For 16 western Iowa football teams the pressure is off, at least unofficially.
For the 21 still in contention but yet to clinch their tickets to the postseason, there’s still work to be done. Those hopefuls range from teams who almost assuredly will join the qualifiers this week, to others who will need a minor miracle to find their way to a 10th game.
With two weeks remaining in the regular season, let’s take a class-by-class look at the postseason picture. Remember that these projections are unofficial.
But first, let’s acknowledge The World-Herald’s western Iowa ratings for this week. The ratings leaders remain Sioux City Heelan (Class 4-A/3-A), Carroll Kuemper (Class 2-A/1-A/A) and Exira-EHK (Eight-Man). A-H-S-T, at No. 10 in 2-A/1-A/A, is the ratings newcomer.
Let’s try and make a fuzzy playoff picture a bit more clearer, without boring you too much with 13-point tiebreaker conversation:
Class 4-A. In: Sioux City East. Contenders: Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln, Sioux City North, Sioux City West, Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson. Abraham Lincoln (2-1 divisional record) is almost assured of getting in, while North (1-2) has winnable games remaining with Ames (2-1) and Fort Dodge (1-2). West (1-2) needs a pair of wins, and T.J. (0-3) needs two wins and some help.
Class 3-A. In: Sioux City Heelan, Creston/O-M. Contenders: Harlan, Council Bluffs Lewis Central, Atlantic, Carroll, Denison-Schleswig. Believe it or not, it’s not farfetched to think that District 1 will end in a five-way tie for first at 4-2. However, in that scenario, it doesn’t appear that Creston could be left out. Other news for the Panthers isn’t as positive. The Creston News-Advertiser has reported that tailback Bryce McIlravy is out for the year with a broken ankle. Atlantic is in the toughest shape of the District 1 contenders; it desperately needs a win over Harlan this week.
Class 2-A. In: Carroll Kuemper, OA-BCIG. Contenders: Red Oak, Shenandoah, Clarinda. Red Oak and Shen are tied at 2-2 in District 8 with Greene County. Shen and Red Oak meet in week nine. Clarinda’s chances look dim, with Kuemper remaining on the schedule.
Class 1-A. In: IKM-Manning, Council Bluffs St. Albert, Tri-Center. Contender: Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto. MVAO (0-4) needs two wins and plenty of help in District 2. (Non-WI schools Panorama and West Central Valley join St. Albert and Tri-Center as the District 8 qualifiers.)
Class A. In: Logan-Magnolia, A-H-S-T. Contenders: Bedford, Audubon, Griswold, Underwood, East Mills. It doesn’t appear A-H-S-T (4-1) could be left out of any District 8 tiebreaker. East Mills (2-3) needs wins over Griswold (4-1) and West Monona (0-5), preferably by at least 13 points, to stay in District 8 contention. Bedford (4-1) is in good position in District 7, while Audubon (2-3) needs a pair of wins.
Eight-Man. In: Exira-EHK, Glidden-Ralston, Sidney, Fremont-Mills, CAM, Lenox. Contenders: Boyer Valley, Woodbine, Coon Rapids-Bayard, West Harrison. If only everything could be as easy as District 8, where Sidney (6-0), F-M (5-1), CAM (5-1) and Lenox (5-2) are the qualifiers.
Finally, it appears one Iowa school will make history this year. It’s very likely that Mason City will become the first 1-8 team to make the playoffs. The Mohawks are 1-7, with only Marshalltown (5-2) remaining. In the five-team Division 3 of 4-A (newly formed Ankeny Centennial will become the sixth team next year), Des Moines Hoover (1-6) will need huge upsets over either West Des Moines Dowling (5-2) or Ottumwa (3-5) to have a chance to knock out Mason City.
Chew on that one for a while.
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