Your Prep Sports
West High (0-0) at Cedar Rapids Kennedy (0-0)
Where: Kingston Stadium, 7:15 p.m. (Thursday)
Last season: Cedar Rapids Kennedy 27, West High 20
Player to watch: More than half of the tackles for Cedar Rapids Kennedy senior Andrew Meyers (6-0, 220) last season came behind the line of scrimmage as the defensive lineman had a team-high 8.5 sacks among 22 tackles for loss and finished the season with 40 tackles.
Key stat: West High has won eight of the last 10 meetings with the Cougars dating back to 2011 with Kennedy snapping a four-game losing skid to the Trojans with its win in last year’s season opener. West High is averaging 31.8 points per game in its last 10 meetings with Kennedy.
About the Cougars: Cedar Rapids Kennedy continued to cement its status as one of the top programs in Eastern Iowa last season winning 10 games for the second time in three seasons while reaching the state quarterfinals for the third consecutive season.
The Cougars won 10 straight to start the season before falling to City High in the 5A quarterfinals.
There are some notable holes that need filling for the Cougars this season with the graduation of starting quarterback Carson Blietz, the loss of 1,200-yard rusher Jazan Williams and the top four receivers from a year ago.
The strength for the Cougars should be on defense where Kennedy returns three of its top four tacklers including senior Ryker Stelling (6-0, 200) who led the team with 78 tackles last season and senior Michael Mulherin (6-2, 205) who had 51.5 tackles including 13 for loss.
About the Trojans: West High is coming off an uncharacteristic 2-7 season in which it lost its final three games.
With 13 players that started a game last season returning there is reason to believe a big turnaround is in store this fall.
Sophomore quarterback Jack Wallace returns after starting every game last season as a freshman and will have his top target back in senior Christian Janis who missed most of last season with an injury sustained in the opener.
Senior running back Davontae Morris also returns after rushing for 209 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 4.8 yards per carry last season.
Defensively West High returns three of its top four tacklers in linebackers Ryne Vander Leest (67 tackles), Ashton Honore (35.5 tackles) and Braden Gladwin (29.5 tackles).
City High (0-0) vs. Liberty High (0-0)
Where: Kinnick Stadium, 7:15 p.m.
Last season: City High 41, Liberty High 0
Player to watch: City High senior Ben Kueter (6-2, 225) is the definition of a player to watch. The Iowa recruit will move all over the field on both offense and defense and is almost always around the ball. Kueter led 5A in tackles (101), tackles for loss (41) and sacks (11.5) a year ago and also had 369 receiving yards and nine touchdowns on 24 receptions.
Key stat: Liberty High averaged 197 rushing yards per game in back-to-back wins over City High in 2019 and 2020 but was held to 84 yards on the ground on just 3.5 yards per attempt in a 41-0 loss last season.
About the Lightning: Liberty High won three of its final four games following an 0-5 start last season but missed qualifying for the 4A postseason.
The Lightning will look to get back to the playoffs this fall with eight starters returning from a squad that went 3-2 in district play.
Junior Graham Beckman will make his first career start at quarterback after passing for 184 yards in a backup role last season.
Liberty High returns three starters on the offensive line and brings back its most dynamic player from a year ago in senior linebacker/tight end Christian Barney.
Barney ranked second on the team with 57.5 tackles last season and had 15 receptions for 290 yards and three touchdowns.
About the Little Hawks: City High completed one of the top turnarounds in the state last season going from two wins in 2020 to 10-2 and a trip to the 5A semifinals last fall.
After posting double digit wins and reaching the semifinals for the first time since 2010 City High brings back eight starters and is seeking a UNI-Dome return.
Kueter leads a group of four returning starters from a defense that was among the best in 5A last season holding opponents 175 total yards and 11.2 points per game.
Senior linebacker Alex Knudtson (20.5 tackles) returns alongside Kueter while Sam Kueter returns with starting experience on the defensive line.
Juniors Quinton Tran and Drew Larson return after passing for a combined 2,271 yards and 26 touchdowns while splitting time at quarterback last season.
