By Mark Schremmer, Matt Gilmore, Conor Nicholl, for Kpreps.com
Posted: October 14, 2012 - 9:59 PM
As we enter Week 7 and begin district play across the state of Kansas, only one team remains undefeated in Class 5A – the Bishop Carroll Golden Eagles.
Carroll is unbeaten and largely unchallenged. The Eagles’ closest victory came by 31 points back in Week 1 against Wichita Heights.
The Eagles are led by senior quarterback Zeke Palmer and a trio of good backs in Denzel Goolsby, Jalen Hernandez, and Tory Smith.
Bishop Carroll’s main competition on the western half of the 5A bracket may be Salina South. The Cougars are 5-1 after a season-opening loss to Derby. South then drilled Hutchison 35-10 in an eye-opener across the state.
Emporia and Hays each appear to be formidable contenders on the western half that could challenge Carroll.
The eastern bracket features three 5-1 teams in St. Thomas Aquinas, Pittsburg, and Mill Valley. Any given school from the Eastern Kansas League could make a playoff run, including Bishop Miege (2-4) led by the 2011 Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year Montel Cozart.
• Topeka Seaman (3-3) – The Vikings have lost three games in a row, but there’s no reason to give up on their playoff hopes. Seaman is in a winnable district and the three losses have come to Emporia, Topeka High and 6A’s Washburn Rural. Quarterback Butch Rea has been an effective passer, and Joe Reagan is a big play threat as a runner, receiver and return man.
• Shawnee Heights (2-4) – The T-Birds are better than their record appears. Shawnee Heights has lost four games, but those losses to Emporia, Topeka High, Manhattan and Washburn Rural have been no worse than 10 points. Michael Moten II leads the T-Birds’ rushing attack with 571 yards.
• Topeka West (1-5) – Led by first-year head coach John Tetuan, the Chargers snapped a 25-game losing streak with a Week 2 win over KC Washington. Since then, however, the Chargers have scored by a total of 14 points.
• Topeka Highland Park (0-6) – The Scots have allowed more than 40 points in every game this season. Highland Park has had some offensive firepower with quarterback Jamon Fulton leading the way. Fulton has compiled more than 1,000 yards of total offense.
Key Games: (Wk 9) Topeka Seaman at Shawnee Heights
Winner: Topeka Seaman
Runner-up: Shawnee Heights
• Mill Valley (5-1) – The Jaguars have won five straight games since falling to Class 6A’s Manhattan in the season opener. Senior quarterback Skyler Windmiller is having another impressive season by completing 74 of 122 passes for 1,343 yards and 16 touchdowns. L.J. Hatch and Staton Rebeck each have more than 20 receptions.
• KC Schlagle (4-2) – Stallions are aiming for the playoffs after failing to advance despite a 7-2 record last year. Schlagle boasts one of the best running backs in the state with senior J’veyon Browning, who has rushed for 790 yards and 11 touchdowns on 89 carries.
• KC Washington (3-3) – The Wildcats have won three games despite falling to the 1-5 Topeka West Chargers. First-year head coach Bryan Salsgiver has already exceeded the team’s 2011 win total of two.
• Lansing (1-5) – The Lions lost their first five games, but have some momentum with a 50-21 win this past week against winless Bishop Ward. Lansing has qualified for the playoffs in seven of the past eight seasons.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Washington at Lansing; (Wk 8) Lansing at Schlagle; (Wk 9) Schlagle at Washington
Winner: Mill Valley
• St. Thomas Aquinas (5-1) – Aquinas started 5-0 and led Blue Valley 28-14 late in the fourth quarter before the Tigers rallied to win 29-28. Saints’ quarterback Danten Cosentino has been solid in his first year under center. Nick Williams has been a threat out of the backfield thanks to some veteran guys up front including Dan Morin.
• KC Turner (4-2) – The Golden Bears have won four straight games after dropping their openers to Bonner Springs and Mill Valley. Junior quarterback Paul Berry has thrown for 596 yards and seven touchdowns, and has rushed for 593 yards and nine more scores.
• Bishop Miege (2-4) – The Stags have lost four straight after winning their first two games of the season. Three of Miege’s four losses have come by less than a touchdown. Quarterback Montel Cozart is one of the elite players in the state. Cozart threw for 351 yards and five touchdowns in last week’s 41-36 loss to Blue Valley West.
