2021 football districts released

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla: Jace Ulrich of Fort Dodge gains yardage inside Dodger Stadium last year.

Fort Dodge, St. Edmond and the 16 Messenger-area high school football programs were officially given their respective district assignments for the upcoming 2021 season on Friday.

The Dodgers, who were 3-5 a year ago, are one of 36 teams in Class 4A. Head coach Nik Moser’s squad will be in District 1 with Webster City, Denison-Schleswig, Le Mars, Spencer and Storm Lake.

The Gaels, who went 5-3, are in the 8-player, District 2 group with Bishop Garrigan, West Bend-Mallard, Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire, Harris Lake Park, North Iowa and Northwood-Kensett.

Both programs are embracing new challenges in preparation for the season. Fort Dodge, with a projected enrollment of 823 in Grades 9-11, fell short of the 950-student cutoff line for the new Class 5A competition — which will include the 36 biggest schools in the state.

The Dodgers will be the fourth-largest 4A program, behind Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson, Iowa City Liberty and Cedar Rapids Washington. Traditional 4A rivals Mason City, Indianola, Waterloo East and Des Moines Hoover are also at the 4A level, along with Clinton, Burlington, Newton, North Scott, Dallas Center-Grimes and Waverly-Shell Rock.

The smallest 5A school will be Urbandale. Marshalltown, Ames and Ottumwa also made the 5A list.

From FDSH’s new district, Webster City posted a 9-1 record a year ago. Spencer was 6-3, with Storm Lake (3-6), Denison-Schleswig (2-6) and Le Mars (1-6) all finishing below .500.

The Lynx are 50-13 since 2015 under Hall of Fame coach Bob Howard. Last fall, Webster City defeated Mason City in both the regular season and the playoffs.

Spencer has posted winning campaigns every year but one since 2011.

Head coach Matt Dillon’s St. Edmond program shifts from 11-player to 8-player for the first time after reaching the 120-student BEDS threshold (grades 9-11). Rival Garrigan is doing the same after a rare 2-6 season at the Class A level in 2020.

Harris Lake Park was 6-3 a year ago in eight-player. North Iowa (5-3), Northwood-Kensett (4-4), GTRA (1-6) WB-M (1-7) complete the Gaels’ district.

There are 72 Iowa high school squads in 8-player for 2021.

Humboldt and Algona are in Class 3A, District 2 with Ballard, Gilbert, Nevada and North Polk. Southeast Valley, Pocahontas Area and Clarion-Goldfield/Dows will join Estherville-Lincoln Central, OABCIG and Spirit Lake in 2A-2.

Greene County received a 2A-8 assignment alongside Clarinda, Clarke, Des Moines Christian, Red Oak and Shenandoah.

Messenger-area schools Manson Northwest Webster, South Central Calhoun and Eagle Grove will be flanked by South Hamilton, Woodward-Granger and Belmond-Klemme in 1A-2. Emmetsburg will be with Ridge View, Sibley-Ocheyedan, Sioux Central, West Sioux and Hull Western Christian in 1A-1.

East Sac County, Carroll Kuemper, MVAO-COU, Treynor, Underwood and West Monona are in 1A-8.

North Union is in A-2 with Lake Mills, Mason City Newman, North Butler, Saint Ansgar, West Fork and West Hancock. Newell-Fonda’s 8-player district includes Glidden-Ralston, Kingsley-Pierson, Ar-We-Va, River Valley, Siouxland Christian and Remsen St. Mary’s.

The 2021 season begins on Aug. 27.


(With rank in Iowa and enrollment for grades 9-11)


40) Fort Dodge 823

68) Webster City 457


88) Humboldt 371

103) Algona 335


118) Greene County 302

138) Southeast Valley 242

149) Clarion-Goldfield/Dows 226

154) Pocahontas Area 220


159) Eagle Grove 208

162) Emmetsburg 202

177) East Sac County 189

179) South Central Calhoun 188

187) Manson Northwest Webster 180


212) North Union 161


263) Newell-Fonda 136

270) St. Edmond 120

297) Bishop Garrigan 98

314) West Bend-Mallard 82


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