October 26, 2021

Football fever is taking over

Newton’s football team is 4-0 after going 0-8 last year. Lynnville-Sully is 3-1 after finishing with just one win a year ago. Baxter also sits at 4-0 for the first time in program history.

All three programs have flipped the script from the previous year and all three are ready to show they belong on the biggest of stages.

The Cardinals may have bigger games on the schedule later this fall. But there won’t be a bigger matchup when it comes to rivalries than this week’s Homecoming game against Pella.

These two schools will have plenty of interesting battles this calendar year. The first battle of a meaningful game comes this week when the Cardinals host their rivals at H.A. Lynn Stadium.

Because only two teams from each district are guaranteed a playoff spot, this game could essentially be an elimination game. We are just getting started with district games in 4A, but the league also features state-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier and Cedar Rapids Washington.

Oskaloosa, like Newton, seems to be much improved as the Indians also are 4-0. Oskaloosa, Newton and Pella all received votes last week in the Associated Press poll. So starting 0-1 in district play is not ideal in a league that will be a dogfight every Friday night.

Pella is just 1-3 so far but all three losses have come to teams ranked inside the top 10 of 4A. The Dutch lost by single digits to No. 1 Indianola a few weeks ago.

If anyone is still doubting the Newton program after the Cardinals were 0-8 last year, they can make another statement this week against the Dutch.

Baxter is off to a hot start. The Bolts have scored at least 66 points in three straight games. The 8-man programs have already played a few district games. And while it’s still early, I will go out on a limb and say Baxter will finish in the top three of its district.

The top three teams in 8-man make the postseason. And Baxter has already dominated three teams in its district. The Bolts, state-ranked Montezuma and BGM appear to be the class of the district.

Baxter and BGM play this week. That one has playoff implications no doubt. The winning team likely locks up a playoff spot. Not officially, but it would go a long way in doing so.

Lynnville-Sully has won three straight games. Behind a strong rushing attack and a solid defense, the Hawks have dominated their first two district foes.

L-S and Colfax-Mingo are both in the same Class A district. Four teams will make the playoffs. Based on what we’ve seen so far, L-S, Ogden and Belle Plaine appear to have three of those spots locked up.

The battle will be for the fourth spot. And could come down to C-M’s game against Madrid on Oct. 8. Wayne is the worst team in that league and C-M already has a win over North Mahaska.

There’s still time for all of these teams to flip their scripts but I feel like some questions have been answered and some teams are rising to the top.

One team which is used to winning but has done anything but the past three weeks is PCM.

The Mustangs lost starting quarterback August Stock for the year and there are plenty of new pieces to the offense and some on defense.

I still think PCM makes the playoffs. Albia and Chariton should be games the Mustangs can win. And Roland-Story is another opportunity.

West Marshall is the toughest game they have left to play.

Wasn’t that a great Cy-Hawk football game? The Hawks continue to score wins over the Matt Campbell-led Cyclones. And turnovers is the biggest reason. One team commits them. One team simply has not.

Iowa has the best punter in the nation and his ability to pin opponents deep in their own field has been key to a stout defense having its way. After three weeks, Iowa’s defense has scored at least two points in each game.

The offense concerns me still, but I think the running game is going to be good enough to compete every week. And as long as Spencer Petras doesn’t lose games, Iowa should be looking at another big season.

Contact Troy Hyde at thyde@shawmedia.com