cedar Rapids Prairie (6-3) at No. 9 Waukee (6-3)

Playoff history: Prairie has qualified for the 22nd time, the eighth year in a row. The Hawks won a 3A title in 1981. Waukee is making its 14th appearance, all since 2004.

Fast facts: This is a rematch from a non-district game played in Week 3. Waukee won it, 43-7, behind Alexander Linquist’s three rushing touchdowns. Prairie leads 4A in rushing yards (3,339) behind Nick Pearson (1,654 yards, 22 TDs) and Tariq Amir (1,198 yards, 12 TDs).

BC Moore computer projection: Waukee by 16.

Class 3A

No. 2 Cedar Rapids Xavier (8-1) at No. 4 North Scott (8-1)

Playoff history: The two-time defending 3A champion, Xavier is making its 16th appearance, its 14th in a row. The Saints also won a 4A title in 2006. It’s the 16th appearance for North Scott, including 12 consecutive.

Fast facts: With a win, Xavier Coach Duane Schulte will earn his 200th career victory; he is 199-80 in 26 years. Western Dubuque handed both of these teams their only loss (North Scott, 21-3; Xavier, 20-14). North Scott’s Ty Anderson has intercepted five passes.

BC Moore computer projection: Cedar Rapids Xavier by 5.

No. 10 Washington (7-2) at No. 1 Western Dubuque (9-0)

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Playoff history: Washington has qualified for the 15th time. The Demons were 3A runners-up in 2013. Last year’s 3A runner-up, Western Dubuque is making its 15th appearance. The Bobcats were 3A champions in 2001.

Fast facts: Washington qualified with a wild 64-61 win over Mount Pleasant in Week 9. Demons quarterback Luke Turner is third in total yards among 3A quarterbacks (1,111 rushing, 1,478 passing), with 35 touchdowns. Western Dubuque ranks in the top five in 3A in scoring offense (36.9 ppg) and defense (8.8).

BC Moore computer projection: Western Dubuque by 14.

Iowa City Liberty (7-2) at No. 3 Solon (9-0)

Playoff history: Liberty is a first-time qualifier. It’s the 30th appearance (15th straight) for Solon, which owns a 54-24 postseason record. The Spartans are five-time champions, including a four-year run from 2007 through 2010.

Fast facts: Solon’s defense is second-best in 3A in points allowed (8.2 per game). QB Cam Miller has passed for 1,805 yards with 22 touchdowns (and just three INTs). A.J. Coons has 44 catches for 746 yards and nine TDs. Liberty qualified by winning its last three regular-season games.

BC Moore computer projection: Solon by 16.

Read more: Commitment of first full Iowa City Liberty senior class leads to playoff reward

No. 5 Independence (9-0) at Pella (7-2)

Playoff history: Independence has qualified for the fourth time, the first since 2015. The Mustangs are looking for their first postseason victory. Pella is in the field for the 31st time, the 13th year in a row. The Dutch were 3A champions in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

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Fast facts: Despite its 9-0 record, Independence is forced to hit the road because its opponents’ record of 27-54 hampered its RPI greatly. Indee QB Logan Schmitt is among the top run-pass threats in the state; he has run for 1,349 yards and passed for 1,283 (37 total TDs).

BC Moore computer projection: Independence by 4.

Class 2A

Tipton (6-3) at No. 1 Waukon (9-0)

Playoff history: Tipton has qualified for the 11th time, the first since 2015. The Tigers have won one playoff game in their first 10 appearances. It’s appearance No. 8 for Waukon, the 2017 2A champion.

Fast facts: Among 2A quarterbacks with 100 passes or more, Waukon’s Creed Welch ranks No. 1 in pass efficiency. He has completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 1,807 yards with 24 touchdowns and three interceptions. Tipton’s Payten Elijah is the 2A co-leader in interceptions, with six.

BC Moore computer projection: Waukon by 24.

