Looking at who's left: 4A-II

Frontenac is in the state sectionals for the first time since 2006. (photo: Doug Barto)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Nov 12, 2014

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East

Holton (9-1)

Since losing their opening game of the season with 3A power, Silver Lake, the Wildcats have been rolling. Their best win on the season came against Maize South (40-21), who is still alive in the 5A playoffs, in week two of the season. Four wins have came against opponents with winning records, while five have came to opponents that ended with losing records in 2014. It's no secret that Holton is going to run the football, they have thrown just 34 times on the year in 10 games. Indie Allen has 1,295 yards rushing on the year, with an average of 12.2 yards per carry, to lead the Holton rushing attack. The Wildcats, who feature the "Barta-Bone" offense, have a lot of rushing weapons with eight total players (including Allen) over 200 yards rushing on the season that combine to have 380.4 rushing yards per game in 2014. Jordan Booth (90 tackles) and Mason Barta (74 tackles) lead the defense for the Wildcats. Columbus, who allows 11.5 points per contest, may feature one of the best defenses that Holton has seen in 2014. Holton is 43-14 all-time in the Kansas playoffs with a 3-3 record in state title games. 

Columbus (9-1)

The Titans came into the season as a team that would contend in the brand new 4A-II and they are right in position to do so. They have played a nice schedule in the CNC league with their only loss coming to Frontenac, also in the 4A-II playoffs, in week eight of the season (22-13). The Titans are led by junior running back Jace McDown, who is one of the top players in 4A-II, rushing for 1,296 yards (17 TD).  McDown (77 tackles), who is a state wrestling champ, teams with fellow state wrestling champ, Taylor Watkins (104 tackles), to form one of the better linebacking crews in 4A-II. Defensive end Garrett Brittain is also a player to watch for with 81 tackles and nine sacks in 2014. With a win on Friday the Titans would make school history with their first ever semi-final appearance in football. Columbus has four all-time appearances in the round of eight (1978, 1998, 2007, 2014). Columbus has been tested but this should be their toughest opponent in 2014. 

Santa Fe Trail (8-2)

First off hats off to the Chargers for making the playoffs for the first time since 2001. The last time they made the playoffs only one team got in, the district champion. The Chargers will want to run the football averaging just under 300 yards rushing per game. They are led by senior Derek Cashier who has rushed for 1,167 and 16 TD in 2014. They also feature two other players over 600 rushing yards a piece in Cody Vandevord and Chad Wright. The Defense is led by Cashier who has a team-high 108 tackles. The concern for Trail here is that they have only beat two teams that ended up with winning records on the year and may feature 4A-II's worst strength of schedule. They will have to use their solid defense to shut down the backfield of Frontenac in order to advance in this game. This should be a good one on Friday. Trail is going for their first semi-final appearance in 18 years (1996). 

Frontenac (10-0)

The Raiders are no stranger to the playoffs (26 appearances), however it has been since 2006 (3A) that they are in the round of eight. With a win in this one the Raiders would punch their ticket to the schools first state semi-final appearance since the Raiders took second in 3A back in 2000. Frontenac has now played in a state record six playoff classifications (4A-II, 4A, 3A, 2A-1A, 2A, 1A). The Raiders get it done with everyone and have a team feel to them. Senior quarterback Austin Seward and running backs, junior Ryan Menghini and senior Keaton Bollinger, lead the Raider offense behind a veteran offensive line. John Barrows at the receiver position also gives the Raiders a weapon in the passing game. Frontenac has only allowed over 14 points on one occasion this season. We knew that the 4A-II division would would see new contenders and Frontenac is one of them. The Raiders will be favored in this match-up and have played a better schedule than SFT in 2014 with seven wins over teams that made the playoffs. The only concern here is a new environment on the road. The Raiders, under third year head coach Mark Smith, are 10-0 for the first time since 1994, when they won it all in 2-1A. 

West

Andale (10-0)

When it was announced that Andale would be in the brand new 4A-II west and Holton would be on the 4A-II east everyone automatically penciled those two schools in for a state title game. The reason why is simple, both schools competed,contended, and won titles in the All-4A division over the past 10 years. Andale is still the favorite to win a title in 2014 and have played a loaded schedule in which they have went undefeated through. Hank Eck leads the Andale team with over 1,500 rushing yards on the year. Andale may be the fastest team in 4A-II. The Indians are scoring 47 points per game while allowing only 16. They have been in some shootouts on the year and will face one of the best backs in 4A-II this week in Drake Hake (1,800+ yds) of Concordia. Andale, who has battled some injuries on the year, will be the favorite in this match-up and need to stay healthy in order to win the 4A state title. Andale's last title came in 2007, when they went back-to-back in 2006-2007. The Indians 34-21 all-time in the state playoffs.

Concordia (8-2)

What a difference one year can make. Last year Concordia went 2-7 and missed the playoffs and now are in the final eight of the playoffs with a record of 8-2. A big reason for that is senior Drake Hake (5-7 175), who has rushed for 1,873 yards and 23 touchdowns on the year. The Panthers won't throw the ball a lot, throwing it only 65 times through 10 games on the year and average nearly 300 rushing yards per contest. Linebacker Colby Trost (5-9 200 Sr.) leads the Panther defense with 121 stops on the year. Concordia will create turnovers, totaling 14 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries as a defensive unit in 2014. The concern here is Concordia hasn't played the greatest 4A-II schedule, while Andale may be the best team in 4A-II and has played one of the best going undefeated. The Panthers are in the round of eight for the first time since 1999, when they won it all. This is the schools third appearance in the final eight teams (1978, 1999, 2014). 

Clearwater (4-6)

The Indians, who started off 0-5, are in the playoffs with a losing record, that is a shock right? Not so fast, they have played some pretty good competition on the year. Four of those six losses are to teams that are still active in state playoffs. They have a couple of pretty good back-to-back wins over Wichita Trinity and Wamego, but still don't have that signature win on the season that puts that as a definite contender in 4A-II. They will get their shot this week as they take on Holcomb (9-1). Clearwater's advantage is they have played arguably the toughest 4A-II schedule on the year and will be ready for a team like Holcomb. Clearwater will need to score more than their season average of 16 in order to have a legitimate shot in this one. The defense is the strength of the Indians, holding a Wamego offense that averaged nearly thirty points to just seven last week. As the year has went on Clearwater, who entered the year very inexperienced, has gotten better with time. The Indians are in their eighth all-time state playoff appearance as a school. This is their third appearance in the round of eight. 

Holcomb (9-1)

The Longhorns, led by first year head coach Kent Teeter, have won six in a row since their loss to 3A power Scott City (49-6). Their best win on the season came against 4A-I Ulysses in week three of the season in OT (17-14) by a field goal. Bringing Teeter over from Goodland also meant bringing his son, Trey Teeter, with him. Trey, a junior quarterback, leads the Longhorn offense with 1,768 yards passing and 20 touchdowns on the year. The Longhorns feature a balanced offense with around 180 rushing and 180 passing yards per game. They have three backs with at least 400 rushing yards on the year in Blake Richmier, Brandon Stegman and Dillon Williams. Williams, a sophomore, leads the Longhorn defense with 106 stops in 2014. This will be one of Holcomb's more challenging games on the year. The Longhorns are in their fourth appearance all-time in the round of eight. With a win they would make school history, tying their 1994 squad who made the semifinals in 3A.