Jason Miller speaks with high school football coaches from City High, West High, Iowa City Regina, Solon, and West Branch live at Midtown Family Restaurant at 8am each Saturday morning.
It is THAT time.
Yes, that time.
Playoff that time.
All (5) of our Coaches' Corner teams (and their coach, of course) will be participating in the postseason beginning with this evening. Each team is heading into the promised land a bit differently, and we will look at that right...about...now.
BOOK ENDS - The Little Hawks are indeed champions of the Mississippi Division of the Mississippi Valley Conference...albeit a co-champion. Something happening along the way to the playoffs: City lost its final game, 35-14 to Cedar Rapids Kennedy. After dropping game 1 of the season to Cedar Falls, the Eastsiders had found an identity. Most of it was in the face and form of hard running ball carrier Xavier Washpun. The bad news: the Little Hawks lost last Friday. The good news: every team that is still alive and kicking has a 0-0 record. Well, that is how I see it.
BACKING IN WITH COMMONALITY - Do not tell West High head coach Brian Sauser that an asterisk should be placed on this year's co-conference title with City (the Little Hawks defeated the Trojans in week 7). "We will take a title no matter how it happens." the coach said on last week's Coaches Corner show. I agree with him. That was then, this is now. The Trojans will play Dubuque Hempstead, a team they defeated 39-35 in week 6 of the season. However, the field of play with change: the game takes place at West this time around.
KEEPING THE STATUS QUO - Solon clinched its 9th consecutive district title with a win on Friday over Benton Community. The Spartans are playing very spirited football since their week 2 loss to Iowa City Regina. Home field advantage is definitely at play for Solon as they will host Western Dubuque on Wednesday. A strong offensive performance from the Spartans, led by quarterback Jacob Black and a very powerful line. Look for success early and often if you are a spectator.
CHASING HISTORY - All season long we have heard about the Regina Regal winning streak and how they are chasing the all-time consecutive games won benchmark of Waterloo West. Do not tell that to Head Coach Marv Cook, however. He acknowledges the streak, but is always quick to acknowledge that the team is only looking at the next opponent. In the first round, it will be a conference foe: Tipton. The Tigers lost their final game of the season against Alburnett, fumbling the ball an astonishing 11 times in that contest...and lost 9 of them. The rain may slow the Regal passing game, but Riley Dixon, Jake Brinkman, and their teammates are licking chops in wait to hit the field...running.
IT'S OUR TIME - That has been the West Branch Football motto for the 2013 season. A year that began with many football 'experts' saying the Bears would finish near the bottom of District 6 (I will admit, however, I projected the Bears to finish 6-3...and they finished? 6-3) and not be a part of the postseason fun. 47-0 was the final score last week against Cardinal (Eldon), and that punched the Bear ticket into the promised land. West Branch will travel to Maquoketa Valley (Delhi) to take on the District 5 champion. Ryan Parmely leads the Wildcat offensive attack. He is the 3rd leading rusher for the entire state of Iowa with just under 2000 yards, and he has scored 19 touchdowns. WB back Michael Gould led District 6 rushers with 1160 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns.
Listen LIVE to the West Branch vs Maquoketa Valley game right here on AM800 KXIC beginning at 6:30. We talked with Bear head coach Butch Pedersen and Gould and you can hear those conversations during the pregame festivities.
Also, be sure to listen on Saturday to the Coaches' Corner as we break down all the playoff action.
As I stated on the Coaches Corner program a week ago, Friday night was going to offer many things to talk about.
THE BOOT IS ON THE OTHER FOOT
City High dominated the Battle of the Boot, winning 7 consecutive games (through the 2011 season) before West High ended the streak in 2012. That old adage of "one a shoe knows which foot its supposed to fit" seems to work here. I am not saying West High was unworthy of the winning the game Friday - as they are definitely a worthy opponent to anyone. I am saying that City High and their lunch pail work ethic won out, 14-7. Trojan QB Nate Boland had West within a yard of a comeback victory/tie/OT story before his counterpart, City QB Mitch Wieland, playing defensive back, knocked away a Boland pass at the buzzer to seal the victory.
