8 Man-II District Preview
Otis-Bison's Dylan Wissman (2) suffered a concussion early in the third quarter against Thunder Ridge. After his departure, the Cougars struggled moving the ball and Thunder Ridge scored 28 consecutive points to win 44-18. (Photo by Everett Royer)
By Contributing: Conor Nicholl (Hays Daily News), Mark Schremmer, & Matt Gilmore (Kpreps.com)
Posted: September 28, 2011 - 1:01 AM
8-Man Division II
Last Friday, second-ranked Thunder Ridge defeated third-ranked Otis-Bison 44-18 in a matchup of Eight-Man, Division II powers.
Otis-Bison led at halftime 18-16 before star running back Dylan Wissman suffered a concussion early in the third quarter and left the game. After the injury, Otis-Bison had trouble moving the ball and Thunder Ridge outscored the Cougars 28-0 the rest of the way.
A few minutes after the loss, several Thunder Ridge players and fans congregated on the sideline to celebrate the win. Then, thoughts quickly turned toward November and a possible rematch between the two powerhouses.
However, a second meeting of Thunder Ridge/Otis-Bison in the playoffs could be one of several rematches between the classification's top-five teams — Baileyville B&B, Thunder Ridge, Otis-Bison, Hanover and Ashland.
Last year, Baileyville B&B defeated rival Hanover 31-28 in overtime in a Week 6 matchup. The two teams met up again in the sub-state championship game, which B&B again won, 48-22. The Falcons went on to defeat Otis-Bison for the state title, 50-34.
This fall, B&B, 42-1 in its last 43 games, will travel to Hanover for a Week 7 district matchup. Regardless of the first contest's result, the two teams could also meet up in the sub-state championship game.
History would also ride on a possible sub-state title game rematch. B&B and Hanover have each won two state titles in the last three years. Since 1995, Sylvan Grove (1995-98) and Hanston (01-04) are the state's lone eight-man teams to win three titles in four years.
Out west, Ashland defeated Thunder Ridge 28-22 in the second round of the 2010 playoffs. Then, Otis-Bison beat Ashland 26-14 to advance to state. This fall, rematches between the three teams could occur again in the playoffs.
Then, depending on who wins the sub-state title games, Eight-Man, Division II could see a repeat of last year's state contest with B&B and Otis-Bison. Or Newton's Fischer Field could have a rematch of a Week 2 game between Thunder Ridge and Hanover, a contest Thunder Ridge won 26-6.
Several teams could challenge for a spot in the top-five, including perennial powers Hope (4-0), South Haven (4-0) and high-octane Moscow (4-0), which leads Kansas in scoring at 81 points per game.
· Baileyville B&B (4-0, 2-0 district) – The defending state champions have had no problems in their first two district games by beating Frankfort 62-12 and Bern 75-8. Actually, the Falcons haven’t had too many problems the past two seasons as they are riding a 17-game winning streak. B&B is led by an explosive running game with fullback Cody Heiman (387 yards, 5 TDs) and tailback Mitch Engelken (317 yards, 8 TDs) and an efficient passing game with quarterback Eric Huerter (20-for-27, 295 yards, 7 TDs, 0 INTs).
· Hanover (3-1, 1-0 district) – Still finding themselves after losing some talent from last year’s 10-2 team, the Wildcats are looking to be ready for a playoff run. Hanover will try to get over the hump and beat Baileyville B&B this season. Before Hanover’s loss to Thunder Ridge in Week 2, the Wildcats’ previous four losses were all to B&B.
· Frankfort (2-1, 0-1 district) – After already falling big to Baileyville B&B, Frankfort will try to run the district table in order to make the playoffs. However, the Wildcats will have a big challenge against Hanover in Week 8. Frankfort has boasted a diverse rushing attack with four players who have rushed for more than 100 yards on the season in Kason Brown (145 yards, 2 TDs), Calahan Brown (136 yards, 1 TD), Alex Surdez (127 yards, 3 TDs) and Lucas Adams (103 yards, 3 TDs). On defense, Frankfort has shown the ability to get to the quarterback. Senior defensive end Jacob Broxterman (6-4, 281) has four sacks and senior linebacker Jonathan Keating has three sacks.