Solon (0-0) at West Liberty (0-0)
Where: Memorial Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Last season: Solon 63, West Liberty 0
Player to watch: Solon senior tailback Sean Stahle bust onto the scene in the opener against West Liberty last season rushing for 87 yards and a touchdown on four carries and catching a 39-yard touchdown pass.
Key stat: Solon senior quarterback Blake Timmons has accounted for 4,158 yards of total offense and 51 touchdowns over the past two seasons as a varsity starter.
About the Comets: West Liberty had a string of five consecutive winning seasons end with a 3-6 mark but still advanced to the Class 2A postseason falling to Waukon in the opening round of the Class 2A playoffs.
The key loss for the Comets is all-state running back Jahsiah Galvan who rushed for 1,305 yards and 16 touchdowns last season while averaging 8.2 yards per carry.
Senior Drake Collins (5-11, 185) returns at quarterback after completing 61 percent of his passes for 703 yards and four touchdowns last season while also rushing for 122 yards and four scores.
The top three pass catchers for the Comets return in seniors Ty Jones (6-1, 170), Joshua Zeman (5-9, 160) and Blaze Maas (6-2, 170).
The trio combined for 51 receptions for 705 yards and four touchdowns last season.
Collins and Zeman return to lead the defense along with senior JD Seering (5-10, 205) who had 27 tackles a year ago.
About the Spartans: Solon is loaded up for another deep postseason run after reach the Class 3A semifinals last season.
The Spartans their first 11 games a year ago before falling to Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley in the 3A semifinals.
Solon has a trio of returning all-staters paving the way.
Senior quarterback Blake Timmons is a three-year starter coming off his best season when he accounted for nearly 2,500 yards of total offense and 29 touchdowns.
Joining Timmons in the backfield is senior Sean Stahle who rushed for a team-high 1,138 yards and 17 touchdowns last season while averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
Junior linebacker Brett White is back to lead the Spartan defense after posting a team-high 94 tackles with 14.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks.
Marion (0-0) at Clear Creek Amana (0-0)
Where: Clipper Field, 7:30 p.m.
Last season: Clear Creek Amana 36, Marion 35
Player to watch: Marion senior Alex Mota (6-1, 175) is an Iowa commit and a threat to make a big play anytime he is on the field. Mota passed for 879 yards and five touchdowns, rushed for 629 yards and seven scores and made 28 tackles last season.
Key stat: Marion and Clear Creek Amana combined for 869 yards of total offense and 71 points in last season’s meeting in Marion.
About the Wolves: Marion lost its final five games last season scoring just 41 total points in those losses on its way to a 1-8 season.
The Wolves are now 4-22 over the past three seasons winning three games in 2020 after a winless 2019 campaign.
After scoring 35 points against the Clippers in week one last season Marion averaged just 9.5 points over its final eight games scoring double figures in just three of its final eight games.
There is talent returning as Marion brings back a dynamic playmaker in Mota, its top two receivers in juniors Kaiden Griffith (6-0, 155) and Trey Franck (6-1, 175) who combined for 42 receptions for 729 yards and five touchdowns and its top rusher senior Kai Glade (6-0, 175) who ran for 733 yards last season.
About the Clippers: Clear Creek Amana finished 6-4 last season reaching the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs.
The Clippers return 10 starters from its playoff team from a year ago including seven from a defense that allowed 26.9 points per game last season.
With new starters at quarterback, running back and in the top two receiver spots the Clippers will rely on its experienced defense and offensive line early.
Three starters return on the offensive front for the Clippers led by seniors Caleb Allan and Jack Downes and sophomore Vinnie Keller.
The defense will be led by an experienced group of linebackers that features seniors Nick Johnson (38.5 tackles) and Brock Sherman (33.5 tackles) and sophomore defensive end turned outside backer Brody Clubb (39.5).
Jackson Schmidt will make his first career start at quarterback after playing receiver and defensive back a year ago.
