A dozen key area football games for Week 1:
IOWA CITY WEST at LINN-MAR
Time and site: 7:15 p.m. Friday, at Linn-Mar Stadium
Records and rankings: Both teams are 0-0. West is ranked fifth in Class 4A by The Gazette/KCRG; Linn-Mar is unranked. West was 9-3 last season; Linn-Mar was 10-1.
Notable: A matchup of the two 2011 MVC divisional champions. Linn-Mar graduated the bulk of a team that went 10-1 last year, including big guns Mark Atwater, Andy Henry and Mitch Wantock. Nick Trabucco will be counted on heavily; he rushed for 258 yards and accounted for 56 tackles, which ranked second on the team. West advanced to the 4A quarterfinals last year. Defense, which let the Trojans down at times in 2011, might actually develop into the team’s strength. Jessie Peterson and Ezra Reiners accounted for 116 and 102 tackles, respectively, last year. Dondre Alexander and Jeremy Morgan combined for 109 catches and 1,698 yards.
IOWA CITY HIGH at CEDAR FALLS
Time and site: 7:45 p.m. Friday, at Cedar Falls (UNI-Dome)
Records and rankings: Both teams are 0-0. City High is ranked 10th in Class 4A by The Gazette/KCRG; Cedar Falls is No. 6. City High was 8-3 last year; Cedar Falls was 11-2.
Notable: Year in and year out, these are two most consistent winners in the Mississippi Valley Conference. These teams met in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs last year, with the Tigers picking up a 21-7 victory. City High’s Amos Lavela is one of the state’s best two-way players; he led the Little Hawks in tackles in 2011, and rushed for 384 yards (7.7 per carry). Cedar Falls lost a wealth of talent in the skill positions, but has an elite lineman in junior Ross Pierschbacher. Tigers Coach Pat Mitchell ranks sixth all-time in Iowa in victories, with a 326-132-1 record in 45 years.
CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY vs. CEDAR RAPIDS WASHINGTON
Time and site: 7:15 p.m. Friday, at Kingston Stadium
Records and rankings: Both teams are 0-0 and unranked. Kennedy was 5-5 last year; Washington was 8-4.
Notable: The Kingston schedule kicks off with a game that figures to be highly competitive. Washington had a memorable postseason last year, edging Davenport Assumption, 38-35, before shocking Linn-Mar, 28-26, in Round 2. It ended in the quarterfinals, heartbreakingly, against Cedar Falls, 35-32. Mitch Bredeson returns for his senior season after leading Washington with 896 rushing yards in 2011. Kennedy counters with Alex Hillyer, who rushed for 771 yards and caught 17 passes for 224 yards. Kennedy should be much-improved defensively; five of the Cougars’ top seven tacklers return.
CEDAR RAPIDS JEFFERSON at CEDAR RAPIDS PRAIRIE
Time and site: 7:15 p.m. Friday, at John Wall Field
Records and rankings: Both teams are 0-0 and unranked. Jefferson was 0-9 last year; Prairie was 2-7.
Notable: For a team coming off a modest two-win season, Prairie entertains high hopes and expectations. The Hawks return more pieces than anybody in the Mississippi Valley Conference, including quarterback Jace Hanna, top receiver Jarred Edmonds and top tackler Cameron Rathje. The big difference might be the return of Demetrius Harper, who averaged 11.7 yards per carry last year before an early-season injury ended his action. Jefferson is in the midst of a 22-game losing streak and has a new coach in Brian Webb. Quarterback Layne Sullivan passed for 558 yards last season as a sophomore.
DUBUQUE HEMPSTEAD at CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER
Time and site: 7:15 p.m. Friday, at Saints Field
Records and rankings: Both teams are 0-0 and unranked. Hempstead was 3-6 last year; Xavier was 5-5.
Notable: After a 2011 that Coach Duane Schulte termed as “trying,” Xavier opens the new campaign with a soft early schedule and hopes of being the top team in the Metro. The Saints have an experienced quarterback in Reggie Schulte (Duane’s son), who completed 65.5 percent of his passes last year and threw for 1,501 yards. Furthering Xavier’s optimism is the infusion of strong juniors. Hempstead has a new coach in Bob McIntyre. Jake Hodge was the Mustangs’ No. 2 ground gainer last year, with 436 yards in his sophomore season.
MARION at MOUNT PLEASANT
Time and site: 7:30 p.m. Friday, at Mount Pleasant
Records and rankings: Both teams are 0-0 and unranked. Both squads were 4-5 last year.
Notable: Two programs unaccustomed to finishing on the wrong end of .500 look to take the first step toward a bounceback season. Marion was 4-1 last year before a Week 6 loss to Center Point-Urbana triggered a four-game losing streak that left the Indians out of the playoffs. Trev Beiry compiled 329 rushing yards and 46 tackles, but the biggest reason for optimism is the Indians’ mammoth lines. Mount Pleasant’s biggest threat is Dalton Conrad, who caught 31 passes for 558 yards and six TDs in 2011.
