By Matt Gilmore, Conor Nicholl, John Baetz, & Mark Schremmer for Kpreps.com
Posted: October 24, 2012 - 11:40 PM
The final week of the 2012 regular season is upon us and we feature four district championship games on the Week 9 Pick List.
In addition, we feature a pair of eight-man games that will be key in deciding their respective district playoff participants.
Feature Games of the Week:
Wichita Heights (7-1) at 6A No. Derby (7-1)
For the fourth consecutive season, Wichita Heights and Derby will meet to decide both playoff spots in District 6.
Derby and Wichita Heights have already collected the two playoff spots from Class 6A District 6, but Friday's contest will be for the district title.
Derby's lone loss came in Week 6 in a 31-28 defeat to Hutchinson. All the other games have been decided by at least 13 points.
Heights lost 47-16 to Carroll, ranked No. 1 in Class 5A, in the first week of the season. Since then, the Falcons have won seven straight, but that includes four contests within 15 points.
Derby has outscored opponents 343-67 and ranks No. 1 in Class 6A in scoring offense and
defense. Wichita Heights has beaten squads by a collective margin of 266-149.
Heights is 6-0 against Derby since the 2007 season, with the average margin of victory being 22.3 points. However, Derby's all-around talent leads the Panthers to a victory.
Our Pick: Derby 30, Wichita Heights 21 (Nicholl)
Blue Valley (5-3) at 5A #5 Blue Valley West (6-2)
The 5A District 4 championship is on the line as the Blue Valley Tigers take on the Blue Valley West Jaguars.
The Tigers and Jaguars are tied for second in the Eastern Kansas League standings at 4-2.
Blue Valley West has wrapped two three-game winning streaks around consecutive losses to St. Thomas Aquinas and Gardner-Edgerton in Week 4 and Week 5.
The Jaguars have the top offense in the EKL averaging 420 yards of total offense per game. It starts on the ground as the West averages 266 yards per game led by senior running back Conley Wilkins and junior quarterback Ryan Ralston.
Wilkins leads the Jaguars with 1,187 yards and nine touchdowns this a season. He rushed for more than 1,200 yards and 14 scores a year ago.
Ralston (6-4, 220) has added 767 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns on the ground. He has also thrown for 1,204 yards and eight scores. Luke Curtis is Ralston’s primary target with more than 540 receiving yards.
After graduating several offensive weapons from last year’s state runner-up finish, the Blue Valley Tigers have been more of a defensive focused team this season. The Tigers are allowing 18 points per game this season, and have been stingy against the run in giving up just 128 points per game.
Ryan McNerlin has been the work horse for the Tigers on offense rushing for 965 yards and six touchdowns. Chance Nelson added 188 yards and three scores in last week’s 55-0 shutout of Pittsburg.
Quarterback Logan Brettell has thrown for 992 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Tigers are looking for a fifth consecutive playoff appearance, having advanced at least to the state semifinals in each of the past four years.
Blue Valley West is seeking their first playoff appearance since 2007 when the Jaguars were 5A state champions.
Our Pick: Blue Valley 24, Blue Valley West 21 (Gilmore)
Baldwin (6-2) at Eudora (7-1)
Eudora, last year’s Class 4A state runner-up, would like a return trip to the state title game. First, the Cardinals will try to make the route easier by winning the district championship.
Eudora (7-1, 2-0) will host Baldwin (6-2, 2-0) on Thursday for the 4A District 4 title. Both teams have clinched playoff berths, but the winner play its first-round game at home against the District 5 runner-up, while the loser will go on the road to face the District 5 champion.
The Cardinals and Bulldogs both beat up on their opposition in the first two weeks of district play. Eudora beat Ottawa and Santa Fe Trail by a combined score of 92-12, while Baldwin shut out the two teams for a combined score of 76-0.
Eudora is rushing for about 300 yards game with running back Garret Elston and quarterback Andrew Ballock leading the way. Elston has ran for 702 yards and three TDs on 98 carries, while Ballock has produced 636 yards and 10 TDs on 85 carries.
Junior Cornell Brown has led the running game for Baldwin, including a 29-carry, 251-yard and three-touchdown performance in a Week 6 win over Louisburg. Brown scored on five touchdown runs in last week’s 41-0 win against Santa Fe Trail.
Our Pick: Eudora 28, Baldwin 21 (Schremmer)
Chanute (5-3) at 4A No. 5 Fort Scott (8-0)
The Chanute Blue Comets (5-3 overall, 2-0 4A District 6) will travel to face the Fort Scott Tigers (8-0, 2-0) Thursday for the district championship.
Both teams have clinched playoff berths, but the winner play its first-round game at home against the District 7 runner-up, while the loser will go on the road to face the District 7 champion.
Fort Scott has been impressive this season, rolling through the Southeast Kansas League thus far. The Tigers picked up key wins against the likes of Pittsburg and Coffeyville and have scored at least 30 points in seven of their eight games.