Regina (0-0) at Williamsburg (0-0)
Where: Williamsburg, 7 p.m.
Last season: Regina 16, Williamsburg 14
Player to watch: Williamsburg junior Derek Weisskopf (6-3, 200) is an Iowa commit and one of the top juniors in the state. Weisskopf caught 23 passes for 372 yards and five touchdowns last season but does his best work on defense where he made a team-high 80 tackles including 67 solo stops last season as a sophomore.
Key stat: Williamsburg averaged 148.6 rushing yards per game in eight wins last season and managed just 36.3 yards per game on the ground in four losses including just 36 on 23 carries against Regina.
About the Raiders: Williamsburg rebounded from an 0-3 start a year ago to rattle off eight consecutive wins and reach the Class 2A semifinals where it fell to West Lyon 20-14.
The three consecutive losses to start the season came to three playoff teams in Regina, Solon and Van Meter that finished with a combined record of 33-2.
Much of production from last year’s team returns this fall led by seniors Gable Dayton and Owen Douglas and Weisskopf.
Dayton rushed for a team-high 832 yards and eight touchdowns last season while senior Owen Douglas added 316 yards and six scores.
Dayton also ranked second on the team with 68 tackles while Douglas was third on the team with 50 stops including 19 for loss and 5.5 sacks.
About the Regals: Regina was rolling along with nine consecutive wins to open the season before a 21-7 season-ending loss to MFL Mar-Mac in the second round of the Class 1A playoffs.
The Regals return nine starters from last year’s team including both of its starting quarterbacks from last season in senior Jack Tierney and junior Gentry Dumont and 1,000-yard rusher Levi Daniel.
The strength for Regina once again should be on defense where the Regals bring back three of its top seven tacklers from a unit that held opponents to 210 yards and 11.4 points per game.
Senior linebacker Ronan Poynton (29.5 tackles) teams with Daniel to give the Regals a strong nucleus at linebacker while senior Chris Waikel is back at defensive end after making 29 tackles including 5.5 for loss.
Lisbon (0-0) at West Branch (0-0)
Where: The Little Rose Bowl, 7 p.m.
Last season: West Branch 12, Lisbon 6
Player to watch: Lisbon senior Kaden Caspers (5-8, 170) is the top returning rusher, receiver and tackler for the Lions. Caspers rushed for 240 yards and a touchdown, caught 13 passes for 213 yards and five scores and 32.5 tackles including 4.5 for loss last season.
Key stat: West Branch has won five straight over Lisbon and has held the Lions to seven points or fewer four times during that stretch. West Branch has held Lisbon to an average of eight points per game in its current five-game winning streak in the series.
About the Lions: Following a season-opening loss to West Branch last season Lisbon won eight consecutive games before falling to East Buchanan 12-8 in the second round of the Class A playoffs.
The Lions were outstanding defensively a season ago holding seven of 10 opponents to under 14 points and allowing just 10.5 points per game.
Lisbon has some holes to fill after losing its top three rushers, top receiver and top five tacklers to graduation but reloads as well as any team in Class A.
Caspers will be a key for the Lions on both sides of the ball along with senior Cohen Kamaus (5-9, 145) who passed for 361 yards and five touchdowns with just one interception last season.
About the Bears: West Branch is coming off a 7-3 season that ended with a 24-7 loss at Dyersville Beckman in the second round of the Class 1A postseason.
The Bears return 10 starters from last year’s squad led by all-state senior running back and linebacker Andy Henson who rushed for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns and ranked second on the team with 42.5 tackles.
There is plenty surrounding Henson in what should be an explosive Bear offense.
Senior quarterback Tye Hughes will lead the offense after starting at Liberty High last season and has an experienced group of pass catchers at his disposal led by seniors Carver and Kinnick Boelk.
Four of the top seven tacklers return from last season as senior Wyatt Fiderlein (31 tackles) joins Henson at linebacker while Kinnick Boelk (40 tackles) and junior Cale Seydel (29.5 tackles) return in the secondary.