Week Eight Iowa High School Football Preview
With two weeks remaining in the Iowa high school football season, at least one district title and area playoff qualifier has been determined. Others will be secured Friday night (October 17, 2014).
Heading into its non-district game at Anamosa, La Porte City Union already knows it's going to the playoffs as a No. 1 seed. The Knights are guaranteed a share of the Class-2A District 6 championship and they'll play for the outright title at South Hardin next week. Union can do no worse than finish the district race in a three-way tie with South Tama and Aplington-Parkersburg, but the Knights own the tie-breaker with victories over both teams.
Five other Northeast Iowa teams will match Union's accomplishment with a victory this week, too. Don Bosco, Janesville, Nashua-Plainfield, South Winneshiek and Central Community all control their own fate.
In eight-player football, top-ranked Don Bosco clinches the No. 1 playoff seed and a share of the District 5 title with a win at Dunkerton, while Central Community locks up a share of the District 4 championship by beating Kee High. The top playoff seed in District 4 won't be determined until next week, unless West Central loses at Springville Friday night.
In eight-player District 3, third-ranked Janesville is looking to claim its first regular-season championship since the state of Iowa switched to district competition in 1992. The Wildcats will accomplish that goal with a win at Clarksville.
"That is the goal that we (coaches) keep preaching," Janesville Coach Dale Eastman said. "There's something that we can do that we've never done before. We're playing it out one game at a time, right now.
"There's definitely some big hopes in Janesville and with our football team that we can win a district title, and, hopefully, get that monkey off our back with a first-round playoff win. We'll see how it goes from there."
Eastman, now in his third season at Janesville, has guided the team to a 22-5 mark since taking charge of the program prior to the 2012 season. The Wildcats are seeking their seventh-straight playoff berth, but they haven't won a playoff game under Eastman, despite a combined 15-5 mark the past two years.
An upset by Clarksville likely won't keep Janesville out of the post-season, but an Indians' win could force a three-way tie at the top of the district standings heading into the final regular-season game next week.
"It's going to be a physical match-up," Eastman said. "Not only is it a District 3 game, it's also an Iowa Star Conference rivalry game. We've been butting heads with Clarksville for a long time. I think that plays more into it than just a District 3 battle."
Gladbrook-Reinbeck and Nashua-Plainfield are in a position similar to Janesville's. Both teams are in the driver's seat for district crowns, but losses could force a tie with two other teams.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck, ranked fourth in Class-A, locks up a share of the District 4 title with a win over Grundy Center Friday night. The Rebels are hosting the 95th meeting of "The Battle of the Bell", one of the country's oldest small school rivalries west of the Mississippi River.
The series between Grundy Center and Reinbeck, which are separated by just nine miles, began in 1920. The Spartans own a slight lead in the all-time series with Reinbeck and Gladbrook-Reinbeck, 43-42-9. The Rebels, however, have won 13 of the last 16 meetings.
Also in Class-A, sixth-ranked Nashua-Plainfield hosts Belmond-Klemme with a chance to secure the No. 1 playoff seed in District 3. With a win, the Huskies claim at least a share of the regular-season crown. Belmond-Klemme could force a three-way tie for first-place with an upset victory.
In Class-1A, second-ranked South Winneshiek clinches the District Four title outright this week with a victory at home against Clayton Ridge and a loss by Hudson, which is hosting MFL-Mar-Mac.