We continue to look at the football districts that our area teams will be competing in for 2016 with a glance at the Ottumwa Bulldogs and Class 4A District 8.
Ottumwa missed out on the playoffs last year after winning just one district game, finishing the year 4-5. The loss of key players among the 16 seniors who graduated from the 2015 team will also make the transition to this season tough, but the schedule might work out in their favor.
District 8 has only one team that managed a winning record last year: state runner-up Cedar Rapids Kennedy who finished 13-1. Outside of that, Ottumwa had the highest winning percentage of the teams in this district.
Kennedy was fantastic last season, rolling to a 13-0 record before being beat by Dowling Catholic in the Class 4A State Championship, 41-10. They should be the heavy, heavy favorites to win this district behind returning quarterback Nick Duehr.
Even with the poor records, only one other team in this six-pack of teams missed out on a playoff berth last year, and that was Burlington. The Greyhounds were 1-8 and were the only team Ottumwa beat in district play in 2015. They did not manage a passing touchdown all season long, and should be considered the longshot to do damage in 2016 as well.
The Bulldogs will have three other teams they will be competing with for that second playoff position in District 8: Iowa City West, Linn-Mar, and Cedar Rapids Prairie.
Iowa City West managed to get a home playoff game at 3-6 last year since 32 of the 48 Class 4A teams qualified for the playoffs. They knocked off Cedar Rapids Prairie in the first round, 35-20, before falling in the second round to Bettendorf, 43-18. Their 4-7 record was hard fought, as most of those losses were competitive games. But the loss of 26 seniors in big positions will make it tough to expect anything more from West in 2016.
Prairie’s season came to a screeching halt against IC West in the first round, but the Hawks did win one more game in the regular season, finishing the year 4-6. Again, the games were competitive for the most part, but realistic expectations would be another near .500 season.
The final team in this district is Linn-Mar, who went 4-6 in 2015 as well. City High of Iowa City knocked the Lions out of the playoffs in the first round. Linn-Mar really seemed to struggle against top competition, and had an early season loss to Cedar Rapids Prairie.
The prognosis for this district is up in the air. It seems like a good bet that Cedar
Rapids Kennedy will be on top and Burlington will be on the bottom, but the second playoff position is totally up for grabs.
Ottumwa did face Burlington and CR Prairie last season as part of district play. The Bulldogs beat Burlington and lost to Prairie in their last two weeks of the season. They will have to string wins together against the other middle-of-the-road teams battling to get into the 16-team bracket in Class 4A.
For Ottumwa’s non-district schedule, the highlight game will be Week 1 against Newton, the first Mahaska Zone Network Game of the Week for the 2016 season. You can hear that game live on 104.9 FM KBOE, the KBOE mobile app, and kboeradio.com.
Our district previews will continue tomorrow, as we delve into Class 3A District 5, featuring Oskaloosa, Fairfield, and Washington.