By John Baetz, Matt Gilmore, Conor Nicholl, Mark Schremmer
Posted: October 14, 2012 - 10:14 PM
Welcome to the 2012 football season and our first addition of The Pick List. Each Thursday throughout the regular season, we will feature six of the best match-ups across the state, and make our predictions on a handful of other games.
We open the season with a pair of games featuring teams ranked in our Kpreps Top 5 in their respective classifications.
Highlighting the Week 1 action is the match-up of the state’s top ranked 8-Man teams as Baileyville B&B takes on Madison.
In the Eastern Kansas League, 5A’s second-ranked Blue Valley Tigers travel to take on new 6A member and fourth-ranked Gardner-Edgerton. The game is an early season rematch of last season’s 5A state semifinal.
We’ll also preview two more defending state champions who begin their title defense with difficult league opponents.
Rose Hill, unranked in our preseason 4A poll, travels to take on fifth-ranked Buhler; while Olathe South opens their 6A title defense by hosting Olathe East in yet another rematch of a 2011 state semifinal.
Feature Games of the Week:
Olathe East at 6A #3 Olathe South
Two teams expected to be among the top three in the Sunflower League will kick off the 2012 season on Friday night as Olathe East takes on defending 6A champion Olathe South at the Olathe District Activity Center (ODAC).
The Falcons defeated the Hawks twice last season on their way to claiming the 6A crown. In both meetings, Olathe South used its powerful offensive line to rush for more than 400 yards against Olathe East.
While most of that offensive line graduated, perhaps the best piece remains in junior tackle Braden Smith (6-6, 285). Smith is listed among the top players in the nation for 2014 by several recruiting services, and has already received offers from at least 15 Division 1 programs.
Coach Jeff Gourley’s Wing-T offense may see a bit of a transition this season as graduated is the running back duo of Jordan Ward and Teddy Colbert. The two combined for nearly 2,800 yards rushing and 33 TD last fall. In fact it was Ward who gashed Olathe East for more than 200 yards rushing in the second half alone of the state semifinal win.
Instead, Olathe South will rely on veteran signal caller Frankie Seurer to direct the offense. Seurer threw for nearly 1,600 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, and is now 19-5 as a starting quarterback. He will look to offensive weapon Matt Elliot who is coming off of a 560 yard three-touchdown junior season.
South’s other strength may be on defense as a pair of good linebackers return in Remington Whitley and Chase Hanson. Whitley was a Kpreps Class 6A All-State selection after posting 162 tackles, three sacks, and four interceptions.
Hanson and defensive back Dylan DeVries each added more than 100 tackles last season.
Olathe East must also fill some big holes.
On offense, the Hawks graduated John Kelsh who rushed for nearly 1,300 yards last season. Senior Hayden Frazier should be ready to step in after rushing for nearly 500 yards and seven scores a year ago.
Quarterback John Blazevic returns under center after throwing for 811 yards and seven touchdowns. The Hawks return two starters on the offensive line in Matt Gorby and Zach Williams.
Olathe East coach Jeff Meyers has had to rebuild before. He is 148-56 in his 20 seasons at Olathe East and the Hawks have posted at least eight wins in seven out of the past eight seasons.
Our Pick: Olathe South 27, Olathe East 17 (Gilmore)
5A #2 Blue Valley at 6A #4 Gardner-Edgerton
An early showdown in the Eastern Kansas League highlights the Week 1 schedule as Blue Valley travels to Gardner-Edgerton. The two teams have become quite familiar over the past two seasons; meeting twice each year in Week 9 and later in the state semifinals. The Blue Valley Tigers have won three of four of those meetings including a 34-14 decision last fall in the 5A state semifinal.
While Gardner-Edgerton’s jump to Class 6A has caused this meeting to move to the front of the schedule, the significance still remains.
Blue Valley is trying to rebuild from a 5A state runner up finish a year ago. Always a factor in their classification, this year’s Tigers face the challenge of replacing several talented players including quarterback Kyle Zimmerman and running back Justin Fulks.
