Half of the six schools in the district are ranked in this week’s state top 10. Another is 3-1 and has the top-ranked offense in its classification.
Welcome to Class 4A District 7 football, a group that features No. 6 Iowa City High, No. 7 Muscatine, No. 8 Bettendorf and a high-powered Clinton squad along with Davenport Central and Davenport North.
It is just one of two 4A districts statewide to have five teams with a .500 record or better.
“Our district feels like one of the toughest, if not the toughest in the state,” Muscatine coach Jake Mueller said.
Iowa City High, Muscatine and Bettendorf have victories over Pleasant Valley, a team projected to be in the chase for the District 6 title.
Central coach Ben Sacco has referred to his team’s schedule the last four weeks of the season as the gauntlet — Iowa City High, Clinton, at Muscatine, at Bettendorf.
And the unfortunate part is, at least two of those schools won’t be in the postseason. With Iowa shrinking its playoff field from 32 to 16 teams in each class this fall, only the top two finishers in each district move on.
It is more than likely the two programs on the outside will have a win or two on their resume over a neighboring district playoff qualifier.
“I think everybody in our (district) is better than they were a year ago,” Bettendorf coach Aaron Wiley said before the season.
The jockeying for playoff position starts Friday night. Muscatine visits Bettendorf and City High makes the trek to Clinton.
Other than an overtime stumble to Ames, City High has knocked off Linn-Mar, PV and Iowa City West.
Muscatine slipped at home by four points to Iowa City West, but has wins over last year’s state runner-up, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, PV and North Scott.
Bettendorf has two defeats, but they’ve come against top-ranked West Des Moines Valley and third-ranked Cedar Rapids Washington by a point in overtime.
“They might have two losses, but they’re a top-five team,” Mueller said.
Clinton, averaging 471 yards of offense per game, throttled North Scott and Dubuque Senior among its three wins.
The district has plenty of individual stars, too.
City High quarterback Nate Wieland is a Northern Illinois recruit.
Muscatine tailback Alphonso Soko is the leading rusher in 4A and has pledged to South Dakota. Drew Greenhaw and David Summers are returning all-district players.
Bettendorf linemen Mark Kallenberger and Cole Webster are Division I commits to Iowa and Northern Illinois, respectively. Keegan Glaus is among the state’s top 12 in rushing and tackles while Cameron Maxfield has a half-dozen tackles for loss.
Clinton quarterback Johnny Sullivan has thrown for a 4A-best 1,254 yards and 15 touchdowns with only two interceptions. Gage Harris leads the class with 31 receptions for 509 yards.
“It is a little bit scary with just the top two making it,” Clinton senior lineman Tyler Clark said. “It is a terrible feeling if you don’t make the playoffs, but we know there will be some good teams in our district not there.”
WE MEET AGAIN: Davenport Assumption and Dubuque Wahlert decided to drop down a classification after the 2013 season.
Since then, the parochial schools have been bumping into each other quite frequently. Assumption travels to Wahlert on Friday night, marking the fourth meeting between the schools in the past three years.
The Knights won a non-district game against the Golden Eagles in 2014, 48-14, followed by two victories last season — 45-21 in the regular season and 42-21 in the opening round of the playoffs.
This will be the first district encounter between them. And with both schools saddled with one district loss, this is a pivotal game for playoff implications.
“They have a real nice team, a lot like us,” Assumption coach Wade King said. “They don’t have a ton of players, but they have guys that are tough.”
ON THE CUSP: North Scott enters Friday’s district opener at Dubuque Hempstead with a 1-3 mark, but coach Kevin Tippet believes his team has made substantial strides the past four weeks.
After one-sided losses to Assumption and Clinton, North Scott upended Davenport Central and was within a couple scores of top-10 Muscatine last week.
North Scott was assessed five 15-yard penalties against the Muskies and had more than 100 yards of infractions.
“If we match our discipline with our effort, and that’s my responsibility, I think we’ll have something,” Tippet said. “I’m about as excited as I ever have to step on a practice field this week.
“Our kids understand where we’re at, they’re hungry and they’re starting to see some of the improvement.”