With the summer sports season now behind us, we now focus on the upcoming fall season and the excitement of football.
In 2016, the Mahaska Zone Network will again be covering 28 football teams representing 29 area schools in 11 districts in six classes.
In Class 4A, the Ottumwa Bulldogs are the lone area team, and they are in a very difficult District 8. They will be competing with Burlington, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Iowa City West, Linn-Mar, and Cedar Rapids Prairie.
Class 3A has a boatload of teams including two-time defending state champion Pella.
Oskaloosa is in District 5 and will be relishing a fresh start with new Head Coach Jake Jenkins. The Indians are joined by area teams Fairfield and Washington. The other teams in District 5 are Fort Madison, Keokuk, Mount Pleasant, Solon, and West Burlington/Notre Dame, who have bumped up from spending last year in Class 2A.
Pella is in District 6, looking for their third consecutive state title. It won’t be easy to even finish among the top teams in the district, as the team the Dutch beat in the championship game last year, Norwalk, is also in District 6. Grinnell and Knoxville join Pella as area teams. The non-area teams include Bondurant-Farrar, Carlisle, Nevada, North Polk, along with Norwalk.
Mid-Prairie is the only area team that plays in Class 2A District 5. They’ll try to get back to ranked territory as they were in the beginning of last season. They will face Anamosa, Camanche, Mediapolis, Mount Vernon, Northeast (Goose Lake), West Liberty, and Williamsburg in district play.
District 6 in Class 2A has several area teams headlined by perennial contender Albia. The Blue Demons lost some key pieces, including stud running back Carter Isley, but could again compete at the top of the district. They are joined by Centerville, Davis County, PCM, and Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, who jumps up from Class 1A. The non-area teams include Central Lee, Clarke, and Chariton, who drops from being a Class 3A playoff team last year.
Class 1A is the smallest class in terms of our area schools, as there is only three that we are covering.
In District 4, Sigourney/Keota will look to compete for a playoff spot. The Savage Cobras will again be playing against powerhouse Iowa City Regina, and will also face Columbus Community, Highland, Louisa-Muscatine, Wapello, Wilton, and Van Buren, who struggled as a Class A team last year.
There are two area teams in District 5, and both will look to be playoff teams. Pella Christian will bring back the dangerous duo of quarterback David Kacmarynski and athlete Levi Jungling as they look to make a deep playoff run. They’ll be challenged by Pleasantville, who will need to address a few open slots from key contributors if they want to improve on their success in Class A last year. Those two teams will have to play well, as the district is tough with the likes of Central Decatur, Des Moines Christian, Interstate-35, Mount Ayr, Woodward Academy, and Woodward-Granger all in the district.
BGM is the only area team representing the MZN area in Class A District 5. The Bears will be among the top contenders, but will have a gauntlet of tough competition all season long. They will face Belle Plaine, Colfax-Mingo, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, GMG (Garwin), Grand View Christian School, Hudson, and North Tama (Traer).
District 6 will be much busier in terms of area schools. 2015 playoff teams Lynnville-Sully, Montezuma, and Pekin will join with Cardinal and North Mahaska to make up a handful of area teams. Danville, New London, and Winfield-Mount Union round out the District 6 list.
Finally, in 8-Player football, there are two more districts with area teams.
English Valleys is going in alone in District 4 against six non-area schools. The Bears will look to improve from a couple of down years against Cedar Valley Christian, Easton Valley, Iowa Valley, Lone Tree, Midland, Springville, and WACO (Wayland).
District 5 has four area teams in 8-Player ball. Moravia had a great year last year, but after losing star quarterback Briar Cochran, they’ll have a tough go to repeat that success. Twin Cedars brings back several top athletes, and Melcher-Dallas and Tri-County are looking to build on young cores. They will not have an easy ride through their schedules as top teams Colo-Nesco and HLV await. Meskwaki Settlement School will also be in the mix at the top of the district, and Seymour/Moulton-Udell rounds out the district.
We will have plenty of football coverage spanning all of these area teams on radiokmzn.com as the season heats up.
We will continue to preview these districts with our area teams as time gets closer to kickoff for Week 1 on August 26.
Be on the lookout for the official release of the Mahaska Zone Network Game of the Week schedule, which will be coming later this week on radiokmzn.com.