5A District Preview
Is the rest of the state closing in on Hutch? Junior QB Trevor Turner (1) will try and keep the Salthawks out in front of the opposition. (Photo by Yee Mar)
By Contributing: Mark Schremmer, Conor Nicholl, & Matt Gilmore
Posted: October 14, 2011 - 12:33 AM
Entering district play only two teams remain unbeaten in Class 5A, and those teams are on different ends of the spectrum.
Defending state champion Blue Valley – Stilwell is ranked #1 and features one of the state’s best offenses behind quarterback Kyle Zimmerman and running back Justin Fulks.
Meanwhile, across the Kansas City metro, KC Schlagle is 6-0 and has already obtained the school’s most wins in a single season in the past eight years.
The Stallions schedule, however, has been nowhere near the top in 5A. Schlagle’s first six opponents are a combined 11-22 this season, and the Stallions have won three of those games by single digits.
While Schlagle may not be a true contender in 5A, several others are out there.
Bishop Miege has already challenged Blue Valley to a 24-21 game, and in district play, the Tigers will have to fend off a young and improving Gardner-Edgerton team.
In the western half of the state, the Hutchinson Salthawks appear to be the favorite.
Hutch is ranked second, and only a season-opening 35-20 setback to Rockhurst (Mo.) has kept them from being perfect.
The Salthawks have averaged nearly 44 points per game, but have shown a propensity to give up points as well – 25 per game to be exact.
Hutchinson will again have to get by Bishop Carroll in district play. The Golden Eagles eliminated the Salthawks 21-0 in the state semifinals last fall.
Class 5A may not have the depth that it showed last season, but several contenders line a fairly even field at the top.
· KC Schlagle (6-0) – Coming off a 2-7 season in 2010, the Stallions are much improved under second-year head coach Tim Dorian. A big reason for that improvement has been the play of junior running back J’veyon Browning. The 5-10, 185-pound back has rushed for 1,099 yards and 17 TDs on 121 carries to spark an offense that is putting up 43.3 points per game. Senior linebacker Markus Nash and sophomore defensive end Derrick Gibbs lead the defense with five sacks each.
· Lansing (3-3) – Coming off an 8-2 season in 2010, the Lions have struggled some this season. Like Bonner Springs, Lansing hasn’t beat a team with a winning record. However, Lansing did beat a KC Turner team that defeated Bonner Springs. The Lions’ big play threat has been junior Lucas Mein with 19 receptions for 308 yards and three TDs.
· Bonner Springs (3-3) – With only five returning starters on offense and two on defense from last year’s playoff team, the Braves were unsure what they would have this season. The results have been mixed. Bonner Springs beat Topeka Seaman 21-17 in the opener and are coming two lopsided wins against Tonganoxie and Bishop Ward. However, the Braves lost big to Mill Valley, KC Turner and Basehor-Linwood. Senior running back J.J. Jackson has led the Braves offense with 934 yards and 16 TDs on 116 carries. Senior Stevie Williams leads the team in receiving with 26 catches for 433 yards and five TDs.
· KC Washington (2-4) – The Wildcats have struggled against the other Kansas City, Kan., schools, losing to KC Harmon, KC Wyandotte and KC Sumner. Quarterback Ranier Kountz-London has been KC Washington’s leader with 594 passing yards, 336 rushing yards and two interceptions on defense.
Key Games: (Wk 7) KC Schlagle at Bonner Springs; (Wk 8) KC Schlagle at Lansing; (Wk) Lansing at Bonner Springs
Winner: KC Schlagle
· Mill Valley (5-1) – Junior quarterback Skyler Windmiller has thrown for 1,566 yards and 17 touchdowns with only three interceptions. L.J. Hatch, Wade Hanna, and Ethan Rice all have more than 300 yards receiving this season. The Jaguars have used a running back by committee approach to replace the graduated Kyle Brunson. Kendall Short, Staton Rebeck, and Nick Wilson have combined for 918 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.
· Bishop Miege (5-1) – Quarterback Montel Cozart has been impressive in replacing the graduated Max Shortell who has played some for the University of Minnesota this fall. Cozart has thrown for 1,481 yards and 20 touchdowns for a Miege offense that averages 33.5 points per game. Quanzee Johnson out of the backfield, and Tre’ Parmalee provide the Stags with plenty of offensive firepower. Miege’s lone loss came 24-21 to top-ranked Blue Valley.
· KC Harmon (3-3) – Harmon has a dynamic backfield in quarterback Terrance Simmons and tailback Isaiah Ming. The two have led the Hawks offense to a 26 points per game average, but the competition will get much more difficult in district play.