WHO'S THAT SPARTAN IN MY BACKFIELD
Solon may be playing as well as anyone in Class 3A right now. With the return of Jordan Wymer to the backfield, and the continued strong running of Jacob Black and Brandon Kramer, the future is looking good. It certainly needs to this week as the Spartans travel for Maquoketa to play in a game that will likely decide the District 6 champion. Coach Kevin Miller gives all the credit to the spirited attack to his assistant coaches and the offensive line. "They continue to work so hard each week," he said on the Coaches Corner, October 12. "We have to challenge ourselves to keep improving and doing the right things."
HAS ANYONE SEEN MY BEACH BALL
As if you needed any additional proof that Regina is the best team in Class 1A, or probably 2A and arguably 3A, their 45-27 road victory against previously unbeaten #4 Wilton on Friday puts the rest of 1A on DefCon 1,275. Funny thing is, the scoreboard at the end was not indicative of how dominant Regina was in the game. The Regals were ahead 38-7 heading into the 4th quarter. Riley Dixon led the way with 280 yards rushing and 3 scores. QB Drew Cook continued his strong play, throwing for just shy of 200 yards. Drew is currently the 7th leading passer, by yardage, in all of Class 1A. Head Coach Marv Cook said the team needs to continue to work on things to make them better. He praised Wilton for their effort and stated "they are a very good football team." Well, I am guessing the Regals are a bit better than "very good"
West Branch went on the road this week and dominated its opponent, North Cedar, in pretty much every statistical category. QB Lucas Lamont threw for 139 yards to bring his season total to 1,160 yards (10th in Class 1A). The school record is 1,625, held by former Bears 1st team all-stater Caleb Walter. Side note: who is the current QB coach at West Branch? Of course, it's none other than Walter himself. The Bears travel to Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont this week for a battle to decide the #3 seed in Class 1A District 6. EBF is coming off an 'upset' victory at Sigourney-Keota, on the Cobras' homecoming, by a score of 23-0. Bear RB Michael Gould rushed for 177 yards. He currently leads the district with 820 rushing yards.
PLAYOFFS? WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PLAYOFFS?
City, West, Regina, and Solon are all 100% in the playoffs. But, they have conference or district titles still on the line. Regina will be the district champion with a win on Friday night against Wapello. The Spartans of Solon will be district champs with a win on Friday at Maquoketa. City and West still have a bit of hay in the barn before their conference pecking order is decided. However, with a victory Friday, the Little Hawks have a step up. West Branch is VERY likely in as well. If the Bears win Friday night, they are a Moline lock for the #3 seed in District 6. If they were to lose, WB can get in with a win in its final regular season game. The good news, it is at the friendly confines of the Little Rose Bowl against Cardinal. Or, if the Bears were to lose their final 2 games, they can get a bit of help from their friends Wilton and Regina and be in. Ain't life grand?
Make sure to listen LIVE this Saturday at 8:00 on AM800-KXIC. Or, come and enjoy a great breakfast and listen in-house at the Midtown Family Restaurant on Iowa City's East Side.
Hard to think that we are heading into the 6th week of the high school football season..but we definitely are.
At this point in the season, you begin to look at the possibilities for/of postseason. So, with that in mind, I am going to give my odds and projections.
WEST HIGH - 100% lock for the playoffs. The balanced attack is back on the West side of Iowa City. They will play the second half of their scheduled Dubuque football concert series this week before the Boot is on the line. As of right now, I see them being a quarterfinalist at minimum.
CITY HIGH - The playoffs are in the cards for the Little Hawks, too. 100%. RB Xavier Washpun has been rumored to have had "US Mail" tattooed on his back. Why? Because he has been delivering for City. Back to back 200+ yard rushing weeks. 4-1 record and looking to go 5-1 this week before the big battle of Iowa City next week. 2nd round at a minimum.
SOLON - Is there any team in Eastern Iowa who has improved and become as feared (in class 3A) than Solon since week 2 of the season? The Spartans won an emotional battle, and on the scoreboard, last week in DeWitt and have pretty much solidified their postseason position if they win this week. Look for that to happen. 100% lock. Quarterfinals at a minimum.
