By Mark Schremmer, Conor Nicholl, Matt Gilmore for Kpreps.com
Posted: October 14, 2012 - 10:22 PM
Through four weeks of the season, it’s hard to find a team that has been more dominant than Baileyville B&B. The Falcons opened as the top-ranked team in 8-Man, Division-II, but faced a stern test right off the bat in traveling to two-time defending 8-Man, Division-I champion Madison.
The Falcons responded by shutting out Madison in the second half en route to a 34-22 win.
B&B followed that up with convincing wins over traditionally strong Division-I programs in Quinter and Pretty Prairie.
District play should present another challenge as Frankfort is one of only six remaining unbeatens in Division-II, while rival Hanover sits at 3-1 and appears to be returning to past form.
The East side of Division II may not provide the same challenge as in past seasons, as only Waverly is state ranked besides the Falcons. Colony-Crest may also be a contender having one of the state’s best players in Kyle Hammond.
The West half of the bracket features second-ranked Sharon Springs-Wallace County. Coach Kevin Ayers' Wildcats carry a lot of experience and a strong defense that has surrendered only 11 points per game.
Otis-Bison will remain a factor as long as standout running back Dylan Wissman is on the field, and defending champion Thunder Ridge is gaining momentum after an early season loss to Mankato-Rock Hills. The Longhorns have won three straight and are ranked fifth in the Division-II poll.
• Baileyville B&B (4-0, 0-0 district) – After winning the battle of top-ranked 8-Man schools in Week 1 against Madison, the Falcons have cruised to three wins by a combined score of 149-8. Baileyville has been balanced, averaging166.3 passing yards and 176.7 rushing yards through its first three games. Led by quarterback Dustin Rottinghaus, the Falcons will try to advance to their fifth consecutive state championship game.
• Frankfort (3-0, 0-0 district) – The Wildcats open district competition with fresh legs as they come off a bye week. Frankfort boasts a strong running game, averaging 347.7 rushing yards per outing. Running backs Lucas Adams and Calahan Brown lead the way with 488 and 465 yards, respectively. Both players have rushed for more than 100 yards in each game.
• Hanover (3-1, 0-0 district) – The Wildcats’ only loss came to a solid Mankato-Rock Hills team. Hanover has scored 40 points or more in its other three games. In Week 3, Hanover bounced back from the loss to Rock Hills by beating previously unbeaten Lincoln 40-8.
• Axtell (2-2, 0-0 district) – The Eagles will have a tough start to district play as they face Baileyville B&B this week. Senior quarterback Aaron Schmelzle leads the offense with 303 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. He also has recorded 6.5 sacks on defense.
• Blue Valley Randolph (2-2, 0-0 district) – The Rams won their first two games, then followed with a pair of losses to Marmaton Valley and Veritas Christian. Randolph lost 54-8 to unbeaten Marmaton Valley in Week 3.
Key games: (Wk 8) Baileyville B&B at Hanover; (Wk 9) The runner-up spot could be decided in the final week when Frankfort travels to Hanover.
Winner: Baileyville B&B
• Goessel (2-2, 2-0 district) – The Bluebirds lost their first two games, but they have followed it up with two big district victories. Goessel defeated Southern Cloud 50-22 and Burrton 58-6. The bad news is that Southern Cloud and Burrton combine for a 1-7 record. Quarterback Trey Schmidt has thrown for 750 yards and 17 touchdowns already this season.
• Tescott (1-3, 1-0 district) – Tescott’s only win came against 0-4 Burrton. The Trojans have struggled defensively allowing 40 points or more in all three losses. They gave up 82 points alone in last week’s loss to Wilson. The Trojans are trying to end a string of three consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance.
• Chase (2-2, 1-1 district) – The Kats earned a solid win against Wilson in Week 1, but they surrendered 70 points last week to a previously winless Southern Cloud. Chase is coming off back-to-back postseason appearances.
