This feature is presented by Nex-Tech Wireless, a proud supporter of high school athletis in Kansas. Be sure to nominate the Nex-Tech Wireless Central Kansas and Western Kansas Athlete of the Month with Sports in Kansas.
Blue Valley North
North trailed 22-14 at the half over Olathe East and came out on top 48-to-30. The Mustangs are 7-4 and have played a battle tested schedule. Many would favor SM East (9-1) this week but don’t count out the Mustangs, who feature a defense that has Miles Emery, Thatcher Robertson and Ander Johnson. Offensively the Mustangs are led by Wisconsin commit in junior QB Graham Mertz who has passed for 2,665 yards and 34 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. Dylan Freberg is one of the best tight ends in the state and has 781 yards with nine touchdowns while receiver Nigel Roberts has 766 yards receiving with 10 scores. It should be a great game this week for a berth to the 6A sub-state championship. Congrats to North for getting to the round of eight in back to back years.
The Panthers are in the round of eight for the seventh consecutive season with their 21-14 victory over Manhattan, after trailing 14-7 at the half. Brandon Clark has built a powerhouse at Derby and it seems to keep rolling year after year. The Panthers have won three of the last four titles in 6A. They have one loss this year to Goddard who is undefeated in 5A and will get a heavy challenge this week from Free State (10-0), the number one team in 6A. It should be a slugfest in this 6A showdown.
Garden City got a 24-21 victory on the road over the offensive attack of Topeka High on Friday. This was definitely a game we had Topeka moving on but the defense limited Ky Thomas of Topeka High to under 100 yards. They did allow Jacqez Barskdale with a big night as they bended as a defense but didn’t break. Quinton LaPointe was big for the Buffaloes with over 100 yards rushing. Garden City will look to use their recipe of success, a strong defense, to move on to another victory, this week they get the very good offense of Wichita Northwest.
Northwest is always solid on offense in recent memory, this year they are exploding on offense again. The difference is the defense is a much-improved unit. This gives the chance for the Grizzlies to be a serious contender for the 6A title. They are averaging 462.5 yards per game this year with a run first mentality led by Breece Hall but can also get through the air with quarterback Austin Anderson and receiver Jaxon Reynolds. Defensively the Grizzlies are led by Josh Carter who is near the leaders in the entire state in tackles and division one recruit Marcus Hicks, who is near the tops in 6A sacks. Garden City shines on defense and they will have to have it this week as they will try to limit the offensive attack of Northwest. GC stepped up and limited division one recruit Ky Thomas to under 100 yards last week over Topeka.
Randy Dreiling, Aquinas
Since 2000, Randy Dreiling has only missed making the round of eight one time (Hutchinson ’13). He’s been at Aquinas since 2014 and has made the round of eight all four years. The Saints get Pittsburg High at home this week. Pittsburg is undefeated against Kansas competition while have two losses to the top two teams in Class 4 Missouri (Webb City & Carl Junction). Aquinas is definitely favored but the Saints arent anything the Dragons haven't seen with their schedule against top-notch Missouri competition.
Hats off to Eisenhower and head coach Marc Marinelli picking up their fifth consecutive victory after starting the season 0-5. Marinelli, a known defensive mind in the state of Kansas, had a game plan and that was limiting Salina South, he did that to just allowing two field goals. The Tigers defeated Salina South 20-6. The Tigers get their rival Goddard this week who has been one of the most dominating teams in Kansas this season. This is a rematch of week four in which Ike lost 20-3. Running the football effectively with clock control, turnovers, and solid defense will need to be the game plan in this for Eisenhower to have a shot at knocking off last year’s 5A runner-up. If we’ve learned anything in the six seasons we’ve been doing this is that records mean absolutely nothing in November. Should be a great atmosphere in Goddard.
Braden Howell, Carroll
The senior quarterback, who is one of the best in Kansas, had five touchdown passes in the 41-6 dominating victory over rival Kapaun. This game was an eight-point ball-game just a couple weeks back. When Carroll is clicking they are hard to beat. They get a hot Maize team this week that may be one of the quietest 9-1 teams in Kansas.
In a game that perhaps nobody had happening, at least by the score (41-14), was the one against Maize and Heights. Heights had been inconsistent all year, depending if K’Vonte Baker played or not offensively. He did on Friday and it was the Eagle defense that limited him to under 80 yards rushing. Caleb Grill and Daylyn Johnson have been big all year for Maize. Grill had 187 yards passing on Friday as Johnson went over 100 yards rushing. Do the Eagles have what it takes to knock of a Bishop Carroll? Never say never, what a nice season so far for Coach Guzman and Maize.
Mill Valley has made the round of eight in four of the last five years. The Jaguars have had two back-to-back average regular seasons, but that’s easy to do in the brutal EKL. They seem to shine when it matters the most and that is the postseason. They have won the last two state titles in 5A and easily dominated undefeated KC Schlagle in round two of the 2017 playoffs. They get a rematch with St. James this week, a game they lost earlier this season.
