Key Big Six tilt in Quincy

Is this the title game? In the second week of the Western Big Six football season, of course it can't be. But there's no denying that the winner of the Rock Island-Quincy game at Flinn Stadium will be one of the teams to beat the rest of the way.

Both teams enter 3-1 overall and 1-0 in conference play. Rock Island is coming off a somewhat disruptive week where it found itself answering questions about six players kneeling during the national anthem last Friday, joining the protest started by San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick.

Coach Bryan Stortz did not let players talk to the media this week. He also said he did not believe any fallout from the controversy would affect the Rocks this week.

What he seems to be most concerned about is stopping the Blue Devils sound ground game. "They are very good, obviously," Stortz said.

Tracey holds Streaks in high regard

Before the season started, Moline coach Mike Tracey believed Galesburg (3-1, 0-1 Big Six) was one of the league's top teams along with Rock Island and Quincy.

"Nothing has really changed my mind on that," he said earlier this week.

The Streaks' long scoring drives a year ago cost the Maroons in a 21-14 loss that took parts of two days to play because of lightning delays. Tracey hopes his offense, which has scored 40 or more each of the last two weeks, can make a difference this year.

"It's a huge challenge," Tracey said. "It's probably the biggest one we have faced this year, even though we have played two outstanding teams in games one and two."

District play begins in Iowa 4A

The so-called "preseason" is over for Iowa 4A programs. The next five weeks in Iowa's largest classification will determine the postseason qualifiers.

Unlike the past two years where the top four teams in each district qualified for the playoffs, only the top two advance this season. It puts a higher premium on each district contest. 

While Muscatine and Bettendorf is a top-10 clash this week, there are several other intriguing matchups with sixth-ranked Iowa City High at 3-1 Clinton, Pleasant Valley traveling to Western Dubuque for the first time and North Scott facing Dubuque Hempstead in a playoff rematch from last season. 

"The first part of the season is over, we're starting the second season and we want to play for that third season — the playoffs," PV coach Rusty VanWetzinga said. "Hopefully, we can position ourselves for the first or second spot in our districts to get that opportunity."

Knights in 'playoff mode'

Since a 39-22 loss to West Delaware in the opening week of district play, Davenport Assumption's margin for error has shrunk. The Knights likely need to win out, or definitely prevail in four of their last five games, to have a shot at making the Class 3A playoffs for a third straight season.

"We basically are in playoff mode every week," Assumption coach Wade King said.

Assumption responded well last week with a 55-17 rout of Central DeWitt, a game in which Justus Burke rushed for 237 yards and racked up six scores.

The next hurdle is Friday at Dubuque Wahlert, a school Assumption has defeated three times in the past 24 months. If the Knights can win their next three games, it sets up a pivotal showdown with undefeated Clear Creek Amana in Week 8 at Brady Street Stadium.

Key area matchups

Besides Sterling and Geneseo, this has been a week circled on the calendars for several area teams, many of which could decide conference or district titles.

First off, Rockridge hosts Orion hoping for some revenge after outplaying the Chargers in a 7-0 loss last year. Rockridge is unbeaten in the TRAC Rock and tied with Fulton, while this is really a must win for the one-loss Chargers if their conference hopes are to remain alive.

Further south in Aledo, Mercer County hosts Annawan-Wethersfield in a showdown between Lincoln Trail unbeatens. The Titans have showed extremely versatile this season while the Golden Eagles have been winning with defense.

In Iowa, Bellevue hosts Class 1A district power West Branch in a showdown of two of the best running backs in the state. Bellevue's Peter Kilburg and West Branch's Luke Lenoch are sixth and seventh in the state in rushing yards and both have 12 touchdowns.