Your Prep Sports
Every team is in (almost) but not everyone is every team is playing (this week).
That is the quickest way to explain the 2020 playoff picture that was rolled out in its entirety over the weekend and gets underway on Friday.
If the revised postseason plan created to accommodate possible complications over COVID-19 cancellations wasn’t clear before the Iowa High School Athletic Association released pairings on Saturday it should be now.
Every team was eligible for the playoffs. Pod of two, three or four teams replaced brackets and Byes became common across all classes.
It’s different for sure but Clear Creek Amana coach Gabe Bakker appreciates the out-of-the-box plan the IHSAA put in place.
“I think it was a great move by the state, given all the options nobody really saw that one coming so kudos to them for coming up with it,” Bakker said. “It doesn’t penalize a team for having to miss a game due to COVID so I think it’s the best thing they could come up with. Given the situation I think everyone in the state will take it.”
The regular season was shortened to seven games to allow for an extended postseason.
With byes being used to get the number of teams in each class down to 32 for next week’s second round Clear Creek Amana is one of only two area teams that will play in an abbreviated opening week of the postseason.
For the Clippers the chance to play any game is a welcome opportunity after the uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic created this summer and throughout the fall.
“We’ve been lucky to play seven full football games, now we just want the opportunity to play another one,” Bakker said. “If you do have a bye who knows what can happen in those two weeks it could happen at your school or on your team or around the state so I think you just have to take every game as you can, be blessed to play it and go from there.”
Clear Creek Amana (4-3) landed in Class 3A Pod 7 and will host Marion (2-4) on Friday in the opening round with the winner traveling to top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier (7-0) in the second round.
First round games are set for Friday, second-round matchups for October 23.
The Pods will then be redrawn ahead of the third round games schedule for October 30.
Teams emerging from the second groups of pods will head to the UNI-Dome for the state semifinals.
Here is how it breaks down for area teams.
City High (1-3) is the only other Your Prep Sports area team playing an opening round game.
The Little Hawks host Ottumwa (0-6) on Friday with the winner travelling to West High (4-0) in the second round of 4A Pod 6.
Liberty High (2-2) gets an opening round Bye but travels to seventh-ranked Dubuque Hempstead (6-1) in round two.
As district champions or co-champions Solon (5-2), Regina (6-1) and West Branch (5-2) all earned opening round byes and home games in round two against opening round winners.
1,000 yard watch: An abbreviated regular season hasn’t stopped four area running backs from closing in on 1,000 rushing yards.
Regina senior Theo Kolie, Clear Creek Amana senior Alex Figueroa, Solon senior Jackson Ryan and West Branch sophomore Andy Henson all have a chance to crack the 1,000-yard barrier in their postseason opener.
Kolie is the closest to the mark, entering the postseason with 987 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground. The 20 rushing touchdowns for Kolie are second in Class A and rank seventh in the state.
Figueroa has rushed for 884 yards and 10 touchdowns while Ryan has 845 yards and Henson 817 on the ground.
More from Morgan: Marcus Morgan continues to find a way to one up himself.
A week after accounting for five touchdowns in a road win at Dubuque Senior the West High senior quarterback was somehow even better in a 48-21 win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy in the regular season finale.
Morgan completed 17-of-20 passes for 394 yards and five touchdowns, tossing scoring strikes to four different receivers.
The 394 passing yards are the second highest single game total in West High history and just 10 off the school record.
In four games this season Morgan has completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,053 yards and 14 touchdowns with 1 INT.
Regular season streaks: West High (4-0) is the lone remaining unbeaten team in the Your Prep Sports area but the Trojans aren’t alone in entering the postseason on a win streak.
Three other area teams will bring winning streaks of at least four into their postseason openers.
Regina (6-1) has the longest active winning streak, rattling off six consecutive wins following a season-opening loss to 4A fourth-ranked Pleasant Valley.
Solon (5-2) has won five straight after an 0-2 start while West Branch won its final four games.
Offensive performer of the week: Marcus Morgan was brilliant again on Friday but lets give some love to the West High receivers led by seniors Grahm Goering Mikey Brown and Damarion Williams for their play in a 48-21 win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
Brown caught four passes for 105 yards and scored an 86-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. Williams had four receptions for 81 yards and two scores and Goering caught three passes for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Best of the rest: Regina senior quarterback Ashton Cook completed all 11 of his pass attempts for 254 yards and two touchdowns in a 56-19 win over Highland.
Liberty High junior running back Darius Willis-Newell ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries in a 28-24 win over City High.
West Branch senior quarterback Gavin Hierseman completed 16-of-23 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 79 yards in a 35-21 win over Dyersville Beckman.
Defensive performer of the week: Liberty High junior defensive back Luke Meyer came up with perhaps the biggest play of the game in the Lightning’s 28-21 win over City High.
Meyer returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown to cut the City High lead to 17-14 in the third quarter as Liberty High rallied from a 10-point second half deficit.
Meyer had four tackles including three solo stops in the win.
Best of the rest: West Branch senior defensive end Jeff Bowie had two sacks and three tackles for loss among his 4.5 tackles in a 35-21 win over Dyersville Beckman.
Liberty High junior Jacob Adam had 11 solo stops and a team-high 14 total tackles in the 28-14 win over City High.
Solon senior linebacker Carson Shive had 13 tackles, including 12 solo stops and 2.5 tackles for loss in a 41-14 win at Center Point-Urbana.