After a disappointing 2-7 mark in 2016, nobody probably had the Jaguars being in the round of eight but themselves. Two years ago they had a breakout campaign in which they took second in 4A-I. They may be just 5-5 but take a glance at their schedule, it’s been good. It was hard to limit Jayden Price in the game but the Jaguars did what they had to do to get it done, that included a punt return TD by Matt Lymon in the first half. Reagan Jones also had a big night at the quarterback position. Defensively they are led by Stratton Stamp who averages around 10 tackles per contest. They have a huge task ahead in trying to stop Andale, however this was Andale’s closest game of the season (28-21) back in week one. A lot of rematches this year in the playoffs, this one should be interesting.
Zarek Fewell, Fort Scott
Fewell had 293 yards rushing and five touchdowns versus Chanute in the 50-14 first round playoff win on Friday. It wasn’t a surprise for him to have a big night as he had 301 rushing yards against Chanute earlier in the season. Fewell has played like one of the best backs in the state this year as he has racked up 1,880 yards rushing and 33 touchdowns in 10 games. The Tigers (8-2) move on to take on a very good De Soto (9-1) defense.
The Grizzlies are 9-1 for the first time in school history and they also have their first playoff win since 2000 in the 34-7 victory over Paola. Sean Price and company have found a way for success after going 3-6, 5-5 to now 9-1 over their first three years as a staff. Easton Dean is one of the better quarterbacks in 4A-I, while T.J. Mayhue leads the charge rushing. Defensively they are led by Rogan Bruce who has 144 tackles. They will have to play the best game of the season this week as they get heavily favored Bishop Miege (10-0).
The Bullpups and Buhler were tied 7-to-7 at the end of regulation in a defensive battle as expected. Buhler scored first in overtime and elected to kick the extra-point making it 14-7. McPherson would score to make it 14-13 and would elect to go for two. The Pups had Jace Kinnamon in a wildcat take the ball then give on an apparent reverse to Gabe Hoover, who would go on to pass it to a wide-open Kyler Hoppes in the end-zone. Unbelievable finish to win 15-14 in what may have been the game of the year in Kansas. It’s a shame someone had to lose as good as both teams they are but props to the Pups on their gutsy but awesome play-call. It looks like we could see a similar game next week against Maize South, the only team to beat McPherson, 9-0 (week two), in a defensive matchup earlier this season. We talked about Maize South, McPherson and Buhler being basically dead even all year, its apparent they are.
Burlington upset the Columbus Titans 22-21 on Friday night at home to advance to the round of eight for the first time in 11 seasons. Burlington is led by their senior quarterback Connor Jeffers who has 1,855 yards rushing with 29 touchdowns in the single-wing offense. The offensive line has helped pave the way for 324 rushing yards per game. The Wildcats will have the biggest test of the season as they travel to Topeka-Hayden this week in the 4A-II sectionals.
Clay Center advanced to the round of eight in 4A-II earning their first playoff victory since 1993 as they defeated Nickerson 21-20 on the road Friday night.
Kaden Tichenor led the charge with 161 yards including two touchdowns while Trey Gilbert passed for 168 with two touchdowns. What’s most impressive is what head coach Kent Teeter has done since arriving at Holcomb in the fall of 2014. They’ve made it to at least the round of eight in all four of his years as the head coach, including a state title in 2015. They had only three appearances in the round of eight prior to his arrival.
Holton is built for November as they have been in the round of eight for 16 of the last 20 years in 4A-II or 4A. Brooks Barta has made the playoffs 20 straight years as the Holton coach. They get Frontenac in the sectionals for the third consecutive year and second year in a row at home.
The Bulldogs, led by head coach Beau Sarwinski, are a run first team that gets it done up front. The Bulldogs offensive line, who is big and physical, paved the way for over 300 yards rushing on Saturday in the 28-6 win over Wellsville. Galena also had two scores called back in the game due to penatlies. Junior quarterback J.C. Shelton will get it done with his legs first and can buy time if he needs to throw it. He has looked great in his first year as a starter at the position. His favorite target has been Garrett Hall. Joseph and Michael Helton are lights out players on both sides of the ball for the Bulldogs as well. Galena will need a swarming defensive effort to help contain all of the athletes that SIlver Lake will try to spread it out with this week in the 3A sectionals. Both teams enter at 11-0. Galena is in the round of eight for the first time since 2011. Clock control, limitiing penalties, and pressure will be key in this game for the Bulldogs to get a win.
Hesston seems to be built for the playoffs. Over the last two seasons they have six losses in the regular season yet have made at least the round of eight in each year, including a trip to the 3A title game last fall where they lost in overtime. Cameron Cox, who was a receiver last year, had a huge night at quarterback in the win over Conway Springs as he had over 420 total yards of offense with six touchdowns. Hesston had over 500 yards of offense in the game. Hesston saved the best for last as Jorge Morales kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired to give the Swathers a 45-42 victory over previously undefeated Conway Springs. Conway had blown away all competition in their first 10 weeks of the season. Hesston gets another team who has been dominating competition this year in the Phillipsburg Panthers (11-0) this week. Great win for first year head coach Tyson Baurle.
