What to Watch in the Opening Round of the Football Playoffs
Blayze Griffis throws a pass against Regina. Jackie Blake Jensen/IC Pixx. By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
It took nine weeks of regular season football to narrow the field down to 16 teams in each of the six classes.
In two weeks the final four in each class will converge on the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls for spots in the state title game.
The first step toward the Dome begins on Friday when the playoff open across the state.
Here are five things to keep an eye on Friday in the opening round of the playoffs.
Besting the Bulldogs
West High hasn’t had much success against Bettendorf over the past several years, losing five straight to the Bulldogs since 2011.
Oliver Martin on the other hand has been almost unstoppable in meetings with Bettendorf.
The West High senior has caught at least seven passes, had 100 yards receiving and a touchdown in three straight games against Bettendorf dating back to 2014.
Martin has caught 27 passes for 332 yards and six touchdowns in his last three games against Bettendorf including a 8-catch, 101-yard, three-touchdown performance in last year’s second-round playoff matchup.
Six-time defending state champion Regina begins its quest for an unprecedented seventh consecutive title at home against West Branch (6-3).
Top-ranked Regina (8-1) has won 30 consecutive playoff games dating back to 2009 and hasn’t lost a game to a team in its own class during its six-year title run.
The last playoff loss for Regina was a 42-7 setback to Solon in the 2A quarterfinals on November 6 of 2009.
Solon has been a playoff regular for the past several decades.
The Spartans have also become accustomed to winning in the playoffs.
Solon has won 14th straight opening-round playoff games and hasn’t lost a postseason opener since 1999.
Seventh-ranked Solon (8-1) will host Benton Community (7-2) in the Class 3A opening round on Friday at Spartan Stadium.
Closing in on history
Luke Lenoch already owns every rushing record in the West Branch history books.
Lenoch can add a few more pieces of history to his resume on Friday.
The senior running back needs 94 yards rushing to become the 14th player in state history to crack the 6,000-yard mark.
With three touchdowns in Friday’s Class 1A opening round matchup with top-ranked Regina, Lenoch would become the become the 10th player in the state with 90 career touchdowns.
On the Road Again
At 7-2 Class 4A No. 10 City High hits the road to face 5-4 North Scott in its playoff opener.
Winning away from home hasn’t caused any problems for the Little Hawks this season.
City High is a perfect 5-0 in road games this season and has outscored opponents 192-92 away from Bates Field.
North Scott is 3-1 at home this season with its only loss at Lancer Stadium coming to Muscatine back on Sept. 16.