While the two larger classes still have a week of regular season football to play, the first round playoff pairings for the lower four classes were announced over the weekend.
Three of our local schools – Northeast, Camanche and Easton Valley – are qualified for the playoffs. Fulton also qualified on the Illinois side, but plays Dakota this Friday in the last week of regular season. Illinois will announce their playoff pairings next Saturday.
Here’s a look at the first round of the 2021 playoffs:
Easton Valley (8-0) vs. Dunkerton (4-4)
The No. 3 ranked River Hawks are rolling into the postseason without a loss on their record. That includes a come-from-behind victory over state-ranked Kee-Lansing in the final week of play to keep them perfect.
The River Hawks are no stranger to the postseason, making the 8-man quarterfinals two years straight. They welcome Dunkerton to Preston for the first round.
The River Hawks have nearly triple the passing yards of the Raiders coming into Friday night’s contest, boasting 1734 yards and one of the most prolific offenses in the state.
The Raiders rely a lot on their ground work, especially from senior runningback Kaden Behrens. Behrens has 1184 rushing yards and has scored 23 of the Raiders’ touchdowns this season. Easton Valley’s Charlie Simpson has 906 rushing yards on 106 attempts, good for 23 touchdowns himself. Hayden Felkey has pulled down a large majority of the passes this year for Easton Valley, good for 623 receiving yards.
Defensively, Andin Farrell is coming in with nearly 80 tackles for Easton Valley, including a whopping 22 for a loss and three sacks. The Easton Valley defense has been unstoppable this year, and has an impressive 104 tackles for a loss and 20 sacks as a team. They’ve also been good for nine interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. The Raiders have 22 fumble recoveries and eight interceptions on defense.
Camanche (5-3) vs. Wahlert Catholic (3-5)
The Camanche football team is taking on their first playoffs under the name of Storm. They’re coming off of a Class 2A state semifinal appearance in 2020. They have a number of key returners, including all-state players, who help full up their roster.
Camanche started the season 0-2 out of district play, falling to Beckman Catholic and Central DeWitt to start 2021. They went on to win five of the next six, their only district loss coming to Monticello.
The Storm welcome the Golden Eagles of Wahlert Catholic to Camanche Friday night. The Golden Eagles won just three games this season, but they won all of them by two touchdowns or more. Their last two games were 49-0 and 35-0 shutout wins.
The Golden Eagles feature an offense that switches between passing and rushing, similar to the way the Storm run theirs. Junior quarterback Bryce Rudiger has 1240 passing yards, including throwing for 11 touchowns this season. Camanche quarterback Mike Delzell has 1413 and 16 touchdowns. The rushing yards also are about the same between the two, with the Golden Eagles proving they have speed. Their longest rushing touchdown was for 67 yards, and they’ve traveled the length of the field on interceptions .
Wahlert also had 15 interceptions in their eight regular season games. Their leading tackle is senior linebacker Kaiden Knockel, who had 44 tackles and four sacks. Storm lineback Eric Kinkaid has 68 tackles and eight of those were for a loss of yardage.
Northeast (4-4) at Mid-Prairie (5-3)
The Rebels have had nothing short of a breakout season. They’re heading to their first playoff qualification since 2009 and are boasting their best record in a decade. After falling by just a touchdown to both Bellevue and Wilton to start the season, the Rebels went on a four-game winning streak to clinch a spot in the 2021 playoffs. Their district losses came at the hands of Camanche (5-3) and Monticello, the district champion.
They face Mid-Prairie in the first round on the road. The Golden Hawks come in on a two-game winning streak to start the postseason and offer some offensive threats on the ground. Senior Tyler Helmuth has over 600 rushing yards on the year, including 15 of Mid-Prairies touchdowns. Braden Hartley had another 400 yards and eight touchdowns. That speed has also translated on defense into nine sacks, seven fumble recoveries and five interceptions.
Northeast features an athletic roster themselves, and one that has seen success against rush attempts because of their athleticism. Quarterback Gavin Kramer has nearly 700 rushing yards at this point in the season, along with his 1412 passing yards on 113 completed passes. He’s been good for 21 total scores through both avenues. Caleb Gruhn has another 246 rushing yards for the Rebels.
Plus, the Rebels have been forcing turnovers all year. They’ve had 13 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries.
Dakota at Fulton, 7 p.m.
Iowa City Liberty at Clinton, 7:15 p.m.
DeWitt at Benton Community, 7:15 p.m.
Wahlert Catholic at Camanche, 7 p.m.
Northeast at Mid-Prairie, 7 p.m.
Dunkerton at Easton Valley, 7 p.m.