Back to help ease the pain of graduation is Kpreps All-State offensive lineman Clay Rhodes (6-6, 270). Rhodes, a University of Missouri commit, will anchor the offensive line along with tight-end Andrew Reinkemeyer (6-4, 215).
On defense, the Tigers return some experience in the secondary with safety Cole Combes and defensive back Ryan McNerlin.
Their challenge will be to try and slow down the high-powered Gardner-Edgerton offense.
At the beginning of the 2011 season, all the questions surrounding Marvin Deiner’s team surrounded how they replace one of the state’s all-time best athletes in Bubba Starling.
Enter Traevohn Wrench.
All Wrench did during his sophomore campaign was rush for 2,434 yards and 34 touchdowns. He and classmate Jared Hobby now are a year stronger and more comfortable in the Trailblazer offense.
Hobby threw for 1,175 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, but could put up even bigger numbers this fall as defense gear up to try and slow down Wrench.
On defense, Gardner-Edgerton will be led by a three-year starter in linebacker Matt Plank (6-2, 210). Plank is coming off a solid junior season where he logged 76 tackles and earned Kpreps All-State honors.
The Trailblazers seemingly have more experience back which bodes well for this early season showdown.
Our Pick: Gardner-Edgerton 34 , Blue Valley 27 (Gilmore)
Rose Hill at Class 4A #5 Buhler
The football season begins with a bang in Class 4A as two powerhouses from 2011 clash in Week 1. The defending state champion Rose Hill Rockets kick off things on the road against the fifth-ranked Buhler Crusaders. Rose Hill and Buhler combined for a 24-2 record a year ago, and the Rockets’ only loss was an 18-10 defeat at the hands of the Crusaders in the 2011 opener.
Both teams will be without several key players from last season. Rose Hill graduated the likes of All-State quarterback and defensive back Derrick Decker, All-State lineman Parker Whitney, standout back Easton Dockers, and All-State linebacker Cody Carlson. Buhler graduated All-State running back Tanner Fisher and All-State defensive back JP Lohrentz, while quarterback Chandler Shantz transferred to Derby.
However, the Rockets and Crusaders each possess talent, and both teams could make a run in 4A.
Rose Hill returns five starters on offense and one on defense from last year’s team that beat Eudora 21-0 for the state title. The offense will be led by senior running back Jonny Pearson (5-11, 155), who rushed for nearly 1,700 yards last year. The Rockets also return offensive linemen Cody Walther (6-3, 255, Sr.), Connor Campbell (6-3, 245, Sr.) and Michael Cleveland (6-2, 235, Sr.), as well as wide receiver Bret Waddel (6-4,190, Jr.). Free safety T.J. Slade (5-11, 165, Sr.) is the lone returning starter on defense.
Buhler, which ended the 2011 season with a 21-14 loss to Topeka Hayden in the quarterfinals, returns three starters on offense and four on defense. Speedster Riley Allen (6-0, 170, Jr.) replaces Fisher at running back, while offensive linemen Brandon Keeler (6-0, 220, Sr.) and Quenton Gould (5-10, 225, Sr.) should provide some good blocking up front.
In Week 1, the home team may have the advantage. However, a turnover or one big play could quickly change the momentum.
Our Pick: Buhler 21, Rose Hill 14 (Schremmer)
Chanute at 4A #4 Mulvane
The Chanute Blue Comets and the Mulvane Wildcats each enter the season in great shape. You see, both teams will open Week 1 with an All-State honorable mention quarterback to lead their respective offenses.
Chanute senior quarterback Brock Gilmore (6-4, 215) passed or nearly 2,100 yards last season, and Blue Comets head coach Don Simmons said he expects to let Gilmore drop back even more this year.
Mulvane senior quarterback Ty Redington (6-1, 165) led the Wildcats’ spread attack to an 8-3 record last year. Redington passed for almost 2,300 yards last year.
Both quarterbacks also have good pieces around them.
The Blue Comets, who finished 8-4 after falling 20-13 to Eudora in the Class 4A quarterfinals, return four starters on offense and five on defense. Blake Kisner (6-0, 195, Sr.) returns after rushing for more than1,000 yards in 2011.
