Prep Football

Iowa high school football 2020 offseason rankings: Class 1A

Last year's 2A state champion, loaded OABCIG is a unanimous No. 1

West Branch's Gavin Hierseman (15) drops back to pass during last year's Class 1A playoff game against Iowa City Regina.
West Branch's Gavin Hierseman (15) drops back to pass during last year's Class 1A playoff game against Iowa City Regina. The Bears are No. 3 in the Gazette/KGYM offseason football poll. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Defending champion. Star quarterback returns. Down a class.

For the Falcons of Ida Grove OABCIG, that all adds up to undisputed status as the team to beat in Class 1A football next fall.

OABCIG — that’s Odebolt-Arthur-Battle Creek-Ida Grove, for those unfamiliar with the Ida County district — is a unanimous No. 1 in The Gazette/KGYM offseason poll.

The Falcons stormed through 2019 with a 13-0 season that ended with a 2A state championship. They did it behind Cooper DeJean, who passed for 3,546 yards and 42 touchdowns. DeJean has committed to the University of Iowa, and will be a senior next fall.

OABCIG’s 60 poll points are 21 more than No. 2 South Central Calhoun. West Branch, Underwood and Dike-New Hartford round out the top five.

This is the third of a six-part series previewing the 2020 football season. The panel consists of six voters: Jeff Johnson, K.J. Pilcher, Jeff Linder and Nathan Ford from The Gazette, Andy Krutsinger of the Southeast Iowa Union and Scott Unash of KGYM Radio.

Gazette/KGYM Iowa high school football 2020 rankings

8-Player offseason rankings

Class A offseason rankings

Following is the Class 1A poll. Thursday: Class 2A.

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1.

Ida Grove OABCIG

2019: 13-0, 2A state champion

60 poll points (6 first-place votes)

DeJean, who also ran for a team-high 1,292 yards and 24 touchdowns, leads an offense that hummed along to the tune of 45.5 points per game last year. His top receiver returns, as well: Easton Harms caught 89 passes last year as a sophomore for 1,114 yards and nine touchdowns. All eyes will be looking ahead to Week 8, when the Falcons travel to Underwood for a District 9 showdown.

2.

South Central Calhoun

2019: 10-1, 1A quarterfinalist

39 poll points

Only two teams — OABCIG and South Central Calhoun — appeared on all six of our ballots. The Titans allowed a 1A-best 6.0 points per game last season, and two key figures from that defensive unit return in Brennan Holder (61.5 tackles) and Jayden Soard (41). Jordan Khommanyvong intercepted four passes. The Titans’ pivotal District 2 game comes in Week 9, at home against Belmond-Klemme.

3.

West Branch

2019: 10-1, 1A quarterfinalist

34 poll points

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The Bears bring back defensive end Jeff Bowie, a University of Iowa commit, along with quarterback Gavin Hierseman, who passed for 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns. Coach Butch Pedersen went over the 300-win career mark last season. This team is a heavy favorite to rule District 5, and assembled a challenging non-district slate that features Sigourney-Keota and Iowa City Regina.

4.

Underwood

2019: 8-2, 1A playoff qualifier

33 poll points

Underwood must replace its quarterback, but the Eagles are well fortified everywhere else, particularly on defense. Brayden Wollan collected three interceptions and three fumble recoveries, along with 51 tackles. Scott Pearson is a two-way force, rushing for 571 yards and collecting 52 tackles as a sophomore. The Eagles welcome No. 1 OABCIG to town in Week 8 for a game that should decide the District 9 title.

5.

Dike-New Hartford

2019: 10-1, 1A quarterfinalist

32 poll points

The Wolverines have been one of the state’s top 1A/2A programs recently, but enter 2020 as a bit of a mystery. DNH loses much of its top-end talent to graduation, but if their replacements step forward, the Wolverines will remain a force. Drew Larson rushed for 318 yards. The non-district schedule is a beast; DNH faces Grundy Center (away) and Waukon (home) in Weeks 2 and 3.

6.

Panorama

2019: 8-2, 1A playoff qualifier

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26 poll points

Opinions vary greatly on the Panthers. Three ballots have them at No. 3, three at ninth or lower. Panorama will employ a veteran team, particularly on defense. Led by Drew Taylor, the top seven tacklers are back from a unit that allowed 11.3 points per game. Domonic Walker returns at quarterback and passed for 1,313 yards and 11 touchdowns. The pivotal game in District 8 is Week 5, when the Panthers host No. 7 Van Meter.

7.

Van Meter

2019: 12-1, 1A state runner-up

20 poll points

The Bulldogs have enjoyed perfect regular seasons each of the past four years in a 47-3 overall run highlighted by a state championship in 2017. This will be a year of transition, though, with substantial losses due to graduation. Dalten Van Pelt (680 rushing yards, 10 TDs as a sophomore) will become a focal point. Van Meter figures to battle Panorama and Guthrie Center ACGC for District 8 honors.

8.

Osage

2019: 5-5, 1A playoff qualifier

17 poll points

After starting 0-4, the Green Devils went 5-0 in district play to earn an automatic bid for the playoffs, then fell to eventual state champion West Lyon, 55-14, in the first round. They have the look of a team ready to be a legitimate top-10 team this fall behind QB Colin Muller, who passed for more than 2,100 yards as a junior, and three receivers that had more than 20 catches apiece.

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9.

Sigourney-Keota

2019: 8-1

16 poll points

Few teams enter the season with as much incentive as the Cobras, the only team in any class to miss the playoffs with an 8-1 record. If they match that mark this fall, a postseason bid is almost certain, because S-K has enhanced its non-district schedule with the likes of Mid-Prairie and West Branch in the first two weeks. Senior-to-be Sam Sieren becomes the offensive focus; he rushed for 1,122 yards and 13 TDs last year.

10.

Western Christian

2019: 8-2, 1A playoff qualifier

14 poll points

The Wolfpack started 8-0 last season, then lost their regular-season finale to West Lyon and were upset in the first round of the playoffs by Treynor. QB Tyson Boer (1,508 passing yards, 15 TDs) is back, as are two key defensive pieces in Tristan Mulder and Levi VandenBos. There’s no shortage of quality competition in Northwest Iowa, so Western will face plenty of challenges, including West Sioux in district play.

Others receiving votes: West Sioux 13, Waterloo Columbus 7, Belmond-Klemme 6, Aplington-Parkersburg 3, South Hamilton 3, Southeast Valley 3, Hinton 2, Guthrie Center ACGC 1, Mediapolis 1

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

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