IOWA CITY, Iowa – Entering his third season at City High, Head Coach Mitchell Moore continues to book the Little Hawks for the big stage.
There likely were doubters in 2021 when a Little Hawk program that had met hard times sought out a matchup with perennial-power Dowling Catholic. The Maroons, who had last seen City High in double-overtime of the 2010 4A State Championship game, had since won seven straight state titles from 2013-2019. The Little Hawks, meanwhile, had won two games each of the past four seasons.
Nevertheless, a pair of trick plays helped lift the resurgent Little Hawks to a, 21-17, upset at Bates Field. The signature victory would propel City High back to the UNI-Dome for its first State Semifinal appearance since 2010.
Last season, City High played on the B1G-est stage in the state of Iowa: Kinnick Stadium, home of Hawkeye Football. The Little Hawks faced Iowa City Liberty in the “Clash at Kinnick,” shattering the IHSAA football attendance record with an estimated 20,000 spectators.
In Year Three, that aggressive approach to scheduling led to a new idea: a crossover event between two of the proudest programs from the states of Iowa and Illinois.
Enter: the Joliet Catholic Hilltoppers, whose 15 championships are the most in Illinois high school football history. A decade removed from winning it all, the Hilltoppers returned to dominance, bringing home Illinois Class 4A State Championships in 2018 and 2021.
The Hilltoppers make frequent appearances in the national rankings and were named to the suburban Chicago “Super 10” heading into the 2023 season. Joliet Catholic returns many key starters, including a slew of Division I prospects.
City High has a resume of its own, laying claim to nine football state championships. In the playoff era, the Little Hawks have won four championships (’93, ’94, ’96, ’09) and finished runner-up on three occasions.
City High Football has also produced 18 NFL players, including at least one in each of the past eight decades, and 218 all-state players.
During the conference championship era from 1992-2013, the Little Hawks won a conference-best 23 MVC Championships at an .838 (166-32) conference win percentage. City High won 33 consecutive MVC games from 2007-2011 and posted 27 straight victories during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
With 58 state championships in school history, City High was named the top Iowa high school for athletics in 2010. Despite many elite finishes in recent years, The School That Leads has not won it all in a team sport since girls track and field got the job done in 2011.
This year, the football program’s mission statement is “#L23D.” That means leadership in life, the classroom, the hallways, and yes, on the field of play. City High brings back a wealth of experience on both sides of the ball, as well as a group of young players ready to make an immediate impact.
Kickoff has been adjusted to 7 p.m. sharp, with no sophomore game ahead of time. It is Elementary School Night, so admission is free for all Eastside elementary students! Fans are encouraged to participate in our food drive to benefit the “CommUnity” crisis center food bank.
It’s a border battle at Bates Field. In the words of legendary former head coach Larry Brown: “48 minutes for a lifetime of memories.”