By Mark Schremmer, Matt Gilmore, Conor Nicholl, for Kpreps.com
Posted: October 14, 2012 - 10:02 PM
The second season is here. District play kicks off in all classifications in Week 7, and we’ve highlighted six of the top games around the state that will be crucial in deciding playoff spots.
Hays and Great Bend will be playing for an upper hand in 5A District 7, but will also decide the Western Athletic Conference title on Friday night.
Top-ranked Holton may get its first test of the season against a surprising 5-1 Wamego team.
Finally, we preview a pair of 8-Man district showdowns between Osborne and Clifton-Clyde, and Hodgeman County and Minneola.
Feature Games of the Week:
5A #4 Hays (5-1) at Great Bend (5-1)
One of the biggest rivalries in northwest Kansas, Hays High/Great Bend has taken on a bigger importance in football since Ryan Cornelsen took over the Indian program four years ago. Cornelsen is 27-7 with HHS, including 2-1 against Great Bend.
Friday's contest will also decide the Western Athletic Conference title. Last year, HHS, Great Bend and Garden City tied for the league crown. In addition, it's the first district game in Class 5A, District 7, a district that includes Salina South (5-1) and Salina Central (2-4).
Hays High has outscored opponents 288-170 and has won five in a row. The Indians are tied with Mill Valley for the No. 2 scoring offense in Class 5A, behind only Bishop Carroll (302 points), according to preppowerindex.com.
The Indians' defense has given up plenty of points, but many of the scores have come against backups late in games. Great Bend has outscored teams 172-98 and rank eighth in Class 5A in scoring defense.
The Indians rank first in the WAC with 2,909 total yards, while Great Bend stands last at 2,101.
Sophomore quarterback Alex Delton has completed 37 of 57 yards for 893 yards with an 11/1 TD/INT ratio. Delton has rushed for 498 yards and eight scores, while Hays High senior running back David Cardinal has 668 yards and 12 scores.
Josh Lopez leads Great Bend with 479 rushing yards and eight scores, while Hunter Harrison leads the WAC with 92 tackles.
The home team has won the last four games in the series, but that will end Friday. Great Bend will have to keep this a low scoring game to defeat the high-powered Indians.
Our Pick: Hays 33, Great Bend 20 (Nicholl)
Blue Valley West (4-2) at Pittsburg (5-1)
The Blue Valley West Jaguars travel south to Hutchinson Field to take on the Pittsburg Purple Dragons in the opener for 5A, District 4.
Blue Valley West is back in Class 5A for the first time since 2007, when the Jaguars went 13-0 and won the 5A state championship. Since that season, however, West has gone only 12-24 and has not reached the playoffs in any of the past four seasons.
This year’s Jaguars are off to a 4-2 start with losses only to St. Thomas Aquinas and Gardner-Edgerton. The Jaguars fell 38-35 in three overtimes to Aquinas as a fake field goal was stopped short by the Saints.
Blue Valley West is led by senior running back Conley Wilkins. Wilkins rushed for more than 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns a year ago, and is off to another strong start this season. He rushed for 302 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s 41-36 win over Bishop Miege.
Junior quarterback Ryan Ralston (6-4; 220) directs the Jaguar offense under center.
Pittsburg’s only loss came Week 3 at home to a Fort Scott team that remains unbeaten.
The Purple Dragons are trying to end an equally long playoff drought; last reaching the postseason in 2007.
Pittsburg High is led by sophomore running back/linebacker Alex Barnes. Barnes has produced big rushing games despite limited carries in lopsided wins. He leads the SEK League in scoring with 17 touchdowns, and is a threat in the return game as well.
The Purple Dragons are coming off of a wild 67-53 win over Coffeyville in which Pittsburg led by 30 points twice in the second half.
Pittsburg will need a better defensive effort this week as the Jaguars have been battle tested in the competitive Eastern Kansas League.
Our Pick: Blue Valley West 31, Pittsburg 28 (Gilmore)
Buhler (4-2) at Andale (5-1)
The Buhler Crusaders will travel to face the Andale Indians Friday in a key game of one of the most competitive districts in the state. Buhler and Andale are joined by Nickerson (5-1) and Cheney (4-2) in Class 4A, District 13.
Buhler won its first two games of the season by beating Rose Hill and Wichita Collegiate, but lost its next two games to a pair of ranked teams in Mulvane and McPherson.
The Crusaders offense goes through running back Riley Allen, who has had multiple 200-yard rushing performances.
Andale’s only loss this season was 41-27 in Week 1 to Wichita Collegiate, which was beat 28-21 by Buhler in Week 2.
The Indians have displayed big-play ability, scoring 60 points in a 30-point win against rival Wellington last week. Andale’s Ben Seiler and Jared Smarsh scored two touchdowns each in that win.