· KC Turner (3-3) – The Golden Bears three losses have come to teams that are a combined 15-3, including Blue Valley, Basehor-Linwood, and Lansing. Turner escaped with a 10-8 win over KC Piper to enter district play at .500.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Bishop Miege at Mill Valley; (Wk 9) Mill Valley at KC Turner
Winner: Bishop Miege
Runner-up: Mill Valley
· Topeka Seaman (1-5) – The Vikings are one of three teams in this district with only one victory. However, Seaman seems to have new life with quarterback Butch Rea returning from injury last week against 6A’s Washburn Rural. He passed for 116 yards in the 21-11 loss that was closer than the final score. The Vikings hope Rea can help them get back to the playoffs, where they were eliminated in the second round last season.
· Topeka Highland Park (1-5) – While the Scots’ record may be the same as Shawnee Heights, there still seems to be quite a bit of separation. Shawnee Heights beat Emporia, and Highland Park lost 60-14 to the Spartans. Jamon Fulton has led the offense with 821 yards passing and 308 yards rushing.
· Shawnee Heights (1-5) – The T-Birds are only 1-5, but they beat a .500 Emporia team and played within a touchdown of Class 6A’s second-ranked Manhattan Indians. Senior quarterback Cole Foster leads the Shawnee Heights offense. He has passed for 820 yards, while leading the team in rushing with 312 yards and three TDs. However, Foster will need to improve his passing accuracy as he has completed only 48 percent of his passes and has thrown seven interceptions compared to only four TDs.
· Topeka West (0-6) – It’s been another difficult season for the Chargers. Fifteen games into the Tom Brian era, the second-year head coach remains winless. Topeka West has allowed at least 50 points in every game and has not scored more than 14.
Key Games: (Wk 9) Shawnee Heights at Topeka Seaman
Winner: Shawnee Heights
Runner-up: Topeka Seaman
· Blue Valley – Stilwell (6-0) – The top-ranked Tigers are unbeaten but not untested. The Tigers held off third-ranked Bishop Miege 24-21 in Week 4, and survived a 14-13 win over Blue Valley Northwest by blocking a late Husky field goal attempt. Plenty of firepower returns on offense where quarterback Kyle Zimmerman and running back Justin Fulks have been impressive. Fulks left the Blue Valley Northwest game early in the third quarter with an injury, and his status is uncertain. He had rushed for 140 yards before departing with the injury.
· Pittsburg (5-1) – The Purple Dragons have won three straight since a 35-12 loss to Paola in Week 3. Senior running back Marcus Striplin has been impressive in tallying 656 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging nearly 10 yards per carry. Quarterback Joe Wimmer has added 566 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, and broke out through the air with 152 yards and two touchdowns against Fort Scott in Week 6. Freshman linebacker Alex Barnes is the Dragon’s leading tackler on defense.
· Gardner-Edgerton (4-2) – Sophomore back Traevohn Wrench has been the story for the Blazers. The 6-0, 180-pound Wrench has rushed for 1,304 yards and 17 touchdowns through six games this season. Quarterback Jared Hobby has had the daunting task of replacing Bubba Starling, but the Blazer run game behind Wrench has helped alleviate that pressure.
· St. Thomas Aquinas (3-3) – Aquinas enters district play having lost three straight. But what’s more troubling is that the Saints blew leads against Blue Valley Northwest and Bishop Miege before getting shutout by Missouri’s top-ranked Class 4 team Webb City in Week 6. The schedule won’t get an easier for the Saints as they host top-ranked Blue Valley in Week 7 before taking on fifth-ranked Gardner-Edgerton.
Key Games: All games are key in a district with four tradition-rich football programs.
Winner: Blue Valley - Stilwell
· McPherson (5-1) – The Bullpups’ hopes for an undefeated regular season ended with a 41-21 loss to Gardner-Edgerton this past Friday. However, McPherson still enters the district as the favorite and boast one of the best quarterbacks in the state. Tyler Matthews, who has committed to play at TCU, has completed 93-of-151 passes for 1,594 yards with 13 TDs and four interceptions. Jordan Hart has emerged as the leading receiver with 40 catches for 772 yards and nine touchdowns.
· Emporia (3-3) – The Spartans are somewhat difficult to figure out. In Week 5, the Spartans gave Shawnee Heights its first victory of the season. A week later, they handed Junction City its first loss by the score of 28-21. Second-year coach Dustin Delaney will try to use that victory as momentum for a district and playoff run.
· Newton (2-4) – The Railers’ two victories come from teams (Andover and Haysville Campus) with a combined 2-10 record. However, Newton enters district with the experience of playing some of the better teams in the state like Hutchinson and Salina Central.
