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Garden City Defense
In the seven wins for Garden City (7-2) this year they have only allowed 46 points. If you take out the 27 points in the win over Liberal, the defense has been outstanding in the wins. They allowed 56 in their two losses (36 to Wichita NW, 20 to Great Bend). Defense proved to be solid in round one of playoffs as they picked up a shutout against Washburn Rural, 7-0. They will get perhaps the best offense they’ve seen this season in the task of trying to stop Ky Thomas and Topeka High this Friday. Ethan Krone and Ryan Jarmer lead GC in tackles with 79 and 74 respectively. Jasper Partin also has 10 sacks, while all-state defensive lineman DeMarcus Elliott has 58 stops with 14.5 TFL’s. The defense also has 14 interceptions led by sophomore Carlos Acosta with five.
For the second time in three weeks, Campus beat Hutchinson. This time it was when it mattered the most in the first round of the postseason in 6A. Campus hadn’t beat Hutch since 1999 entering this season and now have twice. They get Wichita Northwest this week. We could expect a lot of offense in this match-up. There are going to be athletes all over the field next Friday.
Jackson Heath, BV Northwest
Heath was stopped on a two-point conversion by Lawrence and lost 28-27, after making a two-score comeback late in the 4Q, but the senior had an outstanding year in the BVNW offense. Record wise, they weren’t where they wanted to be at 2-7 but Heath was unstoppable as a senior with 58 catches for 812 yards in nine games as a tight end/receiver. Heath also ran the ball well in his last game for the Huskies with 156 yards and a touchdown. The 6’4” 220-pound senior has multiple division one offers and is a very versatile athlete that can play multiple spots on both sides of the ball.
Brody Kooser, Derby
Kooser has been a consistent back for the Panthers in 6A over the last two seasons. After rushing for 1,681 yards and 31 rushing touchdowns last year he has 1,235 yards this season. Since the start of the 2016 season he has 2,916 yards rushing with 55 total touchdowns. He also has 593 return yards this year with two returns for touchdowns. Derby is looking for its fourth state title in five years and a 3-peat in 6A.
Nick Allen, BV Southwest
Southwest lost 14-7 in the opening round of the playoffs but it was a successful season for some individual players of the Timberwolves, offensively and defensively. Defensively, it was Nick Allen. Allen is near the leaders in Kansas with 151 tackles after nine weeks of the season. Allen proved to be one of the best linebackers in the state’s best league in 2017.
Andrew Brautman, Ark City
Brautman was playing in his last game but had a huge night against Carroll in the loss. He had 11 receptions for 294 yards and three touchdowns.
Ike picked up their fourth win in a row and a first round playoff victory over Great Bend on Friday, 35-28. The Tigers started out the season with a battle tested 0-5 mark. It was all Justis Moore for Ike as he had 30 carries for 231 yards and four touchdowns. Eisenhower has the offense built for November football and is clicking at the right time. They get Salina South this week who is just 3-6 on the year but has also been in a similar situation schedule wise. Eisenhower came out of nowhere to make the semis in 2015, can they make another run?
Kapaun picked up their first playoff win since 2011 with 44-23 victory over Emporia on Friday. This sets up a rematch for the Holy War, again at Bishop Carroll. They met just two weeks ago with Carroll winning, 30-22. Nick Channel is proving to be one of the best backs in 5A this season as he has racked up 1,305 yards rushing with 11 total touchdowns in nine weeks. Kapaun is 6-3 but have been in every single one of the games with losses to all contenders in Northwest (6A), Heights (5A) and Carroll (5A).
The Eagles are one of the teams in 5A nobody seems to be talking about outside of Wichita this season. They picked up their sixth postseason victory in school history on Friday. Caleb Grill has passed for nearly 1,400 yards this season. Brayden Payne is the top receiving threat for the Eagles.
Jackson Nichols, Bishop Carroll
Nichols may be the back-up running back in for Desmond Smith but he didn’t look like it. HE had 202 yards on 22 carries with six touchdowns in the 66-38 win over Ark City.
Records are deceiving in football if you don’t look at schedules. The Cougars picked up their third victory over the season with a 24-14 victory over Liberal on the road Friday. Salina South lost six of their first seven games, only won one last year, but are clicking at the right time. Souths losses came to Valley Center, Carroll, Maize, Goddard, Hutch, and Derby. Don’t look at records this time of the year, the Cougars knocked off Campus in round three, a team that has surprised a lot of people in 6A this season. Nice playoff win for head coach Sam Sellers and Salina South. Either team has a shot in this playoff match-up with a team in similar territory this season in the Eisenhower Tigers.