The Tigers are rushing for almost 300 yards per game and are scoring more than 40 points per outing. Senior Marques Floyd leads the ground attack with 794 yards and 19 touchdowns on only 94 carries. Senior Victor Hughes has rushed for 603 yards and six touchdowns on 90 carries. Quarterback Johnathan Stark has kept defenses honest by completing 41 of 75 passes for 675 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception.
Chanute’s three losses have come to quality teams in Mulvane, Pittsburg and Coffeyville.
The Blue Comets offense can be explosive, scoring 42 points or more four times this season. Chanute likes to put the ball in the air with quarterback Brock Gilmore (6-4; 215).
Chanute and Fort Scott didn’t face each other last year.
Our Pick: Fort Scott 35, Chanute 21 (Schremmer)
8M-I No. 4 Marmaton Valley (8-0) at St. Paul (6-1)
Marmaton Valley has already clinched a playoff spot in Eight-Man, Division I, District II. However, Marais des Cygnes Valley (3-1) and St. Paul (3-1) remain in the hunt. Last week, MDCV defeated St. Paul 52-40.
A Marmaton Valley victory not only gives the Wildcats the district championship, but also the Three Rivers League title in the eight-man division.
However, a MDCV loss to Pleasanton and a St. Paul victory gives St. Paul the district title. If MDCV and St. Paul both wins, the points tiebreaker will come into play.
Since 2004, Marmaton Valley is 2-3 against St. Paul, but won 36-20 last season. Of the last five matchups, three are within 18 points.
Marmaton Valley is one of three undefeated teams left in the classification, along with Ness City and South Haven. The Wildcats have outscored opponents 412-122.
The Wildcats are a big physical team led up front by 6-foot-4, 260-pound Nathan Smart. Smart leads the way for one of 8-man’s best in Cole Becker. The 2011 Kpreps all-stater is having another huge season after rushing for 1,600 yards last season.
St. Paul, on the other hand, has beaten teams by a combined score of 316-154.
The Indians are led by Anthony Diskin who has produced several 100-yard rushing games. He has help with a talented athlete in Riley O’Brien and Alex McCracken.
Last year, Marmaton Valley advanced to the second round of the playoffs, its first playoff victory since 2007. St. Paul has reached the postseason every other season since 2004 with their last appearance ending in a 54-8 first-round loss to Central Burden in 2010.
Our Pick: Marmaton Valley 42, St. Paul 28 (Nicholl)
Pretty Prairie (7-1) at Solomon (7-1)
This game had the makings of an epic district championship match-up.
Pretty Prairie has had only one blemish on their record – a Week 3 loss to a top-ranked Division-II squad in Baileyville B&B.
Meanwhile, the Solomon Gorillas were plowing through opponents with none of their first seven games going the distance thanks to a high powered offense that hung the 45-point mercy rule on every opponent.
And then Central Plains crashed the party. The Oilers shocked the Gorillas with a 56-52 upset last week, sending one of the toughest districts in Kansas into a spiral with the potential for multiple scenarios.
Pretty Prairie is returning to play on the same field for the second time this season and it's the site of their only loss. The Bulldogs were manhandled by Baileyville B&B in a neutral site game hosted at Solomon in week three, 52-8. Since the loss the Bulldogs have been dominant, scoring at least 38 points in four of their last five wins and allowing fewer than 18 points during that span.
The match-up to watch in this one will be Pretty Prairie's talented 6-4 tight end/safety Stetson Broce against Solomon's 6-6 wideout/defensive back Josh Burdine. That is assuming Burdine plays. He missed back-to-back games in mid-season, but since his return he's been an explosive part of the Gorilla offense and a key defender in the secondary. Both teams feature strong armed quarterbacks that are also speedy runners, but Pretty Prairie's Alex Mains goes deep with success more often than Solomon's Colton Shirack.
The Gorillas are now fighting for their playoff lives thanks to the loss to Central Plains while the Bulldogs are looking for a district championship having already clinched a spot in the postseason.
Our Pick: Pretty Prairie 48, Solomon 32 (Baetz)
The Pick List:
Manhattan (6-2) at Junction City (5-3) -- Manhattan
5A #4 St. Thomas Aquinas (7-1) at Bishop Miege (4-4) -- Aquinas
5A #2 Salina South (7-1) at Great Bend (5-3) – Salina South
Topeka Seaman (5-3) at Shawnee Heights (4-4) --
Girard (7-1) at Frontenac (5-3) -- Girard
Norton (6-2) at Phillipsburg (7-1) -- Phillipsburg
Jackson Heights (6-2) at 2-1A #4 Centralia (8-0) -- Centralia
Atwood-Rawlins Co. (7-1) at Hoxie (6-2) -- Hoxie
8M-I #3 South Haven (8-0) at Central Burden (7-1) – South Haven
St. John (7-1) at Kiowa County (6-2) – St. John
Osborne (6-2) at Mankato-Rock Hills (7-1) – Rock Hills