High School Football

(KMAland) -- We enter Week 10 of the 2019-20 sports season, and the football playoffs are set, the volleyball tournament trail is heating up and the state cross country meet is just days away.

We will have volleyball on the air this week from Monday through Thursday and our usual daily blogs with the goodbyes and fond farewells. You will also see plenty of cross country previews popping up throughout the week.

Today’s blog, though, is all about the 16 KMAland conference schools that made it into the Iowa state playoffs. Let’s count them down, beginning with 8-Man…

CLASS 8-MAN BRACKET A

1 – Audubon (Class 8-Man District 8 Champion): The Wheelers went 9-1 and played the toughest schedule in the state. Despite a loss, they are rightfully the No. 1 team in the RPI. They are No. 4 in the BCMoore Rankings and will open with a tough Harris-Lake Park squad (8-1). The Wheelers enter as a 10.92-point favorite per BCMoore’s Rankings.

2 – CAM (Class 8-Man District 8 At-Large): The Cougars won their first seven games of season – all in dominant fashion – and then lost their last two to Coon Rapids-Bayard and Audubon. They lost those games by a combined nine points, and while that doesn’t matter to the IHSAA’s RPI, it is a good sign that they are very close to being among the best teams in the state. Or are among the best teams in the state. Their first round game is against Lamoni, and they enter as a 7.98-point favorite.

3 – Lamoni (Class 8-Man District 6 Champion): The Demons were likely to get into the playoffs win or lose on Friday night, but they rode Patrick Savage to a 50-21 rout of Southeast Warren. Lamoni’s lone loss came to fellow playoff qualifier East Mills by just five points. I think they’re even more improved from that point in the season (Week 2), and they are going to be a tougher out than most expect them to be. Again, they are a 7.98-point dog to CAM.

CLASS 8-MAN BRACKET C

4 – East Mills (Class 8-Man District 7 At-Large): East Mills lost just twice this year, and they were to Audubon and Fremont-Mills. Those losses were substantial, but they handled business in all their other contests, including a win over the aforementioned Lamoni in one of the best games of the year. The Wolverines drew a beast in Remsen, St. Mary’s, which went 9-0 while winning by an average of 46.00 points per game. And that average includes the one-point win over Audubon. East Mills is a 28.47-point underdog for this one.

5 – Coon Rapids-Bayard (Class 8-Man District 8 At-Large): There aren’t a lot of districts this Coon Rapids-Bayard team wouldn’t win. I was just thinking how difficult it would be to play the Crusaders in the old format. I mean, it’s already very difficult, but they are so physical that nobody wants that smoke on short rest. Anyway, CRB hits the road to meet Fremont-Mills after an impressive 8-1 season against a schedule that included seven games against teams with at least four wins. Fremont-Mills is a slight 3.55-point favorite.

6 – Fremont-Mills (Class 8-Man District 7 Champion): Speaking of Fremont-Mills, the Knights lost a really productive senior class that included one of their greatest quarterbacks ever, but they haven’t had a drop off in success. Seth Malcom continues to be a man-beast on offense and defense, and he should fit into this matchup with CRB quite well. He’s a tough hombre that wants physicality, and he’s going to get it this week. Again, they are a very small 3.55-point favorite. This should be one of the best games in the state this week.

CLASS A BRACKET A

7 – IKM-Manning (Class A District 2 Champion): I’m old enough to remember when the Wolves were 0-3 on the season, but I also remember knowing they were much better than that record. They played three higher-class teams with two that made the playoffs and one that narrowly missed. Then they promptly went on a six-game win streak to finish the year. The success has been two-fold: ball control with a great run game and terrific defense. They’ve allowed just 57 points in their final six games. Somehow they drew a road trip to BCMoore’s top-ranked team West Hancock, and they are a 41.14-point underdog.

8 – Tri-Center (Class A District 10 At-Large): We didn’t know if the Trojans were going to get in after the results came in on Friday night. However, they rightfully grabbed the final at-large spot. It just didn’t feel right for a team they beat by 20 to get in and have them sit at home. Especially when you consider their non-district slate included defeats to 8-1 Underwood and 6-3 ACGC – two solid 1A schools. They’re only other loss came to district champion Woodbury Central, and they’ve since won their last four games by 20 or more. They’re definitely playing some great football heading into a road trip to South O’Brien – a 6.93-point favorite over T-C.

