5A District Preview
Lucas Powell is the anchor of an offensive line that leads the way for Bubba Starling and Gardner-Edgerton. (Photo by Matt Gilmore, for Kpreps.com)
Posted: October 13, 2010 - 8:11 AM
Not only is Class 5A’s East District 4 one of the most competitive districts in the state, it also may be loaded with the most talent.
The No. 2-ranked Gardner-Edgerton Trailblazers (6-0), the No. 4-ranked Blue Valley - Stilwell Tigers (6-0), the No. 5-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (5-1) and the Pittsburg Purple Dragons (5-1) combine for a 22-2 record. They also boast five players being heavily recruited by colleges, according to Rivals.com.
Gardner-Edgerton’s Bubba Starling is considered the No. 5 dual threat quarterback recruit in the nation and has already verbally committed to play at Nebraska. The Trailblazers also have offensive lineman Lucas Powell, who is listed as the state’s 15th best recruit by Rivals.com, and running back Brett Jensen.
Rivals lists Blue Valley linebacker Ian Allen as being recruited by the likes of Arkansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Purdue.
St. Thomas Aquinas running back Dagan Reed has reportedly been offered a scholarship by the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
The district kicks off Friday with a huge game between Aquinas and Blue Valley. The next week Gardner-Edgerton and Aquinas will be featured on ESPNU.
- Lansing (5-1) – The Lions may be a little difficult to predict. They enter with only one loss, but that came to KC Piper who is 2-4. Lansing is led by wide receiver Parker Gibson, a 2009 Kpreps all-state selection who has 27 catches for 661 yards and seven touchdowns thus far this season.
- Bonner Springs (2-4) – The Braves opened with four consecutive losses to Topeka Seaman, Mill Valley, KC Turner and Basehor-Linwood but enter the district with a pair of wins against Tonganoxie and Bishop Ward. Jonathon Jackson leads Bonner’s rushing attack (599 yards 4TDs) and hopes to lead the Braves back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
- KC Schlagle (1-5) – The Stallions have struggled with their only win coming in the second week of the season against Missouri’s KC Northeast.. A’derrius Sanders has led Schlagle’s rushing attack.
- KC Washington (0-6) – The Wildcats have struggled in Brandon Corbin’s first season as head coach. Washington is 26-34 over the past seven season, but has failed to reach the playoffs.
Key Games: (Wk 9) Bonner Springs at Lansing
Runner-up: Bonner Springs
- Mill Valley (4-2) – The Jaguars’ two losses have come by a total of six points. Senior back Kyle Brunson has followed-up a 1,500-yard 19 score performance in 2009 with 1,014 yards and 13 touchdowns so far this season. Sophomore quarterback Skyler Windmiller has been superb in replacing injured starter MacAuley Garton. Windmiller has thrown for more than 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns while completing 67 percent of his passes.
- Bishop Miege (3-3) – Last season’s Class 4A state champions enter district play at 3-3, but all three losses were to ranked 5A teams. The Stags have plenty of talent in quarterback Max Shortell (1,616, 10TDs) who has verbally committed to Minnesota, Keenan Savage, Mark Thorson, Shane Ray (6-3, 220), and big Phil Ford (6-5, 365).
- KC Harmon (3-3) – After winning just six games over the past six seasons, the Hawks are 3-3 behind brothers Herman and Isaiah Ming who have accounted for 21 of the Hawks 25 touchdowns this season.
- KC Turner (3-3) – The Golden Bears have won three of their last four games, holding their opponent to one touchdown in each of those wins. De’andre Walters (532 yards, 4 Tds) and David Bernal (576 yards, 4 Tds) lead the Bears ground attack, but injuries at quarterback have forced freshman Brian Sands into action.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Mill Valley at Bishop Miege,
Winner: Bishop Miege
Runner-up: Mill Valley
- Topeka Seaman (1-5) – Don’t take the Vikings lightly because of their 1-5 record. Their five losses come in an extremely competitive Centennial League that includes some of the best Class 6A and 5A teams in the state. Seaman is led by its passing attack with quarterback Butch Rea and wide receiver Jacob Hurla. In last week’s 27-21 loss to Class 6A’s Washburn Rural, Rea completed 15 of 25 passes for 247 yards, and Hurla had six receptions for 134 yards.