KC Schlagle won their second playoff game in school history on Friday. The Stallions improved to 9-0. Their schedule is questionable but after struggling with Highland Park in round one last year they had no problems on Friday night in the 57-16 victory over the Scots this year. Schlagle will get their toughest test of the season this Friday against two-time defending 5A state champion Mill Valley. Schlagle’s Ivan Webb now has 2,783 rushing yards with 35 total touchdowns to lead the state of Kansas.
Zarek Fewell, Fort Scott
The Fort Scott senior back is having one of the best years in Kansas. With a refushing to go down mentality and toughness, Fewell has rushed for 1,587 yards this season with 26 touchdowns to lead 4A-I. He needed 68 yards last week to become the schools single season leader and he got 171 yards breaking Travis Stepps 21-year old record set in 1996. Stepps went on to become an All-American at Pittsburg State on defense after leading the Tigers to the 1996 state title. Let’s not discount the Fort Scott offensive line as they have been very solid in 2017 to pave the way for Fewell. Fewell is also an all-state caliber wrestler in 4A. Fort Scott also went 3-0 in district play and get a round one matchup with fellow SEK League member Chanute. The Tigers beat Chanute 34-13 earlier this season.
Labette County is in the playoffs for back-to-back years for the first time since time since 2008 and 2009. The Grizzlies are going for their first playoff football win since 2000. They won the SEK league with an undefeated league record and are 8-1 on the year with their only loss to Andale. Easton Dean is playing like one of the top 4A-I quarterbacks in the state, while defensively Rogan Bruce is one of the top 4A-I linebackers. Paola will be a challenge in round one for the Grizzlies. LCHS was not challenged in district play as they went 3-0 and only allowed eight points. LCHS which is known for their offense usually has also stepped up big defensively. In their eight wins this year they have only allowed 38 points.
The Chieftains improved to 9-0 with a perfect regular season as they beat Basehor-Linwood, 10-3, on Friday night. Tongie has only allowed 66 points all season. They get the biggest test of the year this week as they take on 8-1 DeSoto. This could be a defensive battle in Tonganoxie this week in the first round of the 4A-I playoffs. Tongie has just six playoff wins as a program and is in the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
The Eagles had their back against the wall as they went on a three-game losing streak in weeks five, six and seven. How did they respond? They win the final regular two games in district play by outscoring Concordia and Goodland by a combined score of 82-to-46. The Eagles are into the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year but this time with a 6-3 record after finishing the last three seasons .500 or below. They will be guaranteed a winning record in 2017. The Eagles get a rematch with Holcomb this week, a team that beat them 27-0 in week five of the season.
After starting the season a bit inconsistent at 1-2, the Raiders have won when it matters the most winning six of their last seven. Frontenac went 3-0 in a district that they were favored to be the second spot in the playoffs. The defense stepped up big with a shutout and a only 30 total points across three games, including eight to Columbus. Offensively the Raiders are led by running back Jake Wilbert and quarterback Peyton Brown, while the defense is led by senior all-state defensive end Broc Ginavan, also a primary target for Brown on the offense. Frontenac gets a rematch with Girard in week one of the playoffs this week, a team they beat 33-6 in the opening game of the season. If the Raiders are on they will be a team that could be favored to make a run in the 4A-II postseason. With a win over Girard it could set up the third year in a row for the Raiders to face Holton, who has knocked them off in each of the last two seasons with Frontenac being the favorite in both. Holton has won three years in a row over CNC teams in the playoffs with Columbus in 2015 and Frontenac the last two.
Sam Hardin & Caden Williams, Trinity Acadey
Hardin finished his senior season with 2,532 yards passing with 33 touchdowns this year. He only threw six interceptions. He also rushed for 712 yards with seven more scores. Hardin will be one of the better quarterbacks in the state that won’t make the playoffs. Williams had 1,220 yards with 19 touchdowns for the Knights in 2017. He averaged 15.3 yards per reception. Loaded district had Nickerson as the champ and Collegiate as the runner-up.
Brooks Barta has now made the playoffs 20 seasons in a row. Holton had one playoff appearance prior. The Barta-Bone is built for November. Clock-Control, running the football, and closing out games have been a recipe for success for Holton, no matter if the talent has been above average or below average.
DaQuan Johnson, Parsons
Parsons has had minimal success in football recently, but a reason they showed flashes this year of being able to hang around is their sophomore quarterback. Johnson had 1,579 yards passing with 14 touchdowns while rushing for 631 yards with nine more scores. Parsons may have been 1-8 this year but they were in just about every single game this season outside of three blowout losses. They were also tied with Columbus near the half of last week’s district game. Parsons has something to look forward to with the return of Johnson for two more years.