• KC Harmon (0-6) – The Hawks are winless this season and have scored a total of 26 points. Harmon has been shut out three times this season. Senior quarterback Travis Moore threw for 114 yards and a touchdown in last week’s loss to Sumner Academy.
Key Games: (Wk 9) St. Thomas Aquinas at Bishop Miege
Winner: St. Thomas Aquinas
Runner-up: Bishop Miege
• Pittsburg (5-1) – The Purple Dragons’ lone loss came to unbeaten 4A contender Fort Scott. Pittsburg has scored more than 67 points in each of the past two weeks and is averaging nearly 47 points per game. Sophomore Alex Barnes has scored 17 touchdowns, good enough for tops in the SEK League.
• Blue Valley Southwest (4-2) – Veteran coach Bill Lowe has led three different schools to the state title game, and six to the playoffs. The Timberwolves are in just in their third season of football, but are talented with quarterback Aaron Ramsey (6-3, 215) and tight-end Anthony Miller (6-5, 245).
• Blue Valley West (4-2) – 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. Senior running back Conley Wilkins is capable of going the distance on any play. He rushed for 302 yards and four touchdowns in the Jaguars Week 6 win over Bishop Miege.
• Blue Valley (3-3) – The Tigers graduated 16 starters off of last season’s state runner up team. But don’t count Blue Valley out yet. The Tigers’ three losses have come to No. 2 Salina South, a two-point loss to Gardner-Edgerton in a rainstorm, and 21-14 defeat by Blue Valley Northwest.
Key Games: All games are crucial in a district where all four teams are capable of winning a playoff spot.
Winner: Blue Valley
Runner-up: Blue Valley Southwest
• Andover (5-1) – The Trojans have just one loss, a 16-0 defeat to Arkansas City (4-2). However their schedule has not been brutal, having five wins against Campus, Goddard Eisenhower, Independence, Andover Central and Goddard. Those teams have a total of five victories between them. Andover last was in the playoffs in 2009 as a Class 4A team. The team is averaging 31.8 points per game behind its run attack, which averages 273.7 yards. The Trojans have four with over 200 yards on the ground including Chase Ogden, who has a team-high 481 yards.
• Emporia (5-1) – The Spartans are a top 10 team in just about any state ranking you look at. They nearly went undefeated in the Centennial League, falling to unbeaten Topeka High last week 40-26. Emporia has a 21-0 win over Manhattan (4-2) and a 21-19 victory over Seaman (3-3). With three straight postseason appearances, the Spartans lost in the second-round of the 2011 5A playoffs. Emporia has plenty of weapons for a deeper run in 2012. Running back Dylan Jackson is a good compliment to play-making wide receivers Jerel Morrow and J.L. Savage.
• Newton (2-4) – All four of the Railers’ losses have been by 14 points or more (defending 5A state champion Hutchinson, Salina Central, Salina South and Maize). Newton’s two wins have been against winless Campus and one-win Goddard-Eisenhower. Newton is looking to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Railers are led on defense by linebackers Jacob Bartel (6-2; 230), Jacob Wright (5-10; 185), and Joseph McConnell (6-2; 205).
• Valley Center (2-4) – After a tough season-opening loss to Andover Central (2-4) followed by defeats to Goddard (2-4) and Maize South (5-1), the Hornets have won two of their last three with a 52-point victory over Sunrise Christian (1-5) and an eight-point win against Goddard Eisenhower (1-5). Valley Center hasn’t been to the playoffs in more than six years. Averaging 15.3 points per game, running the ball is the Hornets’ offense, and they average 154 yards a game. Keaton Canaday leads three 200-yard rushers with 250 yards.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Emporia at Newton; (Wk 8) Andover at Emporia; (Wk 9) Newton at Andover
• Arkansas City (4-2) – The Bulldogs are off to a solid 4-2 start with losses only to Maize South and KC Center (Mo.). Ark City is led by senior quarterback Riley Dowler; a dual-threat who has put up some big numbers this season.
• Wichita West (3-3) – In coach Weston Schartz’s first year back at West, the Pioneers have already matched their season-high win total for the last eight seasons. Trevon Mitchell and Trez Patrick are a pair of talented junior backs that have each rushed for nearly 500 yards.
