The COVID-19 pandemic has brought sports to a halt. Nobody is certain when practices will resume or games will commence.
“I think we’re all going a little stir crazy,” Bettendorf football coach Aaron Wiley said. “Hopefully, we can get back to normalcy at some point this offseason.”
Need some positive news?
With the football season about five months out, the Iowa High School Athletic Association released its schedules for the 2020 campaign Thursday.
The opening week of games is slated for Aug. 28 and the final week of the regular season is scheduled for Oct. 23.
Here are some takeaways from the schedules:
More border battles
In each of the past two seasons, there have been two cross-river matchups — Assumption vs. Alleman and Davenport West vs. United Township.
There will be five Iowa versus Illinois contests in the first two weeks of the season.
Moline is facing Iowa schools in the first two weeks for the first time since 1984. The Maroons meet Davenport West in a Saturday night opener on Aug. 29 at Brady Street Stadium followed by a Week 2 home tilt against Pleasant Valley.
All nine of Moline’s games are within a 45-minute drive of the school.
“Probably the best schedule from a travel standpoint we’ve had in decades,” Moline coach Mike Morrissey said, “and that’s no exaggeration. We’re beyond excited for people in our community and our students not to travel 2½ hours to watch peers and loved ones play.
“To play the (Iowa) Q-C schools, it rekindles those old rivalries and creates a buzz.”
Moline has never played PV in football. It hasn’t squared off against West since 1984.
“It is exciting, a chance to build new rivalries and games with fans in the stands,” Morrissey said. “When we play PV at home, it is going to be a different beast than Lisle Benet Academy or Alton just from an environment standpoint alone.”
Morrissey is a PV graduate. His father, Ed, is the all-time wins leader at PV.
“Selfishly, I’m really excited for that game,” Morrissey said. “More than anything, it is a program, coaching staff and school we respect tremendously. They are very similar to us from a style standpoint.”
Clinton travels to the Soule Bowl to clash with United Township in Week 1 while Assumption and Alleman play for the third straight season in the opener.
In Week 2, defending Western Big 6 champion Sterling visits North Scott. It’ll be the first meeting between those schools in 41 years.
Bulldogs not ducking anybody
Nobody in eastern Iowa has a more grueling schedule this fall than Bettendorf.
The Bulldogs play four perennial state powers — all whom won at least 10 games and reached the quarterfinals last season — in Cedar Falls (Sept. 18), at West Des Moines Valley (Sept. 25), at Cedar Rapids Kennedy (Oct. 2) and Dowling Catholic (Oct. 16).
Dowling is the reigning seven-time state champion. Valley, Kennedy and Cedar Falls handed Bettendorf its three losses last fall.
“We’re embracing it,” Wiley said. “We tell our kids if you play football for us, you’re going to have the chance to play in big games and on a big stage. If you look at that (schedule), most fall into that category.”
In addition, Bettendorf has rival Pleasant Valley and Iowa City High on the docket along with road contests against Cedar Rapids Prairie, Muscatine and Iowa City West.
Based on returning personnel and past success, it isn't far-fetched to think seven, maybe eight, of Bettendorf’s nine opponents could have winning records this fall. It definitely should put the Bulldogs in a favorable spot when it comes to the Ratings Percentage Index, the metric used to determine the 16 playoff qualifiers.
“There are going to be some really good teams staying home for the playoffs,” Wiley said, “and maybe some teams not as good getting in. We'll see how this goes."
It is the first time since 1959 Bettendorf won’t play a school from Davenport in the regular season.
No 4A foes for Lancers
Even though North Scott has been in Class 3A the past two seasons, the Lancers have matched up primarily against 4A programs in the non-district portion of their schedule — Iowa City West, PV and Davenport Central.
North Scott has no 4A opponents on its schedule this fall, but coach Kevin Tippet’s squad still has plenty of challenges awaiting them.
In addition to Sterling, North Scott welcomes perennial power Cedar Rapids Xavier to Lancer Stadium in Week 3 for a rematch of last year’s state playoff game won by the Lancers.
Then the following week, North Scott travels to Epworth to face Western Dubuque, a program it has lost to in the quarterfinals each of the past two seasons.
North Scott opens the season at Keokuk, a school it hasn't played in football.
Once again, Assumption has all of its home games on Thursday nights this fall. Defending Class 3A state champion Western Dubuque (Sept. 3), West Delaware (Sept. 10), Marion (Sept. 24) and Clinton (Oct. 15) comprise the Knights’ home slate.
Davenport Central, meanwhile, plays three Thursday night games in September … and just one at Brady Street Stadium.
The Blue Devils travel to Kingston Stadium in Cedar Rapids for a Week 2 meeting against Cedar Rapids Washington and a Week 5 contest versus Cedar Rapids Jefferson. It has Muscatine on a Thursday night in Week 4.
Davenport North has the fewest Thursday games of any Davenport school. The Wildcats play just once on Thursdays in Week 7 against Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
New schedule twist for Clinton
Clinton has a new coach this fall in Nate Herrig. It also has a revamped schedule.
For the first time in at least 70 years, the River Kings won’t play a Davenport public school. Instead, Clinton’s schedule is comprised of United Township, seven 3A programs and 2A Maquoketa. West Delaware is among the new additions to the schedule.
Clinton still has one trip to Brady Street this fall. It plays Assumption in a district contest on Thursday, Oct. 15.
Longest road trips
There are four Q-C metro teams with road games at least 2 hours, 15 minutes from home according to MapQuest:
Aug. 28 -- Muscatine at Indianola (143 miles)
Aug. 28 -- North Scott at Keokuk (128 miles)
Sept. 25 -- Bettendorf at WDM Valley (183 miles)