Prep Football

Iowa high school football Week 1: A closer look at the top area games

Regina has a new opponent for its opener vs. Class 4A Pleasant Valley

Cedar Rapids Prairie's Nick Pearson (43) runs through a hit by Cedar Rapids Kennedy in last season's game, won by the Co
Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Nick Pearson (43) runs through a hit by Cedar Rapids Kennedy in last season’s game, won by the Cougars, 35-28. They meet again Friday at Prairie. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Week 1 capsules for Cedar Rapids Metro, Iowa City and top area high school football games.

Belle Plaine at Lisbon

Site and time: 7 p.m. Thursday, at Mount Vernon (Cornell College)

Records and rankings: Class A No. 10 Belle Plaine was 7-3 last season; Lisbon was 4-5.

Overview: After an 0-9 season in 2018, Lisbon took a big step forward last year, and ought to make another lengthy stride this fall behind an experienced crew, led by Cole Clark (500 rushing yards, a team-high 70.5 tackles). Belle Plaine reached the postseason last year, falling in the first round, 28-14, to eventual runner-up Grundy Center. Back to ignite the Plainsmen is running back Luke DeMeulenaere, who ran for 1,044 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Western Dubuque at Cedar Rapids Xavier

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

Records and rankings: Class 3A No. 8 Western Dubuque was 13-0 last season; No. 4 Xavier was 8-2.

Overview: These teams have combined for the last three 3A state championships — Xavier in 2017 and 2018, Western Dubuque in 2019. Both squads have some holes to fill this fall, however. Xavier Coach Duane Schulte’s next victory will be his 200th; he begins his 27th season with a 199-81 overall mark, including 174-67 with the Saints. Both teams have promising new quarterbacks — Jaxon Rexroth for Xavier; Garrett Baumhover for Western Dubuque. Xavier’s Jack Lux accounted for 557 rushing yards in 2019, plus 15 receptions for 175 yards. He scored seven offensive touchdowns.

Xavier preview: A mystery team? ‘I think that’s a fair label,’ Coach Duane Schulte says

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Western Dubuque preview: Bobcats will battle a depth deficit this fall

Cedar Rapids Kennedy at Cedar Rapids Prairie

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

Records and rankings: Class 4A No. 6 Kennedy was 10-2 last season; Prairie was 6-4.

Overview: Get set for the first act of the Nick Pearson Sequel. The state’s top returning 4A rusher, Pearson amassed 1,654 yards (8.7 per carry) and scored 22 touchdowns last season. Kennedy was the Metro’s top team, though, rallying past the Hawks 35-28 in Week 4, and that helped ignite the Cougars to a season that ended in the semifinals in the UNI-Dome. Kennedy quarterback Max White accumulated 1,865 total yards and 28 touchdowns. Lineman Connor Colby is a University of Iowa recruit.

Prairie preview: TE Gabe Burkle has big season in mind after recruiting picked up

Kennedy preview: QB Max White aspires to live up to Hawkeye namesake

Iowa City West at Iowa City Liberty

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

Records and rankings: West was 4-5 last season; Liberty was 7-3.

Overview: After spending its first two varsity seasons as a Class 3A program (it made the playoffs last season), Liberty makes the move to 4A, and faces West for the first time. The Trojans have the weapons to be a top-10 team, particularly with Marcus Morgan back at quarterback. Morgan completed 61.5 percent of his passes last season for 1,723 yards and 11 touchdowns. Grahm Goering caught 42 passes for 599 yards and six scores. Liberty’s Max Tafolla ran for 1,136 yards and eight touchdowns last year as a junior.

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Liberty preview: Lightning look to keep climbing in first Class 4A season

West preview: Trojans ‘ready to reload again’

Linn-Mar at Dubuque Hempstead

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

Records and rankings: Linn-Mar was 6-4 last season; Hempstead was 4-5.

Overview: Linn-Mar is coming off a district-championship season and returns its top rusher in Bricen White (790 yards, six touchdowns). Juniors Clayton Muszynski (87 tackles) and Jeron Senters (seven interceptions) are two of the top defensive returners in the Metro. Hempstead might be poised for a breakthrough. Four of the Mustangs’ five losses last year were decided by eight points or less, and QB Aiden Dunne (1,240 passing yards, 12 TDs) leads a strong list of veterans. Consider Hempstead a dark horse in the MVC Valley Division race.

