Iowa City Liberty (1-0) at Waterloo East (0-1)
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Waterloo
Last week: Liberty opened its season with a 23-20 win over Iowa City High. East lost a hard-fought battle to Waterloo West, 26-19.
Last meeting: The Lightning won the first meeting between the schools last year, 18-6
What to watch: East will have to try to stop another strong running game as Liberty rushed for 253 yards in its season opener against City High. Max Tafolla, the 6-foot, 205-pound junior led the attack with a 11.4 yards per carry average. He carried the ball 15 times for 171 yards and two scores. Kaleb Williams added 73 yards on 12 carries. The Lightning passed just five times in the game, but one of those was a 54-yard touchdown from Drake Woody to Ben Houselog. Defensively, Liberty also needs to shore up its run defense as the Little Hawks rushed for 278 yards and three touchdowns. ... East showed a nice balance offensively in the loss to West. Dylan Reyes passed for 216 yards and a touchdown, while Kjuan Owens and Alex Glover combined to rush for 158 yards on 28 carries and a score. Reyes is day-to-day with a shoulder ailment, which means sophomore Joseph Spates would get the nod at quarterback if Reyes is unable to go.
East coach Xavier Leonard: “Good program. We saw them at the Iowa camp. They are going to run the ball, run the ball and run the ball. It is what they do. They run a tight ship, and their kids are always bought in. It is going to be a hard-fought football game.”
On his team, “We are prepared (for Liberty’s Wing-T ground game). My defensive staff has done a good job of getting them ready to go with the little fixes we needed to off-set that.”
No. 3 Cedar Falls (1-0) at I.C. High (0-1)
When: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
Where: Bates Field, Iowa City
Radio: KCFI (1250 AM)
Last week: Cedar Falls rolled past Ames, 39-3. Iowa City High dropped a 23-20 thriller to Iowa City Liberty.
Last meeting: Cedar Falls’ defense dominated in a 47-0 shutout victory.
What to watch: Iowa City High relied on its ground game in week one, rushing 48 times for 274 yards and throwing only four passes. The Little Hawks return quarterback Raph Hamilton and leading rusher Tonka Hickman, who piled up 137 yards in the opener. City High controlled the football against Liberty, running 52 offensive plays to the Lightning’s 36, but Liberty was able to move the ball effectively on the ground with 253 yards on 31 carries. ... Cedar Falls used a more balanced attack against Ames as quarterback Cael Loecher completed 10 of 19 passes for 176 yards and a TD and Bo Grosse led the ground game with 131 yards on 14 attempts. One of the areas the Tigers are looking to improve this week is third down efficiency after getting into numerous third-and-longs in the opener. ... Friday marks the only time this season Cedar Falls will play on a grass field.
Cedar Falls coach Brad Remmert: On the opener: “I thought we did some good things with a lot of new starters in the game on both sides of ball. We rushed ball real well with Bo Grosse, and Ryan Ostrich did a good job out of backfield. I thought the kids up front who hadn’t played much did a good job. On defense, we took lot of snaps in first half based on what they were doing to us. They ran a bunch of plays and we made some changes at halftime and were able get some pressure up front.”
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On I.C. High: “Watching their first game with Liberty, offensively they look like a smash it at you type offense. They come real hard downhill at you. They’ve got good backs in there, and their quarterback is a junior and he carried it a bunch of times.”
Waterloo West (1-0) at Mason City (0-1)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Mohawk Stadium, Mason City
Last meeting: West running back Isaac Tolbert ran for 165 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries during a 34-0 Wahawk victory in Week 2 of the 2018 season.
Last week: West entered the fourth quarter with a 20-7 lead before holding on for a 26-19 victory over Waterloo East. Fort Dodge recovered four fumbles and recorded an interception, while adding three big passing touchdowns during a 65-0 win over Mason City.
What to watch: Wahawk running back Isaac Tolbert recorded 112 first half rushing yards against East last week, but leg cramps kept him off the field in the fourth quarter. West coach Lonnie Moore liked what he saw out of junior Jay Shaw (9 carries, 46 yards, one touchdown), and anticipates Shaw receiving more carries to keep Tolbert fresh. ... While West’s senior quarterback Carter Maske completed just 6 of 17 passes for 47 yards, Moore points to drops and as the culprit that prevented the Wahawks from getting more production out of a passing game that had opportunities for more. ... West’s coach estimates more players took the field for his team in Friday’s opener than any other game in his tenure. Friday’s trip to Mason City will provide an opportunity to develop that depth. ... Mason City’s last win came against West near the end of the 2017 season. The Mohawks have dropped 11 consecutive games. Brandon Krusey is in his first year as Mason City’s head coach. He previously guided North Tama and Grundy Center to a total of six playoff appearances. ... Mason City will test West’s offensive line with a large defensive front. The Mohawk offense managed just 77 yards in last week’s loss at Fort Dodge.
West coach Lonnie Moore: “They’re a young team. They’ve got a really good coach. ... He’s going to turn things around. Our thing is we’re more worried about ourselves instead of Mason City. We’ve got to make our biggest improvement from week one to week two. We want to have relentless effort and continuous improvement this week.”
Waterloo Columbus (1-0) at No. 10 Hudson (0-1)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Columbus opened with an impressive 35-6 win over Iowa Falls-Alden. Hudson was upset by Jesup, 7-5.
Last meeting: Hudson won in Waterloo last fall, 14-0.
Game notes: The Sailors showed a balanced attack with Carter Gallagher throwing for three touchdowns, all to 6-foot-4, 215-pound end Ben Sinnott. Sinnott finished the game with six catches for 69 yards and the three scores, and he also rushed for 33 yards on two carries, and returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown. Running back Ray Seidel rushed for 129 yards and a score, additionally. Columbus’ defense held IF-A to less than 200 yards offense and the Cadets were scoreless until scoring in the fourth quarter. ... Hudson struggled without all-state running back/linebacker Ethan Fulcher in a loss to Hudson. The Pirates committed three turnovers and managed to rush for just 72 yards in the loss after rushing for an average of nearly 300 yards a game during its run to the Class A state title last fall.
Quoting Columbus coach Brad Schmit: On Hudson, “They’ve lost two games in the last two plus seasons, so their kids are tough, scrappy. The culture they have instilled ... they are not a team you want to catch after a loss that maybe wasn’t supposed to happen. They are going to be ready to go and we have to have our kids ready to go.”
On his team, “We have to start fast like we did last Friday against Iowa Falls-Alden. We have to be productive from the start. And, we’ve been telling guys we have to focus on what we can control.”
— Compiled by Courier Sports Writers Jim Nelson and Nick Petaros and sports editor Doug Newhoff