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Garden City, Free State
These two remain the only unbeaten teams in 6A Kansas and both will be on the west playoff bracket in week nine. Garden City hasn’t played the schedule that the majority of these 6A teams have but they keep winning including two very close ones over the last two weeks over Hays (7-3) and Liberal (28-27). They will be the underdog this week against Wichita Northwest (5-1) but it will help elevate their schedule to prepare them for what they will see in the 6A playoffs. ON the other hand, Free State has perhaps been the most impressive 6A in Kansas with the 5-0 start. They have Olathe Northwest, Olathe East and cross-town rival Lawrence on their schedule before playoffs begin.
The Indians are quietly 4-1 under Joe Schartz this season and have won four games in a row. Why is nobody talking about them? Well because they lost in week one and Centennial League hasn’t seen a 6A champion since 2008 (Junction City). Manhattan has been impressive the last two weeks with wins over Topeka High (21-14) and Topeka-Seaman (27-9). They get their big rival Junction City this week in a game that anything can always happen. The Manhattan defense played huge last Friday intercepting five passes and getting two fumbles from Seaman.
The record isn’t impressive by any means at 3-2 but the reason we wanted to highlight the Hawks is because nobody seems to be talking about them. Their two losses came in week one in a come from behind win against a solid Hutchinson squad (22-21) and a week three loss to an out of state opponent in Liberty (Mo.) The Hawks and head coach Jesse Owen do have a nice victory over Olathe North in week two (28-12), but they will really get a chance to prove themselves this week as they host SM East (4-1)
Parker Willis, SM East
Willis is 7 of 7 on field goals this year and 22 of 22 on extra points. His most impressive stat is his 56-yard field goal that he had last week over SM North. The Kansas Sports Hall of Fame record is 57 yards tied by two (Ross – Blue Valley, Simoneau – Hays).
The Saints easily handled the back-to-back state champion Mill Valley Jaguars, 42-21, on Friday on the road. This same school that has been the thorn in the side to the Saints to getting back to the 5A title game the last two seasons. Saints are looking as solid as ever on offense with the loaded cast of players that can run the ball including quarterback Will Swanson and backs/slots Cameron Jackson, Drew Hicks, Tank Young, Adam Davis, and Tristan Davis. The defense has also been big this season with Bo Meisenheimer, Dan Bollig, Adam Davis, Jared Flood, and Matthew Roberts stepping up big in the stat columns. Aquinas is loooking more and more like the favorite in 5A at this point and will once again get to try to prove that this week with a team many didn't expect to be undefeated at this point in nearby St. James Academy.
Will Eldridge/Billy Bartlett, BV Southwest
This QB/WR duo has been huge in 2017 for BV Southwest. Bartlett leads the state of Kansas in receiving yardage (unofficially, we still have leaders coming in) with 735 yards in five games. Eldridge leads the state of Kansas in passing with 1,546 yards. Yeah, they air it out but the most impressive thing is completion percentage for that of Eldridge. Out of 204 attempts, he has completed 140 of them for a 69 percent completion percentage. Eldridge also has 15 touchdown passes, five of which that have went to Bartlett. The Timberwolves were just 2-8 last season and 3-6 in 2015, but are 3-2 already this year under third year head coach Anthony Orrick. They will get nearby 6A Blue Valley this week, also 3-2.
Ivan Webb, Schlagle
Webb makes the list again because he is putting up ridiculous numbers. Yes, we get that he probably wouldn’t do this the way he is in the AVTCL-I, EKL or Sunflower, but that isn’t to say that what he is doing is impressive. The 6-foot-0, 200-pound, senior, running back, has rushed for 1,645 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. In a nine-game format which he is guaranteed he is on pace for 2,961. He currently has 0 offers, holds a 3.16 GPA and will take the ACT on 10/28/17. It’s worth knowing the whole story on this young man as he featured him on Friday on the latest edition of Faces in Kansas here.
