Four area teams open play tonight in the first round of the state high school football playoffs. With the playoff fields reduced to 16 teams per class, every team playing tonight is only two wins away from a spot at the UNI-Dome in the state semifinals.
CLASS 3A: OSKALOOSA (7-2) AT #2 PELLA (9-0)
Oskaloosa’s breakthrough season earned the Indians a second shot at the two-time defending state champions. Pella beat Oskaloosa 37-13 in the first game of the year. The Indians will pin their hopes on an offense that ranks third in Class 3A in passing yardage, but if they want to move to the quarterfinals, they’ll need to snap the Dutch’s 37-game winning streak. Pella hasn’t lost since November 8th, 2013.
CLASS 2A: CENTERVILLE (5-4) AT #3 MOUNT VERNON (7-2)
The record are a bit deceiving for both teams; Centerville and Mount Vernon each lost both of their non-district games before performing well in district play. The Big Reds seemed an unlikely playoff candidate when the season began, but victories in four of their last five games–most by significant margins–allowed them to take advantage of the wildcard rule. Mount Vernon’s two losses were to Class 3A teams, and the Mustangs steamrolled everyone in their district. They average 49.3 points per game.
CLASS 1A: #9 SIGOURNEY-KEOTA (8-1) AT #2 PELLA CHRISTIAN (9-0)
Simply put, Sigourney-Keota could not have received a tougher draw, even though the 1A field is absolutely loaded. The Savage Cobras’ only loss came at the hands of #1 Iowa City Regina, which would be the likely opponent in the next round. To get there, though, Sigourney-Keota has to go through unbeaten Pella Christian, which has blown out all nine of its opponents so far (closest margin of victory is 22 points). Sigourney-Keota ranks second in 1A in rushing, and they’ll need to control the clock to keep the powerful Eagles offense off the field.
8-MAN: #9 IOWA VALLEY (7-2) AT #8 TWIN CEDARS (9-0)
The Sabers are the only unbeaten team from our area, and the only district champion–but like the other area teams, they drew a ranked opponent in the playoff opener. Iowa Valley is certainly capable; they blew out HLV early in the season, the same team Twin Cedars beat last Friday. The Sabers hope to make an unstoppable offense their trump card. Twin Cedars has score 516 points on the season, an eye-popping 57.3 points per game.