Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
Where: Bates Field, 7:15 p.m.
Last Season: Did not play
Player to Watch: Liam McComas slimmed down during the offseason in an effort to become more explosive. The senior middle linebacker will be an important part of a new-look Little Hawks defense under first-year coordinator Mark Mitchell.
Key Stat: The City High defense forced two turnovers last season, picking off one pass and recovering one fumble.
About the Lightning: The curtain finally raises for Liberty High on Friday as the Lightning make their varsity debut on the big stage at Frank Bates Field. Liberty High posted a 6-3 record last season while playing a sophomore schedule and has just two seniors on its roster.
About the Little Hawks: City High is eager to erase the memory of a disappointing 2-7 season from a year ago and a win over a new cross-town rival would be a good way to start.
The Little Hawks won their season opener last year at Linn-Mar but lost seven of their final eight games and will be looking to snap a four-game losing skid in the season-opener.
Eight starters return for City High including seven on defense where the Little Hawks bring back three of their top four tacklers.
Where: Regal Field, 7:30 p.m.
Last Season: Cedar Rapids Xavier 23, Regina 6
Player to Watch: Quinn Schulte does it all for Cedar Rapids Xavier. The senior quarterback passed for 1,202 and 14 touchdowns and ran for 968 yards and 20 scores and added 35.5 tackles and a team-high five interceptions on defense.
Key Stat: Regina is 47-7 over the past four seasons with three of its losses during that span coming to Cedar Rapids Xavier.
About the Saints: Xavier capped a perfect 13-0 season with its second state title and first since 2006 knocking off three-time defending champion Pella in the 3A title game.
With 11 starters returning, headlined by Schulte, leading rusher Braden Stovie and Division I offensive line recruit Josh Volk the Saints have their sights set on a repeat.
Stovie led Xavier with 997 rushing yards a year ago and will benefit from an offensive line led by Volk that brings back three starters.
About the Regals: Regina is coming off a 10-3 season that ended with a its second consecutive Class 1A runner-up finish.
After back-to-back losses to 3A semifinalists Xavier and Solon the Regals rattled off 10 consecutive wins before falling to Van Meter 287 in the 1A title game.
Regina returns five starters from a year ago including two-way lineman Luke Stein (6-2, 220), leading tackler Nick Milder (5-10, 180) and standout sophomore receiver Alec Wick (6-0, 160).
The Regals have lost three straight to Xavier and are 1-3 in their past four season openers.
Where: Trojan Field, 7:15 p.m.
Player to Watch: North Scott senior quarterback Nile McLaughlin (6-3, 205) passed for 1,589 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushed for 786 yards and 22 TDs last season.
Key Stat: West High is 3-1 in season openers under Garrett Hartwig.
About the Lancers: North Scott went 9-2 and reached the Class 4A quarterfinals last season before dropping down to Class 3A in 2018.
The Lancers return just six starters from last year’s team that fell to Bettendorf in the 4A quarterfinals but they brings back McLaughlin at quarterback and three of his top receivers led by senior Carson Rollinger who caught 32 passes for 323 yards.
About the Trojans: West High is coming off back-to-back Class 4A runner-up finishes, falling to West Des Moines Dowling in each of the previous two 4A championship games.
The Trojans lost some key seniors to graduation on both sides of the ball and must replace all-state quarterback Evan Flitz and Iowa signee Dillon Doyle at linebacker.
The cupboard is far from bare at West High where 11 starters return , including six on a defense that held opponents to 252 yards and 13.9 points per game.
Where: Spartan Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Last Season: Solon 19, Mount Vernon 0
Player to Watch: Mount Vernon running back Paul Ryan averaged 7.1 yards per carry while rushing for 1,475 yards and 18 touchdowns last season.
Key Stat: Ryan rushed for 100 or more yards in seven of the Mustangs’ final nine games averaging 151 yards per game during that stretch.
About the Mustangs: Mount Vernon went 9-2 and advanced to the Class 2A quarterfinals last season where it lost a regular season rematch to eventual runner-up Williamsburg.
The Mustangs return nine starters from its quarterfinal squad, a list that includes Ryan and its top two tacklers in senior linebackers Andrew and Mitchell Louwagie who combined for 107.5 tackles.
Mount Vernon will be breaking in a new quarterback for the first time since 2014 with the graduation of Drew Adams and his nearly 9,000 career passing yards.
About the Spartans: Solon brings a 16-game win streak over Mount Vernon into the 2018 season opener after blanking the Mustangs 19-0 last year in Mount Vernon.
The Spartans allowed 248 yards of total offense in last year’s season-opening win over the Mustangs and didn’t give up more than that until a 3A semifinal loss to Cedar Rapids Xavier.
Solon returns eight starters from a team that finished 11-1 led by senior linebackers Coal Flansburg and Adam Bock and the junior offensive tandem of quarterback Cam Miller and receiver AJ Coons.
Where: Little Rose Bowl, 7:30 p.m.
Last Season: West Branch 35, West Liberty 20
Player to Watch: West Liberty senior Spencer Daufeldt (6-0, 255) is a load on both sides of the ball but does his best work on defense where he led the Comets with 62.5, 25 tackles for loss and eight sacks.
Key Stat: Only one quarterback in the state returns this season after averaging more passing yards per game than the 212.5 that West Branch signal caller Beau Cornwell put up a year ago.
About the Bears: West Branch had an undefeated regular season spoiled by a 32-13 loss to Pleasantville in the opening round of the Class 1A playoffs.
The Bears have a deep roster filled with enough talent to make another playoff push.
Cornwell returns after passing for 2,125 yards and 20 touchdowns and junior Tanner Lukavsky is back after rushing for a team-high 712 yards and 10 touchdowns.
About the Comets: West Liberty is coming off its best season in recent memory going 6-4 and returning to the Class 2A playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Eight starters return from a team that lost to Cascade in the 2A opening round including senior quarterback Seth Feldman who passed for 1,104 and 11 touchdowns a year go and rushed for 785 yards and 12 scores.
Where: Mount Pleasant, 7:30 p.m.
Last Season: Mount Pleasant 14, Clear Creek Amana 7
Player to Watch: Mount Pleasant senior quarterback Zach Beason (6-3, 210) passed for 1,633 yards and 15 touchdowns last season and rushed for five more scores.
Key Stat: Clear Creek Amana was 3-1 last season when holding opponents to 14 points or fewer. The lone loss a 14-7 setback to Mount Pleasant in the season opener.
About the Clippers: Clear Creek Amana looks to continue to take steps forward in year two of the Gabe Bakker era after going 3-6 in his first season leading the program.
Six starters return for the Clippers led by their top tackler in junior JJ Denny and senior cornerback Quentin Gisleson who had a team-high six interceptions.
Sophomore defensive end TJ Bollers is a rising star and Andrew Rohret also returns with two years of experience under his belt.
The questions for the Clippers are on offense where Rohret takes over at quarterback and the Clippers return a pair of starters up front in senior Jonah Upah (6-1, 245) and junior Eric Zierke (6-2, 230).
About the Panthers: After winning seven games over the previous four season combined Mount Pleasant was among the most improved teams in the state in 2018 finishing 6-3.
Mount Pleasant was 2-2 after back-to-back losses to 3A playoff qualifiers Washington and Oskaloosa the Panthers won four of their final five games to secure its first winning season since 2009.
Eight starters are back led by Beason and his top target in senior receiver Chase Lamm who caught 25 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns last season.