Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Aidan McDermott (1) celebrates with teammate Xavier Saints Brogan Zahn (80) after Zahn scored a touchdown earlier this season. The Saints have a challenge in North Scott on Friday. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)
A dozen of the best football games from Metro/Iowa City and Iowa High School in Week 4:
Linn Mar at Cedar Rapids Washington
Time and place: Friday, 7:15 p.m., at Kingston Stadium
Records and placings: Linn-Mar is 1-2; Class 4A No. 9 Washington is 2-1.
Overview: Thursday is the first day of the rest of the season and this could be a crucial game for both teams. Linn-Mar has lost two games in a row but nearly defeated 5A of Pleasant Valley’s top-five before falling into overtime. Washington, meanwhile, will try to recover after special teams let the Warriors down in a 27-6 loss to Cedar Rapids Kennedy. Washington’s Watts McBride has caught 14 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns, and Chase Mahoney has 24 tackles. For Linn-Mar, four of Keaton Roskop’s five receptions went for touchdowns.
Iowa City West at Davenport Central
Time and place: Thursday, 7:00 p.m. in Davenport (Brady Street Stadium)
Records and placings: West is 2-1; Central is 1-2.
Overview: West is heavily favored to win his third straight game and go 3-1 into the fight for the Week 5 boot. Christian Janis (14 catches, 372 yards, 5 TDs) is third in 5A in all-purpose yards with 600, and Jack Wallace is fourth in passing touchdowns (six). No wonder the Trojans average more than 310 yards per game. Central picked up their first win of the season last week, overtaking Cedar Rapids Jefferson 19-12 in overtime.
Cedar Rapids Xavier at North Scott
Time and place: Friday, 7:15 p.m., at Eldridge
Records and placings: Both teams are 3:0. Xavier is No. 3 in Class 4A; North Scott is No. 6.
Overview: Xavier has had back-to-back victories in top-flight competition, but this is likely the Saints’ toughest test of the regular season. The teams have a common opponent in western Dubuque (Xavier won 31-14; North Scott by 45-7). The Lancers are the last team to defeat Xavier in the regular season, 20-8 in Week 4 last year. The Saints will look to slow down a North Scott attack averaging more than 300 rushing yards per game, led by junior QB Kyler Gerardy, who already has nearly 1,000 total rushing yards amassed. The Saints counter with RB Michael Cunningham (354 rushing yards) and WR Aidan McDermott (four receiving TDs).
Iowa City High at West Des Moines Dowling
Time and place: Friday, 7:30 p.m., West Des Moines (Valley Stadium)
Records and placings: Both teams are 2:1. Dowling is No. 2 in Class 5A; City High is #6.
Overview: This game was City High’s launchpad last season. The Little Hawks defeated Dowling at Bates Field, and that led them to a 10-2 campaign that took them through to the state semifinals. Expect an air show from both sides. City High’s Drew Larson ranks second in the 5A in passing touchdowns (seven) and third in passing yards (766), while Dowling’s Jaxon Smolik is fifth in passing yards (584). The Maroons have played one of the toughest game schedules in the state to date, sharing games with central Iowa heavyweights Southeast Polk and Ankeny.
Iowa City Liberty at Clear Creek Amana
Time and place: Friday, 7 p.m., at Tiffin’s
Records and placings: Both teams are 2:1. Liberty is #10 in Class 4A.
Overview: How will Liberty recover after an upset loss in Western Dubuque? The Bolts, who looked so good in their first 1 1/2 games, haven’t been quite the same in the last six quarters and will be looking to rediscover their mojo. Offense isn’t an issue: Graham Beckman is fourth in 4A in passing yards (716), and the Lightning are averaging more than 30 points per game. They’ll be looking to move the ball against a CCA defense that has been surprisingly strong, allowing just 6.3 points per game. The Clippers recovered well from their last-second heartthrob in Week 2 at Independence, beating Washington (Iowa) 31-6 last week.
Iowa City Regina at Mediapolis
Time and place: Friday, 7 p.m., in Mediapolis
Records and placings: Regina is 2-1 overall, 0-0 Class 1A District 5; Mediapolis is 3-0, 0-0.
Overview: Let the fun begin in Class 1A District 5. Take Louisa-Muscatine out of the equation and the other five teams are tied 14-1 and that one loss (Regina vs. Williamsburg) is certainly not bad. This game and the undefeated clash between Wilton and Durant gives a first glimpse of what the pecking order might look like. The Regals’ defensive focus will be Mediapolis’ Anthony Isley, who ranks second among top-ranked rushers with 597 yards (he has eight touchdowns on the ground). After being ruled out in the first game, Regina has scored 85 points over the past two weeks.
