Xavier, Regina Open at No. 1 in Gazette Poll
By Jeff Linder, Reporter
Three consecutive state championships. A win streak of 42 straight games. And a lot coming back.
Yeah, you could say Iowa City Regina was an easy choice for No. 1. Unanimous, even.
The Regals join Cedar Rapids Xavier and BGM as top-ranked area teams in The Gazette's inaugural preseason football poll, released today.
It's a new undertaking for The Gazette staff, but one deemed necessary after the newspaper cut ties with the Associated Press.
Voting in the poll are prep writers Jeff Johnson, K.J. Pilcher, Jeremiah Davis and Jeff Linder.
The four largest classes are led by parochial schools.
The 4A state runner-up last year (it dropped a 23-17 decision to Ankeny in the title game), Xavier received three No. 1 votes to lead the 4A list.
Xavier was 13-1 last season and returns the majority of a defense that allowed just 8.6 points per game. Matt Nelson, a University of Iowa commitment, is a returning first-team all-state defensive end.
West Des Moines Dowling is No. 2, followed by Iowa City West.
Sioux City Heelan is the top-ranked team in 3A. The Crusaders were 12-2 and state runners-up last year. Grinnell is second, with defending champion Decorah at No. 3.
Carroll Kuemper got the nod in 2A after a 12-1, state-semifinalist season in 2012. Waukon (9-3) returns four all-staters and is rated second; Dyersville Beckman (11-2) is No. 3 behind a prolific passing attack.
Regina has not tasted defeat yet this decade, and is chasing the state's all-time record of 56 games without a loss. The Regals outscored their opposition by an average of 41-10 last year, and bring back running back Riley Dixon, among many other veterans. Dike-New Hartford (12-1) and Council Bluffs St. Albert (12-2) fell to the Regals in the final two rounds of the playoffs and start this season at Nos. 2 and 3.
The tightest race for No. 1 is in Class A, where BGM edged West Lyon by a 34-33 margin. BGM (10-3) advanced to the state semifinals last year, while West Lyon (9-2) was bumped in the second round. Defending champion Wapsie Valley (14-0) and Lisbon (9-2) share the No. 3 ranking.
Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton assumes the top spot in Eight Man after posting a 12-1 mark and advancing to the semifinals last year. Last year's runner-up, Don Bosco (12-1) is No. 2.
The first regular-season poll will be released Monday, Sept. 2.
THE GAZETTE WEEKLY FOOTBALL POLL
(First-place votes in parentheses)
1. Cedar Rapids Xavier (3)
2. West Des Moines Dowling
3. Iowa City West
5. West Des Moines Valley
6. Southeast Polk
7. Ankeny (1)
8. Pleasant Valley
9. Cedar Falls
Others receiving votes: Dubuque Senior 6, Ames 4, Sioux City East 4, Cedar Rapids Prairie 2, Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln 1.
1. Sioux City Heelan (3)
3. Decorah (1)
7. Clear Lake
9. Webster City
Others receiving votes: Boone 6, DeWitt Central 6, Marion 6, Lewis Central 5, Crestwood 4, Carroll 2, Perry 1, West Delaware 1.
1. Carroll Kuemper (2)
2. Waukon (1)
3. Dyersville Beckman
4. West Marshall
5. Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley
6. Spirit Lake (1)
Others receiving votes: New Hampton 5, Forest City 4, Louisa-Muscatine 4, North Polk 4, Garner-Hayfield/Ventura 3, Mid-Prairie 2.
1. Iowa City Regina (4)
2. Dike-New Hartford
3. Council Bluffs St. Albert
5. South Winneshiek
(tie) Mount Ayr
10. Maquoketa Valley
Others receiving votes: IKM-Manning 5, South O'Brien 4, West Branch 3, Van Meter 2, Western Christian 1.
1. BGM (2)
2. West Lyon (1)
(tie) Wapsie Valley (1)
9. Mason City Newman
(tie) North Tama
Others receiving votes: Ackley AGWSR 5, Akron-Westfield 4, Algona Garrigan 4, Gladbrook-Reinbeck 3, Madrid 3, Montezuma 2, Pekin 1.
1. Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton (2)
2. Don Bosco (1)
7. Marcus MMC (1)
9. West Bend-Mallard
10. Easton Valley
Others receiving votes: Sidney 5, Harris-Lake Park 3, Remsen Union 3, Laurens-Marathon 1, West Harrison 1.