• Hope (1-3, 1-1 district) – The Lions lost their first three games, but they earned a district victory by outgunning White City 48-44 this past week. Hope gets a bye this week before it finishes its district schedule. The Lions returned only seven lettermen from last year’s 10-1 team. Hope’s three losses is the most the Lions have had in a season since 2008 – the only time the Lions missed the playoffs in the past eight seasons.
• Southern Cloud (1-3, 1-1 district) – The Warriors lost their first three games, scoring a combined 48 points. But Southern Cloud found its offensive rhythm last week with a 70-50 win against Chase. The Warriors snapped a losing streak as they were winless in 2011. Jason McDaniel leads Southern Cloud with 428 yards rushing and five touchdowns.
• White City (0-4, 0-1 district) – The Huskies have struggled after finishing 7-2 a year ago. Despite the losses, junior quarterback Sam Morgan has put up some solid numbers for the Huskies. Morgan has completed 45 of 78 passes for 607 yards and 12 touchdowns win only three interceptions. Four Huskies have more than 100 receiving yards this season led by Jace Beavers’ 222 yards and six touchdowns.
• Burrton (0-4, 0-2 district) – The Chargers have allowed at least 50 points in each game, while scoring six or fewer in three of their games. Burrton will try to get its run game going with quarterback Caleb Hurst. Burrton hasn’t made the playoffs since falling in the state semifinals in 2003. The Chargers have never posted more than 3 wins in a season since that time.
Key games: All games are key in a district with no clear cut favorites.
• Waverly (4-0, 0-0 district) – The Bulldogs are the No. 3-ranked team in 8-Man Division II after cruising to wins over Lebo, Hartford, Yates Center and Marais des Cygnes Valley. Quarterback Tanner Sipe has passed for 412 yards and seven TD’s, while Andrew Bailey leads the Bulldogs in rushing with 540 yards and eight score.
• Chetopa (2-2, 0-0 district) – After opening the season with losses to Marmaton Valley and St. Paul, the Green Hornets have responded with wins against Pleasanton and Uniontown. Sophomore quarterback Phillip Moses passed for 405 yards and three touchdowns in Chetopa’s 58-56 win against Uniontown that ended on a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Josh Devorak. Moses is filling in for senior starter Dylan Price who has thrown for more than 4,000 yards and 60 touchdowns in his career.
• Colony-Crest (2-2, 0-0 district) – The Lancers are 2-2, but both of their losses come against a pair of unbeaten teams in Marmaton Valley and St. Paul. Colony-Crest fell 46-42 at Marmaton Valley and 50-40 at St. Paul. The Lancers are led by Kyle Hammond, who rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns, while passing for 120 yards and a pair of scores in the loss to St. Paul. Hammond has 4,628 rushing yards and 79 touchdowns for his career.
• Elk Valley (0-3, 0-0 district) – Numbers have always been an issue as the Lions have had to cancel their season twice in recent years. Stuck in a long losing streak, the Lions have struggled again, losing a pair of games to Tyro Christian and falling 54-0 to Marmaton Valley.
• Southern Coffey County (0-4, 0-0 district) – The Titans were scoreless in their first two games, but they did show some ability to score in last week’s 48-36 loss to Pleasanton.
Key games: (Wk 5) Waverly at Colony-Crest will go a long way in deciding the playoff participants, although Chetopa will be a factor.
• South Barber (3-1, 2-0 district) – In their first season without longtime coach James Johnston, the Chieftains have outscored their opponents 160-36 in their three wins. The lone loss came 48-0 to South Haven in Week 2, but there is no one of the same caliber as the Cardinals left on the schedule. Peyton Yandel leads the Chieftains having thrown for 419 yards and nine touchdowns, and rushed for 369 yards and nine more scores.
• Caldwell (2-2, 2-0 district) – The Blue Jays two losses have come against teams that are a combined 8-0. The Week 3 win over Cunningham 40-14 was key and may provide enough for Caldwell to return to the playoffs after a one-year absence.
• Norwich (1-3, 1-0 district) – Norwich’s only win came 32-28 over winless Argonia in Week 3. For the Eagles to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2008, the defense must improve upon surrendering 50 points per game through the first four weeks.
