Tuesday Playoff Preview
Photos by: David Jackson, Matt Gilmore, Everett Royer, Julie Kuhlmann
By contributing: John Baetz, Matt Gilmore, Conor Nicholl, and Mark Schremmer
Posted: November 1, 2011 - 12:42 AM
4A East: Louisburg (4-5) at Fort Scott (8-1)
The defending 4A champion Louisburg Wildcats open their state title defense with a trip south on Highway 69 to Fort Scott.
Louisburg finished the regular season 4-5 after losing 21 seniors off of last season’s championship team. But make no mistake about it, the Wildcats have been tested in the tough Frontier League.
In fact, Louisburg played a stretch of three consecutive one-point games this season – a 14-13 win over Silver Lake and two heartbreaking losses to DeSoto and Baldwin.
Senior running back Garrett Griffin (6-4, 210) made sure there wasn’t a fourth as he rushed for 323 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-14 win over Spring Hill to break that streak of close games.
Meanwhile at Fort Scott, the Tigers are back to their old ways in Bob Campbell’s second season back on the sidelines. Fort Scott finished 6-4 last season, falling 34-14 to Paola in the first round.
This year Fort Scott is much improved having posted an eight-win season that saw their only setback come 27-14 at Pittsburg in Week 6.
Jonathan Stark is solid in directing the split-back veer offense, and backs Jason Thorpe and Dane Cummings have scored 17 and 16 touchdowns, respectively.
The Tiger defense has been a strength allowing just 12 points per game, but they’ll face their biggest test of the season in stopping Griffin.
Louisburg 20, Fort Scott 14
4A East: DeSoto (6-3) at Eudora (8-1)
The Eudora Cardinals have been on a roll as of late. They have won seven consecutive games since falling 17-13 to St. James Academy in Week 2. Plus, the Cardinals already beat DeSoto 8-0 in Week 4.
However, Eudora will be facing a DeSoto Wildcats team that is fresh off a 41-34 victory against St. James, the only team to beat the Cardinals this year.
DeSoto junior Alex Pruss scored three touchdowns in the win against St. James that was tied at halftime but saw both offenses bust loose in the second half.
Eudora’s offense is centered around the running game and features senior Chris Pyle, who has rushed for 1,436 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Pyle has rushed for more than 140 yards in each of his past four games, including a 416-yard performance against Ottawa in Week 8.
However, DeSoto limited Pyle to 17 yards on only five carries in the teams’ previous meeting. In that game, Eudora quarterback Derek Webb led the way with 99 rushing yards on 24 carries. Junior Gabe Cleveland contributed 89 yards on 15 carries and the game’s only touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Eudora 14, DeSoto 6
4A West: #2 Holton (8-1) at #4 Rose Hill (8-1)
It’s unfortunate that match-ups of this magnitude have to happen so early in the playoffs. Second-ranked Holton travels to Rose Hill to open the 4A playoffs for the second consecutive season.
After falling 20-14 in Week 8 on a late Topeka Hayden touchdown, Holton struggled a bit with Royal Valley last week. The Wildcats led 21-14 entering the fourth quarter before putting the Panthers away with two late touchdowns.
Holton’s traditional wishbone rushing attack is just as diverse this season with six backs having rushed for more than 300 yards, and 15 different players scoring rushing touchdowns.
On defense the Wildcats are led by a pair of the state’s best linebackers in Rob Riederer and Trent Tanking who both average double-digit tackles per game.
Rose Hill may be a bit of a surprise this season after losing talented back LaQua Mayes to graduation, but Derrick Decker is a dual threat at quarterback and junior Jonny Pearson has developed into a big-play back.
Pearson has rushed for 1,271 yards and 21 touchdowns this season. Meanwhile Decker, an imposing quarterback at 6-5, 215 pounds, has accounted for 1,600 yards of total offense with an almost even split of rushing and passing.
