By Ryan Murphy
It’s Week Four on the Iowa high school football schedule, and the best teams are starting to reveal themselves. In the Mississippi Valley Conference, the state’s toughest football conference, three teams have separated themselves from the pack, with another 3-0 team surprising the league after years of futility. The Week Four MVC schedule shows some mismatches, but don’t be surprised to see some games come down to the wire.
Cedar Rapids Prairie (2-1) at No. 2 Iowa City West (3-0)
The Iowa City West Trojans have lit up the scoreboard in the first three weeks, scoring 146 points, fourth in Class 4A and first in the MVC. The Trojans, led by quarterback Nate Boland, also boast 4A’s second best passing attack. The Prairie Hawks will have trouble containing the dynamic duo of wide receivers Jeremy Morgan and Dondre Alexander on the outside, but will be able to score enough on a Trojan defense that was exploited two weeks ago against Cedar Rapids Washington to keep the game close early. The firepower of the Trojans will be too much to handle, and Iowa City West will continue their push for the top spot in the state rankings.
Prediction: Iowa City West 45, Cedar Rapids Prairie 17
Iowa City High (2-1) at Cedar Rapids Jefferson (1-2)
With a 12-7 victory over Dubuque Hempstead, the Cedar Rapids Jefferson J-Hawks broke a 24-game losing streak that spanned back to 2009. Now, after finally snapping a streak that was haunting the program, Jefferson hosts a perennial power in Iowa City High. Despite the loss of wideout Tony Perry to a neck injury suffered during practice, the Little Hawks will run the ball effectively against Jefferson, and start a J-Hawk losing streak that will end long before 24.
Prediction: Iowa City High 45, Cedar Rapids Jefferson 6
Cedar Rapids Washington (1-2) at Linn-Mar (0-3)
The Warriors of Cedar Rapids Washington sport a 1-2 record, but both losses are courtesy of a state-ranked opponent— Iowa City West and Cedar Falls. The combination of QB Mitch Blades and RB Mitch Bredeson makes the Warriors a dangerous offensive team, as evidenced by their 37-point outburst against IC West. Linn-Mar QB Rhys Davis will be the key if the Lions are to win their first game. Davis has recorded 474 all-purpose yards in the first three games (226 passing, 248 rushing). Washington’s offense will be able to get enough points on the board to sneak past Linn-Mar in Marion.
Prediction: Cedar Rapids Washington 28, Linn-Mar 20
Waterloo West (1-2) at No. 4 Cedar Falls (3-0)
The Cedar Falls Tigers are in a battle with Iowa City West for the title of top team in the MVC through three weeks. The combo of running backs Jake Buck and Nick Clark has powered the Tigers to a 3-0 record, and QB Brayden Longnecker has guided the offense well. The 1-2 Warriors are led by Dequayvious Martin, who is the team leader in both rushing and receiving, recording 11.2 yards per play. Cedar Falls is on a mission to play at home in the state semifinals, and should roll Waterloo West.
Prediction: Cedar Falls 41, Waterloo West 9
Dubuque Wahlert (1-2) at No. 7 Cedar Rapids Xavier (3-0)
The Xavier defense has been an unbreakable wall in the season’s first three weeks, giving up just 21 points. The offense, behind QB Reggie Schulte, has been just as prolific, scoring 48.3 points per game. The Saint offense did suffer a blow with the loss of RB Cal Stovie, who was lost for the season due to a torn ACL. The Saint defense will be dominant against a Golden Eagle offense that has only topped 20 points once, so long as the Saints contain Wahlert running backs Jacob Decker and John Burgmeier, who have combined to average 128 yards per game this season.
Prediction: Cedar Rapids Xavier 38, Dubuque Wahlert 7
Cedar Rapids Kennedy (0-3) at Dubuque Senior (3-0)
The last time the Dubuque Senior Rams won more than two games in a season was 2005. The Rams have won three games in a row by a combined nine points, including two victories in overtime. The cardiac kids from The Key City now face their toughest challenge in a Kennedy team that is far better than 0-3 would indicate. The Cougars suffered two narrow losses to crosstown rivals Prairie and Washington, and hung around with Iowa City West before the Trojan offense pulled away in the second half. If Kennedy gets their first win, it will be behind RB Austin Hillyer, who is averaging 172.3 yards per game. Rams QB Austin Clemens has gained some confidence in the first three weeks, and the Rams will win another nailbiter, setting up a 4-0 vs. 4-0 matchup next week against Iowa City West.
Prediction: Dubuque Senior 24, Cedar Rapids Kennedy 17
Dubuque Hempstead (0-3) at Waterloo East (1-2)
Waterloo East has shown an impressive offense in the first three weeks, scoring an average of 29 points per game. However, the East defense has allowed 27 points per game, accounting for losses to Cedar Falls and Iowa City High. The passing attack is led by Desmond VanArsdale, who has tossed for 516 yards so far this season. Hempstead is led offensively by Matt Zenner, who has run for 119 yards per game, despite the Mustangs’ 0-3 start.
Prediction: Waterloo East 37, Dubuque Hempstead 12
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