No. 10 Monroe PCM (7-2) at No. 6 Benton Community (8-1)

Playoff history: The defending 2A champion, PCM is making its 17th appearance, its 12th straight. Benton is making its 11th playoff trip and is trying to improve on a 2-10 all-time postseason mark.

Fast facts: Benton’s Clay Krousie ranks fourth in 2A in passing yards, with 2,282, and has completed 68 percent of his passes. Turner Schroeder and Jacob Brecht have combined for 112 receptions, 1,684 yards and 17 TDs. The teams have one common opponent, West Marshall (Benton won, 28-12; PCM lost, 14-7).

BC Moore computer projection: Benton Community by 12.

No. 5 Waterloo Columbus (8-1) at No. 9 Williamsburg (6-3)

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Playoff history: Columbus has qualified for the 12th time, its first since 2010. The Sailors have won three state titles, most recently in 2004. Williamsburg is making its 20th appearance, its 12th straight. The Raiders are two-time runners-up (2002, 2017).

Fast facts: For the second straight year, Williamsburg has recovered from a 1-3 start to win its district and make the playoffs. Kaden Wetjen has 886 rushing yards, plus 21 catches for 376 yards. Columbus ranks third in 2A scoring defense at 10.9 points allowed per game (with three shutouts).

BC Moore computer projection: Waterloo Columbus by 5.

Read more: Levi Weldon, Kaden Wetjen lead surging Williamsburg into playoff opener

Monticello (6-3) at West Liberty (6-3)

Playoff history: Monticello is a seven-time qualifier, and the Panthers have made it for the first time since 2014. West Liberty has qualified for the 11th time, the third year in a row.

Fast facts: West Liberty has won four straight games after a 2-3 start. The Comets have won three games by two points or less. Monticello’s Jeff Carlson is third in 2A in passing yards (2,347), completing 62.2 percent of his passes. Devin Kraus and Justin Recker are top targets.

BC Moore computer projection: Even.

Class 1A

North Linn (7-2) at No. 3 West Branch (9-0)

Playoff history: North Linn is making its ninth appearance, its first since 2015. The Lynx have won one game in their first eight trips. West Branch has qualified for the 27th time, the 12th year in a row. The Bears won three titles between 1989 and 1992.

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Fast facts: West Branch’s Tanner Lukavsky (1,003 yards, 12 TDs) has gone over the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season. Big-play receiver Trey Eagle averages 22.0 yards per catch; 12 of his 33 receptions have gone for touchdowns. North Linn QB Austin Miller has rushed for 944 yards, passed for 1,120.

BC Moore computer projection: West Branch by 12.

Iowa City Regina (7-2) at No. 10 Mediapolis (8-1)

Playoff history: Regina missed the playoffs last year, but is back this year for its 16th appearance. The Regals own a 49-8 postseason mark that features seven titles (2005, 2010-15). Mediapolis has qualified for the 17th time, including a 2A runner-up finish in 2012.

Fast facts: Juniors Ashton Cook and Alex Wick will rewrite most of the Regina pass-catch records before they’re through. Cook has thrown for 2,019 yards this season, 1,077 to Wick (on 71 receptions). Mediapolis has outscored its last four opponents by a 205-24 margin.

BC Moore computer projection: Iowa City Regina by 8.

Class A

No. 10 BGM (8-1) at No. 5 Earlham (8-1)

Playoff history: BGM has become a playoff regular, making it for the 11th time — all since 2008. The Bears were Class A runners-up in 2013. Earlham is in the postseason for the 12th time, the first since 2016.

Fast facts: This game features two of the top running backs in Class A. Caleb Swalla is No. 1 in yards (2,082) with 26 touchdowns and a 9.1-yard-per-carry average. BGM counters with Noah Beck (No. 4 with 1,728 yards, 25 touchdowns, 8.3 yards per carry). BGM’s Jordan Kriegel has 24 tackles for loss.