· Bern (1-3, 0-1 district) – The Indians have an uphill battle in a competitive district. However, Bern appears to improving under first-year coach Rick Schnacker. Junior Graham Droge has been the Indians’ big-play threat, rushing for more than 10 yards a carry. Defensively, sophomore Matthew Haverkamp has led the way with three sacks.
· Axtell (0-4, 0-1 district) – Things certainly have changed in one year for Axtell. After finishing 7-2 in 2010, the Eagles returned only three starters and five lettermen. Senior Jared Heiman has been Axtell’s offensive focus, rushing for 292 yards and six touchdowns, while catching 10 passes for 138 yards and one TD.
Key games: (Week 7) Baileyville B&B at Hanover. Also of note: Hanover hosts unbeaten Pawnee City (Neb.) in Week 5.
Winner: Baileyville B&B
· Hope (4-0, 0-0 district) – The Lions are undefeated, but it would be unfair not to mention that their four victories were against teams that combine for a 3-13 record. Shilo Goracke has been Hope’s all-purpose offensive threat. In a 46-0 win against Peabody-Burns, he rushed for two touchdowns, threw two touchdown passes, and caught a TD pass.
· Beloit St. Johns-Tipton (1-3, 0-0 district) – The Blujays were a young team in 2010, regularly playing at least three freshmen every game. A year later, St. Johns has already improved on last year’s 0-9 season. The young team could add more wins, and the Bluejays should have a chance to make the playoffs in what appears to be a wide-open district.
· Linn (1-3, 0-0 district) – The Bulldogs have won only one game this season, but they have shown an ability to score points. Linn posted 24 points against Clifton-Clyde and 28 points against Frankfort.
· Wilson (1-3, 0-0 district) – The Dragons had a difficult start to the season. They scored 68 points in Week 1 against Chase. The only problem was that Chase scored 103. Since then, Wilson also has allowed 76 points in a loss to Central Burden. Jake Stoppel is a weapon at wide receiver and already has 32 catches for 517 yards and seven touchdowns.
· Tescott (0-4, 0-0 district) – The Trojans have struggled in recent years, not posting a winning record since 2008. The positives are that they have showed some offensive firepower by scoring more than 20 points in three games and the district isn’t overly competitive.
Key games: (Week 7) Wilson at Linn for what should decide the second playoff spot.
· Waverly (3-1, 0-0 district) – The Bulldogs are the definite frontrunners as they are the only team in the district with a victory. Waverly has been led by senior running back Kyle Henry, who has rushed for 469 yards and five TDs over four games. He also has caught 12 balls for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
· Altoona-Midway (0-4, 0-0 district) – The Jets have struggled mightily. They have allowed at least 50 points in all four games this season and have scored in double figures only once. The good news is two teams make the playoffs out of the district, and the Jets are competing with four other winless teams.
· Centre-Lost Springs (0-4, 0-0 district) – The Cougars have taken a major step backwards in 2011. They finished 9-1 last year and 8-2 the year before. However, they entered the season with only two returning starters on offense and three on defense.
· Elk Valley (0-4, 0-0 district) – Elk Valley didn’t field a team in 2010, and the Lions haven’t been good through their first four games back. Not only have they allowed more than 50 points in each game, they also haven’t scored a single point this season.
· Flinthills (0-4, 0-0 district) – Like the other teams in the district, the Mustangs have struggled this season. They have allowed more than 50 points in three of the their four games and their closest loss was 30 points.
· Hartford (0-4, 0-0 district) – The Jaguars are winless, but they have put some points on the board. Hartford lost to Burlingame and Soutern Coffey Co. by the same score of 46-40.
Key games: (Week 8) Hartford at Waverly should decide both playoff spots. (Week 9) Elk Valley at Altoona-Midway – this may be the best shot for either of these two to get a win.
· Caldwell (2-2, 2-0 district) – The Blue Jays have been on both sides of the spectrum this season. They were shut out in their first two games, falling 50-0 to Sedan and 46-0 to Central Burden. However in their first two district games, they beat Burrton and Argonia by scores of 28-0 and 46-0, respectively.
· South Haven (4-0, 1-0 district) – The Cardinals are eyeing their eighth consecutive trip to the playoffs. Quarterback Austin Showman and running back Blake Wilkey have been key to an offense that has scored at least 46 points in all four games.
· South Barber (3-0, 1-0 district) – The Cheiftains dropped their first game of the season this past week 24-22 against unbeaten Pretty Prairie. South Barber’s defense has been a strength, limiting its opponents to a total of 20 points in the other three games combined.
