Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Makelle Taylor is tackled against Linn-Mar on Friday, October 21, 2022 at John Wall Field. (Amir Prellberg/Freelance)
A look at 11 Gazette Field rounds of 16 games in the Iowa High School Football Playoffs.
Linn-Mar on the prairies of Cedar Rapids
time and place: Friday, 7:00 p.m., John Wall Field
records and rankings: The Lions are No. 8 in Class 5A. Both teams are 6:3.
overview: Two games in as many weeks, bridging the regular season and playoffs. Will the sequel follow the path of Empire Strikes Back or Caddyshack II? The Lions won 28-13 in Week 9. Carter Henderson has rushed for 100 yards in each of his last five games, including 117 yards and three touchdowns in the past week. Henderson has 712 rushing yards and 12 TDs this season. Makelle Taylor leads Prairie’s offense with 1,061 rushing yards and 12 TDs, amassing 130 against the Lions. Quarterback Cal Sullivan rushed for two points, which gave him 14 total with eight passes. The winner likely gets a rematch with No. 4 Southeast Polk (8-1) receiving Ames (6-3).
Waukee Northwest at Cedar Rapids Kennedy
time and place: Friday, 7 p.m., at Kingston Stadium
records and rankings: No. 6 Northwest is 5-4 overall; Kennedy is 7-2.
overview: The Cougars ended the regular season with a dominant 41-0 win over Dubuque Hempstead to secure a home playoff game. Kennedy’s defense leads 5A with 9.1 points allowed per game and 16 fumble recoveries. The Cougars are second with 21.5 sacks and 109 tackles for loss. Kennedy sophomore Vincenzo Gianforte has passed nearly 1,250 yards and 15 TDs. Cyrus Courtney (31-464, five TDs) and Michael Mulherin (15-219, five TDs) were his biggest targets. Northwest have won five of their last six games, with the only slip being a 31-7 loss to leaders Ankeny. Sam Johnson leads the Wolves with a total of 1,455 offensive yards and 15 TDs, including 898 and six passes. Brady Grisham leads Northwest with 828 rushing yards and added five points on the ground.
Cedar Rapids Washington at Cedar Rapids Xavier
time and place: Friday, 7 p.m., at Saints Field
records and rankings: Washington is 5-4; third-placed Xavier is 9-0.
overview: Washington claimed last spot as a qualifier at large. The reward is a rematch with the Saints, who won the regular-season matchup at Kingston Stadium 38-0. The Warriors’ Watts McBride has 763 total offensive yards and Malik Epps-Keller has 852 passing yards and six TDs. The Saints’ defense has hampered opponents all season, allowing just 4.1 points per game with four shutouts. They haven’t dropped more than seven points in a game since 14th in the season opener against Western Dubuque. Xavier has 47 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. Thomas Sundell is the Saints’ top tackler with 64.5 tackles, 47 solo and 14 for losses. Michael Cunningham has 1,054 yards and 17 TDs on the ground while Ronan Thomas has passed for 1,096 and 16 TDs for the Saints trying to return to the 4A State Title Game this fall.
Webster City at Iowa City Liberty
time and place: Friday, 7 p.m., at North Liberty
records and rankings: No. 10 Webster City is 6-3; fifth-placed Liberty is 8-1.
overview: The Lightning are making their second playoff appearance and first since 2019. They’re still looking for their first win of the postseason. Liberty has won six straight games and achieved a 42-7 triumph over Clinton. Lightning quarterback Graham Beckman was sensational, throwing for 2,127 yards and 27 TDs. He’s also rushed for 200 yards with four TDs. Four receivers have 300+ yards, including Garrett Gregoire (31-666) and Wyatt Williams (25-445). They teamed up for 15 TD receptions. Webster City sped more than 12,000 feet. Jaxon Cherry accounts for more than half, rushing for 1,664 and 29 of the Lynx’s 44 TDs on the ground. Ty McKinney has four interceptions for Webster City.
Iowa City High in Johnston
time and place: Friday, 7 p.m., at Johnston
records and rankings: City High ranks ninth. Johnston is sixth. Both are 6-3.
overview: Iowa City High will try its way back to the UNI Dome, reaching the 5A semifinals last year before losing to state champion Southeast Polk, who beat Johnston in the first round a year ago. The Little Hawks have two straight wins, including a school-record 79-0 against Davenport Central in Week 9. Johnston has three straight wins and four of his last five. The only loss was against No. 2 West Des Moines Dowling. City High scores a 45.6-point clip. The Little Hawks lead 5A in scoring and in TD passes (33). You exceeded 2,428 yards. Akili Mattox leads receivers with 29 catches for 624 yards while Ronnie leads Major City High with 466 yards and eight TDs on the floor. Johnston’s Will Nuss has passed for 1,573 yards and 16 TDs, including 488 and six to Rex Woodley.
West Delaware near Solon
time and place: 7pm Friday, in Solon
records and rankings: Ninth West Delaware is 5-4; No. 5 Solon is 7-2.
overview: Both teams overcame slow starts outside the precinct. The Hawks started 1-3 with losses to top-ranked 4A teams Xavier and Waverly-Shell Rock and 2A playoff qualifier Dubuque Wahlert. The Spartans have won six straight games after a narrow loss to second-placed rivals Mount Vernon and 2A No. 2 Williamsburg. Both teams have strong 1-2 shots on offense. For West Delaware, it’s QB Brent Yonkovic and running back Will Ward. Yonkovic has 1,417 total yards and nine TDs, including 713 and four passing. Ward has rushed for 1,194 yards with 17 TDs. Solon counters with Blake Timmons and Brett White. Timmons has passed 850 yards and seven points, adding 580 and 14 TDs. White leads the team with 806 yards and 11 TDs. White also leads the Spartan defense with 63 tackles and 36 solos.
