3A District Preview
Ron Baker (1) and A.J. Kough (30) are two reasons that Scott City is a contender in 3A. (Photo by Jim Williams, For Kansas Pregame/Kpreps.com)
By Kpreps.com and Kansas Pregame Magazine
Posted: October 15, 2010 - 9:39 AM
Traditional powers align the list of state championship contenders in what may be the deepest classification in Kansas.
Top-ranked Conway Springs returns a solid nucleus of players who are hungry after a surprising second-round playoff exit at the hands of Hutchinson Trinity last fall.
The Cardinals will be challenged by a loaded western half of the state that includes defending champion Wichita Collegiate, perennial contender Scott City, CPL rival Garden Plain, and that same Hutch Trinity team that sent them home with a “Hail Mary” last fall.
The west side also features a strong presence in the north central part of the state as Smith Center returns to 3A after a dominating run in 2-1A, and fellow Mid-Continent League members Norton and Phillipsburg boast one of their stronger squads in recent memory.
The eastern half of the state still goes through Highway 24 as Silver Lake and Rossville will be answered from during playoff time. The two meet in their annual “War on 24” this week.
Several districts are too close to call such as District 1 in the southeast part of the state which features four teams entering with 5-1 records.
On the other hand, just to the north of those District 1 schools lies the members of District 3 where all four teams are winless.
- Caney Valley (5-1) – The Bullpups are looking for their first playoff berth in three years after falling short to Galena and Riverton in recent years. Nick Newton threw for 125 yards and three scores, and rushed for 135 yards last week against Neodesha.
- Cherryvale (5-1) – Devon Hestand (658 yards) and Tevis Linnebur (490 yards) are the Chargers leading offensive weapons. Cherryvale’s only loss came week one to unbeaten Olpe, 33-27 in overtime.
- Galena (5-1) – After a run to the state semi-finals in 2009, Beau Sarwinski’s young group has rebounded from a 45-0 shutout loss to Colgan by winning two straight, including a 20-7 road win over 4A Parsons last week.
- Riverton (5-1) – With only 22 players out, the Rams are perhaps a bit of a surprise in Derrick Rider’s first year as coach. Greyson Spriggs is a talented young quarterback that will make Riverton a tough out.
Key Games: All game are key in a district where all four team are worthy playoff qualifiers. It’s a shame that District 1 and District 3 couldn’t have been split up.
Runner-up: Caney Valley
- Eureka (3-3) – After posting just two total wins over the past three seasons, the Tornados opened eyes with a 3-0 start before dropping three straight.
- Neodesha (3-3) – The Blue Streak defense has posted shutouts in each of their three wins, but surrendered 34 points per game in their three losses. Anthony Thayer is a talented back who rushed for 256 yards last week against Caney Valley.
- Fredonia (2-4) – The Yellow Jackets’ two wins have come against winless teams in Northeast-Arma and Humboldt. Quarterback Billy Graves is a four-year starter at quarterback.
- Leon-Bluestem (0-6) – After only one total win over the span of the past six seasons, the Lions are much more competitive this season due to 15 returning starters including running back Ryan Bevan.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Neodesha at Fredonia; (Wk 8) Neodesha at Eureka; (Wk 9) Fredonia at Eureka
- Erie (0-6) – A 4-6 playoff team a year ago, Erie has been outscored by an average of 45-5 in the games this season. Junior running back Keith Marquardt is a playmaker for first-year coach Travis Hurley.
- Frontenac (0-6) – First-year coach Kevin Carey’s team features just three seniors on the roster, and it has showed. The Raiders didn’t score a touchdown until week five, and have only tallied 22 points all season.
- Northeast-Arma (0-6) – After leaving the CNC with hopes of a better opportunity to compete, the Vikings have been outscored 348-6 thus far this season.
- Southeast-Cherokee (0-6) – An injury to senior quarterback Dalton Powell hasn’t helped, but neither has a Lancer defense that has given up 43 points per game.
Key Games: All games are key for four teams that are without a win.
- Wellsville (5-1) – The Eagles look to return to the playoffs after a one-year absence behind a balanced running game featuring Dalton Hughes (641 yards) and Brandon Ebeck (385 yards).
- West Franklin (3-3) – After going winless last season, Chuck Lee’s Falcons have responded with a 3-3 start led by senior quarterback Josh Simms who has thrown for 1,065 yards and 11 touchdowns.