· Burrton (2-2, 1-1 district) – The Chargers two wins are the most by Burrton since the 2007 team finished 2-7. For Burrton to compete in this district, Austin Baldridge will need to be as explosive as he was against Attica last week, when the senior rushed for 250 yards and six touchdowns.
· Norwich (2-2, 1-1 district) – The Eagles’ two wins have come against teams that are a combined 0-8 on the season. For Norwich to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008, the Eagles will need consistent play from quarterback Jake Van Gieson who has thrown for 692 yards and 10 scores.
· Argonia (1-3, 0-2 district) – Argonia finished 6-3 last season, but took a big hit to graduation with the loss of Alex Hemberger. The offense must find some sort of spark as the Raiders have scored a total of eight points in their three losses.
· Attica (0-4, 0-2 district) – The Bulldogs have been shutout three times and have scored only six points this season against teams with a combined record of 8-8. They have a tough road ahead of them because the schedule only gets more difficult in district play.
Key Games: (Week 7) South Barber at South Haven for what will likely decide both playoff spots.
Winner: South Barber
Runner-up: South Haven
· Otis-Bison (3-1, 1-0 district) -The Cougars, the defending Eight-Man, Division II state runner-up, are the clear favorites in this district for the second straight year. In Week 3, Otis-Bison defeated Chase — the only other team in the district with a winning record — 70-22. The Cougars, ranked No. 3 in the KPreps.com poll, saw their 21-game regular season winning streak end last Friday in a 44-18 non-district loss to Thunder Ridge, ranked No. 2 in the classification. Junior running back Dylan Wissman has 10 total scores this season and rushed for 98 yards in the first half against Thunder Ridge before he suffered a concussion early in the third quarter. Wissman, running back Patrick Piper and quarterback Trevor Keller each have more than 400 yards of total offense.
· Chase (3-1, 1-1 district) - Last year, the Kats reached the postseason for the first time since 1986. This year, Chase has a strong chance for a repeat playoff berth. In Week 1, the Kats defeated Wilson 103-68 in the highest scoring game in Kansas eight-man history, according to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. Chase has averaged 62.3 points a game, second-best in Eight-Man, Division II, according to preppowerindex.com.
· Stafford (1-3, 0-0 district) - Stafford, which will open district play at Cunningham on Friday, defeated Hutchinson-Central Christian 54-6, lost to Pratt-Skyline (50-12) and suffered two close defeats to Burrton (14-6) and Ingalls (48-38). Tristin Paulsen leads Stafford with 387 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
· Bucklin (0-3, 0-0 district) - The Red Aces have lost 25 straight games and have not picked up a win since a 34-28 victory against Greensburg in Week 4 of the 2008 season. Bucklin has lost three games this year by a combined score of 184-16.
· Cunningham (0-4, 0-1 district) - Cunningham has opened the season with four big losses to quality opponents. They lost to South Barber, Pratt-Skyline, St. John and Chase, four teams that are all 3-1, by a combined score of 220-44. Sixth-year coach Lance McGuire and the Wildcats will need to quickly make up ground to match last season's 4-4 record. Quarterback Nick Huhman has completed 16-of-40 passes for 228 yards with one touchdown against three interceptions to lead the offense.
Key Games: Chase at Otis-Bison (Week 3, Otis-Bison won 70-22); Chase at Stafford (Week 9)
· Ashland (4-0, 1-0 district) – After slipping by Minneola 20-14 in Week 1, the Blue Jays have won their next three games by an average score of 59 to 5.Ashland has plenty of weapons to challenge in the West, including Chance Stebens and Giles Fox who have rushed for 257 yards and 235 yards respectively with six touchdowns each.
· Dighton (4-0, 0-0 district) – Senior running back Guy Fullmer is a key reason the Hornets are a factor in this district. He rushed for 1,668 yards and 28 touchdowns last season in earning Kpreps All-State honors. This season he already has rushed for 696 yards and 11 touchdowns. Pruitt Loomis gives Dighton a second option as he’s rushed for 417 yards and seven scores this season.
· Moscow (4-0, 0-0 district) – The Wildcats have been the story of this district averaging 80.5 points per game thus far this season. Osvaldo Granillo and Jonatan Manriquez are explosive out of the backfield having combined for 1,100 yards and 22 scores, but the schedule will now stiffen for first year head coach Travis Johnson. Quarterback Breck Roop will need to stay efficient as he’s thrown for nearly 600 yards and 11 scores.
