Rainy weather isn’t enough to normally stop a football game (although lightning is a different story), so high school football teams across the state are ready to kick off the 2014 season this week. The season actually begins Thursday night with three games, none of which will be played in southeast Iowa.
Friday night, the 13 schools of the Ottumwa Radio Sports Network will all be in action. Here’s a quick preview of each matchup:
Mt. Pleasant (3A) at Ottumwa (4A): the Bulldogs were just 3-6 in 2013, although one of those losses was a forfeited win. OHS faded badly in the second half of the season, a trend 3rd-year head coach Zach Pfantz hopes to reverse. Ottumwa did beat up on Mt. Pleasant 46-3 last season, and the Panthers ended up 0-9. Game Broadcast: 7:30 on 1240 KBIZ.
Fairfield (3A) at Davis County (2A): The Mustangs finished 5-5 a year ago, but did make the playoffs for the 6th consecutive season. 3rd-year head coach Joe Rasmussen needs his squad to better establish the running game on offense. Meanwhile, the Trojans were also playoff team a year ago, despite finishing 4-6. Sophomore QB Cameron Baumann, who started last year as a freshman, gives head coach Mike Schenck a powerful offensive weapon. Fairfield won last year’s meeting 34-7. Game Broadcast: 7:30 on 104.3 KRKN.
Van Buren (A) at Lynnville-Sully (A): The Warriors had never made the playoffs before last season, and now they’re hungry to improve on their 5-5 record. Head coach Mike Hurley features an offense that could give opponents fits with their speed. The Hawks made the 2nd round of the playoffs last season, but lost their top four rushers and top three receivers to graduation. Game Broadcast: 7:00 on 92.7 KTWA.
Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont (1A) at Pekin (A): The Panthers fell a game short of the UNI-Dome last season at 9-3, and they’re considered a clear favorite in their district this year. Head coach Joe Donovan uses an up-tempo attack to put his skill players in positions to succeed. The Rockets made the playoffs a year ago, but stumbled to a 6-4 finish with losses in their final two games. New head coach Russ Bayer hopes EBF’s run to a state wrestling title last winter carries over to football in the fall. Game Broadcast: 7:00 on 101.5 Kiss FM.
Mount Ayr (A) at Albia (2A): After going undefeated until the state semis in 2013, Blue Demons open versus a Class A team that went 8-3.
Cardinal (A) at Southeast Warren (A): Comets hoping to bounce back from a 1-8 campaigning, opening against a squad that was 0-9.
Chariton (3A) at Centerville (2A): Conference foes in all other sports, the Big Reds and Chargers meet on somewhat unequal terms for the first time in a while as Centerville drops down to Class 2A.
Tri-County (8-man) at Moravia (8-man): The Mohawks’ only win in 2013 was a forfeit, but they did play an entertaining shootout with the Trojans before falling 66-38.
Oskaloosa (3A) at Winterset (3A): Coming off last year’s 2nd-round playoff run, the Indians open with a Huskers team they beat 56-37 a year ago.
Sigourney-Keota (1A) at BGM (A): the Cobras missed the playoffs at 5-4 last year; they want to get back, but face a tough opener against a Bears team coming off a 13-1 season.
English Valleys (8-man) at Twin Cedars (8-man): The Sabers flew under the radar last year despite a 10-2 record; they begin this year against a Bears team that went only 1-9.