DeWitt headquarters in Mount Vernon
time and place: Friday, 7 p.m., at Mount Vernon
records and rankings: No. 10 Central is 6-3; Runner-up Mount Vernon is 9-0.
overview: Mount Vernon recorded its first undefeated regular season since 2002. Not only are the Mustangs undefeated, they did it convincingly. They have outscored opponents by averaging 35.4 points per game, second only to leader Harlan. The pass attack is an important reason. Quarterback Joey Rhomberg is second in 3A with 24 TDs and passes for a 4A best of 2,061 yards. Mount Vernon deals the ball with 13 players with at least one catch and seven with double-digit receptions. Evan Brase (536 yards) and Brady Erickson (428) lead the Mustangs with 37 catches each, and Cade Stimmel (361) has 34. David Harper leads an even central rushing attack with 609 yards on 95 carries and five TDs.
Benton Community in Independence
time and place: Friday, 7 p.m., at Independence
records and rankings: Benton is 6-3; third-placed independence is 9-1.
overview: Independence are one of the hottest teams around, having won nine straight games since a season-opening loss at Davenport Assumption. The Mustangs’ offense is centered on senior QB Mitch Johnson, who has 2,066 offensive yards and 26 TDs, passes for 1,391 and 15 and rushes for 664 and 11. Trey Weber ran for 814 yards and 11 scores. Tate Wood has a team-high 11 tackles for loss for the Mustangs, who forced 13 turnovers. Carson Bruns has rushed for 921 yards and 15 TDs for the Bobcats. Brennen Blegen leads Benton with 53 tackles and is among the 3A leaders with two fumble recoveries. Bobcats senior Will Shaw ranks third in 3A with eight sacks.
Mid-prairie at Williamsburg
time and place: Friday, 7 p.m., in Williamsburg
records and rankings: Mid-Prairie is 6-3; Second-place Williamsburg is 9-0.
overview: Williamsburg holds its own as one of the most dominant teams this season regardless of class. The Raiders are one of four undefeated in 2A, leading the league in points per game (50.9) and point difference (41.1) and keeping teams under 10 points per contest while forcing 30 turnovers. Williamsburg defeated Mid-Prairie 56-7 in Week 6 thanks to Carson Huedepohl, who threw for 137 yards and rushed for 126 yards for a total of three TDs. The Raiders’ Clayten Steckly leads 2A with three defensive TDs – all interception returns. Williamsburg has won nine straight games against Mid-Prairie, who have won their last two regular season games. The Golden Hawks’ Braden Hartley has rushed for 1,335 yards and 14 TDs. Cain Brown leads Mid-Prairie in tackles (48), interceptions (4) and receivings (23-417).
East Buchanan at Alburnett
time and place: Friday, 7 p.m., in Alburnett
records and rankings: East Buchanan is ranked eighth while Alburnett is No. 10. Both are 8-1.
overview: The buccaneers and pirates fight again. East Buchanan returns to Alburnett, where they won 34-27 in Week 4. The matchup is a classic offensive-style clash. The Buccaneers maintain the ground-and-pound style, which has racked up 3,637 yards and ranks second in Class A. You’re about to have three 1,000-yard rushers. Tanner Thurn leads with 1,218. Ryland Cornell is second with 1,100 while Hunter Bowers has 949. Bowers has nine catches for 286 yards when the team passes. Alburnett’s passing attack is among the best in class and is led by QB Mason Neighbor, who is third in Class A with 1,914 yards and second with 27 TDs. Grayson Carolan and Braydon Osborn are his main targets. Carolan has 667 yards on 31 catches with 10 TDs. Osborn has 37 receptions for 521 and eight scores.
Central City at WACO
time and place: Friday, 7 p.m., at Wayland
records and rankings: Downtown is 8-1; No. 2 WACO is 10-0.
overview: Central City has won eight games for the first time since their last playoff appearance in 2018 and only the third time in 15 seasons. The Wildcats are in the playoffs for the third time in program history. Central City clinched their second postseason win last week with a 46-26 triumph over Tripoli. The Wildcats have 44.8 points per game while WACO has 48.9. Aiden Klostermann leads for Central City with 1,170 rushing yards and 20 TDs while Matt Klostermann has 532 and nine. Aiden also leads the Wildcats’ defense with four interceptions. WACO only allows 13.7 points per game. The Warriors reached the Quarterfinals last season. Isaac Oswald has 1,224 passing yards and 20 TDs and Simeon Reichenbach has run for 1,036 and 23 TDs for WACO.
Other playoff games in the Gazette section
No. 9 Western Dubuque (6-3) at No. 7 North Scott (7-2)
Crestwood (6-3) at No. 10 Waukon (6-3)
Centerville (7-2) at #9 Monticello (7-2)
No. 10 Dyke New Hartford (7-2) at No. 8 MFL MarMac (8-1)
Waterloo Columbus (6-3) at No. 3 West Branch (9-0)
No.9 Mediapolis (8-1) at Sigourney-Keota (7-2)
Mason City Newman (8-1) at No. 6 North Linn (8-1)
No. 6 Gladbrook-Reinbeck (8-1) in Turkey Valley (7-1)
No. 5 Easton Valley (7-1) at Montezuma (8-2)
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