BC Moore computer projection: Earlham by 15.

South Winneshiek (7-2) at No. 4 MFL MarMac (9-0)

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Playoff history: This is the 12th appearance for South Winn, the 10th since 2008 (the Warriors were 1A runners-up in 2009). MFL MarMac has qualified for just the second time; the other was in 2010.

Fast facts: These teams opened the season Aug. 30, with MFL MarMac prevailing, 44-28. South Winn’s Jacob Herold leads Class A in passing yards, with 2,434. Noah Tieskoetter and Cael Kuboushek have 105 receptions between them. That attack will be tested by MFL MarMac’s Ethan Stubbs and Cayden Ball, who have five interceptions apiece.

BC Moore computer projection: MFL MarMac by 13.

No. 9 Edgewood-Colesburg (7-2) at No. 2 Saint Ansgar (9-0)

Playoff history: Ed-Co is making its sixth appearance, its second in a row. The Vikings were semifinalists last year. Saint Ansgar is in the field for the 19th time, missing just once since 2006. The Saints won the 1A title in 2011.

Fast facts: Saint Ansgar is piling up 55.9 points per game, most of any 11-player teams in the state. Jack Sievert has rushed for 1,490 yards and 30 touchdowns, and Ryan Cole has added 923 yards and 16 TDs. Ed-Co’s two losses were by a combined nine points. The Vikings have a 1,000-yard rusher in Keegan Hansel.

BC Moore computer projection: Saint Ansgar by 23.

No. 5 Grundy Center (8-1) at Belle Plaine (7-2)

Playoff history: Grundy Center has qualified for the 12th time, the first since 2015. The Spartans won three 1A titles in the 1980s. Belle Plaine is making its 10th appearance, its first since a run of seven straight from 2008 to 2014.

Fast facts: Grundy Center opened its season with a 29-12 win at Belle Plaine on Aug. 30 behind 160 rushing yards by Zach Opheim. Belle Plaine’s Trevin Straight ranks eighth in Class A with 1,456 yards, and he has run for 20 touchdowns. Sledding will be tough against a Spartans defense that allows 5.9 points per game.

BC Moore computer projection: Grundy Center by 7.

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Central Decatur (5-4) at No. 3 North Tama (9-0)

Playoff history: Central Decatur has made it for the fifth time, its first since 2014. North Tama has qualified for the 16th time, highlighted by a Class A title in 2010.

Fast facts: In terms of points allowed, North Tama owns the best defense in Class A. The Redhawks allow 5.5 points per game, have posted three shutouts, and nobody has scored more than 13 points against them. Central Decatur started 1-4 (three losses against 1A teams), then swept its four district games.

BC Moore computer projection: North Tama by 25.

8-Player

Rockford (7-2) at No. 3 Turkey Valley (9-0)

Playoff history: The 8-Player runner-up last year, Rockford has qualified for the fifth time. Turkey Valley is making its 17th appearance, its 10th in the last 11 years.

Fast facts: At 62.2 points per game, Turkey Valley is the third-most prolific outfit in the 8-player game. The Trojans do it with balance; Eli Reicks, Dylan Elsbernd and Ethan Leibold have combined for 42 touchdowns. Rockford is a dangerous team in the playoffs, it stunned Don Bosco last year.

BC Moore computer projection: Turkey Valley by 37.

Midland (7-2) at HLV (7-2)

Playoff history: Midland is making its ninth appearance, its fifth in a row. HLV is in for the 17th time, the 12th in the past 14 years.

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Fast facts: HLV nailed down its district title emphatically, clinching the crown with a 52-6 rout of Iowa Valley. Marcus Kolesar has rushed for 1,169 yards and 18 touchdowns. Midland enters with a five-game winning streak behind QB Britan Martens, who has rushed for 977 yards, passed for 968, with 27 total TDs.

BC Moore computer projection: HLV by 3.

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

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