Our Pick: Buhler 28, Andale 21 (Schremmer)
4A #1 Holton (6-0) at Wamego (5-1)
Class 4A’s top-ranked Holton Wildcats have dominated their first six games, but their opponents have a combined 13-23 record. However, the 5-1 Wamego Red Raiders should provide Holton its toughest competition thus far when the two teams meet in a 4A District 9 battle.
Wamego has won five consecutive games since falling 28-27 to Rock Creek in Week 1. Since then, the Red Raiders have scored more than 30 points every game to beat Marysville, Concordia, Chapman, Abilene and Clay Center.
The Red Raiders provide a challenge to the opposing defense’s secondary as quarterback Marshall Wethington has passed for more than 1,300 yards this season.
Holton, on the other hand, pounds the ball with the rushing attack. The Wildcats average about 425 yards per game on the ground.
Junior running back Drake Ewing is averaging more than 10 yards per carry with 648 yards and nine TDs on 59 carries. Senior running back Cameron Karn has rushed for 520 yards and eight touchdowns on 66 carries. Three other ball carriers have rushed for at least 200 yards.
Wamego should test Holton’s secondary, but the Red Raiders will have a tough time stopping the Wildcats’ power run game.
Our Pick: Holton 45, Wamego 21 (Schremmer)
Osborne (5-1) at Clifton-Clyde (4-1)
Osborne and Clifton-Clyde are part of a close Eight-Man, Division I, District 4 that has four teams with zero or one district losses. Osborne is the lone undefeated team, but finishes the year at Clifton-Clyde (3-1 in district), at home against Pike Valley (2-1), and at Mankato-Rock Hills (2-1).
Since it switched to eight-man football three years ago, Osborne is 25-5 and is 13-0 in district play.
Clifton-Clyde missed the playoffs last year, but had made the postseason each fall from 2006-09.
Running back Alex Deaver and quarterback Caleb Gelino were among several players who didn't play in a 34-14 Week 3 loss to Scandia-Pike Valley, but the two have put up big numbers again this season.
Deaver has more than 3,500 rushing yards in his career and has rushed for 512 yards and 10 rushing TDs.
Gelino has 585 rushing yards and seven rushing TDs. He has also passed for 320 yards with a 7/2 TD/INT ratio.
Osborne, traditionally known for its high-scoring offense, has tallied 312 points, fifth-most in the classification. Junior Kenton Ubelaker leads the Bulldogs with 107 carries for 805 yards and 15 TDs.
Our Pick: Clifton-Clyde 54, Osborne 48 (Nicholl)
Hodgeman County (4-2) at Minneola (6-0)
Minneola has arguably bounced up and down more often than any other Kansas school. In the last six-plus years, the Wildcats have posted marks of 2-7, 6-4, 7-3, 9-1, 0-9, 4-5 and 6-0.
Led by senior running back Matt McClaren, Minneola has won five games in a row by at least 44 points. McClaren has already rushed 130 times for 1,590 yards with 30 TDs, and completed 25 of 40 passes for 166 yards with a 2/0 TD/INT ratio. That included a 488 rushing yards and nine rushing TDs in a Week 2 victory against Fowler.
Hodgeman County lost to Fowler 30-26 in Week 1 and also lost 58-12 to Ness City in Week 4, 34-16. The Longhorns — which came a game away from the postseason last year — have also beaten Ashland, WaKeeney-Trego, Spearville and Satanta.
This marks the seventh meeting since 2004 between the two schools. Three of the last four matchups have been decided by 12 or fewer points. The winner will take over first place in Eight-Man, Division I, District 7.
Our Pick: Minneola 36, Hodgeman County 28 (Nicholl)
The Pick List:
SM South (3-3) at Blue Valley Northwest (3-3) – BV Northwest
6A #1 Hutchinson (4-2) at Dodge City (3-3) – Hutchinson
Olathe South (4-2) at Gardner-Edgerton (3-3) – Olathe South
Manhattan (4-2) at 6A #4 Topeka High (6-0) – Topeka High
Wichita Heights (5-1) at Wichita East (4-2) – Wichita Heights
Blue Valley Southwest (4-2) at Blue Valley (3-3) – Blue Valley
Maur Hill (4-2) at Atchison County (4-2) – Atchison County
Elkhart (4-2) at 2-1A #5 Stanton County (5-1) – Stanton County
Jeff Co. North (4-2) at Jackson Heights (4-2) – Jackson Heights
Smith Center (3-3) at Plainville (3-3) – Plainville
Little River (5-1) at 8M-I #5 Solomon (6-0) – Solomon
Cheylin (3-3) at 8M-II #5 Thunder Ridge (5-1) – Thunder Ridge