By By John Baetz, Matt Gilmore, Conor Nicholl, Mark Schremmer for Kpreps.com
Posted: October 14, 2012 - 10:11 PM
Week three is already upon us and this edition of The Pick List features a top five showdown in the Sunflower League as defending 6A champ Olathe South travels to Free State.
Another pair of Class 6A’s top tier programs will do battle out west as Wichita Heights travels to Dodge City.
And finally we’ll look at a pair of good match-ups featuring 3A teams as Sacred Heart travels to Sedgwick, and second-ranked Scott City hosts Holcomb.
Each Thursday throughout the regular season, The Pick List will feature six of the best match-ups across the state, and we will make our predictions on a handful of other games.
Feature Games of the Week:
6A #3 Olathe South (2-0) at 6A #5 Lawrence Free State (2-0)
A top five battle in Class 6A will go down in Lawrence as No. 3 Olathe South travels to take on No. 5 Lawrence Free State with the winner getting an early jump on the Sunflower League title.
After opening with a 37-0 shutout of Olathe Northwest in Week 1, Free State got a good win over Shawnee Mission West last week. Firebird quarterback Kyle McFarland (6-3, 195) rushed for 151 yards, passed for 161 yards and a touchdown, and picked off two passes on defense in the 28-14 win over the Vikings.
McFarland, an all league performer a year ago, is surrounded by talent on offense including T.J. Cobbs and Tye Hughes. Cobbs has already contributed 160 yards on the ground and three touchdowns, while Hughes is the main receiving threat for the Firebirds.
On the other hand, Olathe South survived the rain in a 6-0 win over Olathe East to open the season, and rolled Shawnee Mission North a week ago.
Russell White is emerging as the Falcons main answer at running back after rushing for more than 200 yards and two scores in the first two weeks. Quarterback Frankie Seurer is a proven winner that can pick apart a defense if needed.
The Falcons will rely on their physical style of play and their top player up front in junior Braden Smith. Smith (6-6, 275) is a force on both sides of the ball as he posted double-digit tackles a week ago and has already registered a pair of sacks.
The Falcon defense will have to slow down the Firebird spread, but Remington Whitley, Chase Hansen and company should be up to the challenge.
Our Pick: Olathe South 32, Free State 24 (Gilmore)
Wichita Heights (1-1) at Class 6A #4 Dodge City (2-0)
The Wichita Heights Falcons had a tough start to the season, falling 47-16 to Bishop Carroll in Week 1. However, the Falcons bounced back with a 55-7 win at Wichita South this past Friday.
Heights played in the past three Class 6A state championship games and won in 2010, but graduated most of the key players from those teams.
With a tough early schedule, the Falcons are being forced to grow up fast. Carroll is the top-ranked team in Class 5A, and now Heights will travel to face 6A’s fourth-ranked Dodge City Red Demons.
Heights quarterback Chris Reed appears to be growing in to the position as he scored four touchdowns in the win over South.
But the Falcons must do a better job protecting the football. The Falcons have committed seven turnovers after the first two games.
Improving in this area will be crucial for Heights as Dodge City is good at forcing teams to turn the ball over. The Red Demons have caused nine turnovers in big wins over Wichita Southeast and Wichita Northwest.
Quarterback Kelan Newton leads the offense for Dodge City, completing 19 of 26 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns in the 31-14 win against Northwest. He leads a Red Demon offense that features eight returning starters from a year ago, including 1,000-yard rusher Parker Davis (6-0, 205) who has verbally committed to Air Force.
Our Pick: Dodge City 28, Wichita Heights 21 (Schremmer)
Fort Scott (2-0) at Pittsburg (2-0)
For the second consecutive season, unbeaten Fort Scott will travel down to Hutchinson Field to take on rival Pittsburg.
The Tigers first two games of the season couldn’t have gone any different. Fort Scott rushed for nearly 350 yards in a 65-7 blowout of Parsons in Week 1. Senior Marques Floyd led the Tigers in that game with 138 yards and three touchdowns on only five carries.
But last week, the Tigers found themselves in a battle with former SEK League member Columbus. Floyd sprained an ankle in the first half, and two other Tigers were out with injuries. Bob Camptell’s team perservered, as they have so many times before, with a 35-32 double-overtime win. Senior quarterback Jonathan Stark hit Straton Hunzicker on a 10-yard touchdown for the winning score after the Titans had settled for a field goal in their second overtime possession.
Now the Tigers must take on a Purple Dragon team that has been rolling under second-year coach Tom Nickelson.
Pittsburg opened with a 49-15 thrashing of Labette County in Week 1, then overcame a touchdown on the opening kickoff last week against Independence to blast the Bulldogs 50-13.
The story for Pittsburg thus far has been running back-linebacker Alex Barnes. All the sophomore has done thus far is rush for 337 yards and seven touchdowns in the first two games while averaging nearly 19 yards per carry. Barnes (6-1, 192) benefits from having three returning starters back on the offensive line, and a pair of good blocking backs in front of him in Anthony McNeeley and Nick Vacca.
The Purple Dragon defense is also led by Barnes who registered a team-high 97 tackles as a freshman a year ago.
As whenever these two rivals hook up, a crowd of purple and red will fill Hutchinson Field on Friday night. The series has produced some close games of late as three of the past five meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less. But Fort Scott hasn’t beaten Pittsburg since 2004, and expect the Dragons to extend their streak to eight straight wins over the Tigers.
Our Pick: Pittsburg 34, Fort Scott 22 (Gilmore)
Holcomb (2-0) at 3A #2 Scott City (2-0)
After finishing the 2011 season at 7-3 and returning eight starters, perhaps the Holcomb Longhorns deserved more preseason respect. The Longhorns clearly have the attention of 3A's second-ranked Scott City Beavers after Holcomb opened the season with a 28-27 victory over 2-1A's then top-ranked Meade Buffaloes. Scott City will play host to the boys from Finney County this Friday.