Silver Lake has possibly been underrated this year but they also maybe played to their potential for the first time all season this past Saturday and you saw what happened, a 25-7 victory over Nemaha Central. Mason Griffin and Mason Jones lead the charge offensively for the Eagles, while Josh Boyd and Keenan Baird are standouts on the defense. Silver Lake also has several key receivers that are playmakers. The Eagles have a swarming defense. It will be a spread it out offensive attack against a hit you in the mouth offense in the Galena Bulldogs (11-0) this week. Outstanding win and defensive effort for the Eagles in their victory over previously undefeated Nemaha Central. Silver Lake or Rossville has made the state championship game every single year since 2002 with the exception of one (Marysville). A win on Friday, keeps that streak alive.
Jeff County North
The Chargers are in unfamiliar territory in the round of eight for the first time in 15 years. They are also undefeated this year and beat a Jackson Heights squad 36-20 on Friday night. Jeff County North has used a balance offense all season long. They get Olpe this week. The schedule is questionable all year but they have taken care of business every week and that’s why they are the only undefeated team left in 2-1A. They get Olpe this week.
Nick Davenport, Ell-Saline
Davenport came in the game with his team down by 17 points late in the first half and led them to a 44-41 victory. Davenport was limited as he was injured in district action. He had a safety on defense and had four touchdowns offensively with nearly 200 yards rushing and 85 yards passing. The kid is tough, maybe a reason he was featured on Faces in Kansas earlier in the year. Ell-Saline gets Plainville in the sectional round.
St. Mary’s Colgan
Colgan had a statement victory with a 48-6 win over Lyndon on Friday at Carnie Smith Stadium at Pittsburg State University. It was also the first playoff win of the Shawn Seematter era. The Panthers use their team speed on defense and relied on the legs of running back Max Wilson offensively. Bryce Hutchins and Cade Simmons also played big roles offensively. Matthew Lomshek and Jeremiah Buche were all over the place to lead the Colgan defense. Trevor Graham also returned an interception for touchdown on the defense. The Panthers have two losses to Galena (11-0 in 3A) and Columbus (4A-II district runner-up). They have used their schedule as a huge advantage and will travel to Centralia for a showdown this week in the 2-1A playoffs, something they will have to get used to with Centralia being added to the Panthers regular season schedule for the next two years. There were some good games in this series over the years with Colgan/Centralia before Colgan went to 3A a few years back.
The Bearcats trailed 16-12 at the half to Victoria and lost their all-state quarterback Dalton Sporing to injury right before the half, to the same knee he injured in basketball last winter. What could have been a team that fell apart in the second half after losing their star player, wasn’t, and that says a lot about the locker room, players, and coaching staff of Burlingame. The Bearcats scored 16 points in the third quarter and bended but didn’t break defensively to limit the Knights to just 12 second half points. Montana Giffin stepped in huge as the back-up, it’s likely he would be a starter at most 8-man programs in Kansas, but Burlingame has been quite spoiled at the position. The Bearcats defense led by Tristan Lee and Jake Thompson is one of the best defenses in Kansas, especially the defensive line. They get West Elk this week.
Spearville picked up an impressive 42-20 victory over St. Francis, who was the #1 team in the state at the beginning of the season. This has become quite the showdown between the two over the last four football seasons. Spearville gets Central Plains for the fourth consecutive year. The Lancers last won a state title in 2015. Spearville has been so impressive over the last five seasons as they have went 44-1 over the regular season, including four perfect regular seasons. Should be another outstanding matchup with Central Plains this week.
Daiken Stallbaumer, Hanover
Stallbaumer, a quarterback, had a big night for Hanover with six touchdowns in the game. Four came on the ground and two through the air. Hanover exploded for a huge third quarter in which they scored 26 points. Rock Hills was very good offensively and a solid 8M-II program this season and Hanover has proved for the most part this year that they may be on a whole different level than most 8-man teams in the state. They get Caldwell this week, a 42-34 winner overly Waverly.
The Cougars keep impressing as they win 60-28 on Friday over Sylvan-Lucas. Quarterback Aaron Foust had nearly 300 yards of offense in the game with five touchdowns. What’s most impressive is Otis-Bison running back Blake Bahr didn’t play in the game and is one of the top 8M-II backs. Daniel Scott has been big all year for the Cougars defensively with 91 tackles and three interceptions. Otis-Bison gets Ingalls next week in the sectional round.
Congrats to your 2017 6-man state champion Pawnee Heights Tigers as they defeated Cheylin 62-12 on Saturday. The Tigers finished 9-0 on the season. 8 teams in the state of Kansas play 6-man, not sponsored by the Kansas State High School Activities Association, but there is expected to be 11 for next season. It’s nice to see kids playing football no matter the numbers.