City High coach Dan Sabers looks on against Linn-Mar on Aug. 26. Tork Mason/For Your Prep Sports.By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – City High took care of business away from home during the month of September.
Now the road to the Class 4A, District 7 title runs through Frank Bates Field.
Class 4A fifth-ranked City High (5-1) won four road games in September including back-to-back road wins the last two weeks to open district play.
The Little Hawks return to Bates Field for a two-game homestand that will determine the District 7 champion and opens with a meeting with Muscatine on Friday.
City High is tied with Bettendorf atop the District 7 standings at 2-0 and hosts the Bulldogs next week.
“The next two at our place are big, no doubt about it,” City High coach Dan Sabers said. “I tell the kids we have a chance to win a championship on our field. It’s not going to be easy but we get a chance the next two weeks to win a championship on our field and that’s as good as it gets.”
Before City High can think about a de facto district seven title game against Bettendorf next week the Little Hawks have to get past Muscatine.
City High senior Brock HungerAt 1-1 in district play following a loss to Bettendorf in the district opener the Muskies are still alive for a district title.
Friday becomes a possible elimination game for Muscatine with only two playoff spots available in each district.
“We know Muscatine and Bettendorf are the two big games so if we win this game Bettendorf is going to be the district title,” City High senior Brock Hunger said. “But we know we have to win this game so we can get to Bettendorf and win a championship on our field and we know it isn’t going to be easy.”
City High has seen enough of Muscatine over the past two seasons to know Friday will be anything but easy.
Muscatine kept City High out of the playoffs with a 49-42 in its last trip to Bates Field in 2014.
The Little Hawks got a measure of revenge last season with a 42-41 win in Muscatine, stopping a two-point conversion attempt in the final minute to secure the win.
In last year’s meeting the two teams combined for 809 total yards after piling up 1,018 yards between them in the 2015 regular season finale.
“As a defensive player I kind of want to forget about it, I just remember 41 points,” Hunger said of last year. “They’ve been great games, kind of that Big 12 style of game and they’ve been fun to play in.”
A City High defense allowing just 18 points per game is hoping to avoid another shootout on Friday.
To do that the Little Hawks will need to find a way to control Muscatine senior tailback Alphonso Soko.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Soko ranks four in 4A with 823 rushing yards this season and ran for 237 yards and four touchdowns against City High last season.
“Soko is better than ever, he’s just tough,” Sabers said. “He cuts, he’s patient when he needs to be patient and then he will run you over if you aren’t ready and that’s a good combination and of course he has the breakaway speed. You put all that together and it starts and stops with him.”
Muscatine is more than just Soko.
Senior quarterback Luke Wichers has passed for 946 yards and eight touchdowns while directing a Muskie offense Sabers called the most complete the Little Hawks have faced this season.
Muscatine enters Friday averaging 332 yards and 30 points per game.
“It’s very similar to Clinton in that we know that they are going to hit some plays but we have to do our best to shut them down,” Hunger said. “It’s going to be a tough assignment but as long as we go out and execute we can win the game.”