Prep Football

Week 1 Eastern Iowa high school football preview capsules

No. 6 Prairie visits Kingston on Thursday for an encounter with Washington

Cedar Rapids Prairie's Keegan Simmons (1) breaks for a touchdown run against Iowa City West last season. Simmons ran for 1,822 yards and 25 touchdowns last season. The Hawks face Cedar Rapids Washington on Thursday at Kingston Stadium. (Justin Torner/Freelance for the Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Prairie's Keegan Simmons (1) breaks for a touchdown run against Iowa City West last season. Simmons ran for 1,822 yards and 25 touchdowns last season. The Hawks face Cedar Rapids Washington on Thursday at Kingston Stadium. (Justin Torner/Freelance for the Gazette)

Gazette area prep football capsules for Week 1:

Cedar Rapids Prairie at Cedar Rapids Washington

Site and time: 7:15 p.m. Thursday, at Kingston Stadium

Records and rankings: Class 4A sixth-ranked Prairie was 8-2 last season; Washington was 5-5.

Overview: The Hawks and the Warriors are Week 1 opponents for the third straight season; Prairie earned a 21-20 victory last year. Prairie’s Keegan Simmons was third among 4A running backs last year with 1,822 yards and 25 touchdowns, and Logan LaGrange was second on the team in tackles with 56, 10 for loss. Washington returns its top two receivers — Ross Snitker (30 receptions for 340 yards) and Lincoln Riley (19 for 268). Both teams reached the 2017 4A playoffs. Prairie fell in the first round to Cedar Falls, Washington to Iowa City West.

Team previews: Cedar Rapids PrairieCedar Rapids Washington

Cedar Rapids Xavier at Iowa City Regina

Site and time: 7:30 p.m. Friday, at Regina

Records and rankings: Class 3A top-ranked Xavier was 13-0 last year; 1A No. 3 Regina was 10-3.

Overview: These private-school giants are accustomed to deep postseason runs. Xavier is the defending Class 3A champion, and Regina has advanced to the championship game eight straight years, with 1A runner-up finishes both of the last two. Xavier’s Quinn Schulte is a multiple-threat player; he passed for 1,202 yards last season (with a 14-to-1 TD-to-INT ledger), ran for 968 yards and 20 TDs and intercepted five passes. Regina Coach Marv Cook owns a glossy 134-12 record in 11 seasons. The Regals bring back a pair of receiving gems in Alec Wick and Patrick Clark. Xavier won, 23-6, last year.

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Team previews: Cedar Rapids Xavier | Iowa City Regina

North Scott at Iowa City West

Site and time: 7:15 p.m. Friday, at Trojan Field

Records and rankings: Class 3A fourth-rated North Scott was 9-2 last season; 4A No. 7 West was 12-1.

Overview: The 4A runner-up each of the last two years, West shifts gears after losing a good chunk of its weapons. Senior receiver Jalen Gaudet is back after snaring 42 passes for 634 yards and four touchdowns a year ago. The Trojans carry a 13-game regular-season winning streak. North Scott is down a class after reaching the 4A quarterfinals in 2017, and the Lancers welcome back quarterback Nike McLaughlin, who passed for 1,589 yards, rushed for 786, and was responsible for 32 touchdowns.

Team preview: Iowa City West

Marion at Washington

Site and time: 7:15 p.m. Friday, at Washington, Iowa

Records and rankings: Marion was 6-3 last season; Washington was 8-2.

Overview: Tim Lovell has gotten the Marion program off the mat with two solid seasons. The next step is a playoff berth, and that’s a distinct possibility this fall. Quarterback Trevor Paulsen passed for 1,448 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. Washington was an explosive outfit in 2017, leading 3A in offense at 44.8 points per game. Demons quarterback Luke Turner can beat you with his arm (1,213 yards, 16 touchdowns) and his legs (833 yards, 9.4 per carry, 6 TDs).

Team preview: Marion

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Cedar Rapids Kennedy vs. Cedar Rapids Jefferson

Site and time: 7:15 p.m. Friday, at Kingston Stadium (Jefferson fans sit on the west side)

Records and rankings: Kennedy was 6-3 last season; Jefferson was 4-5.

Overview: Linebacker Cade Parker finished third in 4A in tackles (104) last season, and returns for his junior season to bolster a Kennedy defense that held four opponents to a touchdown or less in 2017. One of those was Jefferson, which the Cougars handled, 21-3. Cairron Hendred is expected to be the Cougars’ featured back; he rushed for 342 yards last year. Jefferson won three of its last four games last season, building some momentum, and now Chris Buesing takes over as head coach.