Last season the Wildcats traveled to Rose Hill and escaped with a 32-25 first-round win on their way to a state runner-up finish. Brooks Barta’s group will try and use this game as spring board for another state title run.
Holton 32, Rose Hill 20
4A West: Hesston (7-2) at Concordia (8-1)
Only one-point separates Concordia from regular season perfection as the Panthers dropped a week four matchup with an unbeaten Abilene squad 17-16.
A senior heavy Concordia squad has produced its second consecutive 8-1 regular season for third-year coach Tim Lambert.
The rematch with Hesston gives Concordia an opportunity to avenge a disappointing 21-14 playoff loss to the Swathers last season in which Hesston scored with two minutes left to go ahead and then secured the victory with an interception on the 10-yard line.
For Hesston, the anticipated return of Kyle Perry is crucial. The senior running back sustained a concussion in a week eight district loss to Abilene, and sat out last week against Chapman. Perry leads the Central Kansas League with his 1,362 rushing yards.
Concordia 24, Hesston 14
The rest of our 4A first-round picks:
Perry-Lecompton (7-2) at KC Piper (6-3)
Baldwin (6-3) at Blue Valley Southwest (4-5)
Anderson County (5-4) at Paola (8-1)
Columbus (3-6) at Parsons (7-2)
Hiawatha (3-6) at #5 Basehor-Linwood (9-0)
Chanute (6-3) at Coffeyville (6-3)
Towanda Circle (2-7) at #1 Topeka Hayden (8-1)
Maize South (5-4) at Mulvane (7-2)
Holcomb (7-2) at #3 Buhler (9-0)
Clay Center (4-5) at Abilene (9-0)
Clearwater (8-1) at Andale (4-5)
Pratt (4-5) at Ulysses (8-1)
3A East: Galena (6-3) at Neodesha (8-1)
CNC champion Galena returns to the playoffs after a one-year absence with a trip to Neodesha to take on the 8-1 Blue Streaks.
Beau Sarwinski’s Bulldogs returned eight starters on each side of the ball this season, but took a big hit when starting quarterback Tyler VanCleave was lost for the season to a knee injury in Week 1.
Since that time, sophomore Nick Sivert has stepped up and played well. Sivert has thrown for more than 700 yards and seven touchdowns. He has plenty of weapons on offense, including 6-4, 240-pound Zach Gougler at tight-end.
Galena’s bread and butter is their Wing-T offense which has featured good production from backs Tylor Albright (685 yards), Trenton Little (538 yards), and Jacob Helton (390 yards).
Neodesha is another experienced team with 16 returning starters from last season’s run to the second-round of the 3A playoffs.
The Blue Streaks also lost their starting quarterback Jake Scott in a Week 1 win over Frontenac. Since then, Jake Crawford has led the Neodesha rushing attack which has helped the Streaks average more than 30 points per game.
Galena 26, Neodesha 20
3A East: Sabetha (5-4) at Riley County (7-2)
The Riley County Falcons have lost only two games, and those two losses were close games to two of the best 3A programs in the state in Rossville and Silver Lake. In addition, the Falcons were dealing with injuries at the time. Other than those two losses, Riley County has beaten everyone else by two touchdowns or more.
Riley County has scored 33 points or more in six of its games this season, but it was the defense that came up for the Falcons on Thursday against Rock Creek. Riley County tallied three interceptions in the 34-14 win to give coach Steve Wagner his 200th career victory.
Sabetha’s only victory against a team that finished the regular season with a winning record was against a 5-4 Royal Valley team in Week 3.
The Blue Jays fell 28-7 to Seneca-Nemaha Valley in Week 5. The Falcons beat Nemaha Valley 35-7 in Week 7.
Riley County 35, Sabetha 7
3A West: Garden Plain (8-1) at Southeast of Saline (8-1)
The Southeast of Saline Trojans have quietly stormed through their 2011 schedule with only a 10-point week six loss to Beloit tarnishing an otherwise perfect season.