- Topeka Highland Park (1-5) – The Scots snapped a 13-game losing streak in the third week of the season when they beat KC Harmon 42-20. The athletic Aaron Douglas directs Highland Park’s offense at quarterback. He rushed for 174 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 57-22 loss to Manhattan.
- Shawnee Heights (0-6) – Like Seaman, the T-Birds’ record could be deceiving. Heights’ six opponents - Junction City, Topeka High, Washburn Rural, Manhattan, Emporia and Topeka Hayden - have a combined record of 30-6. T-Birds running back Donnie Lockhart has had three 200-yard rushing performances this season.
- Topeka West (0-6) – The Chargers also have had a difficult schedule in the Centennial League, but none of the games have even been close. Topeka West has lost its six games by an average score of 66-12.6.
Key Games: (Wk 9) Topeka Seaman at Shawnee Heights
Winner: Topeka Seaman
Runner-up: Shawnee Heights
- Blue Valley – Stilwell (6-0) – The No. 4-ranked Tigers have won by more than two touchdowns in each of their six games. Blue Valley will need strong performances by quarterback Kyle Zimmerman, wide-out P.J. Debey, and talented junior running back Justin Fulks to advance in a brutal district.
- Gardner-Edgerton (6-0) – The unbeaten Trailblazers enter district coming off a huge 49-42 victory over previously unbeaten #3-ranked McPherson. Gardner-Edgerton’s attack is led by senior quarterback Bubba Starling, who already has verbally committed to Nebraska. Starling has rushed for 1,054 yards and 15 touchdowns, while throwing for 527 yards and four scores. Brett Jensen has added 615 yards and 10 scores for the Blazers.
- Pittsburg (5-1) – It’s not often that a team with a 5-1 record enters district competition as the underdog, but that is the case for the Purple Dragons. Pittsburg has won at least a share of the Southeast Kansas League title, but will face its toughest tests of the season in district play. Linebacker Christian Boor and safety Scott Martin average nearly 11 and 14 tackles per game, respectively.
- St. Thomas Aquinas (5-1) – The No. 5-ranked Saints suffered their only loss of the season last week 34-26 to a very strong Webb City, Mo., team. The Saints offer a balanced attack with quarterback Richard Davila, running back Dagan Reed, and wide-out Shane Nachbar.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Aquinas at Blue Valley, (Wk 8) Aquinas at Gardner-Edgerton, (Wk 9) Blue Valley at Gardner-Edgerton
Runner-up: Blue Valley - Stilwell
- McPherson (5-1) – The No. 3-ranked Bullpups bring a high-octane offense into district competition, scoring 48.8 points per game this season. McPherson’s only loss of the season came 49-42 last week to #2 Gardner-Edgerton. Quarterback Tyler Matthews completed 76 percent of his passes for 1,634 yards and 20 touchdowns. Wide-out Christian Ulsaker has 47 catches for 712 yards and six scores on the season.
- Emporia (4-2) – The Spartans enter district competition with a lot of momentum after beating 6A’s previously unbeaten Junction City Blue Jays 28-21 last week. Emporia’s only two losses are to a pair of 6A schools in Washburn Rural and Manhattan.
- Newton (1-5) – The Railers defense has struggled this season, allowing no fewer than 34 points in a game. Newton allowed more than 400 yards of offense in last week’s 58-26 loss to Salina Central.
- Valley Center (0-6) – Valley Center has had difficulty putting points on the board all season, scoring six points or less in four games. TheHornets have now lost 15 consecutive games since a 42-22 victory over Wichita West in week nine of the 2008 season
Key Games: (Wk 8) McPherson at Emporia in a rematch of last year’s first-round playoff game won by the Spartans, 35-33.