Kingman made the playoffs by knocking off Pratt 39-25 for the second district spot. Pratt, the defending 4A-II champ, misses the playoffs after starting out the season 7-0. It was all Will Milford for Kingman as he had 280 rushing yards with four touchdowns.
The schedule and record (4-5) wasn’t the greatest for the Buffalos but they took care of business when they had. They are in the playoffs for the first time since 2005. PV has just two playoff wins as a school, both of those coming back in 1970 when they won two games and won the 1970 state championship in 2A. That was also back in the day where only four teams made the playoffs. PV got the district runner-up spot with wins over Bishop Ward and Osawatomie. Nice job for first year head coach Kyle Littrell and PV to get into the playoffs for first time in 12 years.
Perhaps the quietest 8-1 team in the state is the Vikings of Smoky Valley. Their only loss came to Larned a team on the rise in 3A this season back in week two. They also went 5-1 in the battle tested CKL league this season. Tim Lambert and company went 3-0 in the district and will get a competitive first round 4A-II game with Collegiate this week. Outside of Hesston, CKL teams aren’t known for passing, in fact the Vikings have only had 42 passing attempts this season. They rely on the rushing attack of senior back Kyle Anderson who has over 1,200 yards this season. Six backs in the CKL average over 100 yards per contest in 2017. Smoky Valley is on a seven-game winning streak. They only allowed 28 points in district play.
Jack Blumer, Marysville
Blumer has passed for 2,059 yards in nine weeks for the Bulldogs in 2017. More importantly he has only thrown two interceptions to 24 touchdowns. He has completed 71 percent of his passes in 2017. He also gets it done with his legs with 692 yards and 12 scores. His favorite target has been Gabe Pieschl who has 944 yards and 12 touchdowns. Marysville gets Norton in the opening round of the 3A playoffs on Tuesday.
64 teams play in 3A with 32 making the playoffs. The way we have it set up in Kansas, several good teams miss the playoffs and several teams with below average records/seasons can make the playoffs because of district format. Is it right or wrong? Not for us to decide, but bottom line is, it’s a gauntlet and you have to win. With the Thursday/Tuesday/Saturday scenario we will figure out real fast who the contenders and pretenders are. The 3A East bracket is loaded. On paper it looks like Nemaha Central, Silver Lake and Galena will all have a much tougher path to get to the 3A sub-state game, than that of Sabetha. We could see a second-round matchup of Nemaha and Silver Lake, two of the best 3A has to offer on Saturday. Perry Lecompton and Sabetha could also be a great second round game as will if both win opening rounds. Caney vs Cherryvale or Jayhawk-Linn vs Osage Winners, are by no means teams you look at and think favorites to win a 3A title, but yes any of the four all have an opportunity to win two playoff games. It almost benefitted the district runner-up in that scenario. On the west, it looks to be Phillipsburg and Conway being the most impressive, with the majority of everyone else being outside shot. That’s a game we expect to see on November 10th in the third round. The top part of the 3A west bracket seems to be wide open. We also didn’t have Hesston going to a 3A title game a year ago, so you just never know. Cheney, Marysville, Norton and Larned could all be teams we are talking about making it to a semifinal, but they all got to beat up on each other first. Teams you got to feel for are Chaparral (6-3) and Garden Plain (7-2) sitting at home, while four of the 32 teams that made the playoffs had losing records.
Trenton Jones, Conway Springs
Another week, another mention of Jones. Outside of Ivan Webb in 5A, Jones has been the most dominant back in the state in 2017. Plus the competition has been pretty solid for the most part of Conway. He has 1,854 yards with 27 rushing touchdowns in the single-wing attack of Conway Springs. The most impressive stat is yards per carry in which Jones is averaging 16 yards per carry after the regular season. It’s not just Jones either as Conway averages 487 yards rushing per game. Colton Terhune has also been huge. He has a great arm, but doesn’t need to be used as Conway has only thrown 15 passes with him in 2017. Terhune has 1,057 yards with 20 touchdowns with 12.6 yards per carry. Riley Akiu also has 555 yards averaging over 10 yards per carry. Matthew Lange is also one of the better two way players in the state with 9.5 tackles for loss on defense and paving the way on offense.
Larned picked up their first district title since 1985. It marks just their 8th playoff in school history. The Indians have played one of the best schedules in 3A in the loaded Central Kansas League. Can the Indians emerge as a team in the 3A playoffs? Hats off to A.B. Stokes and company.
