Three weeks remain for teams from Iowa’s 49 high school football districts to finish the 2015 regular season and earn one of 192 playoff spots available in six classifications.
That’s a lot to handle.
So, ahead of Week 7’s big games, let’s break it down.
Here are 10 districts across Iowa with regular season races you should be following.
We’ve skimmed through the powerhouses and programs that have already locked up playoff spots. Some of these 10 districts have massive matchups, others are tied at the top, and a few even have six or seven teams still in the hunt for a realistic shot at the postseason.
Only four teams can advance from each district listed. Let’s see how each race is shaping up.
CLASS 3A DISTRICT 8
Current leaders: No. 10 Glenwood (6-0, 3-0), No. 6 Dallas Center-Grimes (5-1, 3-0)
In the hunt: No. 8 Harlan (5-1, 2-1), Creston (4-2, 2-1)
The race: These four teams have separated themselves from the pack and the only one unranked, Creston, was a state semifinalist in 2014. No one knows how it will finish: All four teams have at least two games left against the others. Glenwood is the surprise contender after finishing 2-7 last season. And Dallas Center-Grimes plays there in Week 9.
“(Coach) Cory Faust has done an outstanding job since he’s arrived at Glenwood and taken control of that football program,” DCG coach Scott Heitland said. “They’re grabbing our attention not just for winning games, but the manner in which they’re winning them. We’ve got two very important games before we get to them, but Glenwood is a score we check out every week, that’s for sure.”
CLASS 2A DISTRICT 8
Current leader: Southeast Valley (5-1, 3-1)
In the hunt: Clarinda (3-3, 2-1), Carroll Kuemper (2-4, 2-1), East Sac County (2-4, 2-1), Shenandoah (4-2, 2-2), Red Oak (3-3, 1-2)
The race: It’s a free-for-all in southwest Iowa. Southeast Valley has the best overall record and a half-game lead in 2A-8, but its point differential average — the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s criteria for district tiebreakers — is fourth. None of the 2-1 teams sitting in playoff spots right now are above .500. Shenandoah is coming off back-to-back losses, but add a likely win over cellar-dweller West Central Valley, and 3-3 with a strong differential could mean a playoff spot.
CLASS 4A DISTRICT 4
Current leaders: No. 4 Fort Dodge (6-0, 2-0), Waukee (4-2, 2-0)
In the hunt: Marshalltown (3-3, 1-1), Urbandale (3-3, 1-1), Indianola (3-3, 0-2)
The race: Fort Dodge has been bigger, faster and stronger than its opponents thus far, but the schedule closes at Waukee and against Urbandale. Both squads have the athleticism and run games to catch up. All three are playing for first place, although the J-Hawks need a little help. But one will wind up hitting the road in the postseason. Indianola is gritty and has decisive wins in non-district play, but a loss Friday at Waukee would mean no mistakes the rest of the way. Marshalltown and first-year coach Don Knock host the Indians in Week 9.
CLASS 1A DISTRICT 5
Current leaders: No. 7 Alburnett (6-0, 4-0), No. 2 West Branch (6-0, 3-0), Wilton (3-3, 3-0)
In the hunt: Bellevue (2-4, 1-3), Durant (1-5, 1-3), Wapello (2-4, 0-3)
The race: Iowa’s only table with three teams sitting unbeaten in district play. The top spot may not be decided until Week 9, when West Branch plays at Alburnett. Wilton has hung tough with senior Javin Drake and junior Bryce Oveson making plays on both sides of the ball, but Alburnett is next right after a loss to 2A Mediapolis. The fourth-place position is up for grabs and could potentially drop to a 2-4 team.
CLASS 3A DISTRICT 6
Current leader: Gilbert (5-1, 3-0)
In the hunt: Bondurant-Farrar (4-2, 3-1), Grinnell (4-2, 2-1), Ballard (3-3, 2-1), Benton (3-3, 2-2)
The race: Five teams battled for four spots until the final seconds of the 2014 regular season. Gilbert is on top, having won five straight despite allowing 26 points per game and completing just 33 percent of its passes. A district known for wild games is ready for another furious finish.
