As the last few games of the prep football regular season wrapped up Friday night, there were plenty of coaches across the state who swapped playbooks for calculators and spent the waning hours of the regular season sifting through point ratings, tie breakers and potential scenarios trying to figure out who was in, who was out and who was going where.
When the dust finally settled late Friday night, an impressive eight of the 10 teams in the Press-Citizen coverage area had earned berths into the state playoffs that get under way Wednesday evening.
Perhaps even more impressive is that entering Friday night, all 10 Press-Citizen coverage area teams were still alive in the postseason chase.
The eight teams from the coverage area to reach the playoffs come from five classes with at least one team in each of the five largest classes.
“Across all the levels in the Iowa City area it really is amazing the quality of teams that all the schools put on the field around here,” West High coach Brian Sauser said. “It’s exciting.”
The success for area teams starts in Iowa City.
The three Iowa City schools combined to go 24-3 this season and will each host a first-round game Wednesday.
West High (8-1) earned the fourth seed in the east half of the Class 4A field and will host 13th-seeded Dubuque Hempstead on Wednesday.
City High (7-2) earned the sixth seed in the Class 4A east bracket and will play at home against Muscatine (5-4).
“It’s pretty impressive,” City High coach Dan Sabers said of the success of area teams. “I’m a firm believer that success breeds success. I think that once one program gets to wherever it may be, the other programs are going to say, ‘What are they doing?’ and ‘What do we need to do to get there?’ “
With the four seed, West High could face a potential matchup with fifth-seeded Bettendorf in the second round while City High could face No. 5 Cedar Rapids Xavier with a win.
The 4A east bracket is a near even split between Mississippi Valley Conference and Mississippi Athletic Conference teams.
The MVC has nine teams in the 16-team field, the MAC has seven.
West High’s rematch with Dubuque Hempstead is one of five games that feature teams that met in the regular season.
MVC foes Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids Washington will match up for the second time as will Cedar Rapids Prairie and Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
The only remaining unbeaten team in the east field is top-seeded Pleasant Valley, which will face Waterloo West (4-5) in the opening round. West High could potentially face Pleasant Valley in the quarterfinals.
“There is no question it is wide open, I really think it is,” Sabers said of the 4A field. ” … It will be really interesting to see how it all works out.”
Three-time defending state champ Regina (9-0) will host Tipton (4-5) in the opening round of the Class 1A playoffs.
The Regals ran their winning streak to 51 straight Friday with a hard-fought 19-0 win over a Sigourney-Keota team that failed to reach the playoffs, finishing fifth in Class 1A, District 6.
Regina, Wilton, Eddyville-Blakesburg and West Branch (6-3) all finished in front of Sigourney-Keota in the district standings.
West Branch (6-3) needed a week nine win over Cardinal to clinch the fourth playoff spot from Class 1A, District 6 and will travel to Delhi to take on No. 6 Maquoketa Valley (9-0) in the opening round.
That balance is one of the things that Regina coach Marv Cook has noticed about teams in the Iowa City area.
“We have a lot of great coaches around here,” Cook said. “When you sit and talk to these coaches, they get it, and they have some great staffs, and when you put those things together, it makes for really good quality football.”
The other two area teams to host opening round games are Class 3A No. 8 Solon (8-1), which will host Western Dubuque (4-5), and Mid-Prairie (7-2), which earned a home contest with Davis County (5-4) in the Class 2A opening round. Also in Class 2A, West Liberty (4-5) will travel to Bondurant-Farrar (7-2).
In Class A, Lone Tree (6-3) had a chance to win a district title Friday against Lisbon but dropped to third place in district 5 and will travel to No. 6 Pekin (7-2) on Wednesday.