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Iowa high school football notebook: Large schools jockeying for RPI positioning entering stretch run

Elsewhere, MOC-FV, Osage notch big wins; Harlan, ADM gear for showdown

By Kevin White

In Class 5-A, it’s all about impressing the computer. 

The 16 playoff qualifiers in Iowa’s largest class are determined solely by the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) formula the state employs. It uses a team’s record, their opponents’ record and their opponents opponents’ record.

Earlier this week, the Iowa High School Athletic Association released its initial RPI standings of the season. If the season ended today, these would be the first-round matchups: 

(16 seed) Johnston (3-3) at (1 seed) West Des Moines Dowling (5-1)

(9) Ames (5-1) at (8) Cedar Rapids Kennedy (5-1)

(12) Cedar Falls (4-2) at (5) Cedar Rapids Prairie (5-1)

(13) Iowa City West (4-2) at (4) Southeast Polk (5-1)

(15) Urbandale (4-2) at (2) Pleasant Valley (6-0)

(10) Iowa City High (4-2) at (7) Ankeny Centennial (4-2)

(11) Waukee Northwest (3-3) at (6) Davenport West (6-0)

(14) Sioux City East (4-2) at (3) Ankeny (5-1)

Of course, the season doesn’t end today. There are three weeks left in the regular season in 5-A, 4-A and 3-A. In 5-A, Davenport West would be the biggest story if it can remain in the top 16. The Falcons haven’t reached the postseason this century.

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In 4-A and 3-A, the district champion and runner-up from each of the six districts will earn automatic qualifying spots, with the RPI determining the remaining at-large qualifiers.

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One of the most dramatic finishes last week came in Sergeant Bluff, where MOC-Floyd Valley improved to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in District 1 of 3-A with a 27-26, double-overtime win over the Warriors.

The teams went to the first overtime tied at 14. Sergeant Bluff-Luton took the ball first and quarterback Tyler Smith scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1, but the extra-point kick failed. MOC-FV had fourth-and-goal from the 2, and Blake Aalbers hit Carson Jager for the tying score. But after two false starts backed the Dutchmen up 10 yards, a botched snap led to another failed PAT, sending the teams to a second OT.

Braden Konz ran it in from the 10 for MOC-FV on second down and freshman Draeden Punt’s PAT kick put the Dutchmen up 27-20. Zayvion Ellington ran 10 yards for the score on the Warriors’ first play, and they decided to go for two and the win. The Dutchmen pressured Smith into an incompletion, and then celebrated the big win. Playing one of 3-A’s toughest schedules, SB-L dropped to 1-5 and 1-1.

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One of the marquee matchups this week sees ADM (6-0, 2-0) traveling to Merrill Field to face Harlan Community (5-1, 2-0) in a matchup of Class 3-A, District 6 powers.

The teams have entirely different defensive challenges.

ADM’s Brevin Doll, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior, leads 3-A in rushing touchdowns (19) and all-purpose yards (1,426), and is second in rushing yards (923, 153.8 per game). Junior quarterback Aiden Flora (5-10, 155) has thrown for 1,105 yards and eight touchdowns, and also carried 75 times for 789 yards (10.5 avg.) and another seven scores.

The Tigers average 44.5 points per game, second in 3-A.

The defending champion Cyclones counter with quarterback Teagon Kasperbauer, who leads 3-A in passing touchdowns (19) and is second in passing yards (1,238, 206.3 avg.). Junior Cade Sears shares the 3-A lead in receiving touchdowns (8) and is fourth in receiving yards (486), and senior Iowa recruit Aidan Hall adds another 379 receiving yards and five scores. Harlan leads 3-A with 49.5 points per game.

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Osage (4-2, 3-0) took over sole possession of first place in District 3 of 2-A with an impressive 21-8 win over previously unbeaten New Hampton (5-1, 2-1).

Senior Brayden Onken rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown, junior Max Knudsen passed for 209 yards and a score, and senior Landon Arends caught five passes for 117 yards and a touchdown for the Green Devils.

"I think we still have a lot of doubters. A lot of people don't believe in us or are not giving us the respect we deserve," Osage coach Torian Wolf told the Mason City Globe Gazette. "This night is all about earning respect."

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Quick hitters: Muscatine’s Ty Cozad and Tri-Center’s Michael Turner ran wild last week. Cozad, a junior, carried 34 times for an Iowa season-best 454 yards and five scores in his team’s 42-31 win over Dubuque Hempstead. That goes into the books as the sixth-best, single-game performance in state history. Turner had all 46 of his team’s rushing attempts in a 34-19 win over Lawton-Bronson, gaining 380 yards with five touchdowns. ... Jonathan Humpal last Friday became the first player in Lewis Central football history to eclipse the 1,000-yard milestone in rushing and receiving. His current career totals are 2,176 yards rushing and 1,038 yards receiving. … Senior Jaydon Knight of Mount Ayr did a bit of everything in his team’s 43-3 win over Council Bluffs St. Albert. He caught a 25-yard touchdown pass, threw a 25-yard TD pass on his only attempt, blocked a punt that led to a touchdown on the play, kicked three extra-points and made a game-high nine solo tackles, including three for losses.