St. James Academy
If someone were to tell us St. James was going to be 1-4 after five weeks it wouldn’t be something that we would have ruled out in August. That’s a completely different story as the Thunder, under head coach Tom Radke, are 5-0 and a team that has been very impressive so far. They have grinded out four weeks in a row of close victories over BV Southwest, Gardner-Edgerton, BV Northwest and 6A power Blue Valley, their most impressive win of the season (35-28). They also blasted defending 5A champion Mill Valley 45-21 back in week one. It’s an impressive start, led by running back Jack Petz, but they will get their biggest test of the season as they take on nearby St. Thomas Aquinas. The Saints we feel like are the best team in 5A this season after five weeks. The Thunder have had all their doubters all season long, can they pull it off again and top the Saints? Huge 5A/EKL match-up this week at Aquinas.
The Hornets continue to win as they have now won 14 of their last 16 games after having several losing seasons. Caleb Smith has found a way to close out games this year as three of their wins have been by six or less points. They get Goddard-Eisenhower this week in another matchup that they should be favored in. The schedule hasn’t been anything impressive for VC but the way things are looking we could have 6-0 VC against 6-0 Goddard on 10/13 in Goddard.
We expected DeSoto to win against Nevada and they did 55-14. They have been impressive offensively and defensively, especially up-front. They have two shutouts and haven’t allowed more than 14 points in a single game all season. The game everyone is circling is week eight against Bishop Miege. Will Miege actually have someone to play them in 4A-I within a few touchdowns and make it a game this season? We hope so and DeSoto may be the best bet for that to happen on the East in 2017.
The Grizzlies, under head coach Sean Price, are quietly 4-1 this season. They lost to state power Andale in a blowout 39-0 but other than that they have dominated their competition. Their most impressive victory was a 34-7 win on Friday over SEK league rival Fort Scott. Fort Scott was the league favorite and it’s looking like LCHS is on the right track to becoming league champion. Their offense is led by junior quarterback Easton Dean, while the defense is led by senior linebacker Rogan Bruce. They will look to beat Frontenac this week, a team that beat them 43-0 last year.
The Chieftains are one of three undefeated 4A-I teams on the east in 2017. The defense has allowed a touchdown or less in three of their five outings. They get KC Turner, Atchison and Piper over the next three games and should be favored in all. The biggest challenge may be Basehor Linwood in week nine of district play, however Basehor was upset by Bonner on Friday. Tongie has already beat Bonner (28-18) in week four.
Pratt has won 13 games in a row and got revenge back from their only loss from last season to Hoisington on Friday in a 35-28 win. Everyone knew they returned Travis Theis and Landen Studer but didn’t know how the rest of the new starts would be. Now it’s starting to seem like a 4A-II repeat or run isn’t something that is out of the question to happen again. Are they the same team as they were last year? No but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a heavy contender. Congrats to Coach Cruce and the Greenbacks on their perfect 5-0 start. They still have a difficult schedule ahead that includes Halstead next week and a week eight showdown with district rival Holcomb.
The Beavers could be one of the favorites to be the west rep in the title game this year of 4A-II. The reason why is their defense. They have allowed 14 points or less in every single outing this season including three games seven points or under. SC has a solid victories over Hays and Holcomb. Their district is a good one featuring Colby, Goodland and Concordia but we feel like this is the year Scott City has a shot to make a run. 4A-II has some depth on the west this year with teams like Collegiate, Holcomb, Nickerson and Pratt. Even Colby is off to a 4-1 start in 2017.
Another week, another mention of this district. Cheney, Conway Springs, and Garden Plain all remain unbeaten at 5-0. The fourth team in this district is Chaparral and they are 4-1. Only two move onto the playoffs. None have played an overly great schedule however if we had to say what team has had the toughest schedule out of the district we would go with Garden Plain. It’s going to be a fun week seven, eight and nine once again in this 3A west district.
