Johnston earned their way into the playoffs by beating Sioux City East in week 9. Photo by David Mable
JOHNSTON, Ia. — The Iowa high school football regular season came to a close Friday night, and the final week was every bit as explosive and entertaining as the opening one.
That’s probably where the similarities end.
In Week 9, the stakes were raised and pressure was aplenty. Many teams were playing for district titles after already clinching their postseason spots. Others still had to give everything they had to simply reach the playoffs — and even then, wildcard spots weren’t announced until Saturday morning.
Johnston rolls over Sioux City East, into the playoffs
Brian Woodley stood behind the south end zone, his voice hoarse after yelling for two hours. It was a quick game, but Woodley, much like his Johnston football team, gave everything he had during that time. The results turned up in their favor.
“I’m very proud of the team tonight,” Woodley said. “Kind of had an up-and-down season, but you’d like to get to Week 9 with a chance to make the playoffs and control your own destiny, and our kids came ready to play tonight — in all phases.”
Johnston hosed Sioux City East, 47-0, on Friday to secure its spot in the Class 4A playoffs. The Dragons were up 23-0 after the first quarter and 40-0 at half. Jeran Proctor, Jake Meyer, Gus Geneyan and Peyton Williams all scored touchdowns. The defense scored a safety.
It was a strong end to the regular season for a Johnston team that started slow. The Dragons opened the season 1-3 after close losses to Ankeny Centennial and Urbandale and a big loss at home to top-ranked Valley.
But once the Dragons hit district play, they found their groove, navigating Des Moines East, Roosevelt and Sioux City North en route to a three-game winning streak. Waukee snapped that successful run in Week 8, but Johnston showed no sign of a carryover against Sioux City East on Friday.
Dar Danielson talks with Coach Woodley after Johnston’s win over SC East.
“We don’t make excuses,” Woodley said. “We play all those good teams for a reason, and this was one of those years where we just got decimated with injuries. We had a handful of guys out, and now they’re back, and that makes a big difference for us. We’re young.
“We’ve got everybody back, and offense, defense and specials teams all clicked tonight. Really, they have been for the last three or four weeks, so I’m really excited about that. It doesn’t matter who we play next week. We’re going to go out and give them our best shot.”
Friday’s win pushed the Dragons to 5-4 overall, their first time above .500 this season. This will be Johnston’s 10th trip to the postseason under Woodley. The playoff pairings for all classes will be released at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning.
Class 3A district title games
Three of Friday’s Class 3A matchups served as unofficial district title games.
In District 1, unbeaten and No. 7 Storm Lake took on Sergeant Bluff-Luton. The Tornadoes scored 21-straight points to top Sergeant Bluff-Luton, 35-28.
In District 2, No. 10 Boone, at 7-1 overall and 6-0 in district play, traveled to No. 6 Webster City, which entered the night at 7-1 and 5-1. Running back Robert Frederickson scored from four yards out in the fourth quarter, helping Webster City secure a 21-14 win.
The final one took place in District 7, pitting unbeaten and third-ranked Creston against unbeaten and fourth-ranked Carroll. The Tigers led by 14 after three quarters, and a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kolby Molinsky to Zach Promes helped seal a 49-21 win.
Pair of city schools finish on a high note
A pair of Des Moines schools finished their respective seasons on a high note.
Lincoln topped Council Bluffs Lincoln, 19-14, to finish 5-4. It marks the Rails’ first winning season since 2011, when they went 9-2. Quarterback Will McElvain finished the season with over 2,000 yards passing and 25 touchdowns.
East beat Roosevelt, 45-26, to snap a two-game losing streak. The Scarlets raced out to a 38-13 lead before the Roughriders mounted a small comeback. The loss snaps Roosevelt’s two-game winning streak.
Both North and Hoover both lost to Lewis Central and Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson, respectively.
Valley remained unbeaten handling Marshalltown easily, scoring 35 points in the first quarter. Photo by David Mable
And then there were 18
There were 23 unbeaten teams left around the state at the beginning of Friday night. At its conclusion, that number had dwindled to 18.
In Class 4A, West Des Moines Valley is the lone undefeated 4A team to enter the playoffs, at 9-0.
In Class 3A, Storm Lake, Cedar Rapids Xavier, Pella and Carroll will start the postseason at 9-0.
In Class 2A, North Fayette Valley is the lone team to reach the end of the regular season at 9-0.
In Class 1A, Denver, Bellevue, Van Meter and Pella Christian are all 9-0 after Week 9.
In Class A, Bishop Garrigan of Algona, Saint Ansgar, Gladbrook-Reinbeck and St. Albert of Council Bluffs all survived the regular season without a loss.
In the 8-man class, Harris Lake Park, Turkey Valley, Twin Cedars and Fremont Mills all navigated the regular season with spotless 9-0 marks.
Cody Goodwin covers high school sports and college basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. Reach him at (515) 783-4458, email him at email@example.com, or send him a tweet@codygoodwin.