The Trojans have averaged almost 46 points per game in finishing District 9 champion and North Central Activities Association runner-up.
SES is led by senior running back Brock Long who has rushed for over 1,000 yards on the season and is joined by senior quarterback Nathan Peterson who has rushed and passed for 1,000 yards each in one of the best dual-threat seasons by a Kansas QB.
Garden Plain overcame distraction in week nine to emerge as the District 10 runner-up in one of the state's toughest districts featuring four teams that finished a combined 29-7.
Joey Capul rushed for nearly 200 yards in the Owls' 44-38 victory over Halstead last week, just one game removed from a 28-21 loss to undefeated Sedgwick which knocked the Owls from the top ranking in the Kpreps.com poll.
Southeast has had an excellent season under second year coach Mitch Gebhardt, but in the Trojans only other game featuring a team that had achieved a top five ranking the Trojans lost 22-12.
Garden Plain 28, Southeast of Saline 21
3A West: Beloit (7-2) at Sterling (7-2)
In a battle of two teams with identical records, the Beloit Trojans will go on the road to play an improved Sterling squad that went 6-4 last year and 3-7 in 2009.
The Black Bears are led by three-year starters Seth Humphreys at quarterback and Bryant Patterson at running back. Patterson leads the team with 518 yards rushing and averages 8.36 yards per carry.
In their seven wins the Beloit Trojans have been spectacular averaging 56 points a game and scoring 60 or more in four of those wins, but in losses to Concordia and Smith Center the vaunted Trojan double wing could muster only one touchdown each.
Beloit is still smarting from the week six loss of talented sophomore Jadon Adams to an unspecified head injury, but have the Black Bears improved enough to pull off the home upset?
Beloit 36 , Sterling 20
The rest of our 3A first-round picks:
Leon-Bluestem (3-6) at Caney Valley (9-0)
Central Heights (5-4) Erie (5-4)
Rossville (8-1) at Osage City (6-3)
Rock Creek (6-3) at Effingham-Atchison County (8-1)
Frontenac (5-4) at Wellsville (9-0)
Council Grove (3-6) at #3 Silver Lake (8-1)
Medicine Lodge (4-5) at Wichita Collegiate (7-2)
Lakin (4-5) at Phillipsburg (6-2)
Hillsboro (5-4) at #5 Sedgwick (9-0)
Douglass (5-4) at #2 Conway Springs (8-1)
Ellsworth (6-3) at #4 Smith Center (7-1)
Goodland (5-4) at #1 Scott City (9-0)
Class 8-Man – Division I
8M-I East: Chetopa (6-3) at Central Burden (8-1)
These two teams probably couldn’t have asked for a more favorable match-up in the first round.
Chetopa and Central Burden are two teams that are very similar in offensive styles in that they excel in spreading the field and throwing the ball.
And both have the personnel to do so.
Chetopa junior quarterback Dylan Price has completed 66 percent of his passes this season for 1,875 yards and 25 touchdowns.
His counterpart, Bo Savage, is the most prolific quarterback in Kansas 8 Man history. Savage has also completed 66 percent of his passes this season in throwing for 2,051 yards and 49 touchdowns with only three interceptions.
Both teams also feature outstanding receivers. Chetopa’s is senior Tyler Pike who has 68 receptions for 1,307 yards and 15 touchdowns. Pike already has a 20-reception game this season.
The Raiders feature senior Ky Biddle who has 51 receptions for 951 yards and 22 scores. Savage also has the option of throwing to John White who has caught 32 passes for 609 yards and 14 scores, and his younger brother Cody Savage who has 24 receptions for 312 yards and 12 scores.
The rushing attacks may play second fiddle, but are still explosive.
Price is the Green Hornets’ leading rusher with more than 700 yards and seven scores, while Justice Riddle has added 500 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Biddle is Central Burden’s main threat on the ground with 625 yards and four touchdowns.
Common sense would tell us that this will be a high-scoring, pass-happy affair that may not end until some time mid-morning on Wednesday.
