Your Prep Sports
City High (2-2) at Class 5A No. 10 West High (3-1)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Trojan Field
The annual Battle for the Boot is one of the best rivalries in all of Iowa high school football.
City High snapped a four-game losing streak in the Battle for the Boot series and a five-game overall skid to West High last season with a 56-7 win at City High.
Home field advantage has been important in the recent history of the series with the home team going 8-3 in the last 11 Boot games.
City High has not won at West High since a 20-7 victory in 2016 the Trojans winning the previous two Boot matchups at Trojan Field by a combined score of 110-33.
City High is 1-4 in its last 5 Boot games at West High and West High has averaged 40.8 points per game during that stretch.
Only one of the last six Battle for the Boot games have been decided by less than 10 points, a 36-32 West High win at City High in 2019.
However this season feels much different with a pair of teams that appear evenly matched on paper.
Players to Watch
West High – Jack Wallace
Wallace got his first taste of the cross-town rivalry last season and it was an inauspicious Boot debut for the West High signal caller.
Wallace completed two of 15 passes for 71 yards with three interceptions in a 56-7 loss at City High.
Forget about that performance, this is a different West High team and a much different Wallace this fall.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Wallace has been excellent so far this season completing 56 percent of his passes for 786 yards and 10 touchdowns with just one interception.
Wallace has also rushed for 42 yards which could be a necessity on Friday against an aggressive City High defense.
City High – Drew Larson
Larson also got his first look at the Battle for the Boot last season but didn’t need to do much completing three of six pass attempts as West High rushed for 399 yards.
This season Larson will be the focal point for the Little Hawks after blossoming into one the premier quarterbacks in Class 5A through the first four games of the season.
Larson has passed for 945 yards and seven touchdowns with just two interceptions while completing 66 percent of his passes.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound junior has also rushed for 112 yards and three touchdowns and will need to be at his efficient best against an improved West High defense.
Keys to the Game
West High – Get Janis Going
Plain and simple Christian Janis is a game-changer.
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound senior receiver is a threat to score any time he touches the ball.
Even without the ball in his hands Janis changes the game by the attention he demands from a defense at all times.
When Janis has touched the ball he has been dynamic.
Janis is averaging 25.4 yards per reception this season with seven of his 19 catches going for touchdowns.
He is also a threat on special teams averaging 18.5 yards per kick off return and 18.2 yards per punt return including an 81-yard for a touchdown.
The key for West High is to get the ball in the hands of its star playmaker, preferably in space.
A big game from Janis means good things for the West High offense.
City High – Control the Game
It is simple right? Just control the game.
Obviously, there is more to this key than just getting ahead and staying ahead.
City High needs to dictate the tempo of this game.
The Little Hawks can play fast, they have an explosive offense averaging more than 8 yards per snap, but it’s more than just controlling the pace of play.
Liberty High scored on its first two drives, built a 9-0 lead and led 23-6 midway through the opening quarter in a season-opening win over City High.
West Des Moines Dowling jumped to a 14-0 lead after one quarter and led 21-0 at the half in a 34-0 win over the Little Hawks last week.
The last time West High won a boot game it returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown in 56-20 win at Trojan Field in 2020.
City High must control the emotion that comes with a cross-town rivalry game, weather the initial storm from West High early and get off to a strong start.
The first quarter could go a long way in determining who controls the tempo of this game.
Both Teams – Run the Ball
Both teams possess incredibly talented and productive quarterbacks that lead offenses more pass-centric than power run based.
However, the history of this rivalry says the team that wins the ground game also wins on the scoreboard.
Over the past 14 Battle for the Boot games the team that has more rushing yards has gone 13-1.
For 11 consecutive seasons from 2008 to 2018 the team with more rushing yards won the game.
City High outgained West High 250-122 on the ground in a 36-32 loss in 2019.
Other than that game winning the ground game has meant coming out on top.
Both teams have been solid but not spectacular running the ball this season.
City High is averaging 128.5 yards per game on the ground and West High 117.8 rushing yards per game.
Both teams have been more successful this season the better they are on the ground.
West His is averaging 135 rushing yards per game in three wins and had 66 rushing yards in its lone loss.
City High is averaging 169 yards per game on the ground in two wins and that number drops to 88 per game in two losses.
Neither team needs to run for 200 yards on Friday to get a win but whether it is grinding clock in the fourth quarter or converting on third or fourth and short the team the trends say the team that is more successful in the run game hoists the Boot.