Dowling Catholic (6-2, 3-0) at Marshalltown (6-2, 3-0)
The last two meetings between these two teams came in the playoffs, so it stands to reason tonight's Class 4A Division 3 showdown has postseason implications. The winner will get the division title and thus a better seat in the playoffs.
Both teams are guaranteed first round home games next Wednesday night, with Des Moines East and Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln the likely guests.
And both the Bobcats and Maroons are overcoming personnel losses. Fifth-ranked Dowling improved to 3-1 without starting quarterback Ryan Boyle, while MHS mauled Mason City last Friday without leading receiver Tad Steffensen. De'Quan McDowell filled in to the tune of eight receptions for 228 yards - the second-best single-game performance in 4A this year - and two touchdowns.
Grinnell (8-0, 5-0) at South Tama (7-1, 4-1)
Both teams have already punched their tickets to the playoffs, but the 3A District 4 title and the Steve Kriegel Memorial Trophy are both on the line. Grinnell has dominated the series recently, winning 12 of 15 meetings since Kriegel, a Tama grad and longtime Grinnell coach, died of pancreatic cancer in 1997.
South Tama's last win came in its last playoff year - 2007. The Trojans then rolled on all the way to the state semifinals. Leading the turnaround from last year's 2-7 campaign for STC is a juggernaut offense, which is fifth in 3A averaging 37.3 points per game. The Trojans boast the fifth-best rushing attack with senior Kyle Stephenson ranking third with 1,398 rushing yards and a state-best 21 touchdowns.
Grinnell, guaranteed its fifth straight playoff appearance, turns to the air. Junior quarterback Eli Dunne has the Tigers ranked second in 3A passing yards (2,041) thanks to a balanced receiving corps. Grinnell ranks second in 3A scoring (43.6) and third in scoring defense (9.4).
Gilbert (4-3, 2-2) at West Marshall (8-0, 4-0)
The Gilbert Tigers bring a three-game win streak into the 2A District 7 finale tonight in State Center, where the district title resides for the third year in a row. Third-ranked West Marshall has that already, as well as a 22-game district winning streak, and a fifth consecutive state playoff berth.
Gilbert is trying to make it to the playoffs for the third time in the last five year. The Tigers toppled previously unbeaten Bondurant-Farrar last Friday, forcing four turnovers and getting a 111 yards and two rushing touchdowns from Christopher Culek.
The Trojans lead 2A in rushing yards and boast the fifth-best scoring offense at 41 points per game. Duncan Ferch is tops with 1,653 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns, while senior defensive lineman Bailey Brockman ranks fourth in 2A with 16 tackles for loss and is fifth with seven quarterback sacks.
North Polk (5-3, 3-1) at East Marshall (3-6, 1-3)
No tiebreaker scenario exists to get East Marshall into the playoffs, but the Mustangs are trying to finish off their first season under head coach Pat Farley with a statement win. North Polk is headed to its third straight postseason, while East Marshall's 20-year drought lives on.
North Polk has 2A's 10th-best passing attack behind junior Cole Jackson, while East Marshall's ground game is fourth-best behind the backfield tandem of Zach Rubenbauer (1,242 yards) and Josh Wilson (1,007).
Linebacker Dalton Beadle leads 2A with five fumble recoveries for the Mustangs, who have lost three straight.
AGWSR (6-3, 3-3) at Prairie Valley (5-3, 4-2)
The Cougars can get into the playoffs for the first time since back-to-back trips in 2004-05 with a win or a Bishop Garrigan loss to Lake Mills. Prairie Valley is in for the fourth time in five years, led there by Class A's 10th-ranked defense (12 points per game against) and diminutive tailback Mason Gordon. The 5-foot-7, 165-pound Gordon has 954 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.
Nick Pieters had season-bests of 230 yards and three rushing touchdowns last week for AGWSR, which has won three of four since losing to Bishop Garrigan. That game holds the tiebreaker for the fourth and final playoff spot in District 2 in the event that the Cougars lose and Garrigan prevails.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck (4-4, 3-2) at GMG (1-7, 0-5)
The Rebels can finish anywhere from second to fifth after the final Friday night of the regular season, so G-R's third-straight playoff berth will look to a victory at GMG to avoid all the potential tiebreaker drama.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck has committed 11 turnovers in the last three weeks but still snapped Belle Plaine's five-game win streak in a critical victory last Friday. The Rebels' balanced offense has a 1,000-yard passer in Trevor Trunck and a 1,000-yard rusher in Chase Clark.
GMG has suffered six straight defeats yet can play spoiler on Senior Night. The Wolverines' lone senior, Blake Warren, leads the team with 635 rushing yards.
Iowa Valley (5-3, 2-3) at BCLUW (2-6, 1-4)
Iowa Valley's playoff hopes demand a Tiger win tonight in 'Comet Country.' John Gormley has 17 of the team's 25 touchdowns, so expect the Tigers' 1,000-yard rusher to play a key role.
BCLUW snapped its five-game slide last week at GMG, and the Comets are searching for their first home win since Week 2. Taylor Case erupted for a career-best 198 rushing yards and three TDs last week, while Deonce Cushinberry chipped in 116 yards and two scores in the Comet victory.
North Tama (7-1, 5-0) at Belle Plaine (6-2, 4-1)
Belle Plaine's five-game winning streak was halted last Friday by Gladbrook-Reinbeck, but a Class A District 4 title is still a possibility with a win tonight over fifth-ranked North Tama. The Plainsmen's defense ranks 12th in Class A but will get a test from a Redhawk offense that hasn't been held below 30 points since Week 2.
North Tama's six-game win streak has flourished behind a passing attack that ranks second in Class A. Quarterback Jacob Wrage has throw for 1,580 yards and ran for 441 more, netting 24 touchdowns. The Redhawks' Nolan Hefty is second in the state with 127 tackles.
North Tama will be making its seventh straight state tournament appearance, and Belle Plaine's is its fifth in a row.
Melcher-Dallas (6-1, 5-1) at Meskwaki (3-5, 2-4)
The Saints are already promised their eighth straight state playoff appearance, but the Meskwaki Warriors won't be joining them. Meskwaki can still find its way into a tie for fourth place in 8-Man District 5, but the tiebreaker system would still leave the Warriors out of reach.
Meskwaki has won three straight since starting the season 0-5, putting up an average of 50.7 points per game during the win streak. In last week's rout of Tri-County, freshman Terrell Grant threw for 112 yards and a touchdown, ran for 94 yards and two scores, returned two kickoffs to paydirt and added an interception for good measure.
Melcher-Dallas is led by Trent Flesher, who has rushed for 1,265 yards and 22 TDs. The Saints have forced 22 turnovers and rank 13th in 8-man defensive scoring average (20.7).