Mulvane, which was eliminated by Topeka Hayden in the second round of last year’s 4A playoffs, brings back seven starters on offense and six on defense. Four of the Wildcats’ starters return on the offensive line. Wide receivers Nolan Smith (6-0, 165,Sr.) and Alex Evans (6-0, 180, Sr.) give Redington some experienced targets.
If the offenses are clicking, this could be a high-scoring affair.
Our Pick: Mulvane 35, Chanute 28 (Schremmer)
3A #5 Beloit at Concordia
The Beloit Double Wing versus the Concordia Wishbone.
Mitchell County versus Cloud County.
A rivalry game at its best.
The third edition of the renewal of the Beloit/Concordia rivalry game will be played in Concordia and if the past two versions are any indication expect a low scoring defensive battle decided late in the game.
The Panthers are looking for their third straight victory over the Trojans after 12-6 and 18-6 wins inthe last two seasons. While the game should be eerily similar to the past, Concordia is missing key pieces, including graduated QB Blake Woellhof, and several big offensive linemen that could tip the game in Beloit's favor.
While the Trojans will miss the loss of Wyoming commit Jacob English, the Beloit interior will still be huge with Jake Barrett (6-1, 265), Dylan Heidrick (6-3, 215), Cadyn Carter (6-3, 195), Bryce Black (5-11, 265), and Austin Budke (6-5, 205) among the starters on the offensive and defensive fronts.
Junior QB Payton Vetter and senior fullback Stanten Krone - two of 3A's best - will lead the Trojan's run-heavy attack.
In one of the state's strongest rivalries this could be the year Beloit gets revenge, but not without a fight.
Our Pick: Beloit 22, Concordia 12 (Baetz)
8M-II #1 Baileyville B&B at 8M-I #1 Madison
You can’t ask for much more than this in the first week of the season. On Friday night, the two top programs – the Baileyville B&B Falcons and the Madison Bulldogs -- in their respective 8-Man division square off in Madison.
B&B, the top-ranked team in 8-Man Division II, returns four starters on each side of the ball from last year’s team that advanced to the state championship and finished 11-1 despite being decimated by injuries.
The Falcons will be led by quarterback Dustin Rottinghaus, who was thrust into playoff action as a sophomore. He will be protected by an experienced offensive line led by Curtis Stallbaumer (6-4, 220), Blake Reinecke (6-4, 190) and Jason Haverkamp (6-3, 190).
Madison, the top-ranked team in 8-Man Division II, returns four starters on offense and three on defense from last year’s 13-0 state championship team. The Bulldogs enter the season riding a 26-game winning streak after earning consecutive state titles.
The Bulldogs do lose a significant amount of talent with All-State performers Kole Schankie, Collin Kile and Bubba Smith all lost to graduation. Schankie, a running back and linebacker, rushed for 5,000 yards and 120 touchdowns in his career.
All is not lost, however. Like B&B, Madison also returns a strong nucleus upfront with lineman Nick Young (6-2, 290), Matthew Glazier (6-0, 185) and Hayden Serrer (5-10, 205). The backfield will feature Willie Derryberry (6-0, 175) and Dallas Thompson (6-0, 210), who both saw significant action last season.
Expect a big-time battle from these two small classification teams.
Our Pick: Madison 38, Baileyville B&B 35 (Schremmer)
The Pick List:
6A #2 Derby at Salina South – Derby
6A #1 Hutchinson at Salina Central – Hutchinson
Mill Valley at Manhattan – Manhattan
Great Bend at Hoisington – Great Bend
5A #5 Hays at Juntion City – Junction City
3A #2 Scott City at Abilene – Scott City
Wichita Collegiate at Andale -- Collegiate
DeSoto at 4A #2 Holton – Holton
2-1A #1 Meade at Holcomb – Meade
Smith Center at Norton – Norton
2-1A #3 LaCrosse at Ellis -- LaCrosse
Sedgwick at Olpe – Sedgwick
Waverly at Lebo – Lebo
8M-II #5 Chetopa at 8M-I #5 Marmaton Valley – Marmaton Valley
Mankato-Rock Hills at 8M-II #4 Thunder Ridge -- Thunder Ridge