- Uniontown (2-4) – The Eagles have posted shutouts in each of their two wins, but those have come against struggling programs in Northeast-Arma and Joplin McAuley Catholic.
- Central Heights (1-5) – The Vikings have lost four straight games, and it appears their string of four consecutive playoff appearances may be in jeopardy.
Key Games: (Wk 7) West Franklin at Central Heights
Runner-up: West Franklin
- Northern Heights (5-1) – Quarterback D.J. Bronson caught the state’s attention with three consecutive 400-yard passing performances to open the season. He hasn’t slowed down yet. The senior has already thrown for 2,411 yards and 33 touchdowns this season.
- Burlington (4-2) – The Wildcats have wrapped four wins around back-to-back losses to 5-1 teams in Caney Valley and Cherryvale. Burlington is led by junior Britton Curtis with 481 yards rushing, and quarterback Korbin Ratzlaff who’s thrown for more than 500 yards and 9 touchdowns.
- Council Grove (2-4) – The Braves have lost three straight games and enter district play with just two wins. It’s a disappointing start for a team that returned 18 starters from a year ago. Derek Ziegenhirt will look to lead the Braves to a second consecutive playoff appearance.
- Osage City (2-4) – With the graduation of Shrine Bowl selection and Emporia State signee Jordan Tice, the Indians have struggled to score points – averaging less than 4 points per game in their four losses.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Northern Heights at Burlington; (Wk 8) Council Grove at Northern Heights, (Wk 9) Burlington at Council Grove
Winner: Northern Heights
Runner-up: Council Grove
- Pleasant Ridge (6-0) – The Rams graduated 13 seniors last year that went a combined 35-7 for their career. Pleasant Ridge is unbeaten again behind a balanced rushing attack led by Will Ryan (555 yards) and Lance Helm (532 yards).
- Silver Lake (5-1) – The second-ranked Eagles only loss came to 4A’s #3 Louisburg. Quarterback Keenan Kruger has returned from a wrist injury that sidelined him for the first three games. As he gets back into a rhythm, expect the Eagles to make a deep playoff run.
- Rossville (4-2) – Quarterback Mitch Buhler has thrown for more than 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns, but the Bulldogs will need to establish a consistent running game to make another deep playoff run.
- McLouth (3-3) – The Bulldogs have won two in a row after a 52-40 shootout loss to Wichita Sunrise Academy. McLouth is looking to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Rossville at Silver Lake; (Wk 8) Pleasant Ridge at Silver Lake; (Wk 9) Pleasant Ridge at Rossville
Winner: Silver Lake
- Effingham-Atchison Co. (5-1) – At 5-1, the Tigers have already achieved their most wins since the 2004 season when they finished 9-2 and lost in the second round of the playoffs.
- Maur Hill (1-5) – The Junior Ravens broke a 30-game losing streak with a 23-10 win over Jackson Heights earlier this season. It was just Maur Hill’s second win since the 2006 season.
- Sabetha (1-5) – The Blue Jays picked up their first win of the season last week against a winless Santa Fe Trail team that has lost 31 straight games.
- Horton (0-6) – The Charger offense has struggled this season in averaging less than 8 points per game.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Maur Hill at Sabetha; (Wk 8) Sabetha at Horton)
Winner: Effingham-Atchison Co.
- Riley County (4-2) – The Falcons only losses have come to traditional powers Silver Lake and Centralia. Riley County is led by a quick sophomore quarterback in Bryce Chavis and junior running back Ty Wendland.
- Rock Creek (4-2) – Since beginning the season 4-0, the Mustangs have been outscored by a total of 40-7 in consecutive losses to MEL powers Silver Lake and Rossville.
- Marysville (3-3) – Last year’s 3A runners-up have lost two straight, but those have come to unbeaten Abilene and one-loss Concordia. Brad Hammet’s team is looking for its fourth consecutive playoff appearance.
- Seneca-Nemaha Valley (2-4) – Keegan McKernan leads the Purple Raider offense with more than 650 rushing yards, including more than 450 yards and 5 touchdowns in the last two games.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Rock Creek at Marysville; (Wk 8) Marysville at Riley County, (Wk 9) Riley County at Rock Creek
Winner: Riley County
- Marion (4-2) – The Warriors have lost two straight after getting into the meat of their new Heart of America League schedule. Marion is seeking its first playoff appearance since 2003.
- Whitewater Remington (4-2) – Caleb Cherryholmes leads a wide-open offense that averaged 53 points in their first four games, but has managed just 20 total points against tougher competition in losses the past two weeks.
