Your Prep Sports
Football season is still five months away.
However, it is never too early to start talking about football and the Iowa High School Athletic Association started those conversations on Friday with the release of 2021-2022 district assignments.
Here are a few early football thoughts and observations on Your Prep Sports area teams following the release of the districts and new classifications and playoff set ups for 2021.
From Six to Seven
This doesn’t have anything to do with touchdowns or extra points instead the big change this season is the addition of one more 11-man class bringing the total number of classes to seven.
Welcome to Iowa 5A football.
The largest 36 schools in the state (which includes City High and West High) will compete in the new formed Class 5A with 16 teams reaching the playoffs all based on the RPI formula.
Liberty High remains in Class 4A (which is now the second largest class) along with Clear Creek Amana.
Solon is back in 3A (which is now the third largest class) while Regina and West Branch are both in Class 1A.
If you aren’t lost yet you may be in a few sentences but hang in there it’s not really all that complicated.
Classes 5A, 4A and 3A all play nine game regular seasons with 16-team playoff brackets while the four smallest classes play eight-game regular seasons followed by a 32-team playoff.
Deep breath, here we go.
5A uses the RPI formula to selected 16 playoff teams. In 4A and 3A the top two teams in each of the six districts are automatic qualifiers with four at-large qualifiers selected by RPI.
In 2A, 1A and A the top four finishers in eight districts make up the 32-team playoff field.
The Boot, Bettendorf, the MAC and More in Group 4
City High and West High are joined in Class 5A’s group 4 by four teams from the Mississippi Athletic Conference in Davenport Central, Davenport North, Bettendorf and Pleasant Valley.
Facing foes from the Quad Cities is nothing new to either West High or City High.
West High played Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley and Davenport North in 2019 and City High saw Pleasant Valley and North two seasons ago.
Last season West High lost to Pleasant Valley in the 4A quarterfinals and City High defeated Davenport Central 35-14 in the season opener.
It’s a good draw for both City High and West High.
If you take out the Battle for the Boot game City High has one game against a team with a winning record from last season among the five opponents locked in with Friday’s announcement in defending 4A semifinalist Pleasant Valley (10-1).
The other three opponents for City High, Davenport North, Davenport Central and Davenport West were a combined 5-19 last season.
West High (6-1) had a more difficult road revealed on Friday with games against Bettendorf (5-3) and Cedar Rapids Prairie (5-3) along with Davenport Central.
After a year in separate classes West Branch and Regina aren’t just back in the same class, the two long-time rivals land in the same district.
The two conference foes will renew their rivalry for the first time this fall since a 30-20 Regina win in the Class 1A quarterfinals in 2019 after each landing in 1A, District 5.
Regina is back in 1A after going 11-1 while winning the Class A title a year ago. West Branch went 5-3 last season falling to Mediapolis, which is also in District 5, in the 1A second round last year.
Durant (4-4) led by 1,589-yard rusher Nolan DeLong, Wilton (2-6) and Louisa-Muscatine (1-7) round out District 5.
Liberty High is back in Class 4A for the second straight season and for the third time in four varsity seasons will be in the second largest class.
After going 2-3 in its first year as a 4A program Liberty High stays in 4A which is now the second largest class.
Liberty High made the 3A playoffs in 2019 in its second varsity season before jumping to 4A a year ago and join defending 3A champion North Scott in 4A, District 3 this season.
Despite the presence of a defending state champion this is a good spot for Liberty High which joins Mount Pleasant (4-4), Fort Madison (7-2), Clinton (0-7) and Burlington (1-5).
There is some travel here but Liberty High has a great opportunity to grab one of the top automatic playoff qualifying spots from this district.
Formidable Four in 4A, 4
The top takeaway involving area teams comes in 4A, District 4 where Clear Creek Amana faces a tough task.
Check out the presumed top four in this district.
Defending state semifinalist Cedar Rapids Xavier (10-1), perennial power Pella (6-3), Clear Creek Amana (4-4) and formerly 4A Cedar Rapids Washington (3-5).
That is a heck of a quartet atop one of the most interesting districts in 4A.