With a solid nucleus of players returning from a playoff team that finished 8-2 in 2013, Janesville should be a strong contender for the 8-player championship this season.

"There's a lot of expectations in town and our football has expectations," Coach Dale Eastman said. "We've been bounced out of the playoffs two years in a row in the first round, so right now, our main goal is to get past Dunkerton Friday night.

"We've tried to coach ourselves and coach the players that it's one game. If we just look at one game at a time and focus on that one game, then big things could happen at Janesville this year."

Eastman is starting his third season at Janesville. The Wildcats begin their quest for a seventh-straight playoff berth at Dunkerton Friday night, while West Central travels to Clarksville and defending eight-player state champion Don Bosco opens at home against Midland. In 11-player action, Gladbrook-Reinbeck hosts La Porte City Union and North Fayette Valley entertains Decorah.