OMAHA — Defending state champion Sioux City Bishop Heelan, a first-round playoff winner over Creston/O-M, opens the 2014 season as the Class 4A/3A top-ranked team in western Iowa by the Omaha World-Herald.
Heelan cruised to last year’s 3A state title, pounding its final three opponents 31-0, 48-13 and 47-14. The Crusaders lost several players from a talented senior class, but return running back Tony Tobin (1,032 yards) and tight end Tucker Spears (527 yards, five TDs).
Carroll is No. 2 and Harlan No. 3 on the large schools ratings.
Logan-Magnolia tops 2A/1A/A and Fremont-Mills is the Eight-Man leader.
There are several changes in Iowa high school football this season. There are now 46 4A football teams, all playing divisional format instead of conference play that used in the eastern half. Lewis Central is a new team in the 4A western division.
Cedar Rapids Xavier, Davenport Assumption and Dubuque Wahlert have dropped from 4A competition to 3A.
Another change is that there will be no brackets released prior to the opening round of the playoffs. The matchups for each round will be determined after the previous round by the Iowa High School Athletic Association. The purpose is to eliminate as much travel as possible.
For that same reason, the use of “sister districts” also has been eliminated, where one district would compete exclusively with another in the first three rounds of the postseason.
The association did not vote to cut the regular season from nine to eight games, which would have allowed a week break between each round of the playoffs. Teams reaching the quarterfinals are still playing four games in a span of 14 days.
The preseason ratings and last year’s records:
Class 4A/3A — 1. Sioux City Heelan (14-0); 2. Carroll (8-3); 3. Harlan (10-2); 4. Sioux City East (7-4); 5. Sioux City North (4-6).
Class 2A/1A/A — 1. Logan-Magnolia (5-4); 2. Carroll Kuemper (14-0); 3. C.B. St. Albert (10-1); 4. Clarinda (4-6); 5. IKM-Manning (4-5); 6. AHSTW (Avoca, Hancock, Shelby, Tennant, Walnut) (12-1); 7. Audubon (9-3); 8. OA-BCIG (4-5); 9. Red Oak (3-7); 10. Griswold (4-5).
Eight-Man — 1. Fremont-Mills (7-3); 2. East Mills (8-3); 3. Exira-EHK (12-1); 4. Boyer Valley (7-4); 5. Coon Rapids-Bayard (8-4).