EIGHT-PLAYER DISTRICT 1
Current leaders: No. 9 Exira-EHK (6-0, 4-0), No. 5 Newell-Fonda (6-0, 4-0)
In the hunt: Kingsley-Pierson (6-1, 3-1), ArWeVa (4-2, 2-2), Boyer Valley (2-4, 2-2)
The race: The winner likely breaks the tape this week and will play into November. Newell-Fonda hosts Exira-EHK on Friday night, a showdown between the defending champion and the 2013 runner-up, both unbeaten and vying for home-field advantage. Senior quarterback Brady Hansen can do it all for the Spartans, but running back Drew Buckholdt has rushed for more than 700 yards and 10 scores too. Newell-Fonda has gotten 13 touchdowns each from Cole Wise and Jason Hess, and has already gotten through the gauntlet of non-district play, ArWeVa and Kingsley-Pierson, teams that could contend for first in most other districts.
CLASS A DISTRICT 1
Current leader: No. 4 Logan-Magnolia (5-1, 4-0)
In the hunt: No. 8 Audubon (5-1, 3-1), Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto (4-2, 3-1), Council Bluffs St. Albert (4-2, 3-1), Westwood (4-2, 3-1)
The race: Who will join the defending champs? Four teams sit at 3-1 behind Logan-Magnolia without much to separate them. The IHSAA tiebreaker has them all locked up with 6.50 point differentials. But there’s a lot of football left, including MVAO vs. St. Albert and Westwood vs. Audubon this week, and the potentially home-field-deciding Audubon vs. St. Albert matchup in Week 9. Don’t bet against three or four qualifiers from A-1 making it out of the first round.
CLASS 3A DISTRICT 3
Current leaders: No. 2 West Delaware (6-0, 4-0), No. 5 Independence (6-0, 4-0)
In the hunt: Decorah (3-3, 2-1), Crestwood (2-4, 1-2), Waverly-Shell Rock (3-3, 0-3)
The race: The big one is next week in Manchester: Independence at West Delaware. Both teams have won convincingly and have 1,000 yard rushers — Independence’s Nicholas Holt and Coy Roussell for the Hawks — heading into the showdown. Who will earn the fourth spot? Waverly-Shell Rock is 0-3 but has already played the top three teams.
CLASS 1A DISTRICT 7
Current leader: No. 6 South Central Calhoun (5-1, 3-0)
In the hunt: Manson-Northwest Webster (3-3, 3-1), No. 9 Madrid (5-1, 2-1), Ogden (3-3, 2-1), Fort Dodge St. Edmond (3-3, 2-2)
The race: South Central Calhoun can pull away or make the field extra muddy by winning or losing at Madrid this week. The Tigers were flying high until meeting up with struggling Fort Dodge St. Edmond last week, and a loss to last year’s semifinalists meant a drop from No. 2 to No. 9. Manson-Northwest Webster won three straight after a 0-2 start to crash the party. The crowded field means a historic holdover could miss out: St. Edmond has made 12 playoff appearances (and was at the UNI-Dome the past two seasons), Ogden 15, and Madrid 25.
CLASS 4A DISTRICT 7
Current leaders: Pleasant Valley (4-2, 2-0), Dubuque Hempstead (5-1, 1-0), Iowa City West (1-5, 1-0)
In the hunt: Davenport Central (1-5, 0-2), Davenport North (0-6, 0-2)
The race: Iowa City West started 0-5 and could be in sole possession of first-place by next week. The five-team district format allows for a late-season push, and the Trojans have the talent to pull it off.
“Everything we want is still out there,” West coach Garrett Hartwig said. “We need to improve. That starts with me and our coaches putting guys in a position to be successful, but everything we play for is still in front of us.”
Hempstead hasn’t beaten a team that currently has a winning record. Pleasant Valley hosts Iowa City West in Week 9. And one of the defeated Davenport schools has to get in the playoffs.