IOWA CITY REGINA at WEST LIBERTY
Time and site: 7:30 p.m. Friday, at West Liberty
Records and rankings: Both teams are 0-0. Regina is ranked No. 3 in Class 1A by The Gazette/KCRG; West Liberty is unranked. Regina was 14-0 last year; West Liberty was 7-4.
Notable: After ruling Class 2A the last two years, Regina takes its 28-game winning streak into 1A. Along the Regals way to last year’s state championship, the Regals took care of West Liberty twice — 48-9 in the regular-season and 55-13 in the second round of the playoffs. Regina took a hard hit from graduation, leaving guys like Alex Balke (17 catches, 300 yards) and Daniel Gaffey (51 tackles) in prime leadership roles. Quarterback Tyler Newsom and receiver Ty Williams spearhead an potentially explosive offense that averaged 41.4 points per game in the regular season last year.
CENTER POINT-URBANA at UNION
Time and site: 7:30 p.m. Friday, at La Porte City
Records and rankings: Both teams are 0-0. Union is ranked No. 2 in Class 2A by The Gazette/KCRG; CPU is unranked. The Stormin’ Pointers were 4-6 last season; Union was 12-2.
Notable: Union is down a class after claiming the Class 3A state championship last season. Included in the Knights’ run was a 56-7 Week 3 rout of Center Point-Urbana. Bet on this encounter being much closer. The Stormin’ Pointers won four straight games after an 0-5 start to scramble their way into the playoffs, and return most of their key players, including quarterback Ryan Wilkin, top rusher Brandon Roseberry and top receiver Josh Jirak. Union counters with junior quarterback Jay Scheel, who has received offers from most big-time college programs nearby, and receiver Trev Hadachek.
MEDIAPOLIS at LONE TREE
Time and site: 7 p.m. Friday, at Lone Tree
Records and rankings: Both teams are 0-0. Mediapolis is ranked No. 3 in Class 2A by The Gazette/KCRG; Lone Tree is No. 4 in Class A. Mediapolis was 11-1 last season; Lone Tree was 10-2.
Notable: Though these teams are two classes apart, they do share a common denominator: Both were eliminated from postseason play last year by the eventual state champions. Iowa City Regina handed Mediapolis its only loss of the season after 11 straight wins last year; Lone Tree was beaten twice by Lisbon. Jesse Ertz, a Kansas State recruit, leads Mediapolis. He passed for 2,577 yards and 30 touchdowns as a junior. He also rushed for 668 yards. Lone Tree is on the short list of Class A title hopefuls behind Gabe Lorack (828 yards passing, 764 rushing) and defenders Andy Dodson and Lucas Sieverding.
LISBON at WEST BRANCH
Time and site: 7 p.m. Friday, at West Branch
Records and rankings: Both teams are 0-0 and unranked. Lisbon was 14-0 last season; West Branch was 10-3.
Notable: Lisbon’s Class A championship run of 2011 got a big jump start in Week 2, when the Lions knocked off West Branch, 18-8. That’s history now, though, and the Lions have some major retooling to do on both sides of the ball. Trevor Moore rushed for 608 yards last year while Hunter Caspers was third on the team in tackles. West Branch has tradition (the Bears have been to the state semifinals four straight years) and one of the best backfields in the state — Cade Jones rushed for 1,769 yards and 27 touchdowns last year; Bo Bower added 637 yards and 14 TDs. West Branch Coach Butch Pederson is four wins away from becoming the 18th in state history to reach 250 in a career.
MOUNT VERNON at SOLON
Time and site: 7:30 p.m. Friday, at Solon
Records and rankings: Both teams are 0-0. Solon is ranked 10th in Class 3A by The Gazette/KCRG; Mount Vernon is unranked. The Mustangs were 2-7 last season; Solon was 9-2.
Notable: A new era dawns at Solon, which will unveil a new stadium complete with FieldTurf. The Highway 1 rivalry, once the best in Eastern Iowa, has been decisively one-sided recently. Solon has beaten the Mustangs nine straight times, including a 42-6 victory last season. The Spartans were hit hard by graduation, but did return most of their receiving corps, led by Rory Siddell and Colton Dahl. Coach Kevin Miller owns a 115-17 record in 11 years at Solon. After sliding in recent seasons, Mount Vernon has some room to grow. The Mustangs bring back six of their top seven tacklers from a year ago, led by Jake Mueller (112 stops).
VINTON-SHELLSBURG at BENTON COMMUNITY
Time and site: 7:30 p.m. Friday, at Van Horne
TV: KCRG 9.2
Records and rankings: Both teams are 0-0 and unranked. Vinton-Shellsburg was 3-6 last season; Benton was 4-5.
Notable: The Benton County rivals will break in the new artificial turf on Benton’s field with a 3A non-district game. Vinton native Jim Womochil will coach the first game for his alma mater; he resigned after last season at Cedar Rapids Jefferson, then had a brief tenure as a volunteer assistant at Iowa State. Kelyn Rickels is a fine all-around performer for the Vikings, who won last year’s game 18-12 in overtime. Benton Community missed the playoffs last season, but did conclude the fall with three straight wins.
OTHER METRO/IOWA CITY GAMES
Cedar Valley Christian (0-0) at HLV (0-0), 7 p.m. Friday
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