The Battle for the Boot, one of the best rivalries in Iowa prep sports, and one of the biggest games of the year for both City High and West High, is in the rearview mirror.
Now the games that really count begin.
West High (0-4) and City High (2-2) both host district openers on Friday as Class 4A district play begins across the state.
“Here we are in Week 5 and every game has been meaningful and important and now we get ready for district play,” City High coach Dan Sabers said. “I think without question our kids are excited and the coaching staff is excited and we are going to work hard and play hard and see what happens.”
City High opens district play in a much different situation than a season ago, when it finished fifth in 4A District 6 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
After an 0-2 start, the Little Hawks have won two straight games entering Friday’s district opener against Ottumwa at Bates Field.
Last year, City High was reeling from a 30-6 loss to West High and dropped to 0-5 with a 34-0 loss at Ottumwa in its district opener.
“It was one of the low points probably in my coaching career,” Sabers said. “After that game I said ‘I really need to evaluate what we are doing’ because it was not a pretty sight. They played well and we didn’t and the score indicated that and I think that was a little bit of a turning point for the kids and the coaches.”
City High rebounded from last year’s Ottumwa loss to win two of its final four games, and have gone 4-4 overall since that loss.
Sabers is hoping Friday’s homecoming contest against the Bulldogs gives his team another boost heading into the district schedule.
“I think that was a turning point and I hope it shows this year that we’ve made big strides like I know we have,” Sabers said. “I’m hoping we can go out and play well again.”
At 0-4, West High hasn’t got off to the start it imagined.
Still, the Trojans have time to turn things around, starting with Friday’s home game against Davenport Central (1-3) in its District 7 opener.
Last year the Trojans rallied for a 28-24 win over the Blue Devils in Davenport on their way to a 3-1 district record and a runner-up finish.
Clear Creek Amana started the season 1-3, but has a chance to take big step toward a second straight playoff berth with Friday’s road game at Keokuk (1-3)
Both teams are 1-1 in Class 3A District 5.
Top-ranked Regina (4-0) is already 2-0 in Class 1A District 6 and travels to upstart Highland (3-1, 1-1 District 6) on Friday.
The Huskies started 3-1 last season, but lost their final five games and missed the postseason.
Lone Tree (4-0, 2-0 District) has a big road test Friday as it travels to Class A No. 7 Winfield-Mount Union (4-0, 2-0 district) in what could be a district title game.
ONE FINAL RIDE: Jared Hudson’s reason for switching jersey numbers on Friday was to give injured Lone Tree teammate Greg Feldman’s No. 32 one final ride.
What a ride it was for No. 32 on Friday.
Hudson ran for 229 yards on 31 carries and scored three total touchdowns in a 48-6 win at Cardinal.
The senior running back rushed for two scores and caught a touchdown pass in the win. He now has 12 touchdowns on the season.
ON THE BOARD: After three straight losses to open the season Clear Creek Amana got a breakthrough victory Friday with a 27-14 win over Fort Madison. The win snapped a five-game losing skid for the Clippers that dated back to last season.
West Branch (4-0) remained third in Class 1A behind second-ranked Madrid (4-0).
Mid-Prairie (4-0) made its first appearance in the Class 2A rankings this season, jumping in at No. 8.
West Des Moines Dowling (3-0) took over the top spot in Class 4A after downing previously top-ranked West Des Moines Valley on Friday.
The other top-ranked teams remained unchanged as Pella (3A), Albia (2A), BGM (A) and Don Bosco (8-player) all held onto the top spots.
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at email@example.com.