The battle for supremacy in Iowa’s largest classification will be a matchup between the state’s top two quarterbacks.
Iowa City, City High (13-0), which has been ranked No. 1 in Class 4A by the Des Moines Register since the preseason, will try to stop surprising Marshalltown (13-0) and its quest for a first-ever state championship. A statewide network will televise all six championship games, including the 4A title tilt that kicks off at 7:05 p.m. Friday at the UNI-Dome.
City High is led by Iowa recruit A.J. Derby, who has thrown for 1,696 yards and 21 touchdowns in addition to running for 14 scores. He was an efficient 12-of-18 for 181 yards with one passing touchdown and one rushing score in the Little Hawks’ 21-3 semifinal win against Cedar Rapids Xavier. Derby is also a starting linebacker, the position he might end up playing in college.
Marshalltown has ridden the arm of two-sport star Chanse Creekmur to its first trip to the Dome. The senior leads the state with 3,621 passing yards, and his 36 touchdowns are the most among 11-man players. With less than four minutes left to play in the semifinals, Creekmur engineered a history-making 80-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown strike to Jarred Carlson lifting the Bobcats over heavily favored Dowling Catholic, 28-25. Creekmur, who verbally committed to play basketball at Iowa and then Santa Clara, has apparently reopened his recruitment to football programs.
With a win, City High would capture its fourth state championship but first since 1996. Marshalltown had not won a single game in four previous playoff appearances.
Iowa football: Harlan and Solon are heavy favorites to add to legacy
It there’s a Cinderella story to be told in this year’s playoffs, Pella would be cast in the leading role. The Little Dutch, who have won seven consecutive games after a 3-3 start, beat New Hampton (10-3), 30-21, in the Class 3A semifinals and earned their first trip to the state championship game. Their opponent will be top-ranked Harlan (13-0), which hammered No. 2 Carroll (12-1), 42-7. This will be the Cyclones’ record 20th appearance in a state final but first since 2005.
In Class 2A, top-ranked Solon (13-0) continued to flatten everything in its path to a fourth consecutive state-finals berth. The 35-0 final score was achieved by halftime in the Spartans’ semifinals rout of North Fayette (12-1). Iowa recruit James Morris ran 14 times for 209 yards with three touchdowns and also passed for a 71-yard score. No. 2 Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley (13-0), a 35-7 winner over IKM-Manning, will have the tall task of trying to end Solon’s 40-game winning streak and quest for a third consecutive state championship.
Nebraska football: Millard rivals will duke it out for Class A crown
A lot more than community pride will be on the line Monday night in the Class A state championship at the University of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium.
Top-ranked Millard South (12-0) will try to avenge the loss it suffered in last year’s final and win its first state title. Defending champion Millard West (10-2) hopes to become the first team to win three Class A titles this decade.
Senior quarterback Bronson Marsh ran for 101 yards and a touchdown to lead South past Elkhorn, 36-17, in the semifinals. It was the 11th time the Patriots beat an opponent by at least 19 points this season.
West, which has nine straight wins since losing to South (28-0) in Week 3, beat Lincoln Southwest, 35-14. With the score tied 14-14 in the third quarter and Southwest driving inside West’s 20-yard line, the Wildcats sucked the life out of the Silver Hawks when junior safety Zach Linebaugh intercepted a Rylan Cotton pass and returned it 100 yards for a momentum-changing touchdown.
No matter which team comes out on top, it will be the fifth time since 2001 a team from the Millard school district will win the Class A title. West won championships in 2001 and 2007. Millard North captured the crown in 2003 and 2005.
Nebraska football: Skutt stalls Randall, earns Class B title bid
In order to advance to the Class B state championship, Omaha Skutt knew it would have to at least slow down Blair’s Ryan Randall, the state’s leading rusher.
While the SkyHawks (12-0) did not shut Randall down altogether, they held the rugged junior to 121 yards – more than 100 below his season average. Skutt also limited the Bears (10-2) to just 10 passing yards while breezing to a 32-0 semifinal-round shutout.