- Hillsboro (3-3) – The Trojans’ three wins have come against opponents that are a combined 3-15 on the season.
- Southeast of Saline (3-3) – The in experienced Trojans have lost three straight after a surprising 3-0 start under new head coach Mitch Gebhardt.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Hillsboro at SE Saline; (Wk 8) SE Saline at Marion; (Wk 9) Marion at Hillsboro
Winner: Whitewater Remington
- Hutchinson Trinity (6-0) – The Celtics are led by quarterback Derek Racette who has thrown for 1,611 yards and 28 touchdowns already this season. Trinity receivers Michael Mesh (522 yards), Will Bothwell (440 yards), Austin Rea (316 yards), and Brandon Koenigsman (286 yards) all have big-play capability.
- Garden Plain (5-1) – Joey Capul and Kendrae Arnold led the Owl rushing attack with 584 and 452 yards respectively. Aaron Tomlinson gives Garden Plain a passing threat as he’s thrown for more than 600 yards and 8 touchdowns this season.
- Halstead (5-1) – The Dragons are looking to get back to sneak in the playoffs after a one-year absence, but of note is their five wins have come against opponents who are a combined 12-18.
- Sedgwick (5-1) –The Cardinals have averaged nearly 42 points per game behind stand-out quarterback Trent Stucky. The Sedgwick defense will need to equal the type of performance that shut down Remington quarterback Caleb Cherryholmes in a 26-8 win last week.
Key Games: All are key in a district with a combined 21-3 record, but the schedule is highlighted by #3 Hutch Trinity at #5 Garden Plain in week seven.
Winner: Garden Plain
Runner-up: Hutchinson Trinity
- Wichita Collegiate (5-1) – The defending champions took a major hit to graduation with the loss of Blake Jablonski and Brett LeMaster among others, but still managed to win five of their first six. The loss of sophomore quarterback Markus Phox (881 pass; 635 rush) to a broken collarbone last week will leave the weight of the offense on Raymond Taylor (855 yards, 10 TDs).
- Belle Plaine (1-5) – The Dragons have just two wins spanning the past three seasons, and have been outscored by an average of 39-10 this year.
- Douglass (1-5) – The Bulldogs have made the playoffs two straight years, but have only scored 41 total points this season.
- Wichita Independent (1-5) – The Panthers are surrendering 48 points per game this season, but still have a legitimate shot as one of three one-win teams entering District 11 play.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Independent at Douglass; (Wk 8) Douglass at Belle Plaine; (Wk 9) Independent at Belle Plaine
Winner: Wichita Collegiate
Runner-up: Wichita Independent
- Conway Springs (6-0) – The top-ranked Cardinals are averaging 57 points per game and have a marquee win 29-14 over #5 Garden Plain. Cory Misak and Brian Doffing lead the single wing attack with 601 and 570 yards rushing respectively.
- Chaparral (5-1) – Former Dodge City coach Justin Burke has the Roadrunners off to a 5-1 start. Chaparral has posted two-win seasons in each of the past five years, and hasn’t made the playoffs since going 3-7 in 2004.
- Medicine Lodge (3-3) – The Indians are averaging 24 points per game while allowing 26 – a formula that will have to improve if they are to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
- Kingman (1-5) – The Eagles can already consider this season a successful one after ending a 23-game losing streak with a week one 32-0 win against Haven. It was Kingman’s first win since beating Towanda Circle 12-7 on Sept. 21, 2007.
Key Games: (Wk 9) Medicine Lodge at Chaparral
Winner: Conway Springs
- Hoisington (5-1) – Lonnie Irvin’s Cardinals are off to a 5-1 start and in search of their seventh consecutive playoff appearance. Their only loss came in a 46-10 to Ulysses in a game in which the Cardinals trailed 33-3 at halftime.
- Sterling (4-2) – The Black Bears are led by junior running back Bryant Patterson who has rushed for more than 550 yards and 7 touchdowns this season. On defense, senior Trea Lott is second on the team in tackles and has picked off four passes.
- Ellsworth (3-3) – The Bearcats have won three straight since an 0-3 start against opponents that are a combined 12-6. Ellsworth is seeking their first playoff appearance since 2007.