· Ingalls (4-0, 0-0 district) – The Bulldogs are one of four unbeatens in District 6, but their four wins have come against opponents who are a combined 1-14 this season. Chance David has led the way for Ingalls thus far, and will need to continue to shine if the Bulldogs are to make a playoff push.
· Rolla (0-4, 0-0 district) -The Pirates have only played one Kansas team this season – losing 66-28 to Deerfield in Week 2. Rolla’s defense will have to improve as they have given up an average of 58.5 points per game.
· Fowler (0-4, 0-1 district) –Fowler made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2005, but the Gold Bugs have their work cut out for them to repeat that success this season. Fowler has been outscored 210 to 43 in their four losses.
Key Games: (Week 5) Dighton at Ashland; (Week 5) Moscow at Ingalls; (Week 6) Dighton at Moscow; (Week 7) Moscow at Ashland; (Week 9) Ingalls at Dighton.
· Golden Plains (2-2, 2-0 district) — Golden Plains started the season slowly with two big non-district losses to Quinter and Dighton, two programs that are a combined 8-0. After a 60-20 district win against Greeley County, Golden Plains won a back-and-forth contest versus Weskan last Friday. Golden Plains trailed at the half 14-12, but outscored Weskan 34-22 after intermission. Senior running back Kalyn Weber is the Bulldogs' top playmaker for a team that has averaged 30 points a game. Golden Plains last made the playoffs in 2009 and is 0-3 in the postseason under veteran coach Travis Smith.
· Cheylin (3-1, 2-0 district) — Last year, Cheylin set a school record for single season victories in a 10-1 season that culminated in a second round home playoff loss to Otis-Bison. Then, the Cougars graduated all but two offensive starters, including all-state quarterback Caleb Keltz, a four-year starter. Tragedy struck the program in the summer when senior running back Dalton Magnani — who rushed for 1,433 yards as a junior — was involved in a serious car accident and missed the season. Still, veteran coach Max Keltz has guided an inexperienced team to a solid start, including district wins against Wheatland-Grinnell (33-16) and Sharon Springs (26-18). Senior Jeremiah White, who rushed for 139 yards in 2010, already has 792 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in 2011. White has at least 160 yards in every game, including 180 against Sharon Springs. Defensively, senior Noah Jones has 65 tackles and White has picked off three passes, both team-highs.
· Grinnell-Wheatland (2-2, 1-1 district) - The Thunderhawks opened district play with a 33-16 loss to Cheylin and a 46-0 win against Triplains-Brewster. Quarterback Will Bixenman has completed 11-of-37 passes for 164 yards with two touchdowns against four interceptions. He has rushed for a team-high 203 yards, one of four Thunderhawks with at least 137 yards. Defensively, Bixenman has picked off three of the team's six passes. Overall, Wheatland-Grinnell has forced 15 turnovers in four games. Wheatland-Grinnell has not had a playoff appearance or winning season in the first three years under coach Tyler Flavin.
· Sharon Springs – Wallace Co. (3-1, 1-1 district) - Kevin Ayers, one of the most successful coaches in Kansas history, has built Sharon Springs into a consistent power. The Wildcats are 45-13 under Ayers, who is 125-24 with three state titles (two at Jetmore, one at Sharon Springs) in his career. Sharon Springs and Victoria are the lone eight-man teams in the western half of the state to make the playoffs in each of the last five seasons. Quarterback Gavin Mote, in his third year as a starter, has completed 6-of-18 passes for 86 yards and two scores. He has rushed for 257 yards and five touchdowns. Eli Kuhlman and Dalton Davis are tied for the team-high with 266 rushing yards.
· Weskan (2-2, 0-1 district) - Marc Cowles, in his 10th year with the Coyotes, has helped turn the program back around. Weskan had winless seasons in 2008 and 2009 before they won three games last year. This season, Weskan started the season 2-0 with a pair of non-district wins. After all-state quarterback Matt Kuykendall graduated, Sam McKinney has stepped in and played well in his first year as a starter. McKinney has completed 23-of-46 passes for 368 yards with seven touchdowns against one interception. Brandan Escamilla has rushed for 281 yards and four touchdowns. Weskan has not made the playoffs since they lost to South Gray in the second round in 2005.