The Bulldogs keep rolling in 3A and picked up a 28-7 road victory over 4A-I Coffeyville on Friday. Their biggest test of the season will come this Friday as they return to home for the first time in three weeks to face the 4A-II #1 Columbus Titans. Galena head coach Beau Sarwinski is an alum of Columbus and this game is becoming quite the highlighted matchup in the CNC league as of recent. Columbus won this match-up 36-35 last year. The Bulldogs have lost five in a row to CUHS in this game and haven’t beat the Titans since they joined the CNC. Three of those losses have been by six points or less. The Bulldogs are a run heavy team with some weapons on the outside with solid offensive and defensive line play that make them a contender in 3A.
The Broncs are 5-0 under head coach Chris Bamberger this season and have only allowed six total points over last two weeks. They won just five games a year ago, going 5-5. They have good victories over Huguton (3 OT), Meade and Elkhart. However, their toughest test will be against 4A-II power Holcomb this week. Cimarron is a big threat to the in district but it’s very likely Lakin could be a playoff team in 3A this season for the second consecutive year. They haven’t had a lot of success in the state playoffs over time as they have just two victories as a school, the last one coming in 1999.
Nemaha Central, Sabetha
Both teams continue to impress, both undefeated, both rivals, and will meet up in the first week of district play in week seven in Seneca. Regardless of who wins in that match-up we do feel like both of these teams will get the two playoff spots in their four-team district (Hiawatha, Riverside). Nemaha still has Perry Lecompton on their schedule this week, a team that gave Sabetha all they wanted last week.
Quietly the Indians are 5-0 on the season. Has the schedule been great? No it hasn’t but they did beat traditional 2-1A power Olpe 22-13 in week one and the defense has allowed two touchdowns or less in four of the five games. Their biggest tests will come the next two weeks as they take on 2-1A Lyndon (5-0) and 3A Wellsville (4-1) to open up district play.
The Falcons are 5-0 this season under head coach Steve Wagner yet nobody yet is considering them a heavy contender in 3A. That will change this week if they have the opportunity to win against Silver Lake. They knocked off a struggling Rossville team 52-7 in week three and have back to back solid victories over St. Mary’s and Rock Creek since then. Big Mid-East League matchup at home versus Silver Lake this week before district play begins in week seven. They may be league rivals but Lake plays on the East while Riley plays on the West in 3A. They are the only two teams with winning record in the MEL, both 5-0.
The Cardinals beat previously unbeaten Hutch Trinity on Friday 14-6. Last season this game was just 8-0. Ell-Saline who played for the title back in 2014 is led by junior quarterback Nick Davenport. The Cardinals, under head coach Terry King, improved to 5-0 on the season. They get a hungry Sterling team this week who is 4-1 and coming off a victory over previously undefeated Marion. The Heart of America seems to have five pretty solid teams this year in Ell-Saline, Hutch Trinity, Marion, Sterling and even 1-4 Sedgwick who has lost to all teams that are either 4-1 or 5-0.
Jackson Heights, Jeff County North, Lyndon, Valley Heights
What do all these teams have in common? They are 5-0 and all on the east side of 2-1A. These four remain the only unbeaten on the East. We do feel like all have a shot to be contenders along with Centralia and Colgan. Centralia is also in the same district in 2-1A with Jackson Heights and Valley Heights. Ell-Saline remains the only unbeaten team on the west. Let’s not factor in records too much as 2-3/1-4 teams like Plainville and Sedgwick are likely to be contenders on the West. The good thing is we have a lot of contenders in the wide open 2-1A of football this year. Smith Center still does remain the favorite to many.
Burlingame, Clifton Clyde
Burlingame has had quite the hype as they should with making the semis in each of last two years and are 5-0. A quiet 5-0 team this year is Clifton Clyde and they will meet Burlingame this Friday. Burlingame hammered Onaga 59-0 on Friday as Clyde did Herington, 52-0. This game will likely decide who is the champion of the 8M-I District Three. The game will be at Clifton-Clyde.
