As the number of playoff qualifiers has expanded, the likelihood of a first-round upset has contracted. Exhibit A was the first week of Nebraska’s postseason tournament, where all but one of the 30 teams seeded 1-3 across six classifications were victorious.
The closest thing to an upset in Class A was No. 12 seed Grand Island (7-3) taking down fifth seed Omaha North (7-3). The Islanders never punted in a 31-18 win.
Top-seeded Millard South (10-0) defeated Omaha Benson (4-6) for the second time this season. Junior Quentin Urban was the star for the Patriots, scoring touchdowns on all three of his carries in the game and also catching a touchdown pass in a 45-6 blowout.
Class B top seed Aurora (10-0) fired out of the gates with a 54-18 rout of Alliance (3-7). It took the Huskies only 31 snaps to roll up 428 yards of total offense. That’s an average of almost 14 yards per offensive play.
Third-seeded Blair (9-1) escaped sixth seed Omaha Gross’ upset bid, 38-28. Junior Ryan Randall was a workhorse for the Bears, rushing 39 times for 281 yards and four touchdowns.
More Nebraska football: Highlights from Class C and D playoff action
There are two sets of seedings in each of the four Class C and D divisions. Norfolk Catholic, Class C-1’s top team for the eastern part of the state, was a runaway winner against Wayne, 49-7. But, on the other side of the state, top-seed Chadron struggled to defeat a Boone Central team that went only 3-5 in the regular season. The two teams combined for 11 turnovers in a 21-6 Chadron victory.
The night-in, night-out dominance of Boys Town has been one of the most talked about stories in the state. The Cowboys allowed only 13 points and strung together six consecutive shutouts during the regular season. In its playoff opener, Boys Town was a 41-0 victor against Fort Calhoun. But the Cowboys – seeded third in the C-1 east bracket – led only 6-0 at halftime. Senior Kevin Humphrey turned four of his eight carries into touchdowns and finished with 55 rushing yards.
Nate Most, who became the state’s all-time, all-class passing leader last week, accounted for four first-half touchdowns as D-1 west top-seed Giltner hammered Franklin, 42-8.
Iowa football: Highlights from Class 4A and 3A action
After Monday night’s contests, two rounds of the Iowa playoffs are already in the book. The one darkhorse still alive in Class 3A is Pella, which has beaten two state-ranked teams in six days. In Wednesday’s opening round, the Little Dutch (8-3) got two passing touchdowns and one rushing score from senior Blaine Forsythe in a 31-24 upset at Williamsburg (8-2). Then, on Monday, Forsythe booted a 23-yard field goal with less than two minutes to play as Pella stunned 9-2 Grinnell, 10-7, on its home field.
Top-ranked Harlan (11-0) and defending state champion Heelan (10-1) each won their first two games, setting up an anticipated quarterfinal-round rematch that some may consider the de facto 3A state championship. The Cyclones defeated Heelan, 24-6, earlier this season and have breezed past their first two playoff opponents by a combined 97-7. Not to be outdone, the Crusaders have pounded their two postseason opponents by a combined 100-16.
There will not be a repeat champion in Class 4A after Urbandale (9-2) knocked out West Des Moines Valley, 48-0, in Monday’s second round. Chad Gilson was the star of the game for the J-Hawks, who are making their deepest playoff run in 30 years. The senior quarterback scored six touchdowns – including four in the first quarter. Valley, which beat injury-riddled Fort Dodge (7-3) in the first round, ended the season 6-5.
Dowling Catholic and Iowa City, City High, who share Class 4A’s top ranking in various publications, each moved into the quarterfinals. Dowling Catholic (11-0) held Des Moines East to only one first down in a 41-0 second-round victory while City High improved to 11-0 with easy wins over Iowa City West and Dubuque Hempstead.
Iowa football: Highlights from Class 2A and A action
Two-time defending 2A champion Solon (11-0) picked up its 38th straight win – the fourth-longest streak in the nation among 11-man teams – and moved into a quarterfinals rematch against district rival Iowa City Regina (10-1). The Spartans have won their games by an average of 48-6 and Iowa recruit James Morris has rushed for 1,655 yards on only 130 carries (12.7 average) with 28 touchdowns this season.
Speaking of rematches, all eyes in Class A will be on Friday’s quarterfinal matchup between Avoca AHST and Madrid. AHST defeated the Tigers, 42-41, in week six despite a 300-yard rushing night by Madrid’s Louie Wickett.
Iowa: State champions crowned in cross country
Only four Iowa girls have ever won three individual state cross country titles. Dowling Catholic senior Katie Flood became one of the quartet Saturday at Kennedy Park in Fort Dodge.
Flood, who also finished first her freshman and sophomore years and placed second as a junior, ran a time of 13:50. It was three seconds faster than teammate Ashlie Decker, a fellow senior who beat Flood for the individual crown last season. Dowling Catholic also won the team championship for the third consecutive season.
For the third straight year, Union LaPorte City captured the 2A team title. The Knights were led by sisters Ashley and Brittany Frush, who finished first and third, respectively. The 3A crown went to Dubuque Wahlert and the 1A team champion was Nodaway Valley.
On the boys side, Burlington earned the 4A team title as junior Marshall Moyer captured top individual honors in a time of 15:48 and improving on his second-place finish at last year’s state meet.
Led by (gotta love the name) Alec Baldwin’s second consecutive top-three finish at the state meet, Spirit Lake was the 2A champion. Pella was the 3A team champion and Iowa Mennonite took home the 1A trophy.
Top individual performers
Imelda Wistey (West Des Moines Valley, Iowa, swimming): The senior helped the Tigers win the CIML Iowa Conference championship, capturing individual gold in the 100 breaststroke, individual medley, and swimming a leg on the first-place 200 medley relay team. Earlier this year, Wistey set then reset the state record in the 100 breaststroke.
Katharine Ross (Des Moines North, Iowa, swimming): The freshman set conference records in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke as the Polar Bears placed fifth at the CIML Metro Conference meet.
Hali Steenhoek (Pella, Iowa, volleyball): The junior blasted 27 kills in four sets as the Lady Dutch defeated Carlisle in a 3A regional semifinal match.
Jericca Pearson (Gibbon, Nebraska, volleyball): The junior delivered 27 kills in a four-set victory against Axtell in Class C-2 subdistrict action.
Sarah Mamot (Palmer, Nebraska, volleyball): The sophomore had 41 assists in the match and served four aces in the deciding fourth set of her team’s Class D-1 subdistrict victory against Harvard.
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.