By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
The opening round of the prep football playoffs features numerous rivalry matchups including a couple of area conference rivals squaring off in the opening round.
West High coach Garrett Hartwig isn’t ready to file his team’s first round meeting with sixth-ranked Bettendorf (7-2) in the rivalry column yet.
“I will not call this a rivalry yet because they have beaten us every time we have played them so I won’t call it a rivalry,” Hartwig said. “It’s an intense matchup that will require our best effort to come out on top but we are excited to have the opportunity.”
The two eastern Iowa powers have met five times in the past five seasons with Bettendorf winning all five including a 43-18 win in the second round of the 4A playoffs last season.
Bettendorf has ended the season for West High three times in the past five seasons with playoff wins over the Trojans in 2011 and 2013.
West High (7-2) will try to snap that streak on Friday at Touvelle Stadium in Bettendorf.
“It’s a sign of good programs when you meet in the postseason, that’s how it should be,” Hartwig said. “It wouldn’t feel like football season if we didn’t see them across the field at some point.”
West High won four straight games to close the regular season to reach the playoffs for the sixth straight season.
The Trojans join City High (7-2) in the eastern half of the Class 4A playoff field as the Little Hawks are making their second straight playoff appearance since a rare playoff miss in 2014.
City High travels to North Scott (5-4) in the opening round on Friday.
“We’ve always believed we were a playoff team and to finally have it verified was nice,” Hartwig said. “It was something we expected so we are prepared and ready to go.”
Hartwig won’t call the meeting with Bettendorf a rivalry but there isn’t any other way to describe Regina’s opening round matchup in Class 1A.
Six-time defending state champion and top-ranked Regina (8-1) opens its title defense by hosting long-time rival West Branch (6-3) at Regal Field.
The River Valley Conference rivals met in the 1A quarterfinals last season with Regina winning a 35-28 decision on its way to its fourth consecutive 1A title.
Class 3A No. 7 Solon (8-1) faces its own opening round meeting with a conference rival in its 12th consecutive playoff appearance.
Solon will host WAMAC foe Benton Community (7-2) on Friday at Spartan Stadium.
The two conference opponents last meet in the 2013 regular season finale, a 43-7 Solon win in Van Horne.
“They are going to play hard they are going to be physical,” Miller said. “Just knowing coach (Kal) Goodchild their teams always play really hard and they are sound fundamentally.”
Solon enters the playoffs on a seven-game winning streak and the District 5 champion while Benton Community won its final six regular season games to secure the runner-up spot in District 3.
“They aren’t going to beat themselves,” Miller said. “They are going to be sound and play hard and it looks like they have some nice size up front.”