· Tribune-Greeley County (0-4, 0-1 district) - Greeley County has usually enjoyed success under veteran coach Greg Brown, who was 82-38 with the Jackrabbits entering 2011. However, a young team that returned three offensive and two defensive starters has started slowly. The Jackrabbits have lost its four games by a combined score of 254-64. None of the games are within 40 points. Isaiah Stone leads the Jackrabbits with 290 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
· Triplains-Brewster (0-4, 0-2 district) - After a winless season last season, Triplains-Brewster, under second-year coach Lee Odell, has continued to struggle in 2011. The Titans have been outscored 215-6.
Key Games: Any matchup between the top-five teams — Golden Plains, Cheylin, Grinnell-Wheatland, Sharon Springs-Wallace Co. and Weskan — is going to be key. Thus far, the top five teams have matched up three times. The average margin of victory in those contests is 12.7 points.
Runner-up: Sharon Springs – Wallace Co.
· Palco (4-0, 2-0 district) — Senior quarterback Kody Hamel and senior running back/linebacker Anthony Keller have paced the Roosters to its best start since 2005, the year Palco finished as state runner-up. Hamel, a shifty, scrambling quarterback, has completed 17-of-40 passes for 298 yards and three touchdowns against zero interceptions. He has rushed for 650 yards and 13 touchdowns on 55 carries. Keller has picked up 230 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 56 carries and leads the team with 67 tackles. Palco, which has just 13 players on the roster, has inexperienced offensive and defensive lines that have played well. Alex Benoit, who didn't play football last year, has six sacks. Seth Armbrister, the line's biggest player at 187 pounds, has taken over at center after starter Tyler Lambert suffered a season-ending knee injury in fall camp.
· Thunder Ridge (4-0, 0-0 district) — The Longhorns, ranked No. 2 KPreps.com's statewide media poll, have produced a superb resume through the season's first month. Thunder Ridge has defeated Hill City, the defending Eight-Man, Division I state runner-up; Hanover, ranked fourth in the classification; winless WaKeeney-Trego; and Otis-Bison, the defending Eight-Man, Division II state runner-up and ranked third in the class. Senior running back Joel Struckhoff has 72 carries for 733 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. He has 5,338 career rushing yards and 93 career total touchdowns and could break the state's eight-man career records for rushing yards (6,145) and touchdowns (113). Defensively, six players have between 23 and 35 tackles for a squad that has outscored its opponents 176-30.
· Northern Valley (3-1, 1-0 district) - In the summer, the Huskies lost quarterback/defensive back Austin Herman, who transferred to Thunder Ridge. Still, Northern Valley has already surpassed last year's two-win season. After a four-point road loss to Weskan, Northern Valley has defeated Stockton, district foe and rival Logan and Pike Valley. Sophomore Jordan Baird has rushed for 703 yards and eight scores to lead Northern Valley. The Huskies have won three state titles and been runner-up four times under 35th-year coach Chuck Fesseden. However, the program has not made the postseason since a first round playoff loss to Brewster in 2004.
· Victoria (2-2, 1-0 district) - The Knights, a powerhouse with two state titles and a runner-up finish in the last seven years, struggled early. Victoria opened 0-2 with losses to Macksville and Ness City, its worst start since the program moved to eight-man football in 2000. The 22-6 loss to Ness City marked the fewest points for the Knights in a regular season game since 2002. However, Victoria has bounced back with a 60-12 victory against St. John's-Tipton and a 48-0 win over Natoma in district play. Running back Dalton Dreiling leads the Knights with 508 yards on 50 carries.
· Natoma (0-4, 0-2 district) - The Tigers played their first three opponents, Sylvan-Lucas, Wilson and Palco, close into the second half before falling. They suffered a blowout loss to Victoria in Week 4. Senior quarterback Corey Dunlap has more than 700 yards of total offense for the Tigers.
· Logan (0-4, 0-2 district) - The Trojans have won just five times in the last three-plus seasons. This year, Logan has lost four contests by a combined score of 202-78, but did play Palco to a 46-40 score last Friday. Tracey Archer leads the Trojans with 302 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Key Games: (Week 7) Palco at Victoria; (Week 8) Thunder Ridge at Palco; (Week 9) Victoria at Thunder Ridge
Winner: Thunder Ridge