Team previews: Cedar Rapids Kennedy | Cedar Rapids Jefferson

Linn-Mar at Dubuque Senior

Site and time: 7:15 p.m. Friday, at Dubuque

Records and rankings: Linn-Mar was 2-7 last season; Senior was 6-3.

Overview: Paul James is back for Year 2 with the Lions, and it’s likely to be better than his 2-7 debut. The top running back (Alex Hess, 859 yards) is back for his senior year. Linn-Mar did make strides defensively, giving up 28 points per game last season after allowing 34 per contest the previous year. Four of the Lions’ top six tacklers are back. Senior started 6-1 last year, then back-to-back losses to North Scott and Pleasant Valley kept the Rams out of the playoffs.

Team preview: Linn-Mar

Iowa City Liberty at Iowa City High

Site and time: 7:15 p.m. Friday, at Bates Field

Records and rankings: Liberty is in its first year as a varsity program; City High was 2-7 last year.

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Overview: After playing a sophomore-only schedule in 2017, Liberty begins its era of varsity football against a “cross-town” rival. Jeff Gordon is the Lightning’s first coach, and what he’s got on his roster is a mystery for now. That roster consists of only one senior. City’s 2-7 season last year is a rarity, and the Little Hawks look to bounce back behind a defense that includes three of the top four tacklers, led by Max Deprenger (64.5 stops).

Team previews: Iowa City Liberty | Iowa City High

Mount Vernon at Solon

Site and time: 7:30 p.m. Friday, at Solon

Records and rankings: Class 2A fifth-ranked Mount Vernon was 9-2 last season; 3A No. 5 Solon was 11-1.

Overview: Solon has owned this rivalry lately; the Spartans’ 19-0 victory last season at Cornell College was their 15th in a row against their neighbors to the north. That game began a trend of defensive excellence for the Spartans, who notched six shutouts and held their first 10 opponents to single digits. The Spartans will try to slow Mount Vernon’s Paul Ryan, who ran for 1,475 yards and 18 TDs last year. Solon counters with QB Cam Miller, who threw for 1,831 yards and 25 TDs, against six interceptions.

Team preview: Solon

West Liberty at West Branch

Site and time: 7:30 p.m. Friday, at West Branch

Records and rankings: West Liberty was 6-4 last season; Class 1A No. 4 West Branch was 9-1.

Overview: West Branch has the makings of a potent offense with Beau Cornwell running the show. Cornwell was second in 1A in passing yardage (2,125). He completed 64 percent of his passes and threw for 20 touchdowns. The Bears also bring back their top running back (Tanner Lukavsky, 712 yards, 10 TDs). West Liberty enjoyed a breakthrough season last year, which included an upset of eventual state runner-up Williamsburg. Quarterback Seth Feldman leads the offense, and Spencer Daufeldt highlights the D.

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Team preview: West Branch

Monticello at Cascade

Site and time: 7:30 p.m. Friday, at Cascade

Records and rankings: Monticello was 5-4 last season; Class 1A No. 6 Cascade was 10-1.

Overview: Cascade enjoyed one of its best seasons in school history in 2017 before getting tripped up by Union Community in the 2A quarterfinals. The Cougars are down to 1A now, but in a loaded district that also includes Bellevue and West Branch. Quarterback Haris Hoffman returns after passing for 1,733 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior. The Cougars beat Monticello, 34-14, last year. The Panthers return their top tackler, Luke Stahlberg.

Dyersville Beckman at Union Community

Site and time: 7:30 p.m. Friday, at La Porte City

Records and rankings: Beckman was 5-4 last season; Class 2A No. 4 Union was 8-4.

Overview: Union barely qualified for the playoffs last season, but upset Cascade in the quarterfinals and advanced to the UNI-Dome, where the run ended against Williamsburg in the semis. Kaleb Roach ran for 891 yards and 12 touchdowns, and Britton Rolison and Silver Schmitz provide a couple of good aerial targets. Beckman moves from 2A to 1A this season.

Alburnett at Vinton-Shellsburg

Site and time: 7 p.m. Friday, at Vinton

Records and rankings: Alburnett was 7-2 last season; Vinton-Shellsburg was 1-8.

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Overview: Alburnett hits the road to tackle a foe two classes higher. The Pirates narrowly missed the Class A playoffs last year and bring back a solid defensive crew led by Holden Sevening (89.5 tackles) from a team that yielded just 13.8 points per game. Vinton-Shellsburg’s lone win in 2017 came in Week 5, against South Tama.

Team preview: Alburnett

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

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