• Cunningham (2-2, 1-1 district) – Cunningham’s two wins have come against winless teams in Pratt-Skyline and Argonia, but still don’t be surprised if the Wildcats finish in the top three in this district. The Week 5 match-up at Norwich is key. Nick Huhman leads Cunningham with 481 yards passing and 11 touchdowns.
• Stafford (2-2, 0-1 district) – Stafford opened district play in Week 4 with a 54-8 loss to South Barber and follow that up with a tough Caldwell team. The Trojans are led in rushing by the duo of Tristin Paulsen (318 yards) and Ethan Johnson (295 yards).
• Attica (1-3, 0-2 district) – Attica matched its win total from the past three seasons with a 36-6 win over Hutchinson Central Christian in Week 2. The Bulldogs will get a chance for their second win in Week 5 when they travel to 0-4 Argonia. Attica hasn’t posted two wins in a season since finishing 3-6 in 2008.
• Argonia (0-4, 0-2 district) – After finishing 6-3 for four consecutive seasons from 2007-2010, Argonia slipped to 4-5 last season. The Red Raiders have already dropped their first four games this season in which they’ve been shut out twice. Garrett Thompson is having a great season on the defensive side averaging 14.3 tackles per game.
Key Games: (Week 6) Caldwell at South Barber for what will likely decide both playoff spots.
Winner: South Barber
• Northern Valley (4-0, 2-0 district) - Northern Valley, a state power in the ‘80s, could reach the playoffs for the first time since 2005. The Huskies, with many players who had fathers or cousins who helped Northern Valley win state championships, has averaged 390 rushing yards a game. JuniornJordan Baird had 78 carries for 516 yards, quarterback Hunter Chandler has tacked on 67 carries for 507 yards and Phillip Bryant, who has 442 rushing yards and five scores. Coach Chuck Fessenden is 257-116 in his career with the Huskies.
• Thunder Ridge (3-1, 2-0 district) - The defending Eight-Man, Division II state champions started off with a 62-16 loss to Rock Hills, the Longhorns’ first regular season loss since Week 2 of the 2010 season. Then, the Longhorns bounced back with three straight victories, including a 46-12 district win against St. John's-Tipton last week and moved back into the rankings at No. 5.
• Beloit St. John’s-Tipton (3-1, 1-1 district) – St. John’s has continued to climb after it played deep into the postseason in 2009. The Blujays had to rebuild behind basically all freshmen and sophomores and went 0-9 and 2-7 the last two falls before the 3-1 start this season. Connor Eilert leads the team with 359 rushing yards and seven scores on 46 carries.
• Stockton (2-2, 1-1 district) - The Tigers, under first-year coach Bill Germaine, halted a 14-game losing streak against KSHSAA schools with a Week 1 win against Hill City, and also defeated Natoma, 38-22, in Week 4 in district play. Stockton has averaged 20 points per game. Last year, Stockton tallied 101 points in eight games versus KSHSAA schools.
• Natoma (1-3, 0-1 district) – Under first-year coach Fred Winter, the Tigers picked up their first win against a KSHSAA team since 2010 with a 41-16 Week 2 victory against Tescott. Natoma has kept it relatively close in its other three contests with a 24-point loss against Sylvan-Lucas, a 25-point defeat to Wilson and a 16-point loss to Stockton.
• Palco (0-4, 0-1 district) - After back-to-back winning seasons, the Roosters have struggled this season and have now lost eight straight contests against KSHSAA schools. The Roosters have yet to have a game within 30 points. Alex Benoit has delivered 265 yards of total offense and Brent Gehring has passed for 351 yards with a 4/1 TD/INT ratio.
• Logan (0-4, 0-2 district) - The Trojans are still in search of the team’s first road win in four years. Logan, after three straight one-win seasons, are looking to break through this season. The lone victory is a 52-12 Week 1 win against Tescott. Similar to last year, Logan has a problem with turnovers. The Trojans have 11 turnovers this season and are minus-4 in turnover margin.
