9 Things to Watch in Week 9
Solon blocks against Regina on Sept. 2. Jackie Blake Jensen/IC Pixx. By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
When scoreboards hit triple zeros around the state on Friday night the season will end for most teams across Iowa.
By Saturday morning only 96 teams will remain alive as the playoff fields are announced at 10 a.m. for all six classes.
Before playoff brackets can be finalized there are still some postseason tickets that need punched.
As regular season finales approach here are nine things to watch in week nine.
Win And In
One of the 16 playoff spots in Class 1A is up for grabs on Friday at the Little Rose Bowl in West Branch.
West Branch (6-2) hosts Clayton Ridge (6-2) in a District 3 showdown with the winner earning the runner-up spot and an automatic playoff berth.
Whoever loses on Friday will have a shot at an at-large berth along with Belmond-Klemme, West Lyon and the loser of the Sigourney-Keota and Wilton matchup but West Branch can sleep easy Friday night with a win.
West High needs to take care of business against winless Ottumwa on Friday night to earn a playoff berth. The Trojans also need a tiny bit of help.
Plenty of eyes of those in green and gold will be focused on the game at Kingston Stadium where Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Cedar Rapids Prairie.
West High is in as the District 8 runner-up with a win and a Prairie win over Kennedy or if Kennedy wins by less than 12.
If Clear Creek Amana can close out the season with a home win over Central DeWitt (2-6) on Friday, the Clippers will likely have to wait on an at-large berth.
The scenarios in District 4 are complicated but all Clear Creek Amana can worry about is snapping a two-game losing skid with a win in its home finale.
Then the Clippers wait to see if going 7-2 is enough to reach the playoffs.
The Sheely Show
Junior Dylan Sheely will make his first start at quarterback on Friday in place of senior Ashton Carpenter who was lost for the season with an injury last week against Davenport Assumption.
Sheely got his feet wet last year as a sophomore and completed 6-of-15 passes for 45 yards with 3 interceptions in relief of Carpenter last week.
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Sheely has the ability to complement the Clear Creek Amana power running game with his throwing ability.
Taking Away the Big Play
West Branch isn’t going to completely shut down Clayton Ridge and its dynamic quarterback Jace Moore.
What the Bears can do is make Moore and the Eagles work for every point they get and that means avoiding the big play.
Moore has done plenty of damage with the deep ball this season.
The senior quarterback is averaging 18.8 yards per completion and has 10 touchdowns passes of more than 20 yards.
West Branch meanwhile has giving up nine pass touchdowns this season of longer than 19 yards and seven total touchdowns of longer than 50 yards.
For the second straight week West Branch turned to Luke Lenoch to close out a game.
Both times the senior running back got the job done.
After rushing for three second-half touchdowns in a 35-14 win over North Cedar two weeks ago, Lenoch ran for 154 yards and three scores in the second half of a 28-14 road win at Tipton.
Shutting it Down
District opponents have had a hard time sustaining any real offensive success against Solon.
The Spartans have posted back-to-back shutouts, giving up 184 total yards in those two game combined.
Class 3A No. 7 Solon has held four straight opponents under 170 total yards and is allowing 155 total yards and 4.2 points per game in district play entering Friday’s regular season finale at Fairfield (5-3).
Road Sweet Road
Class 4A No. 9 City High (6-2) will attempt to bounce back from last week’s 44-7 loss to Bettendorf on the road against Davenport North (1-8).
If the Little Hawks can win for the second time this season at Davenport’s Brady Street Stadium it would end the regular season a perfect 5-0 in road games.
City High is 4-0 in road games thus far, outscoring opponents 137-72 away from home.
That success away from Bates Field will come in handy as City High will travel in the opening round of the 4A playoffs as the runner-up in District 7.
With a win on Friday over Louisa-Muscatine (2-6) Class 1A top-ranked Regina (7-1) would cap a seventh consecutive unbeaten district schedule.
Regina last lost a district game on Oct. 16 of 2009 when it fell to Solon 42-7. The Regals are 89-3 overall during the last seven seasons and have won six straight state titles.