Two byes for playoff openers
After a regular season changed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and filled with cancellations, quick rescheduling and new regulations, the postseason has arrived for Iowa high school football.
Starting Friday for some teams and next week for others, every high school team from eight man to Class 4A will have the opportunity to win the State Championship. This includes all nine teams in the Times-Republican’s coverage area: Marshalltown, West Marshall, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, East Marshall, Meskwaki, North Tama, South Tama, BCLUW and GMG.
Let’s go through each team’s season so far and who they will be facing in the first round of the playoffs.
OPPONENT: at Urbandale, Oct. 23
The Bobcats have been up-and-down this season, missing opportunities to win against teams like Fort Dodge and Cedar Rapids Washington and falling by single-score margins. Head coach Adam Goodvin and his offense have relied to a certain extent on the ground game of Malik Haynes. The senior running back averaged 7.8 yards per carry and ran for 683 yards on 88 carries, scoring five touchdowns. Patrick Landeros was second on the team with 363 yards on 69 carries with a team-high seven rushing scores. The duo accounted for all of Marshalltown’s ground scores.
683 yards on 88 carries, scoring five touchdowns. Patrick Landeros was second on the team with 363 yards on 69 carries with a team-high seven rushing scores. The duo accounted for all of Marshalltown’s ground scores.
In the passing game, Brendan Bates threw for 807 yards on 72-for-138 passing numbers with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Carson Williams led the team in receiving yards with 353 yards and two touchdowns on 32 receptions.
The Bobcats play No. 8 Urbandale on the road on Oct. 23. The J-Hawks are 5-1 on the year and are one of the most complete offensive teams in Class 4A. Quarterback Peyton Rottinghaus had 799 passing yards and eight touchdowns, while senior running back Tucker Langenburg ran for 808 yards and 16 touchdowns while averaging 8.5 yards per carry. The J-Hawks’ lone loss came against Waukee. Marshalltown has been okay this year, but will have a big task on its hands on the road.
No. 10 WEST MARSHALL
OPPONENT: Chariton OR Centerville, Oct. 23
There’s one name that comes to mind first and foremost when discussing the West Marshall Trojans — Preston Pope, the team’s starting running back.
Leading Class 2A in rushing yards with 1,395 on 178 carries, Pope reached the end zone 18 times and spearheaded the Trojans’ clinical rushing attack. Pope has been praised constantly by head coach Cody Hackett for his durability and willingness to take the two-yard carries in the first half before breaking runs in the second half as defenses tire. Quarterback Peyton Hart is also solid on the ground, contributing 387 yards on 66 carries. Through the air, Hart has accrued 681 passing yards — with Brayden Evertsen on the receiving end of 404 yards — and 10 touchdowns to go with one interception.
The Trojans clinched a Class 2A District 3 title with a win over Iowa Falls-Alden in their final regular season game, earning a bye and the chance to host the winner of Friday’s game between Chariton and Centerville. The Trojans rely heavily on the ground game, but with Pope in full song they will be a tough out.
No. 7 GLADBROOK-REINBECK
OPPONENT: West Central, Maynard, Friday
The Gladbrook-Reinbeck Rebels have played a boring brand of football in 2020. Their head coach, John Olson, said as much after an 8-6 win over Collins-Maxwell. The Rebels do not have an overwhleming amount of offensive talent, and are heavily reliant on senior quarterback Keagan Giesking to create scoring opportunities on the ground. Giesking has only thrown the ball 12 times this season, completing six passes for a total of 88 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman Isaac Clark is 7-for-11 for 105 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Where Giesking shines is in the rushing attack — he’s carried the ball a staggering 224 times for 1582 yards and 23 touchdowns. The plan of attack is to run Giesking between the tackles and bleed clock on offense while wearing down the defense. But where G-R shines is on the defensive end, an uncharacteristic skill in the eight-man game. In six of the seven games they’ve played, the Rebels have given up 28 points or less. Defense will be the team’s calling card in the postseason, starting against the winless Blue Devils.
OPPONENT: at AGWSR in Ackley, Friday
Meskwaki’s postseason hopes took a big hit in the Warriors’ final regular season game against BGM. Quarterback Taurice Grant suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him out of the team’s playoff run, which starts against AGWSR Friday night.
Grant was the key to Meskwaki’s high-flying offense, throwing for 1,025 yards on 77 completions. He has 13 touchdowns through the air and 19 rushing touchdowns. On 89 carries, the senior ran for 941 yards.
His leading receiver was senior Evan Nelson, who caught 34 passes for 416 yards and five touchdowns. With Grant out, junior Eleron Hainline has the most passing experience on the team. Hainline attempted 15 passes in the regular season, completing six.
OPPONENT: at Panorama in Panora, on Friday
East Marshall’s 2-0 start was quickly followed by a frustrating five-game losing streak heading into the postseason, capped off with a 41-0 defeat to Dike-New Hartford.
Led by Logan Bowie through the air with 314 passing yards and Samuel Bandstra with 359 yards on 100 carries, the Mustangs have struggled to create scoring opportunities. Only twice have they scored in the double-digits — both times in their wins early in the year.
The Mustangs face a tough task against the 5-2 Panthers.
OPPONENT: Oelwein, Friday
The Trojans snapped a two-year winless streak by defeating Saydel 55-6 in the opening game of the 2020 season. South Tama picked up two more wins by beating Vinton-Shellsburg and Union Community.
The Trojans were led offensively by senior quarterback Brayden Smith, who threw for 379 yards and five touchdowns and ran for 229 yards and five touchdowns on 79 carries. Payton Vest ran for a team-high 1,024 yards on 133 carries, averaging 7.7 yards per attempt.
He also scored a team-high nine touchdowns. The Trojans host a playoff game against Oelwein Friday with a chance to add to what has been an impressive turnaround.
OPPONENT: Maquoketa Valley, Friday
North Tama lost a lot of players from its 2019 team that went 10-1. It resulted in a 2-5 season for the Redhawks, led by a strong performance from quarterback Gabe Kopriva’s 997 passing yards and five touchdown passes. Kopriva contributed 243 rush yards and five touchdowns, but the rush attack ran through Noah Weber. Weber ran for 510 yards on 89 attempts and scored four times.
The Redhawks host the 1-6 Wildcats, hoping to move on to the second round of the playoffs Friday night.
OPPONENT: at Ogden, Friday
BCLUW’s lone win of the season came against Lynnville-Sully in the third game of the season, a 27-0 win that represents the only time this year the Comets have scored 21 points or more.
Senior quarterback Jesse Moore led the team with 314 yards passing and 643 rushing yards on 99 carries. Carson Hoffman ran for 234 yards and Nick Curl ran for 183 on 44 carries. Moore is the team’s main conduit and will be key in determining the Comets’ shot of beating 3-2 Ogden on the road.
OPPONENT: at Don Bosco in Gilbertville, Friday
The winless Wolverines have the toughest challenge of any area team this weekend, visiting the unbeaten Don Bosco Dons Friday night. The Wolverines had a difficult season, with a one-point loss to Collins-Maxwell opening night their closest game of the year. Kooper Gill was the team’s leading passer with 466 yards and two touchdowns, while Owen Collins ran for 325 yards on 64 attempts.
The leading receiver for the Wolverines is Brayden Anderson with 227 yards and one touchdown on 18 receptions.