- Hays (5-1) – Prior to last week's 35-7 loss to Dodge City the Indians appeared the favorite in this district but now it appears it's anyone's ball game. Injuries to starting quarterback Austin Unrein, backup Dylan Scoby and sophomore QB Derek Bixenman earlier in the season complicate matters for an Indian team with little depth. But the offense still goes through running back Casey Sedbrook and as coach Ryan Cornelsen told the Hays Daily News "...don't count us out just yet."
- Salina Central (4-2) – Central appeared poised for a breakthrough season with their week one victory over Derby but a one-point loss to Andover Central in week two raised questions about the strength of the Mustang offense. The emergence of freshman Malik Veal and the return of quarterback Shay Wooten, who missed the Maize win with injury, has the Mustang offense back on track.
- Salina South (3-3) – South evened their record at 3-3 with 42-35 victory over Derby last week. Quarterback Christian Linenberger rushed for 262 yards and super-soph Cody Busby went for 226 yards in that game. If they are to emerge from the district, the Cougars will need to get better play from their defense.
- Great Bend (2-3) – With a 2-3 record the Panthers might appear the underdog in this district, but the three losses are to ranked opponents St. Thomas Aquinas in 5A, and Wichita Heights and Dodge City in 6A. The Panthers went off last week with a 42-16 win over Liberal. Panther QB Greg Hildebrand threw for 277 yards and rushed for 86 in the win.
Key Games: All games are key in an evenly matched district.
Winner: Salina Central
Runner-up: Salina South
- Andover Central (5-1) – Andover Central started the season with two close wins over Goddard and Salina Central before being blownout by #3 McPherson. Since, Tom Audley’s Jaguars have averaged 59 points per game over their last three led by Alex Bontz who has rushed for 997 yards and 10 scores.
- Kapaun Mt. Carmel (5-1) – The Crusaders bolted out to a 5-0 start behind the play of talented quarterback Keaton Lewis. Kapuan, however, is untested without a victory over a team with more than two wins.
- Ark City (2-4) – The Bulldog defense will have to strengthen if Ark City wants to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2003. The Bulldogs have allowed nearly 33 points per game, including 43 points per contest over their last four.
- Andover (1-5) – After losing starting quarterback Aaron Hansen to injury in the 2009 playoffs, the injury bug bit Mike Lee’s team again this year when star running back Ben Croitoru suffered a knee injury after rushing for 110 yards in the first quarter of the season against McPherson. The Trojans haven’t been the same since losing double digit leads to Newton and Derby along the way.
Key Games: (Wk 9) Kapaun Mt. Carmel at Andover Central
Winner: Andover Central
Runner-up: Kapaun Mt. Carmel
- Bishop Carroll (5-1) – Carroll’s lone loss came 21-0 to 6A’s #1-ranked Wichita Heights in week one. The Eagles have rolled to five straight wins behind a defense that has only allowed 50 points all season.
- Hutchinson (5-1) – The Salthawks begin their quest for a 7th straight state title behind the strong running of Ben Heeney. The converted safety has rushed for 1,076 yards and 22 touchdowns on just 99 carries – an amazing 10.9 yards per carry.
- Liberal (2-4) – The Redskins have lost four straight games – all in WAC play – after starting out 2-0. Slader McVey leads the Liberal offense in throwing for 1,461 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Standout wide receiver Jade Cathey has 37 receptions for 589 yards and 8 TDs, while Tyson Deaton has caught 35 balls for 551 yards and three scores.
- Wichita West (2-4) – West’s two wins have come by eight points each over winless Wichita South and winless Wichita North. Pioneer quarterback Dorian Flournoy threw for 127 yards and rushed for 64 yards and two scores in last week’s win over North.
Key Games: (Wk 9) Bishop Carroll at Hutchinson
Runner-up: Bishop Carroll