Marion at DeWitt Central
Time and place: 7:15 p.m. Friday, at DeWitt
Records and placings: Marion is 1-2; Class 3A No. 8 Central is 3-0.
Overview: Marion’s shares have skyrocketed over the past week. After suffering one-sided losses in their first two games, Wolves put it all together with a surprise 38-14 win over then-3A-ranked Benton Community. University of Iowa recruit Alex Mota excelled on both sides of the ball, running for 130 yards and recording five tackles. Wolves will look to build on that momentum in that final game outside of the precinct and it will be a challenge. The Sabers have a 41.7-point clip behind RB Ben Pace (435 rushing yards, right touchdowns).
Cedar Rapids Jefferson vs. Cedar Rapids Kennedy
Time and place: 7:15 p.m. Friday, at Kingston Stadium (Kennedy is the home team and their fans are on the west side)
Records and placings: Class 5A No. 5 Kennedy is 3-0; Jefferson is 0-3.
Overview: Kennedy’s special teams were exemplary in last week’s win over Cedar Rapids Washington. The Cougars blocked a punt and a PAT, recovered an onside kick and went 2-on-2 on field goal attempts. The Cougars can also play defense, as evidenced by their 8.3 allowed points per game. That unit should shine again this week against a Jefferson club averaging 54 total offense yards per game. The J-Hawks fought hard last week as they lost 19-12 in overtime to Davenport Central. Kennedy has moved to the top of the 5A chart in RPI.
Cedar Rapids Prairie near Bettendorf
Time and place: Friday, 7:30 p.m. in Bettendorf
Records and placings: Class 5A No. 8 Prairie is 2-1; Bettendorf is 0-3.
Overview: Of all the events in 5A football so far this fall, perhaps the biggest surprise is the fact that Bettendorf is down 0-3. The Bulldogs gave up 372 rushing yards and four touchdowns to Muscatines Ty Cozad last week, and that’s gotta have Prairie’s Makelle Taylor, who has a big night in store for himself this week. Taylor has 368 yards in three weeks. The Hawks rushed for 336 yards in a 24-7 win over Cedar Falls at the UNI Dome last week, their second straight win. Prairie kept the Tigers on 141 yards on total offense.
Mount Vernon at Midpoint Urbana
Time and place: 7:15 p.m. Friday, at Center Point
Records and placings: Class 3A No. 4 Mount Vernon is 3-0; CPU is 2-1.
Overview: The secret is out… Mount Vernon is very good. The Mustangs picked up a couple of shutout wins centered around their memorable win in the Rivalry game against Solon and rocketed up the leaderboard. Caden Stimmel and Brady Erickson rank 1-2 among the 3A leaders in receptions with 17 and 16, respectively. This doesn’t seem like a cakewalk though: Center Point-Urbana has explosive skills and has scored in both wins in the 30s. Cole Werner ran for 373 yards and six touchdowns.
Dyersville Beckman at Cascade
Time and place: Friday, 7:00 p.m., Cascade
Records and placings: Class 1A No. 1 Beckman is 3-0 overall, 0-0 District 4; Cascade is 2-1, 0-0.
Overview: Beckman takes first place for the first time since The Gazette began compiling football rankings. The Blazers didn’t overwhelm their opponents, but did enough to get the job done. This begins a series of challenging district games (Waterloo Columbus, Sumner-Fredericksburg and MFL MarMac will also be a handful). Beckman’s Nick Wulfekuhle is fourth among the A1 rushers with 570 yards. Cascade is certainly a threat in this game; The Cougars already have a notch in their ranked team belt (2A’s Monticello).
East Buchanan at Alburnett
Time and place: Friday, 7 p.m., at Alburnett
Records and placings: East Buchanan is 2-1; Class A No. 7 Alburnett is 3-0.
Overview: Two elite defenders face off in what could be a playoff preview (perhaps a second-round or quarterfinals game). Alburnett is the Class A leader in goal defense (4.3 points per game allowed); East Buchanan is in second place (4.7) and both teams have recorded two shutouts. Ryland Cornell, Hunter Bowers and Gavin Reck each have two takeaways for the Bucs; Alburnetts Brody has compiled 24 tackles. Grayson Carolan is an explosive receiver for the Pirates, averaging over 30 yards per catch.
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