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Predictions for the Iowa high school football state championship games

The championship games have arrived.

Starting Thursday morning and ending Friday night, Iowa high school football’s best teams will put on a show inside the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. We’ll see many of the game’s brightest young stars on the season’s biggest stage. The action rarely disappoints.

The storylines entering this week are all sorts of intriguing.

In Class A, Grundy Center is making its third-straight state title game appearance, while West Hancock is looking for its second championship in three years.

In Class 4A, Lewis Central is making its first-ever championship game appearance — yes, really — and will have to knock off perennial power Cedar Rapids Xavier in order to win.

In Class 1A, Van Meter is in its third title game in four years but is seeking just its second state title in school history — and will have to knock off another prolific offense, led by another talented quarterback, to do it.

In 2A, Southeast Valley won the toughest district, but West Lyon looks like the toughest team.

In 3A, two high-powered offenses will clash between Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley and Harlan. 

In 8-Player, the Lane Spieker Show kicks things off Thursday morning.

And, of course, in Class 5A, a highly anticipated rematch, between Ankeny and Southeast Polk.

The next two days are going to be action-packed. This season has been a gem, literally from the jump, when Southeast Polk’s Xavier Nwankpa hauled in a walk-off Hail Mary catch in Week 1. It’s only gotten better every week since.

Here’s hoping this season ends with a bang this week. Hope to see you there.

Class 5A: Ankeny vs. Southeast Polk

7 p.m. Friday

Xavier Nwankpa has shown to be a game-changing force in every phase of the game. Southeast Polk didn’t have him the first time it played Ankeny this year, and the result was a 21-7 Ankeny win  that made it clear these two were likely the favorites to again play in the season’s final game. The Rams will have Nwankpa this time. As long as he and his star-studded teammates are at their best, the Rams should have enough of an edge to come out on top.

Pick: Southeast Polk, 28-24

► MORE: Full breakdown for the Class 5A state championship game

Jonathan Humpal and Lewis Central will play Cedar Rapids Xavier in the Class 4A state championship game on Thursday night.

Class 4A: Cedar Rapids Xavier vs. Lewis Central

7 p.m. Thursday

Hard to believe this is Lewis Central’s first trip to the state finals. They’ve got a tall task in front of them in Xavier.

The Saints are versatile, deep and play sound, fundamental football. They do not beat themselves. The Titans possess star power in Jonathan Humpal, Brayden Loftin, Lucci Fidone, Hunter Deyo, Nick Miller and quarterback Braylon Kammrad.

If the stars play like stars, the Titans can win. Plays must be made. If not, Xavier will do what they do: a heavy run-first attack from Will Hiserote and Michael Cunningham as well as quarterback Alex Neal, who is also completing nearly 70% of his passes. 

Expect a physical football game here. 

Pick: Lewis Central, 28-24

Caleb Kats and Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley plays Harlan in the Class 3A state championship game on Friday afternoon.

Class 3A: Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley vs. Harlan

1 p.m. Friday

Who’s ready for a shootout?

We might see one here between the Cyclones and the Nighthawks. Harlan averages 50.9 points per game, the most in Class 3A. Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley averages 46.5 per game, the second-most in 3A. (Don’t sleep on the defenses, either: BHRV is allowing 9.2 points per game; Harlan has allowed just 19 points total in its last five games.)

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