Prep Football Rewind: IHSAA releases state playoff semifinal pairings



West Branch running back Andy Henson carries the ball during a high school playoff football game between West Branch and MFL MarMac at the Little Rose Bowl in West Branch, Iowa on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. (Grace Smith/The Daily Iowan )

CEDAR RAPIDS – You’ll be up early or stay up late if you want to watch the Gazette area prep football teams play in the state playoff semifinals.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association has released pairings for the bottom four in each class. All semi-final matches will be played at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.

⧉ Related article: Here are the Iowa State Football Semifinals games and kickoff times

West Branch is the fourth seed in Class 1A and will face defending champion and top seed Van Meter in a semifinal on Friday at 10 a.m. The Bears (11-0) rallied from 11 points in the fourth quarter to win their quarterfinal against MFL MarMac, while Van Meter (10-1) posted shutouts in four straight games (including a 45 win -0 in the quarter-final against Sigourney-Keota) and six of his last seven.

The Bulldogs’ only loss came in Week 2 of the regular season against Williamsburg, which is the top seed of the last four in Class 2A. The Raiders (11-0) face Dubuque Wahlert (9-2) in the semifinals Saturday at 10 a.m.

Wahlert’s losses came to Waukon and Class 4A semifinalist Cedar Rapids Xavier.

Mount Vernon is the No. 2 seed in Class 3A and will play a semifinal against third-seeded Humboldt at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Mustangs (11-0) beat Solon for the second time this season in the quarterfinals Friday night to earn a semifinal berth for the first time since 2016.

Humboldt (10-1) is in the semifinals for the second straight season after beating Independence in the quarterfinals, 34-26. His only loss came in Nevada in mid-October.

Xavier is a semifinalist for the sixth time in seven years, drawing North Scott in a game at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Saints (11-0) beat the Lancers (9-2) in mid-September, 17-0.

Xavier is the seed of the 4A final four. The other 4A semi-final pits Carlisle (10-1) against defending champion Lewis Central (11-0) at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Adel ADM and Harlan, seeded 10-1, are paired in the other 3A semi-final on Saturday afternoon at 4. Ida Grove OABCIG (10-1) and Central Lyon/George-Little Rock (11-0) follow Williamsburg and Wahlert in the other 2A semi-final on Saturday afternoon at 1.

After West Branch and Van Meter in Friday’s 1A semifinals, Underwood (11-0) and West Sioux (10-1) at 1 p.m.

Laundering in class A, 5A and 8 players

The Gazette zone does not have semi-finalists in class A, 5A or 8 players.

Montezuma lost his quarterfinal Thursday night at WACO, 52-7. Quarterback Owen Cook threw for 217 yards and a touchdown for the Braves (9-3), connecting with Garrett Watts eight times for 129 yards and a touchdown.

The two quarter-finals of the zone in Class A lost. North Linn hooked up with top-seeded West Hancock for one half before falling 52-21.

East Buchanan was limited to just 111 rushing yards and 127 total yards in a 20-6 loss at the Grundy Center. The Buccaneers (9-2) had rushed for 507 yards the previous week in knocking down Alburnett.

“Any time you play a team that’s only thrown about 30 times in the year, you know where the focus will be,” Grundy Center coach Travis Zajac told the Waterloo Courier. .

The Class 5A semis are completely a suburban Des Moines affair. Cedar Rapids Prairie lost its quarterfinal Friday night at Southeast Polk, 41-0, while Cedar Falls lost at home to West Des Moines Valley, 27-13.

This is the first time Eastern Iowa has been left out of the semifinals in the state’s biggest class. The IHSAA began sponsoring the playoffs in 1972, with only four teams in each class qualifying from 1972 to 1974.

Fundraiser for Butch Pedersen

West Branch is selling t-shirts and sweatshirts to help defray medical bills legendary head coach Butch Pedersen incurred while undergoing cancer treatment.

Shirts are $14.99 for short sleeves, $19.99 for long sleeves, and $29.99 for crewnecks and hoodies. They can be purchased online.

Pedersen, 71, the West Branch head coach since 1983, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome. He began chemotherapy treatments last week, but attended Bears playoff games last week and Friday night.

His son, Lance, is a head coach at Mount Vernon, which also advanced to the state playoff semifinals.

Ben Kueter sells t-shirts

Iowa City High all-state linebacker and Iowa Hawkeyes commitment Ben Kueter sells t-shirts commemorating his U20 Freestyle World Championship wrestling.

Kueter, who plans to wrestle and play football in Iowa, is donating 10% of the proceeds from his t-shirt to help City High build a new weight facility at the school.

Shirts can be purchased online. In-state prep athletes can earn NIL money (name, image, likeness), as long as their school logos or names are used.

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