· Valley Center (1-5) – The Hornets’ only victory is against a winless 4A school in Towanda Circle. And they won that game by the score of 9-6. On the positive side, Valley Center could easily be 3-3 as it lost to Arkansas City and Goddard by the score of 21-20 in each game.
Key Games: (Wk 8) Emporia at McPherson
· Hays (5-1) – The Indians, 7-2 in each of the last two seasons, are looking for the program's first playoff berth since 1995. Hays High's strength is its terrific offensive line that starts four seniors. All five linemen have earned all-WAC honors on one side of the ball at least once, while seniors Brandon Weigel and Zach Binder are two-time all-WAC players. Junior running back David Cardinal (731 rushing yards) and senior quarterback Austin Unrein (599 rush) rank 1-2 in the WAC for a squad that averages 388 rushing yards a game.
· Salina Central (5-1) – Salina Central has the No. 7 offense in Class 5A, averaging 37 points per game. The Mustangs' only loss is to state power Hutchinson. Sophomore Malik Veal has 137 carries for 760 yards and 12 scores.
· Great Bend (3-2) – The Panthers have played the eighth-hardest schedule in Class 5A, according to preppowerindex.com. Great Bend has lost to 5A power Aquinas and Wichita Heights, the defending state champion. Josh Lopez leads Great Bend with 69 rushing yards a game.
· Salina South (2-4) – Perhaps no team is 5A is more intriguing than the Cougars. Salina South has lost to Junction City (33-28) and McPherson (41-39) and played Hutchinson (42-24) relatively close. The schedule also sets up well for South because they don't have to leave Salina. They play cross-town rival Central in Salina and will play host to Hays and Great Bend. South has played 5A's 6th-hardest schedule so far. Christian Linenberger has passed for 374 yards and 739 rushing yards.
Key Games: Every game is critical in one of the state's strongest districts from top to bottom. Last year, Great Bend won the district and the points tiebreaker gave the edge to Salina Central over Hays.
Runner-up: Great Bend
· Andover Central (4-2) – Andover Central’s four wins have come against teams with a combined record of 4-20. The Jaguars have been led by senior running back Alex Bontz, who has rushed for 921 yards and 12 TDs on 140 carries. He’s rushed for more than 200 yards in each of his past three games. Andover Central has thrown the ball enough to create some balance, but the Jaguars need to improve their accuracy. Colton Koenigs has completed 43-of-89 passes for 774 yards and four touchdowns, but he has thrown eight interceptions. Still, they’ve had some success through the air with Matt Clements and Miquel Paschal as the main targets.
· Kapaun Mt. Carmel (4-2) – The Crusaders also haven’t posted any victories against teams with winning records. However, Kapaun has shown it can compete with some of the better teams in the state. The Crusaders lost 28-6 to Wichita Northwest in Week 1 and hung with rival Bishop Carroll 20-13 this past week.
· Ark City (4-2) – Like Andover Central, the Bulldogs haven’t beat any teams with winning records. Plus, they enter district competition on a bit of a down note as they have lost their past two games two McPherson and Wellington.
· Andover (1-5) – The Trojans not only have been unable to win a game the past three weeks, they also have been unable to get on the scoreboard. The past three weeks, Andover has been shut out by Maize, Derby and Goddard.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Kapaun at Arkansas City; (Wk 8) Arkansas City at Andover Central; (Wk 9) Andover Central at Kapaun
Winner: Kapaun Mt. Carmel
Runner-up: Andover Central
· Bishop Carroll (5-1) – Carroll's only loss is a 45-14 Week 1 loss to Wichita Heights, ranked No. 1 in Class 6A and the defending 6A state champion. Carroll has outscored opponents 197-96. Last year, Carroll lost 21-14 to Hutchinson in district play, but beat the Salthawks 21-0 in the playoffs en route to a state runner-up showing.
· Hutchinson (5-1) – The Salthawks lost to Rockhurst (Mo.) 35-20 in Week 1 and have rolled through their schedule since. Hutchinson has scored at least 34 points against each Kansas team. None of the wins are closer than 18 points. Trevor Turner has passed for 477 yards and rushed for 724 yards. Ja'mon Cotton has 928 yards and 17 scores.
· Liberal (1-5) – The Redskins posted a winless season in the WAC under first-year coach Cliff Abbott. Opponents have outscored the Redskins 206-133.
· Wichita West (1-5) – The Pioneers have struggled mightily for many years, including a 6-27 record under fifth-year coach Heath Henderson. Wichita West has lost its five games by a combined score of 262-95. To be competitive, the Pioneers will rely on Arnez Jones who carried 47 times for 254 yards in their Week 6 win over Wichita North.
Key Games: (Wk 9) Hutchinson at Bishop Carroll
Runner-up: Bishop Carroll