By Mark Schremmer, for Kpreps.com
Posted: October 3, 2012 - 12:48 AM
When Kpreps.com released its preseason rankings for Class 3A, Silver Lake held the top spot with Scott City, Conway Springs, Garden Plain and Beloit following.
Entering the sixth week of the season, those rankings remain the same as all five of those teams have opened with 5-0 records. Four other 3A teams – Riverside, Rossville, Hillsboro and Phillipsburg – also have gone through the first five weeks with unblemished records.
There will be at least two fewer unbeaten teams after Friday night as Conway Springs travels to face Garden Plain and Silver Lake travels to Rossville for the War on 24.
The west side in 3A is extremely difficult with four of the five ranked teams on that side of the state. Six of the nine undefeated teams come from the west. Another six west teams – Sedgwick, Halstead, Sacred Heart, Norton, Cimarron and Holcomb boast 4-1 records.
“The west side is brutal,” Garden Plain head coach Brad McCormick said. “Scott City is a tough team. Coach (Glenn) O’Neil does a great job year in and year out. Beloit is tough. We played them in the playoffs last year, so we know personally how good they are. Conway Springs is tough. Silver Lake is always good on the other side. It’s great for 3A.”
And Class 3A will be featured this week with two of the biggest rivalry games in the state.
On the west side, the defending state champion and third-ranked Conway Springs Cardinals are ready to face the fourth-ranked Garden Plain Owls after the two teams split games last season. The Owls beat the Cardinals 19-13 in the regular season, but Conway Springs won the one that counted with a 38-14 win in the state semifinals.
Several thousand are expected to attend Friday night’s game in Garden Plain.
“I’m not sure exactly how many will be there, but the stands are always full and people are always lined up all the way around the fences,” Conway Springs head coach Matt Biehler said.
The Cardinals have won 15 games in a row since last year’s regular season loss to the Owls.
Quarterback Tanner Wood has led the way, rushing for 284 yards and two touchdowns while passing for another in last week’s 45-14 win against Wichita Trinity.
“He’s a great leader,” Biehler said. “He’s one of our captains, and he’s done a fine job with that role. He relishes that role. He’s done a great job with everything we ask him to do. Defensively, he’s been a big reason for our success as well.”
Garden Plain has rolled through its first five games. The Owls are led by their ground game with running backs Denver Doyle and Dylan Clark. Both have had multiple 100-yard rushing games.
The Owls also have displayed the ability to throw the ball. Quarterback Caleb Arnold has passed for more than 100 yards in three games.
“We have multiple running backs who can carry the load,” McCormick said. “We’re throwing well, too. We’re keeping teams honest with the passing game.”
Garden Plain and Conway Springs have two like opponents this season in Cheney and Wichita Trinity. The Owls beat Cheney 34-12 and Trinity 57-21, while the Cardinals defeated Cheney 27-14 and Trinity 45-14.
“The game will be the same as it is every year,” McCormick said. “It probably won’t be the last time we see them. It should be a great game.”
In other games involving unbeaten west teams, Hillsboro hosts winless Whitewater Remington, Beloit travels to Southeast of Saline (3-2), Phillipsburg will be at home against Thomas More Prep (1-4), and Scott City is at Goodland (2-3).
The east has only one team ranked in the top five, but they have the No. 1 team in the Silver Lake Eagles. Rossville and Riverside are the other undefeated teams in the east. Eight east teams – Nemaha Valley, Atchison County, Mission Valley, Humboldt, Caney Valley, Neodesha, Galena and Southeast-Cherokee -- own 4-1 records.
Top-ranked Silver Lake and 5-0 Rossville represent the battle of the unbeatens on the east side. The Eagles, who were last year’s 3A runner-up, beat the Bulldogs 20-18 in the 2011 regular season.
Just like in Garden Plain, several thousand are expected to attend Friday’s game in Rossville as it has historically been one of the state’s best rivalries.
While there have been several close games in recent years, Silver Lake hasn’t lost to Rossville since falling 30-28 in the 2003 regular season. Even then, the Eagles avenged the loss in the 2003 playoffs by beating Rossville 41-12 to advance to the 3A state championship.
Rossville will have its hands full again this season against a Silver Lake team that really hasn’t been tested all year. The Eagles’ closest game was a 27-6 win against St. Marys.
Silver Lake has been pretty balanced, averaging 252.8 yards on the ground and 135.2 yards through the air.
The Bulldogs also own a perfect record, but they have been tested more. Rossville edged Abilene 14-7 and Rock Creek 36-33 this past week.
Rossville also owns a balanced attack as it averages 170.4 rushing yards and 145.2 passing yards.
Riverside, east’s other unbeaten, hosts Onaga (3-2).