Linn-Mar preview: Lions have high expectations, but primarily are happy to be playing

Cedar Rapids Jefferson vs. Cedar Rapids Washington

Site and time: 7:15 p.m. Friday, at Kingston Stadium (Washington is the home team, and its fans will sit on the west side)

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

Overview: Thanks to Jefferson’s 24-7 win last year, it’s a legitimate rivalry again. The J-Hawks’ triumph was their first in the series since 2001. Washington is the team with more returning, though, including quarterback Henry Clymer, who passed for 1,370 yards and 10 touchdowns. Also back are his top four targets from last year — Maxwell Bjornsen, Zaren Ross-Carr, Mason Ward and Justin Scherrman. The Warriors won their final three games last season after an 0-6 start.

Jefferson preview: J-Hawks won’t leave Kingston Stadium much this football season

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Washington preview: Warriors feel good about 2020 season after big finish to 2019

Pleasant Valley at Iowa City Regina

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

Records and rankings: Pleasant Valley was 4-5 last season; Class A No. 1 Regina was 9-3.

Overview: Despite the disparity in enrollment (Pleasant Valley is 4A and four classes larger than Regina), this doesn’t feel like a mismatch. This matchup was put together Wednesday morning, less than two days after Regina’s original opponent, Dyersville Beckman, was forced to back out due to COVID-19 quarantine. The Regals bring back the duo of Ashton Cook and Alec Wick, one of the most prolific passing combos in the state, regardless of class. Caden Kipper ran for 600 yards last season for Pleasant Valley.

Regina preview: Regals carry 'quiet confidence' with No. 1 preseason ranking

Davenport Central at Iowa City High

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

Records and rankings: Central was 3-6 last season; City High was 2-7.

Overview: City High could gain some traction and make a run at a winning season, but only if the Little Hawks’ defense drastically improves after allowing 37.2 points per game in 2019. Junior Gable Mitchell is a two-way standout; he caught 20 passes last year and also led the team with 47 tackles. Central closed 2019 with three losses and sustained substantial graduation losses, and this is a good opportunity for City to open the season with some momentum.

City High preview: With numbers up, Little Hawks seek resurgence

Williamsburg at Solon

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

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Records and rankings: Class 2A No. 4 Williamsburg was 8-4 last season; No. 6 Solon was 12-1.

Overview: Lucas Stanton makes his Solon coaching debut; he previously was a head coach at North Cedar and Anamosa, and inherits a tradition-rich program that reached the 3A state final last year. A lot of the Spartans’ weapons from that team have graduated, but Carson Shive (77.5 tackles) is an exception. Williamsburg has one at least one playoff game in eight consecutive years under Curt Ritchie; the Raiders reached the 2A semifinals last year after starting 1-3. Levi Weldon passed for 11 touchdowns and led the team with 65 tackles.

Williamsburg preview: Raiders have new turf and similar playoff hopes

Solon preview: Spartans enter new era with new coach Lucas Stanton

Sigourney-Keota at Mid-Prairie

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

Records and rankings: Class 1A No. 9 Sigourney-Keota was 8-1 last season; Mid-Prairie was 6-3.

Overview: Here’s a pair of teams with plenty of incentive after narrowly missing the 2019 playoffs. Sigourney-Keota was the only team in any class to stay home with an 8-1 record. Sam Sieren is back for his senior year after rushing for 1,122 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. The Cobras led 1A in scoring at 47.2 points per game while Mid-Prairie was third in 2A at a 41.9-point rate. Kayden Reinier ran for 1,127 yards and 21 TDs for the Golden Hawks.

Central City at Springville

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

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Records and rankings: Central City was 4-5 last season; 8-Player No. 8 Springville was 7-3.

Overview: The Tractor Bowl concluded the 2019 season for these Linn County rivals (Springville won it, 36-14), and it will open the new campaign Friday night. The Orioles return key players in Spencer DeMean (1,043 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns), Grant Gloeckner (73 tackles) and Alex Koppes (five interceptions). Central City returns its top tackler in Cole Silver, who made 80 stops, including 57 solos.

Springville preview: Orioles return versatile lineup on offense and defense

Dubuque Wahlert at West Delaware

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

Records and rankings: Wahlert was 3-6 last season; Class 3A No. 8 West Delaware was 5-4.

Overview: West Delaware got a jump on the majority of the state last week, routing Anamosa 66-0 in a Week 0 road game. Jared Voss accounted for five touchdowns (three rushing, two passing), throwing for 139 yards and running for 118 (on just seven carries). The Hawks netted 527 yards in a complete, dominant performance. The win was the Hawks’ fourth straight, dating back to Week 7 of last season. Wahlert tripped the Hawks, 17-15, last year, and brings back from key pieces including quarterback Charlie Fair and RB Gabe Anstoetter.

West Delaware preview: Veteran Hawks expect to rebound from ‘disappointing year’

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

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