Key Games: (Wk 8) Northern Valley at Thunder Ridge
Winner: Thunder Ridge
Runner-up: Northern Valley
• Sharon Springs-Wallace Co. (4-0, 2-0 district) – The Wildcats look to have a team that’s similar to the 2007 squad that finished 13-0 and won the Eight-Man, Division II state title. Quarteback Gavin Mote, a four-year starter, is one of northwest Kansas’ top players. He has completed 23 of 38 passes for 412 yards with a 5/1 TD/INT ratio. Mote also leads the team with 409 rushing yards and 10 scores on 58 carries. The Wildcats, ranked No. 2 in the classification, have allowed just 44 points in four contests, including quality wins against Hoxie (20-6) and Cheylin (50-6).
• Weskan (4-0, 1-0 district) – Weskan is perhaps the state’s most surprising undefeated team. However, the Coyotes had shown continued improvement under veteran coach Marc Cowles. After back-to-back winless seasons, Weskan won three games in 2010 and posted four victories last year. The Coyotes already own a Week 4 district victory against Golden Plains. Weskan and Sharon Springs are two of five 4-0 teams left in Eight-Man, Division II. The Coyotes are tied with Baileyville B&B for the No. 1 scoring defense in the classification (30 points allowed). Weskan has a balanced offense with 211 rushing yards and 142 passing yards per game. Senior quarterback Sam McKinney has enjoyed a big start, completing 31 of 51 passes for 569 yards with 13 TDs against zero interceptions. Weskan hasn’t made the playoffs since advancing to the second round in 2005.
• Wheatland-Grinnell (2-2, 1-1 district) – The Thunderhawks narrowly missed the playoffs after a 6-3 season last year and will need to have a strong finish to reach the postseason this fall after an 18-6 Week 3 loss to Cheylin. Wade Buck has 83 carries for 467 yards and eight scores to pace Wheatland-Grinnell. Last year, the Thunderhawks’ turnover margin was a big factor in a four-win improvement. This year, Wheatland-Grinnell has again done well in taking care of the ball and is plus-5 for the season in turnover margin.
• Golden Plains (2-2, 1-1 district) – Andrew Luna, moved from guard to running back this season, has put up big numbers with 71 carries for 774 yards and 10 scores. Golden Plains sandwiched wins against Western Plains and Greeley County around losses to Quinter and Weskan.
• Cheylin (2-2, 1-1 district) - Cheylin is 20-5 since the start of the 2010 season, but has struggled with injuries this season and already took a loss to Sharon Springs – a team the Cougars defeated in the previous two years. Kenan Reeh leads the team with more than 350 yards of total offense.
• Tribune-Greeley Co. (0-4, 0-1 district) – Greeley County is 1-12 since the start of the 2011 season. After three big losses to open the year, the Jackrabbits played closer with Moscow in Week 4 but still lost, 44-26. Elijah Stone has caught five passes for 235 yards and a score.
• Triplains-Brewster (0-4, 0-2 district) – The Titans have now lost 21 straight contests and have had no game within 26 points this season. One bright spot in senior kicker Philip Kulas, who kicked a 45-yard field goal last week, had three touchbacks on four kickoffs and hauled in a 45-yard TD reception.
Key Games: While Sharon Springs is the class of the district, the second spot will be a close race between Weskan, Golden Plains, Cheylin and Wheatland-Grinnell. Any game involving those five teams is key.
Winner: Sharon Springs-Wallace County
• Otis-Bison (3-1, 0-0 district) — Perhaps no player – especially in the eight-man ranks – is as important to their team as Dylan Wissman is to Otis-Bison. Wissman has rushed 108 times for 732 yards and 14 scores. As a team, the Cougars have 179 rushes for 927 yards and 17 TDs. He has also caught three passes for 36 yards. He stands second with 34 tackles, has intercepted a pass, has 10 punts and has averaged 16.7 yards a punt return. The Cougars are looking for their fourth straight double-digit win season and fourth straight district title. The lone loss was a Week 3 defeat to a solid Hoxie team.