REGINA - 100% lock for the playoffs. 100% lock for the UNI-Dome. 3:1 favorite to win a 4th consecutive state title. They have won their last two games without the services of all-state RB Riley Dixon. The able legs of Jake Brinkman have been the main go-to guy in his absence, and will definitely be toting the pigskin no matter the injury situation. The Regals will be gearing up for next week's D6 title game (realistically) with Wilton.
WEST BRANCH - If the Bears win this week, they are a 100% lock. If they were to lose, the Bears are still looking good 90%. Coach Butch Pedersen said last week on the Coaches' Corner show, "we are just beginning to see the potential of these kids...they are no longer young." If youth serves, the Bears may just find a way to get beyond Round 1 of the Class 1A playoffs.
This is the fun part of the season for a numbers guy like me. If you want to be a part of the fun, come and join us on Saturday mornings at 8 as we record the Coaches' Corner show. Feel free to stop by the table and say hello.
Be prepared, though.
You may just be put to the on-air test!
So much has happened. So much is happening. So much will happen.
Such is life in the fun and wacky world of Friday night football in Eastern Iowa.
FLEXING THEIR MUSCLES – Iowa City Regina has played four games. Iowa City Regina has won all 4 games. Iowa City Regina has dominated each opponent in those four games. The next two weeks should, on paper, bring much more of the same. Cardinal and Alburnett are the obstacles at the beginning of the road to Wilton on October 11. Jake Brinkman filled in more than admirably for injured RB Riley Dixon last Friday. The big bruising back scored 4 times and the Regals rolled to a 30 point victory. Bad news for the visiting Comets of Cardinal this week: it’s Homecoming in NE Iowa City.
MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION – If games were played on paper, West High should have won by a larger margin than 21-14 over CR Prairie last Friday. But do not tell that to the Trojans or Hawks. The last time the 2 teams faced off was in the 2012 playoffs. Prairie won that game. West didn’t forget. 21-14 in favor of the good guys is much better than the opposite. This week, the Trojans get 1-3 Dubuque Senior. Next week, they get Hempstead…who plays City this week…who plays West in 3 weeks. Who knows, maybe the shoe is on the other foot for the Trojans in 2013.
A FAMILY AFFAIR – Solon is back to good since their 38-0 loss at the hands of Regina. Two weeks, two wins. This week, however, the Spartans face Dewitt Central. No big deal that the Sabres are coached by a guy named Mike Miller. Does the last name seem familiar? It should because Mike is the youngest brother of Solon coach Kevin. “I am proud of the man and coach he has become.” Kevin said on the Coaches Corner last weekend. DC hopes the sting of bad decisions made them forfeit two games is not not lingering.
THEY ARE WHO WE ALWAYS THOUGHT THEY WERE – City High has had a couple of rough seasons following their 3-year reign of 4A supremacy. But, like I mentioned many times on the program, you can just see the energy and pure joy of the game in the eyes of Head Coach Dan Sabers. 3 wins, 1 heartbreaking loss to a top 5 team is the story so far. I just see the next few chapters having happy endings. If Coach Sabers, or myself, has/have anything to do with it, I am sure they will.
DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER…AGAIN – In 2012, West Branch defeated Lisbon and Durant before losing its first two Class 1A District 6 games to Regina and Wilton. In 2013, West Branch defeated Lisbon and Durant before losing its first two Class 1A District 6 games to Regina and Wilton. In 2012, West Branch reeled off 5 consecutive wins to end the season. The Bears then went on the road in the first round of the playoffs and defeated Clayton Ridge in Guttenburg. If the Bears and Eagles win out, they will meet in, you guessed it, the first round of the playoffs in Guttenburg. Symmetry is a fun thing.
Make sure to tune in each Saturday morning at 8am for all the details of the previous night’s games. Or join us LIVE at the Midtown Family Restaurant on Iowa City’s Eastside. The only time the show will not be live on air is when Iowa plays an 11 o’clock home game. The show will be recorded and air immediately following Iowa postgame coverage.