• Andover Central (2-4) – The Jaguars have made the playoffs in each of the past nine seasons, and have only had one season below .500 during that span. Andover Central is led by quarterback Blake Meier who has thrown for 823 yards and four touchdowns.
• Kapaun Mt. Carmel (1-5) – The Crusaders are trying to reach the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season, but have struggled to a 1-5 start. Kapaun’s lone win came over a winless Wichita North team.
Key Games: All games are key in this wide-open district.
Winner: Kapaun Mt. Carmel
Runner-up: Wichita West
• Great Bend (5-1) – The Panthers rank eighth in Class 5A in scoring defense, allowing just 98 points. Great Bend's lone loss was a 45-28 Week 3 defeat to Garden City. However, the Panthers have bounced back with three straight victories, all by at least 17 points. Great Bend
has one playoff appearance in the last four seasons and eight playoff appearances, including a state runner-up finish in 2006, under veteran coach Bo Black. The Panthers use a two-quarterback system with Matt Marshall and Bryce Beck and have averaged 254 rushing yards a game.
• Hays (5-1) – Coach Ryan Cornelsen continues to build the Indians, currently ranked No. 4 in Class 5A, into one of the elite programs. He is 27-7 with the Indians, including 5-1 in district play in the last two years. Hays High is currently tied with Mill Valley for No. 2 in Class 5A in scoring offense at 48 points a game. Sophomore quarterback Alex Delton has completed 65 percent of his passes and has thrown for 893 yards with an 11/1 TD/INT ratio. Senior David Cardinal has rushed for 668 yards and 12 scores. Last year, the Indians won the district with thrilling victories against Great Bend (43-42) and Salina South (28-24) for the program's first playoff appearance since 1995.
• Salina South (5-1) – The Cougars are currently ranked No. 2 in Class 5A and have already exceeded last season's win total from a 4-6 season. Salina South lost to Derby, 27-14, in Week 1, currently the No. 2 team in Class 6A. South has won the last five games, all by at least 21 points. The big win came in Week 5 when South defeated Hutchinson, 35-10. Cody Busby rushed for 195 yards in the win and has 818 yards and 13 TDs on 104 carries on the season.
• Salina Central (2-4) – Salina Central has already tied its number of losses from last year's 5-4 team. The Mustangs have been outscored 171-115 and are 0-3 at home. After making the playoffs in 2010, Central was 0-3 in district play last year. This is the third straight year Hays, Great Bend, South and Central are in the same district. Central has played the No. 6-hardest schedule in 5A. Five players have rushed for at least 145 yards.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Hays at Great Bend; (Wk 8) Salina South at Hays;
(Wk 9) Salina South at Great Bend
Winner: Salina South
• Bishop Carroll (6-0) – Carroll has outscored opponents 302-49 and is ranked No. 1 in Class 5A. The Golden Eagles are ranked No. 1 in 5A in scoring offense and stand No. 2 behind Arkansas City in scoring defense. Tory Smith rushed for 128 yards and two scores and Zeke Palmer collected 196 yards and two scores in last week's 38-6 victory against Kapaun-Mt. Carmel.
• Goddard (2-4) – After two victories to open the season, the Lions have lost four in a row, including the last three by at least 24 points. Goddard has already tied last season's win total from a 2-7 season. Senior Collin Nevil has completed 50 of 106 passes for 747 yards with a 4/3 TD/INT ratio.
• Goddard Eisenhower (1-5) – Opponents have outscored Eisenhower 210-50 in its first year as a football program. After a 22-20 Week 1 victory against Clearwater, Eisenhower lost four games in a row by at least 30 points. Last week, the Tigers lost 14-6 to Valley Center. Senior Trevor Hughes has completed 16 of 47 passes for 340 yards with a 4/2 TD/INT ratio and has rushed for 159 yards.
• Liberal (1-5) – The Redskins are 1-5 with no wins against Kansas teams. Liberal has been outscored 237-223, but most of that margin came in an 80-7 Week 2 victory versus Guymon (Okla.). Liberal's losses have all come in high-scoring games: 43-27, 51-34, 62-48, 37-14 and
37-20. However, some of the scores are misleading. In the 51-34 loss to Hays, Liberal trailed 41-13 late in the third quarter. Junior quarterback Britton Abbott has completed 117 of 206 passes for 1,588 yards and 13/6 TD/INT.
Key Games: (Wk 7) Liberal at Goddard
Winner: Bishop Carroll