- Lyons (1-5) – Sophomore Matt Vincent has taken over under center for now Pitt State kicker Jake Craig. Vincent, as Craig did, leads the Lions in rushing and has thrown for 485 yards.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Sterling at Ellsworth
- Beloit (4-2) – The Trojans have piled up the points again this season and posted a 5-1 record thus far in spite of missing returning 1,000 yard rusher Luke Shamburg on offense in each of those contests. Well Shamburg is back on both sides of the ball for the district opener against Smith Center and that could spell trouble for a Redmen defensive line that has been mangled by injuries. With the other two teams in this district - Belleville-Republic County and Minneapolis - combining for two wins through the first six weeks the match-up with the Redmen will most likely crown the District 14 champ.
- Smith Center (3-2) – The Redmen have lost two games in a season for the first time since 2003 and two regular season games for the first time since '02, but defensive coordinator Brock Hutchinson has had two weeks to prepare for the Trojans and a team with a bevy of injuries has had a chance to get a few guys healthy, which could spell trouble for a Trojan team that's had it's hardest two games this season against team's coached by former Smith Center quarterbacks.
- Belleville-Republic Co. (1-5) – The Buffaloes were able to get their first victory in the last 30 games with their 22-7 win over league foe Sacred Heart in week four, but since that win the Buffs have been outscored 83-20 in losses to Ellsworth and Russell. The Buffs have been an offense by committee with four different players rushing for more than 100 yards this season led by Cody Shuler with 292 yards and three scores.
- Minneapolis (1-5) – The Lions have lost three games by a combine 19 points and posted their first win of the season in week five, a 14-12 victory over Southeast of Saline. The Lions have missed the loss of four-year starting quarterback Keegan McCullick, now a student at K-State, and returning Army Iroman Kansas Player of the Year Jake Eckert was off to a slow start before going off for 205 yards against Southeast and posting a solid 87 yards rushing last week against Ellsworth.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Smith Center at Beloit
Winner: Smith Center
- Norton (6-0) – The Bluejays have rolled to 5-0 (Norton had an open date last week) behind the legs of running back Terrell Lane and an experienced offense line led by three-year starter at center, Kaid McKenna. In 2009 the Bluejays took three regular season losses into the playoffs and ended their season with a semi-final loss to eventual champion Wichita Collegiate. This year the Bluejays won't have that many losses but they could go just as deep in the playoffs.
- Phillipsburg (6-0) – Since beating Smith Center on the road in week two the Panthers have been a second half team. A fourth quarter touchdown in week three would cement their 21-7 win over Oakley and in wins over Ellis in week four and Washington County in week five they needed 17 and 21 second half points respectively to pull away and remain unbeaten. With their open date last week the Panthers are 5-0 and just outside the 3A rankings and a week nine match-up with Norton should determine the winner of this district and this year's Mid-Continent League Champion.
- Goodland (4-2) – The Cowboys have posted a solid season in year three with former Hays High head coach Kent Teeter at the helm, going 4-2 and staying competitive in losses to Ulysses in week two and Scott City in week four. The Cowboys looked impressive in last week's 38-22 victory over rival Colby but their reward is a district opening contest with a Norton Bluejay team that appears headed for a deep 3A playoff run.
- Thomas More Prep (2-4) – The Monarchs appeared improved following a narrow 21-15 loss to Hoisington in week five but last week's 40-14 loss to Cimarron left TMP with more questions than answers. A match-up with unbeaten Phillipsburg will provide little resolution, but a solid performance by talented junior quarterback Nick Hammeke - who broke the Monarch passing mark in only six games - combined with a significantly improved rush defense could keep the Panthers from running away with it.
Key Games: (Wk 9) Norton at Phillipsburg
- Scott City (6-0) – The fourth-ranked Beavers are outscoring their opponents by an average of 34-10 behind senior quarterback/free safety Ron Baker. Baker has thrown for nearly 700 yards and 6 touchdowns while rushing for more than 200 and 8 scores. Fullback Jason Williams (487 yards) leads four Beavers with over 200 yards rushing on the season.
- Cimarron (4-2) – The Bluejays have already doubled their win total for the two previous seasons combined. Nick Baublits rushed for 174 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s win over Thomas More Prep.
- Lakin (1-5) – Lakin’s five losses have come to teams that are a combined 22-8. Senior Alex Jones leads the Broncs with 750 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns.
- Southwestern Heights (1-5) – The Mustangs have struggled under first-year coach Matt Scripsick as the defense has given up nearly 34 points per game – a number they will have to improve upon to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Cimarron at Lakin
Winner: Scott City