Prep Football

Unusual Cedar Rapids high school football weekend in most unusual season

No games in Metro on Friday, 3 on a beautiful Saturday

Reid Ortiz of Cedar Rapids Washington barely gets a punt out of the end zone during the Warriors' game against Davenport
Reid Ortiz of Cedar Rapids Washington barely gets a punt out of the end zone during the Warriors’ game against Davenport Assumption Saturday at Kingston Stadium (Mike Hlas/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — It wasn’t a day for great football games, but it was a great day for football games.

OK, so the winners beat the losers in the three high school games played in Cedar Rapids-Marion Saturday by a combined score of 94-0. They were still great games if you were one of the victors.

And to get to play in front of schoolmates and family on a warm, breezy, T-shirt-and-shorts day in late September when playing in any kind of conditions seemed like a midsummer dream not that long ago? Even the losing sides couldn’t have moaned too loudly.

If nothing else, this high school season has been a tribute to flexibility. Saturday in the Metro was a tribute in triplicate.

An unusual-enough season in a weird year got odder here this week. For the first time in this scribe’s memory, the Metro didn’t host a single prep football game on a September Friday night. For the first time in this scribe’s memory, there were three prep games played here on a Saturday afternoon.

Prairie’s 42-0 win over Linn-Mar was played before a big homecoming crowd at Prairie Saturday instead of Friday because Prairie gave Linn-Mar an extra day of practice. Linn-Mar’s team came off a 14-day COVID-19 quarantine on Wednesday.

Cedar Rapids Washington’s 35-0 loss to Davenport Assumption Saturday at Kingston Stadium was a game that wasn’t even scheduled until Monday. There was a good number of Warriors fans on hand, and Assumption brought a decent share of its own.

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Unbeaten Assumption had been slated to play a neighbor Friday, but North Scott canceled because of a spike in COVID-19 cases in Eldridge. Washington was supposed to play Iowa City Liberty, but the Iowa City public schools have been forced to pause their seasons because the Iowa City school district had gone to 100 percent remote learning.

Iowa City’s players would be happy to get to play on a Saturday afternoon, a Sunday morning, or at any midnight of the week.

Dubuque Wahlert beat Marion 17-0 Saturday. That, like Marion’s other home games, was played at Linn-Mar and scheduled on a Saturday because Thomas Park Field was battered from the Aug. 10 derecho and is unplayable this season.

Friday night, Cedar Rapids Jefferson played West Marshall in State Center, a game that was thrown together Thursday night because both had openings.

These all were pretty much the norm in an abnormal season. The week before, Lisbon played at West Liberty just five hours after the game was scheduled. Tipton and North Cedar determined that day that they couldn’t play. Lisbon and West Liberty found necessity was the mother of invention, and the lights were turned on at West Liberty for football that evening.

Because of scheduled foes canceling because of COVID, Iowa City Regina’s first two games were against Pleasant Valley and Clear Lake, two teams it would never have played otherwise. The Regals and their foes wanted to play. Necessity, meet invention.

This kind of thing has gone on across the state over the last five weeks. It’s been bumpy, it’s been stressful, but as so many coaches and players have said in one way or another, it’s been better than nothing for teams that have been able to keep playing.

In Iowa high schools, football is almost always on a Friday night against a familiar opponent at a familiar site. This year has been about keeping open minds, considering new ideas and possibilities when dealing with problem solving, and finding common ground with others for the good of all involved.

Do you suppose they could bottle that and distribute it to the rest of us?

Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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