Central Burden 56, Chetopa 34
8M-I East: #2 Lebo (8-1) at #3 Lakeside-Downs (9-0)
Lebo’s only loss was 50-44 overtime defeat to Madison, ranked No. 1 in Eight-Man, Division II.
First-year Lebo coach Troy McArthur has helped the Wolves outscore opponents 396-136. They have four shutouts and several close victories, including a 42-34 victory against White City, and a 40-22 win over St. Paul.
Lakeside senior quarterback Alex Renken has completed 49 of 80 passes for 792 yards with 14 touchdowns against one interception for the No. 3 Knights.
Senior running back Miles Thomas has 119 carries for 1,355 yards and 24 touchdowns for a team that has outscored opponents 510-80. Last year, Lebo defeated Lakeside 50-42 in the first round of the playoffs.
Lakeside 42, Lebo 40
8M-I West: Ness City (8-1) at #5 Macksville (9-0)
The Eagles have been impressive under second year coach Chris Bamberger scoring 436 points on offense, but perhaps more impressive has been their defense which allowed only 64 points total in their eight wins, including five games with one touchdown or less.
The Eagle D does have questions though as they allowed 72 points in a week eight loss to undefeated South Gray.
Macksville has rolled to 9-0 largely behind their passing offense fueled by the arm of senior quarterback Seth Filbert. Filbert has completed 135 of 201 passing attempts for 1,992 yards with 27 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
But the Mustangs have defensive questions of their own allowing 20 or more points in six games this year including 40 and 32 points in their final two district contests.
In early season contests with common opponent Victoria, Macksville emerged with a 34-32 victory while Ness City beat the Knights 22-6.
Macksville 40, Ness City 36
8M-I West: Pretty Prairie (8-1) at South Gray (8-0)
South Gray returns to the state playoffs for the first time since 2006 as the Rebels host Pretty Prairie. The Rebels have posted winning records in each of the past four seasons, but have come up short in qualifying for the playoffs.
Not this season as South Gray has rolled to an 8-0 start behind a talented pair of athletes in the backfield.
Coulter Croft and Wyatt Slaven are both capable of producing big numbers for the Rebel offense as evidenced by their performance two weeks ago against unbeaten Ness City.
Croft rushed for 231 yards and three touchdowns; only to be topped by Slaven’s 292-yard, seven-touchdown performance. The Rebels broke open a close game at halftime to blowout Ness City, 72-40. The week prior, Croft rushed for 232 yards and six scores in a win over Deerfield. The Rebel offense can score – averaging 50 points per game.
But South Gray will face a difficult test in Pretty Prairie.
The Bulldogs lost a lot of talent off of last season’s state quarterfinal team, but C.T. Young’s team has responded with an eight-win season in which they’ve beaten opponents by an average of 45-16.
This should be a great first-round match-up.
South Gray 34 , Pretty Prairie 26
The rest of our 8 Man-I first-round picks:
Mankato-Rock Hills (7-2) at #1 Madison (9-0)
Udall (7-2) at Marmaton Valley (6-2)
Little River (7-2) at Osborne (8-1)
Quinter (6-3) at Central Plains (8-1)
Class 8-Man – Division II
8M-II East: Frankfort (6-2) at Hope (9-0)
After emerging from the powerful Twin Valley League with only one loss the Frankfort Wildcats appeared poised to challenge Otis-Bison in a neutral site, non-district game last week. But appearances were deceiving as the Cougars, last year's 8-Man II state runner-up, improved to 8-1 with a 66-20 win that wasn't as close as the score indicated.
For Hope it's another season, another playoff trip as the Lions improved to 9-0 and qualified for their 18th postseason in the last 19 years.
But the Lions strength of schedule is not on par with the Wildcats TVL slate witnessed by their contest with Linn, a game Hope won 42-32 in week five while Frankfort beat the Bulldogs 50-28 in week two.