• Victoria (2-2, 0-0 district) — The Knights had a big blow in Week 1 when running back/linebacker Dalton Dreiling, a three-year starter, went down with a knee injury. Dreiling hasn’t played again and very likely will miss the rest of the season. The Knights have played a tough early season schedule with victories against Macksville and Central Plains and losses to St. John and Ness City. Several players have stepped up in Dreiling’s stead, including quarterback Sam Ottley, running back Bryan Dome and end Noah Dreiling.
• Western Plains (2-2, 0-0 district) - A comeback story, Western Plains couldn’t field a varsity team because of lack of numbers in 2011. This year, the Bobcats already have two victories against Triplains-Brewster (38-0) and Palco (52-20) and were competitive in a 44-22 loss to Golden Plains.
• Wilson (2-2, 0-0 district) - The Dragons, historically known for a high scoring offense and a defense that allows plenty of points, have stayed with their trend in 2012. Wilson ranks No. 1 in classification in scoring offense with 236 points and no team with at least two victories has allowed more than Wilson’s 211 points. Jordan Bess has completed 54 of 83 passes for 660 yards with eight touchdowns against five interceptions. He has also rushed for 314 yards and 10 scores on 69 carries.
• Dighton (1-3, 0-0 district) - Dighton’s season is in doubt after the nine-player Hornets had two players seriously hurt against Quinter in Week 3. Dighton had to forfeit last week’s game against Hoxie.
• Sylvan-Lucas Unified (1-3, 0-0 district) - The Mustangs have played the No. 7-hardest strength of schedule in Eight-Man, Division II under first-year coach Ben Labertew. He was the former Natoma coach and a Sylvan quarterback who led the Mustangs to a state championship in the ‘90s. Sylvan took close losses to Lincoln (32-24) and Atwood (30-28) before it fell to a ranked Solomon team, 46-0, last week.
Key Games: (Wk 5) Sylvan at Victoria; (Wk 6) Victoria at Otis-Bison; (Wk 9) Otis-Bison at Sylvan-Lucas
• Fowler (3-1, 0-0 district) — Fowler opened with a 29-26 upset of a ranked Hodgeman County team behind a big night from quarterback Taylin Bird and wideout Ty Clark. The Gold Bugs only loss came in Week 2 when they were gashed by Minneola 66-22 as Matt McClaren put up 488 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the Fowler defense.
• Moscow (3-1, 0-0 district) — After opening with a 42-14 loss to Balko (Okla.), Moscow has reeled off three consecutive wins while averaging 51 points per game. Lane Miller has rushed for more than 500 yards this season, including 261 yards and three scores in a Week 3 win over Deerfield.
• Rolla (3-1, 0-0 district) – In Week 2, Rolla snapped a 15-game losing streak with a 20-14 win over Deerfield. Now the Pirates are 3-1 and enter district play with the momentum of knocking off last season’s 8-Man, Division-I runner-up South Gray 28-26 in Week 4. Junior back Kyler Telford rushed for more than 200 yards and four touchdowns against South Gray.
• Ingalls (2-2, 0-0 district) – If Ingalls is to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Bulldogs are going to need more big performances from sophomore quarterback Zeke Cox and senior Jordan Irsik. Cox threw for 337 and 254 yards and nine scores in their two wins, while Irsik has rushed for five touchdowns and caught four TD passes.
• Ashland (0-4, 0-0 district) – Ashland lost nine seniors from last season’s team that took eventual champion Thunder Ridge down to the wire in a 32-28 loss in the state quarterfinals. This year’s Blue Jays have been shutout three times and outscored by a combined 204-22.
• Bucklin (0-4, 0-0 district) – Bucklin’s losing streak has now reached 35 games – the longest current streak in the state. The Red Aces last win came 34-28 over Greensburg on September 26, 2008. A home date with winless Ashland in Week 5 may be the Aces best chance for a win this season.
Key Games: (Week 5) Rolla at Fowler, Ingalls at Moscow; (Wk 6) Fowler at Ingalls, (Wk 7) Ingalls at Rolla, (Wk 8) Fowler at Moscow; (Wk 9) Rolla at Moscow