One week down, 8 more to go.
It was wonderful to get back in the saddle at the Midtown Family Restaurant and talk about actual games again.
From the interviews, and the results, hear are my first week impressions:
CITY HIGH is going to be a tough out as the season wears on. If you were listening to the Jay Capron Morning Show last Friday at 9:45, you would have heard me label Cedar Falls as being on 'upset alert'. And, for the majority of the game on Bates Field, the Tigers were living up to my prediction....Coach Dan Sabers is one of the real good guys in the coaching circle. He 'gets it'.
WEST HIGH was able to stay cool on the field while continue the heat wave of offense Friday night. 67 points in a season opener, on a night when the temps were in the mid 90s? When you return an all-state caliber QB and play in a high octane offense, it helps. Coach Brian Sauser is one of the more intense coaches I've met. Not afraid to get in the ring for his guys. 615 total yards? Wow.
SOLON definitely has the sound and look of the Johnson County Juggernaut reemerging this season. Jacob Black: hello! A nice transfer at QB who ran for two 35+ yard TD and threw for another. With the big fellas up from, Sparty is a contenduh! This week they hope to crown the Regals and return the favor of ending a long winning streak. Get to Solon by 4:30 or you might not have a seat.
IOWA CITY REGINA is Cooking up another great season. From Marv to Drew is going to be a popular line of questioning and byline this year. The latter being the son of the former, and has taken over the reigns as QB for the 3 time defending state champs. Coach Cook is really complimentary of the job the kids did in the offseason to prepare. He also understands the level of competition takes a BIG leap forward from week 1 to week 2. No offense to the Comets, or for them, but Solon will bring it far more on Friday.
WEST BRANCH was supposed to be down this year if you asked Coach Butch Pedersen before Friday night's game..again, before the game. Then, the Bears travel to Lisbon and defeat the then #3 ranked Lions (Class A) on their home field, 28-20. The score was not even that close. The head coach praised the effort of his defense and of junior QB Lucas Lamont, he of the 3 TD strikes. Opening night at the Little Rose Bowl is this week. After low expectations, the Bears will start 2-0. Mark that down.
Be sure to catch all the coaches LIVE on Saturday at the Midtown Family Restaurant on Iowa City's eastside. Or, just listen to us at 8am (most Saturday mornings).
PROGRAM NOTE: this week the show will not play LIVE, but rather on tape delay following the Iowa-Missouri State football game. Estimated time: 6pm.
Have a great week!
With the kickoff of the high school football season quickly approaching, some thoughts/questions have entered my mind.
1) Can City High turn things around and get the ship back on the course of success? Recent seasons have been tough on the eastsiders. But, hunger for victory can fuel a great many things. One of my favorite lunch pail players, Amos Lovela, will be missed.
2) What can West High do to match the last two seasons? Well, they can start by winning games. Replacing the talent at WR of Jeremy Morgan and Dre Alexander is going to be a tough task to ask. Ezra Reiner may be the biggest shoes to fill of anybody in Eastern Iowa.
3) I think the sleeping giant is awakening in northern Johnson County. Coach Kevin Miller and his Solon Spartans are ramping up the intensity in early season practices. Look for a surprise name to be leading the offense this year. Rumor has it that a transfer from SE Iowa will make a big splash in Class 3A.
4) West Branch: well, what can I say? You lose 2011 and 2012 1st team all-state RB Cade Jones, and his backfield mate of Bo Bower. Both were 3 year starters for the Bears. Cole Cook's leadership under center will also be a big role that needs filling. Key players for 2013: Jon St John, Michael Gould, and Lucas Lamont...among many.
5) Will anybody beat Regina in 2013? My short answer: no. Yes, the Regals graduated a boatload of talent at many positions. But, their junior class is loaded, and I mean loaded, with talent and ability. Drew Cook, the coach's son, takes over at QB. Returning in the backfield is Riley Hanrahan, an all-district performer.
So, will these questions have answers?
Tune in to the Coaches' Corner on August 24 at 8am to find out. Join us live at the Midtown Family Restaurant on Iowa City's east side.
Let's get it crackin'!