Frankfort's offensive line is huge and the backfield features multiple threats but Hope has a number of speedy athletes and a tradition of excellence that could just be enough to help them advance in the playoffs.
Hope 30, Frankfort 24
8M-II East: South Barber (7-2) at Waverly (8-1)
South Barber will make the 200-plus mile trip to Waverly for a first-round game against the 8-1 Bulldogs.
The Chieftains are back in the playoffs after a one-year absence last season, while Waverly is making a fourth consecutive trip to the postseason.
South Barber features a wide-open offense under the direction of senior quarterback Micah Polson. Polson has put up big numbers this season in distributing the ball to running back Blake Wagenbach and 6-5, tight-end Luke Yearout.
The Chieftains have averaged 45 points per game, while surrendering just 13.5 points per contest.
Waverly, on the other hand, features a talented dual-threat quarterback of its own in Tanner Sipe. Sipe has thrown for more than 900 yards and 14 touchdowns, while adding nearly 600 yards and 12 scores on the ground.
The Bulldog offense centers around senior back Kyle Henry who has rushed for 1,198 yards and 23 touchdowns this season.
Waverly has surrendered more than 28 points per game on defense, including 35 per contest over their last four games. That trend cannot continue against the Chieftains on Tuesday night.
South Barber 38, Waverly 22
8M-II West: Sharon Springs (8-1) at #2 Thunder Ridge (9-0)
Thunder Ridge, ranked No. 2 in Eight-Man, Division II, was expected to be one of the west’s top teams when the season started and has played up to its top billing throughout the fall.
The Longhorns have delivered six shutouts, including five in a row to finish the season.
Thunder Ridge senior running back Joel Struckhoff broke the all-time eight-man rushing yards and tied the eight-man total touchdowns record in a victory Thursday.
Struckhoff has 135 carries for 1,611 yards and 31 rushing touchdowns this fall. He has cleared 116 rushing yards in every game this season.
Thunder Ridge ranks No. 1 in eight-man scoring defense with 30 points allowed.
Sharon Springs reached the playoffs for the sixth straight season under coach Kevin Ayers. The Wildcats saw a three-win improvement from 5-5 to 8-1 this fall.
Sharon Springs junior quarterback Gavin Mote has completed 27-of-52 passes with 468 yards with 10 touchdowns and one interception. He has also rushed 98 times for 657 yards and 11 scores.
Last year, Thunder Ridge defeated Sharon Springs 76-42 in the first round of the playoffs. Sharon Springs is a much stronger team than last season, but Thunder Ridge has more elite talent and is a deeper team.
Thunder Ridge 56, Sharon Springs 20
8M-II West: Victoria (5-4) at Cheylin (8-1)
Last year, Cheylin was one of the state’s surprises when they improved from 3-6 to 10-1. Then, they lost a big senior class, but they remained one of the state’s top squads with an 8-1 record.
Senior Jeremiah White, arguably the northwest Kansas’ biggest individual surprise, had less than 150 rushing yards in 2010. This year, White has 200 carries for 1,779 yards and 29 scores.
Victoria has lost four games to playoff qualifying teams that finished the regular season with a 34-2 record.
Junior running back Dalton Dreiling leads the team with 95 carries for 985 yards. Senior quarterback Corey Dinkel has rushed 89 times for 523 yards, while sophomore Clayton Roth has tacked on 519 yards on 46 carries.
Dreiling has five 100-yard performances, while Dinkel, the fourth different starting quarterback in as many years for the Knights, has two. Last year, Cheylin defeated Victoria 56-6 in the first round, still the worst loss of the six-year Doug Oberle era.
Cheylin 35, Victoria 32
The rest of our 8 Man-II first-round picks:
Linn (4-4) at #1 Baileyville B&B (8-0)
Centre-Lost Springs (3-5) at #5 South Haven (9-0)
Moscow (8-1) at #3 Otis-Bison (8-1)
Chase (6-2) at #4 Ashland (8-0)