v What impressed us after week one of 2017 fball season? - Sports in Kansas

What impressed us after week one of 2017 fball season?

Graham Mertz will have Blue Valley North as a contender in 6A. (submitted photo)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Sep 5, 2017

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6A

Federico Harvey, Campus

Campus senior had 303 passing with six touchdowns, while rushing for another touchdown to go along with 48 yards on the ground. Oh yeah… he also had three interceptions as a defensive back in this one. The 6A state triple jumper is an exceptional athlete. Campus has a shot to win a lot of games early this season but schedule will get tougher with Hutch and Derby later in the year.

Free State

The Firebirds put it to SM West on Friday with a 56-9 victory. Wasn’t surprising that they won by didn’t quite expect the blowout. Free State has a nice offensive line and one of the biggest bruising running backs in the state in 5-foot-10 230-pound junior Jax Dineen. Gage Foster also doubles as a quarterback and linebacker, a rare-combo to see in 6A football. Remember, they go West bracket in 6A football. Are the Firebirds a threat to Derby?

Graham Mertz, Blue Valley North

All he needed was opportunity and he got it. Mertz made his debut as a starter and did so in a big way in the win over BV Northwest. He passed for 26 of 33 for 271 yards with six touchdowns. Mertz has the ability to be the top 2019 quarterback in the state this year and one of the best overall ones at any grade. Last season he was the back-up at Miege to Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year. Is it possible Miege had the two best quarterbacks in Kansas on the same team last year? Mertz will have to be huge this Friday as they take on 5A power Aquinas. We really like Blue Valley North as a team to beat on 6A East this year.

Ky Thomas, Topeka & Da’Vonshai Harden, Topeka

The sophomore has all the makings to be the best overall player in Kansas already. He had 22 carries for 255 yards and five touchdowns on Friday for the shootout win over Topeka Hayden (61-46). He also had a 90 yard kickoff return to the house. Thomas makes Topeka a contender as he has the ability to take it for a touchdown at any touch.  T-High also found their QB as Da’Vonshai Harden passed for over 190 yards and rushed for more than 100.

5A

Bishop Carroll

In a game that could have went either way, by predictions, or the actual outcome, Carroll came out on top with a 40-35 victory over Wichita Northwest. In fact, they didn’t take the lead until 15 seconds left in the game. What an impressive way to get your first victory as a head coach as Dusty Trail took over for Alan Schuckman for the 2017 season. Braden Howell, a 25 QB to Watch, had two rushing and two passing touchdowns in the game with nearly 400 yards. They get Salina South (0-1) this week.

Blue Valley Southwest

Will Eldridge passed for 512 yards and five touchdowns in the opening game to go along with another rushing TD. The junior QB, on our 25 to Watch list, was huge in week one. He found receivers Cameron Townsend for 230 of those yards with two touchdowns while 25 to Watch WR Billy Bartlett had 199 of those with three touchdowns. They took care of BV West 70-49 in the opener and get St. James this week who is coming off a huge win over 2x 5A defending champ Mill Valley. Anthony Orrick seems to have his team going in the right direction. 

Pittsburg

The Dragons lost to Harrisonville 28-7 last year and being from the area originally I thought the Dragons would be pretty good, but I never imagined them beating Harrisonville the way they did. They proved a lot of people wrong and did in a big way with the 37-21 victory over the #2 Class 4 team in Missouri, who won the Class 4 title last season. Chase Curtis, on our 25 QB to Watch list, proved deserving of the honor as the 6-foot-5 senior passed for 260 yards and three touchdowns. Curtis has gotten bigger, faster and stronger this off-season and has one of the better balls you will see in 5A football. Dylan White hauled in 160 of those yards for two touchdowns, including one of the best endzone catches we’ve ever seen. Big shout out to the Pittsburg defense who had to replace nine defensive starters from last year, led by senior linebacker Chase Johnson with 10 tackles. These seniors are a close knit group and may have what it takes to make a little noise in 5A this season. Now out of the SEK league and independent they will play an old SEK league rival in Chanute this Friday before traveling to Missouri and midwestern power Webb City (MO.) the following week.

Shawnee Heights

The T-Birds got a victory over Manhattan 21-18 for the first time over the Indians since 1985. That enough is impressive to get the nod as almost anyone would have taken Manhattan headed into the game. Trey Jenkins had over 100 yards rushing with two touchdowns for SH in the win.

St. James Academy

Nobody had the Thunder winning this game, but maybe themselves, let’s be honest. Proved everyone wrong in a big way as they hammered Mill Valley, 45-21. Mill Valley was the back-to-back 5A champion. We are going to see games like this in the states best league and good teams with losses on their record. MV won state last year and finished fifth in this league with four losses. Jack Petz had three rushing touchdowns in the game. MV had beat SJ twice last season. Hat’s off to Tom Radke and the Thunder. Big game with BV Southwest this week, another team on the rise in the EKL.

Ivan Webb, KC Schlagle

Schlagle senior rushed for 348 yards on 31 carries for the Stallions in their 38-12 win over Wichita Southeast. Last year it was Cornelius Ruff and this year it looks like it will be Webb.