To prove that season-opening win over Meade was not a fluke, the Longhorns looked impressive in last week's dismantling of Hugoton in a game that was not as close as the final score indicates. The Longhorns led Hugoton 41-6 in the fourth quarter before the second-team allowed the Eagles 20 points to close out the game.
While the Longhorns have looked impressive, do they have enough to challenge a Scott City team that appears on a mission after an early 2011 playoff exit?
The Beavers opened the season with a dominant victory over a solid 4A team on the road in Abilene, and last week nearly blanked league foe Colby in a 47-7 win.
The Beavers are led by returning starting quarterback - and coach's son - Brett O'Neil who is one of the state's most efficient passers, rarely throwing an interception. Last week he fed his speedy running back Dalton Buehler to the tune of 224 yards rushing. Buehler, who credited the blocking of his teammates for the performance, scored on runs of 58, 39, 19 and 62 yards.
The Beaver defense is led by linebacker Drew Kite and a host of physical defensive linemen.
For Holcomb, diminutive quarterback Tyler LaSalle (5-10, 150) accounted for almost 2,000 yards of offense last season. In last week's win over Hugoton, LaSalle rushed for 128 yards while passing for over 100 more.
Defensive ends Shane Bennett and Max Ramsey provide a formidable pair of bookends for Holcomb with Bennett standing 6-4 and weighing 220 pounds and Ramsey going 6-2, 220.
Our Pick: Scott City 36, Holcomb 14 (Baetz)
Sacred Heart (2-0) at Sedgwick (2-0)
This match-up features a pair of undefeated 3A teams that have made consistent progress under their current coaches.
Sixth-year coach Jeff Werner has built the Sedgwick Cardinals into a 3A power, but questions marks surrounded the 2012 team after losing of one of the state's top players last season to graduation in quarterback Trent Stucky. The versatile Stucky piled up over 3,000 yards of total offense while leading the Cardinals to a 10-1 record and a playoff victory.
Under third-year head coach Bruce Graber the Knights of Sacred Heart appear poised to have a breakout year with 14 starters back from a team that went 5-5 and 6-4 the past two seasons.
The Cardinals are led by seven returning starters including the running back/linebacker duo of Logan Thompson (6-2, 225) and Dalton Brandt (5-9, 175). Brandt, a junior, earned all-league honors as a running back last season while Thompson, a senior, earned recognition for his work as a linebacker. Thompson accounted for five touchdowns in last week's blowout of Marion, scoring rushing, receiving and defensive touchdowns in the win.
For the Knights the offense goes through speedy running back Drew Diederich and junior quarterback Nick Wuthnow. Diederich rushed for 1,000 yards last season from his running back spot while Wuthnow accounted for almost 1,400 yards of total offense last year as a sophomore. Sacred Heart d-back Tony Chavez, also a standout basketball player, is one of the best in Kansas, last year intercepting six passes. The Knights also have a special weapon in kicker Tymony Bonilla, one of the best kickers in Kansas.
Both teams looked spectacular in week one handily defeating quality opponents. Sacred Heart dominated recent 3A contender Hutch Trinity, 42-7, while Sedgwick dispatched 2-1A power Olpe, 35-7. The two teams posted dominant wins against struggling teams last week.
Our Pick: Sacred Heart 28, Sedgwick 21 (Baetz)
Hodgeman County (1-1) at WaKeeney-Trego (2-0)
WaKeeney-Trego finished 3-6 last season, but improved as the season went along. The Eagles return a bevy of athletic, experienced skill players, including quarterback John Griffith, running backs Devon Ghumm and Cameron Staples, and end Clayton Riedel. The explosive playmakers have helped Trego outscore its two opponents 126-44. It marks the first back-to-back victories for the Golden Eagles since Sept. 28-Oct. 5, 2007.
Griffith, in his third year as a starter, is 4 of 9 passing for 96 yards with two touchdowns against no interceptions, with 105 rushing yards and two scores. Ghumm has rushed for 264 yards and seven TDs on 20 carries, while Staples has 474 yards on 45 carries and seven scores.
In Staples’ last seven games – a stretch where the Golden Eagles are 5-2 – he has delivered impressive numbers with 183 carries for 1,591 yards and 24 scores.
Hodgeman County lost to Fowler, 29-26, but came back with a 46-0 victory against Ashland last week.
The Longhorns have defeated Trego 54-6 and 46-12 the last two seasons. The Longhorns feature 14 players, including nine seniors, with starting experience from a 5-3 team last season.
Staples has virtually been impossible to stop and the Golden Eagles’ talented quartet has delivered points in bunches. That should be the difference in a high scoring game.
Our Pick: WaKeeney-Trego 56, Hodgeman County 30 (Nicholl)
The Pick List:
Garden City (1-1) at Great Bend (2-0) – Great Bend
Salina South (1-1) at 5A #3 Blue Valley (1-1) – Blue Valley
Basehor-Linwood (1-1) at Mill Valley (1-1) – Mill Valley
5A #5 St. Thomas Aquinas (2-0) at Salina Central (1-1) -- Aquinas
McPherson (1-1) at Rose Hill (0-2) – Rose Hill
Plainville (1-0) at Norton (2-0) -- Plainville
Washington Co. (1-1) at 2-1A #5 Centralia (2-0) -- Centralia
8M-II #3 Otis-Bison (2-0) at Hoxie (1-1) – Otis-Bison
Victoria (1-1) at 8M-I #1 Ness City (2-0) – Ness City
Pretty Prairie (2-0) vs 8M-II #1 Baileyville B&B (2-0) – Baileyville B&B