CLASS A BRACKET C

9 – Central Decatur (Class A District 8 Champion): The Cardinals were just 1-4 at one point this season, but they recovered to roll off four straight wins in dominant fashion. The last of those was a 24-8 win over Wayne on Friday, which clinched the district championship. According to Coach Jon Pedersen, the season changed against Panorama when they went toe-to-toe for most of the game in a 37-22 loss to the 8-1 Panthers. They will be an ultimate underdog against undefeated North Tama on Friday, as they are 25.49-point underdogs.

CLASS 1A BRACKET A

10 – Mount Ayr (Class 1A District 8 At-Large): This is a very good Mount Ayr team that played right with a very, very good Panorama team and were within striking distance for more than half the game against Van Meter. Heck, with a little turnover luck the Raiders might be 9-0. Their draw is a very tough one, though, as they will play at undefeated South Central Calhoun, and they enter as a 19.29-point underdog.

CLASS 1A BRACKET D

11 – Underwood (Class 1A District 9 At-Large): The Eagles are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2015, and this is a team that has building up since that year. The Eagles are 8-1 with a tight, tough and tense loss to Treynor. They’ve responded since that loss by outscoring opponents by a combined 122 to 16. This is a top 8 team in the state, according to BCMoore’s Rankings, and they also got a tough draw with a trip to West Sioux. The Falcons quarterback Hunter Dekkers is the state’s all-time leading passer, and they’ve been to the Dome multiple times since he took off under center. Underwood is a 20.12-point underdog on the road.

12 – Treynor (Class 1A District 9 Champion): The undefeated Cardinals have eight dominant wins to their name. Their lone close game was a 24-20 escape of Underwood, and it allows for them to host a playoff game. This is a senior class that has grown together and brought the Cardinals program back to prominence with consecutive district championships. They also have a tough draw with Western Christian coming to town. WC has played the state’s second-toughest schedule and with their success they are a 9.54-point favorite.

CLASS 3A BRACKET C

13 – Sergeant Bluff-Luton (Class 3A District 1 Champion): The Warriors – coached by Hamburg graduate Justin Smith – played a top eight schedule and have won eight consecutive games since their opening week loss to Lewis Central. This is a Dome team from last year with a returning QB and plenty of weapons around him. They host Carlisle on Friday, and it marks the fifth straight opponent that finished the regular season with a winning record. In fact, only two of their nine opponents this year had a losing record, and eight of them had at least four wins. SBL is an 11.63-point favorite.

14 – Glenwood (Class 3A District 9 At-Large): The Rams got a bit of a push from Creston/Orient-Macksburg on Friday, one week after their emotional and physical battle with Lewis Central. What that Week 8 game proved, though, is that they can play with just about anybody right now. They will need that kind of performance this Friday when they trek to Norwalk in one of the best first round matchups in 3A. The Rams enter as a slight 6.79-point underdog.

CLASS 3A BRACKET D

15 – Lewis Central (Class 3A District 9 Champion): To be clear, LC, Glenwood and Harlan were tri-champions of the district, but the Titans get the top spot because they finished with the highest RPI. This has been some string of games for the Titans, as they have played at 7-2 Harlan, at 7-2 Glenwood, at 5-4 ADM and now will host 6-3 Oskaloosa. Actually, this is probably one of the best matchups for a KMAland – at least according to BCMoore’s Rankings, which has LC as a 38.08-point favorite.

16 – Harlan (Class 3A District 9 At-Large): Over the last three weeks, I’m struggling to find a team that is playing as well as Harlan. They lost a tight 28-21 battle with Glenwood in Week 6, but since then they beat Lewis Central, they routed Creston by 40 and they routed Winterset by 21. Only LC has wins by that kind of margin against those two teams. Still, as an at-large team they are on the road this week against a solid Dallas Center-Grimes team, which beat Glenwood early in the year. Despite that, the Cyclone are 6.11-point favorites.

Those are the Sweet 16 remaining KMAland conference schools in the state of Iowa.  We will see how many remain at this time next week.

Note: There will not be a WHO IMPRESSED!!! football blog this week. Send any questions, comments and/or concerns to dmartin@kmaland.com.