4A-I

Bishop Miege

Well it didn’t impress us that they won but winning 55-10 over Blue Valley was kind of surprising. However, BV had to replace just about everyone from their team from last year. Miege’s only two losses the last two years were both to Blue Valley. Stags may not have the big-time receiver that they had last year, yet, but there are athletes all over the field. Very impressed with the play of junior linebacker Dylan Downing and sophomore speedster running back Brison Cobbins. Cobbins has the makings to be one of the top backs in the entire state this season.

Easton Dean, Labette County

Easton Dean had never started a game at quarterback and walked away from his first start with six touchdowns. The 6-foot-7 junior also passed for 270 yards through the air. LCHS could have what it takes to compete for an SEK league title this year and made the playoffs for the first time since 2009 last season under Sean Price.

McPherson

Not going to lie, we had Buhler winning this match-up by 14 points. We were wrong and the Bullpups have opened some eyes statewide. Not only did they win 33-21, they jumped out to an early 19 point lead. With a stingy defense, now we can see why so many of these picks were on our 25 defensive players to watch list, they limited the Buhler offense. Jayse Alexander had 20 stops for the McPherson defense. Schedule doesn’t get easier as they travel to Maize South, who is #3 in this weeks Kpreps ranking.

4A-II

Will Herren, Santa Fe Trail

Herren getting his first real action with a lot of carried after the graduation of Peyton Newton came up in a big way in the 52-28 win over Osawatomie. He had 25 carries for 292 yards and five touchdowns for the Chargers.

Frontenac

The Raiders lost nearly everything from last year including 2x all-state QB Brandon Mlekus and were a huge question mark heading in this season to many. They beat the Girard Trojans 33-6 on Friday Night in Frontenac to answer that they aren't going anywhere. New starting QB Peyton Brown, a senior, looked like a natural as the starter on Friday. Also stepping up big for the Raiders as expected was Jake Wilbert, a threat in the running/recieving game and also defensively. Broc Ginavan, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive end who was also big as a reciever for the Raiders on Friday. Ginavan looked the part on Friday as he was a first team Sports in Kansas Non-Senior pick for the Raiders last fall. These trio of offensive players have the ability to make Frontenac a team to not take lightly in 4A-II this year. Do remember a lot of younger Raiders got playing time in mop-up action a year ago. They get Galena this week, a team that is primed to make a deep 3A run this year. Mark Smith has his Raiders going once again. 

Travis Theis, Pratt

We expected big numbers from Theis but maybe not these big of numbers. The junior running back, who was one of the best sophomores in the state for the 4A-II champ last year, had 412 rushing yards and 6 TD in the win over Larned on Friday. Theis will have to carry the load for the Greenbacks this season and looks good doing it. Pratt defense will have to buckle down a lot to get the Greenbacks back to 4A-II championship form, but with an athlete like Theis it always gives you a shot to win. 

3A

Marysville

Marysville hammered 3-time defending champ Rossville 52-13 on Friday with the play of Jack Blumer and Gabe Pieschl. Pieschl, our 3A basketball player of the year last March, had 186 yards receiving with four touchdowns, then intercepted two passes on defense. Quarterback Jack Blumer was 15 of 17 with 313 yards through the air with five touchdowns. It’s early and Rossville lost a lot but got to give a tip of the hat to the Bulldogs. They have players who know how to win championships as they did in basketball last March.

David McFarland, TMP

The TMP senior QB passed for 648 yards to set the all-time passing record for yards in a single game on Friday in the loss to Abilene. He was 41 of 63 through the air with four touchdowns. To see the feature story on McFarland check out the main page of our website.

2-1A

Ell-Saline

Having struggles here the last couple of years Ell-Saline could be that breakout team in 2017. It wasn’t too long ago the Cardinals were playing for a 2-1A title under Terry King. They knocked off Sedgwick, who was #5 in the Kpreps ranking, 31-21 on home on Friday. Nick Davenport had 147 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Dexton Swinehart, Lyndon

Dex had 82 rushing, 180 receiving and four total touchdowns. Pretty standard for a guy that does this all the time right? Well he only touched the football 10 times and scored on four of those with that big-time yard production. Lyndon is a contender on 2-1A East.

8-Man

Garet Dalinghaus, Frankfort

Dalinghaus had 31 tackles in the opener for Franfkort against Onaga, yes you heard that right. We see crazy numbers in 8-man sometimes and this is one of them. He also had a sack, a fumble recovery and four offensive touchdowns.

Macksville

Maybe a team to start talking about as many coaches said good things about the Mustangs after seeing them this summer. They got a huge 60-20 win over Ness City by putting up 30 second quarter points. This game last year they lost 76-26. Can they hang around with Victoria this week?

St. Francis

The Indians lost a ton of talent from last year but it didn’t seem to matter too much against 8M-II #4 Wallace County in week one as they routed them 46-0 on the road. This was a tight 22-20 win for them last year. If you’ve seen St. Francis in football, basketball or track over the last year, you know they have some athletes in this small western Kansas town.

Nick Stutsman, Northern Valley

Northern Valley’s running back had seven rushing and one receiving touchdown on Friday night to go along with 194 rushing yards. He also had 12 tackles on defense.

Victoria

The Knights blasted 8M-I #1 Central Plains in a two-day game 34-8. Collin Kisner, one of the better 1A track athletes, had 110 rushing yards with two touchdowns for the Knights while Cooper Pfannenstiel also had over 100 yards in the contest. Victoria gets Macksville this week who was very impressive in their win over Ness City on Friday.