Nemaha has won 29 regular season games in a row. Since the consolidation of Baileyville B&B and Nemaha Valley the program is 34-2 in the regular season. The Thunder are going to be a hard out in 3A.
Neal Bever, Sedgwick
Another week, another mention of Bever. The senior has 20 interceptions in 19 career games. He has four interceptions for touchdowns on the season as well. That ties the single season state record for interceptions returned for TD in a season with several others.Bever has nine interceptions on the season after picking up 11 last season as a junior. Incredible.
Chandler Cellmer, Plainville
Cellmer had only five carries but on those five carries he went for 200 yards with four touchdowns. Plainville is a solid 6-3 squad with a battle tested schedule that will be a hard out in 2-1A. The Cards have won six games in a row after dropping their first three.
Big time match-ups in week one
We have some interesting first round games in 2-1A this year. On the west, Sedgwick and Ell Saline is a rematch of week one in which Sedgwick lost by 31-21. Elkhart and La Crosse is also a rematch from week one in which Elkhart won 30-20. Teams are a lot different in November than they were September 1st. On the East, St. Mary’s Colgan and Lyndon should be an interesting round one matchup. It will be the clock control, run-first and defense of Colgan vs the offensive attack of Lyndon. Many thought Colgan would be playing Olpe in round one but Lyndon lost in 5 overtimes last week. Friday’s game will be at Pittsburg State, due to Pittsburg High being at home in the 5A playoffs. Why district champs are so important here is Olpe gets a struggling Yates Center program in round one and could have a favorable chance to win round two over either Jeff County North (9-0) or Jackson Heights (8-1), another solid round one matchup on the east. Colgan vs. Lyndon winner will more than likely get a solid Centralia squad in round two. Talk about sub-state caliber type of matchups in the first two weeks.
Maté, foreign exchange student, kicked a 39 yard field goal in St. Paul's district win against Sedan last week. St. Paul is also back into the playoffs in back to back years under head coach Keith Wiatrak.
Spearville completed its fourth straight undefeated regular season. In the last five years of regular season they are 44-1.
Tough matchups in 8M-I
Playoff games are meant to be tough, but they will be tougher for some early while not for others. Goal is to be undefeated in the postseason so you have to play what’s in front of you. Burlingame and Victoria are two of the best teams in 8M-I and will meet up in week one of the 2017 playoffs on the East. Burlingame defense has been solid this year and they have not been tested, that is the only knock on the Bearcats, however it doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of a title run. Victoria has been tested at 7-2 with losses to two teams that may be favorites to get to title games (Osborne 8M-I and Otis-Bison 8M-II). This should be a heck of a football game in Burlingame on Friday. On the West, Spearville and St. Francis also has a championship feel to it in round one. St. Francis (8-1) took district runner-up ultimately giving them a matchup with Spearville (9-0). The winner of that will likely get Central Plains (8-1) who has won eight in a row since dropping opener to Victoria. By looking at it on paper, the paths for Hoxie (West) and Osborne (East) look pretty clear to at least get to the sub-state championship game.
Can anyone hang with Hanover?
Hanover may be the best team in both divisions of 8-Man. Like Burlingame in 8M-I, the Wildcats haven’t been tested. You may think last year’s 8M-I champ may not see a real challenge until the sub-state game, which we predict it to be Pike Valley. We feel like that is the state title game. But we don’t determine that, you all do. Rock Hills and Zane Colson could be a little bit of a test for Hanover in week one of playoffs, they did after all lose to Pike Valley in overtime (28-22). On the West, it seems to be Otis-Bison as the favorite at this point. They have been battle-tested and have went 8-1. Last year Otis-Bison was a solid 8M-II team that missed the playoffs due to their loaded district, losing to 8M-II runner-up Dighton by six. This year they get in and should be a real contender to make a deep run, if not the title game. Hodegman County is another contender who just lost in the district title game to Otis-Bison, we could likely see this being the matchup of a rematch in the 8M-II west sub-state game.
Justice Kemmerer, Hartford
Kemmerer had 22 carries for 354 yards with 10 touchdowns. Yes, you read that right. The senior was just two short of tying the 8-man state record of 12 touchdowns in a game. Hartford was just 2-7 on the year but Kemmerer saved his best game for last in the 74-20 win over Burrton.
The Blu-jays (6-3) make the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season. Dustin Johnson and staff have done a nice job to put this team in the postseason in 2017. Pleasanton also played three games in eight days this year.