So, it’s all but over.
Cedar Rapids Xavier, Davenport Assumption and Dubuque Wahlert will be playing Class 3A district football next fall. The Mississippi Valley Conference and the Mississippi Athletic Conferences will not exist in football.
That much is 99-percent certain.
It’s the drawing up of districts (or divisions, if the IHSAA wants to give that term to Class 4A, as it did in the West the past two years).
Here’s a plea: When it comes to the 4A East, go geographically. Please don’t shuffle the deck and put six here, five there, five over there and five down there. Keep the Iowa City schools together. Keep the Waterloo/Cedar Falls schools together. Same with the Dubuque schools and Quad City rivals Bettendorf and Pleasant Valley.
There’s a way, even, to keep all five remaining Metro schools together. It does involve splitting up the Davenport schools, but the Davenport schools aren’t football world-beaters right now, and there will be a way they can all play in non-district play.
So here’s what we’ll call The Gazette Model for 4A East:
Highway 20 District (5 teams): Cedar Falls, Dubuque Hempstead, Dubuque Senior, Waterloo East, Waterloo West.
Cedar Rapids/Marion Metro District (5 teams): Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Cedar Rapids Washington, Linn-Mar.
Iowa City/Lower MAC District (6 teams): Burlington, Davenport Central, Davenport West, Iowa City High, Iowa City West, Muscatine.
Upper MAC District (5 teams): Bettendorf, Clinton, Davenport North, North Scott, Pleasant Valley.
4A East, done. Now, 32 qualifiers are too many in a class that has 45 schools. Carve it to 24 — 12 in the East, 12 in the West. The top two teams in each district are automatic playoff qualifiers. The others (four East, four West) are at-large, based on OVERALL record, with the tie-breaker the number of opponents’ victories. If still tied, go to the 13-point rule that works all right in the other classes.
Then, seed the East and West separately, both 1 through 12. District champions are guaranteed top-four seeds and get first-round byes.
Allow 4A schools one (and no more than one) non-district game against a school from a smaller class. Let Waterloo East or West play somebody like Waverly-Shell Rock or Waterloo Columbus. Bring back the Linn-Mar-vs.-Marion series. Give some of the MAC schools a shot at DeWitt Central or Maquoketa. City High or Iowa City West vs. Regina? Why not?
Now that Class 4A districts and playoff qualifiers have been determined, let’s move to 3A. Reclassification will cause some changes here, but here’s a rough draft on how it might look, in an effort to split up Xavier, Wahlert and Assumption (really, it wasn’t that difficult).
3A District 1: Algona, LeMars, MOC-Floyd Valley, Sergeant Bluff-Luton, Sioux City Heelan, Spencer, Storm Lake.
3A District 2: Ballard, Boone, Charles City, Clear Lake, Humboldt, Waverly-Shell Rock, Webster City.
3A District 3: Crestwood, Decorah, Dubuque Wahlert, Independence, Vinton-Shellsburg, West Delaware, Western Dubuque.
3A District 4: Benton Community, Cedar Rapids Xavier, DeWitt Central, Maquoketa, Marion, Solon, Williamsburg.
3A District 5: Clear Creek Amana, Davenport Assumption, Fairfield, Fort Madison, Keokuk, Mount Pleasant, Washington.
3A District 6: Carlisle, Chariton, Grinnell, Knoxville, Newton, Oskaloosa, Pella.
3A District 7: Adel ADM, Bondurant-Farrar, Dallas Center-Grimes, Norwalk, Perry, Saydel, Winterset.
3A District 8: Atlantic, Carroll, Creston, Denison-Schleswig, Glenwood, Harlan, Lewis Central.
Non-district opponents for Xavier: Assumption, Wahlert, Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
Non-district opponents for Assumption: Xavier, two 4A MAC schools.
Non-district opponents for Wahlert: Xavier, Dubuque Senior, Dubuque Hempstead.
Again, those 3A districts are rough, based on the current BEDS Documents. Those will change slightly, moving some teams down to 2A and some other ones in. But it’s a good starting point.