Gage Girk, South Central
Girk had a 45-yard field goal earlier this season which ranked as the top 8-man field goal kick in the country this season. He topped that on Friday against Macksville with a 46-yard field goal. The sophomore is perhaps the best 8-man kicker in that nation.
Denton Schurr, Osborne
Osborne running back Denton Schurr had 49 carries for 465 yards and seven touchdowns in Friday’s win over Solomon (58-40). Osborne improved to 4-1 this season and is the defending state champion in 8M-I.
St. Francis vs Hoxie
A lot of off field distractions were around the St. Francis team last week with board meetings and players quitting but it didn’t seem to affect them too much on Friday night as they beat a very good Hoxie team, 16-8. Why do we list both teams on here? Because both impressed us and neither ran away with it. This puts St. Francis in great position for this district to get into the playoffs as they get Rawlins Co. this week. Hoxie already beat Rawlins Co. and if they can finish out the season undefeated and Sainty finishes undefeated they will be the two teams to get the playoff spots in this very good 8M-I district. We feel like both are heavy contenders to perhaps meet up again in the playoffs unless Central Plains or Spearville spoils the party.
St. Paul, West Elk
The St. Paul Indians improved to 5-0 on the season as they beat previously undefeated Madison 54-8 on Friday. They get a matchup this week with their district rival in the West Elk Patriots, also 5-0 on the year. St. Paul has four games where they have allowed just a touchdown or less, while the Patriots have three shutouts and haven’t allowed more than a touchdown in any of their games. It is very likely this could be the district championship in week six of the football season. With that being said, Marmaton Valley is still 4-1, 1-0 in district. Sedan, who lost to Marmaton last week, is also 4-1 on the season, while Madison, who lost to St. Paul, is now 4-1. St. Paul will get the Patriots at home this week. Last year SP beat West Elk 66-42. Both of them went on to make the playoffs as Sedan beat St. Paul in districts.
Eight teams remain undefeated after five weeks of the football season. That will change soon with some of them playing each other soon but do want to highlight the ones with undefeated starts. Bennington, Burlingame, Clifton-Clyde, Satanta, Spearville, St. Francis, St. Paul and West Elk remain unbeaten. Four of those will meet this week in two games (Burlingame vs. Clifton Clyde, St. Paul vs. West Elk).
Caldwell, Central Christian
Both of these teams are in district two and both undefeated. It is very likely that they could both remain undefeated until they meet up in week nine for the district title. The good thing is, even with a loss, both will be going to the playoffs if they can remain undefeated up to that point. Central Christian offense has scored at least 60 in every single game this season, led by quarterback Nate Heneha. Caldwell has also been big offensively scoring at least fifty in four of their five games.
Dighton has 10 kids out for football and is 5-0. That’s no surprise as this team played in their first ever football title game in 8M-II last year with just 14 out. What’s more impressive is they lost starts like Tyler Lingg and Dylan Foos. Blair Hoffman and Dalton Hoffman have stepped up big for the Hornets. We will really figure out if the Hornets are the real deal as they get Sharon Springs this week and district favorite Otis-Bison the next.
The Cougars have two shutouts this year on defense and have played three competitive games in a row winning two of those with back-to-back wins over Victoria (22-20) and Sharon Springs (70-24). They still have Dighton and Hodegman on their schedule but it’s looking to be like they are the favorite to win this district after one week of play. Sharon Springs is 1-4 but let’s keep in mind their losses are to 8M-I programs St. Francis, Rawlins Co, Hoxie and to 8M-II Otis Bison.
Not that undefeated is everything until the end of the season but it is nice to highlight those teams with 5-0 starts. Caldwell, Central Christian, Dighton, Hanover, Pike Valley, Rock Hills and Sylvan-Lucas are all off to a 5-0 record.