Top-ranked and defending champion Aurora (12-0) will be Skutt’s competition in the final, which will be played Tuesday night at Memorial Stadium. The Huskies opened a four-touchdown lead in the second quarter and then coasted past Adams Central, 28-7. The Class A and B championship games will be televised live by NET Television.
Nebraska volleyball: State champions crowned
Top-ranked Omaha Marian picked up its first state championship since 1999. The Crusaders dug their way out of an early hole and defeated second-seeded Papillion-La Vista South 15-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-23 in the Class A championship match held at the University of Nebraska Coliseum.
Sophomore Lauren Sieckmann, a Nebraska recruit, led the way with 10 kills and 20 set assists.
The Class B title also went to the tournament’s top seed, as Omaha Gross outlasted Grand Island Northwest in five sets 19-25, 25-7, 25-15, 21-25, 15-13. It was the second championship in five years for Gross, and the third straight state finals loss for Northwest.
Columbus Scotus won its seventh Class C1 championship this decade by knocking off top-seeded and previously undefeated Grand Island Central Catholic in a five-set final match. Aquinas Catholic picked up its first state championship with a three-set triumph over Sandy Creek in Class C2. In D1, Exeter-Milligan won its first title by defeating Howells in three sets. The D2 championship went to Greeley-Wolbach, which beat Clay Center in five sets.
Iowa volleyball: State champions crowned
There weren’t many surprises at the Iowa state volleyball tournament, where three of the four champions were also the No. 1-ranked teams in their respective classification at the end of the regular season.
The only surprise came in the Class 3A final match, when No. 3 Waverly-Shell Rock upset top-ranked Bishop Heelan in a marathon five-set thriller 25-19, 15-25, 31-29, 20-25, 17-15 at U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids. Sophomore all-tournament captain Morgan Kuhrt had 26 kills against Heelan – and 59 kills in the three-match tournament – as the Go-Hawks won their first state championship. Heelan was seeking its third title in four years.
In 4A, top-ranked Ankeny picked up its second straight title – and fourth in six years – with a four-set victory against No. 2 Iowa City West. Mount Vernon, which finished second the last two seasons as a 3A squad, won the state championship in its first season as a 2A team. The top-ranked Mustangs hardly broke a sweat, allowing Sheldon just 31 points in a three-set sweep. Top-ranked Tripoli captured its fourth 1A crown in six seasons, breezing past Schaller-Crestland in three sets.
There were at least seven Iowa boys basketball players who signed letters of intent with Division I basketball programs last week. But only one – Ames forward Harrison Barnes – was able to share his signing party with the rest of the nation on TV. A crowd of about 3,000 people – mostly media members, classmates and hopeful Iowa State fans – converged on the Ames High gymnasium to watch and cheer as Barnes, MaxPreps’ No. 4-ranked senior recruit, notified North Carolina coach Roy Williams of his decision to sign with the Tar Heels via a Skype Internet video call. The 6-foot-6 wing was also considering Duke, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, and UCLA.
It was the fourth time in 15 years that Williams poached a highly rated recruit from the state of Iowa. In the 1990s, the former Kansas coach lured away future NBA players Raef LaFrentz (MFL-MarMac), Nick Collison (Iowa Falls) and Kirk Hinrich (Sioux City West).
Iowa boys basketball players who signed National Letters of Intent last week:
Will Artino, 6-11, Forward, Waukee: Creighton
Harrison Barnes, 6-6, Forward, Ames: North Carolina
Nathan Buss, 6-8, Forward, Charles City: Northern Iowa
Jordan Dykstra, 6-8, Forward, Rock Valley: South Dakota State
Marcus Heemstra, 6-9, Forward, Rock Valley: South Dakota State
Zach McCabe, 6-7, Forward, Bishop Heelan: Iowa
Doug McDermott, 6-7, Forward, Ames: Northern Iowa
Nebraska boys basketball players who signed National Letters of Intent last week:
Elliott Eliason, 6-11, Center, Chadron: Minnesota
Dwight Smith, 6-4, Guard, Ralston; Colorado State.
Jamie DeMoney has covered high school sports and recruiting for more than 15 years. He is editor and founder of PrepNation.com. You can reach him at PrepNation@aol.com.