The Pick List -- Week 9
Photos by Marion McReynolds, For Kansas Pregame/Kpreps.com
By Kpreps.com & Kansas Pregame Magazine with assistance from Conor Nicholl (The Hays Daily News)
Posted: October 27, 2010 - 11:35 PM
The final week of the regular season is upon us and in this Pick List we feature several games that will decide district championships.
In Class 5A, this week’s schedule could be a preview of playoff games to come as #5 Bishop Carroll travels to #1 Hutchinson, and #4 Blue Valley – Stilwell plays at #2 Gardner-Edgerton.
Two of the three unbeaten teams in Class 2-1A will meet on Friday night as #1 Colgan visits #4 Olpe.
Finally, Manhattan and Junction City will try to top last year’s classic in which the Indians won 9-7 on the game’s final play and knocked the Blue Jays out of the playoffs. Both teams have already qualified this season by beating out Topeka High and Washburn Rural.
Feature Games of the Week:
6A #2 Manhattan (8-0) at Junction City (7-1)
The week prior to district play Junction City took to the road and came home with their first loss of the season at the hands of Centennial League rival Emporia, 28-21.
The loss could've been the wake-up call the doctor ordered as the Blue Jays rebounded with two dominant victories, at Washburn Rural, 41-26, and at home versus Topeka High, 45-26.
The two district wins guaranteed the 2008 State Champions a trip to the playoffs this season after losses to Topeka and Manhattan in the final two games of district play kept the Blue Jays at home for the post season in 2009, but no season is complete for Junction City without a win over rival Manhattan.
Manhattan improved to 8-0 last week with a 34-7 win over Washburn Rural after opening district play with a 42-36 win over Topeka High.
The Indians got over 100 yards rushing from Ty Suggs and Jordan Nelson in last week's win over Rural and the talented Indian defense held the Junior Blues to just 168 total yards.
This heated rivalry match-up was a dandy last year as the Indians turned back the Blue Jays 9-7 at home. This year Junction City has the home field advantage, which could be the difference.
Our Pick: Junction City 28, Manhattan 21
5A #4 Blue Valley – Stilwell (8-0) at #2 Gardner-Edgerton (8-0)
The nation now knows about Bubba Starling. The Gardner-Edgerton senior quarterback left little question as to why ESPNU was broadcasting a high school game in Kansas this season. Bubba thrashed the Aquinas defense for 309 yards rushing and three touchdowns as the Blazers rolled 57-17.
Their reward? Last season’s 6A semi-finalists. The Blue Valley Tigers.
Blue Valley enters at 8-0 under first-year head coach Eric Driskell.
They feature a balanced offense led by junior running back Justin Fulks, and quarterback Kyle Zimmerman. The Tigers also feature multiple receiving threats in P.J. Debey and Jacob McDermott. But most of all Driskell’s team features an experienced offensive line led by Indiana-commit Kirk Harris.
Blue Valley will face a Trailblazer defense that has given up nearly 18 points per game.
When Gardner-Edgerton has the ball, expect to see a heavy dose of the run game. Even when everyone in the stadium knows that Starling is going to carry the ball (he noticeably leans each time) he is nearly impossible to stop because his speed is virtually unmatched.
The Tigers feel they are the team that can slow Starling down. Led by defensive standouts Ian Allen at linebacker, and Chris Daschke at defensive-end, the Tigers have allowed just over 10 points per game.
If the mighty Trailblazers happen to go down, don’t consider it an upset.
Our pick: Blue Valley 38, Gardner-Edgerton 35
5A #5 Bishop Carroll (7-1) at 5A #1 Hutchinson (7-1)
The Salt Hawks still have a firm grasp on the top spot in 5A and appear poised for their seventh straight title in spite of opening the season with only five starters back from last year's team that averaged 55 points per game in the 2009 regular season and 48 per contest in the playoffs.
Ben Heeney has made the transition to offensive workhorse without a hitch posting 1,386 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns and averaging a whopping 10.42 yards per carry. Heeney has not posted less than 100 yards in a game since the week one 29-28 overtime loss to regional power Rockhurst where he picked up 96 yards on 28 carries, one of only two games this season where he's averaged less than 10 yards per carry.
Bishop Carroll has rebounded nicely from a week one shutout loss to 6A #1 Heights reeling off seven straight victories by an average margin of 44-7. The offense has been explosive in spite of the loss of now Oklahoma freshman quarterback Blake Bell, but the defense, led by hard hitting safety Max Martinez, has been the driving force for the Golden Eagles.
While the Eagles have put together a special season thus far Hutchinson enjoys one of the best home field advantages in all of Kansas high school football and it appears the Salt Hawks have another date with destiny.
Our Pick: Hutchinson 42, Bishop Carroll 14
2-1A #1 St. Mary’s Colgan (8-0) at 2-1A #4 Olpe (8-0)
The most anticipated match-up of the regular season in Class 2-1A pits the top-ranked St. Mary’s Colgan Panthers traveling two-and-a-half hours northwest to take on the fourth-ranked Olpe Eagles.
These two teams have been ranked all season and are as high as #1 and #2 in some polls across the state. Both teams are trying to improve on quarterfinal playoff appearances last season.
Friday will mark just the fourth meeting between the Panthers and Eagles since the turn of the century. They last met in the 2008 state semifinals with Olpe prevailing with a 20-0 shutout. The Panthers won the other two meetings, 35-8 in Pittsburg in the second round of the 2007 playoffs, and 47-8 at Olpe in the 2001 first round.
Since 2000, Colgan has gone 130-9, winning a remarkable 94 percent of their games and reaching the playoffs each year. During that span, the Panthers have won four state titles and finished runner-up three more times.
Since 2004, Olpe has gone 59-16 with seven playoff appearances and a state runner-up finish in 2008.
This season, the Panthers can be summed up in one word, “speed”. Junior linebackers Chris and Zach Smith highlight a varsity defensive unit that has allowed just 14 total points this season. The ‘Smith twins’ also are primary threats on offense and special teams.
Several words come to mind in describing this year’s version of the Olpe Eagles. “Toughness”, “survival”, “tested”. All of those apply to Olpe, which faced an undefeated team in its first five games this season. Those words also apply to running back Linden Stueve who has been a workhorse for the Eagle offense this season.
The Eagles just seem to win. They have “it”. That intangible quality that just allows them to come out on top each week.
Whatever “it” is; “it” better be fast.
Our Pick: Colgan 35, Olpe 14
Burlingame (7-1) at 8 Man-I #2 Madison (8-0)
With four to five weeks of district play already in the books, playoff qualifiers in most of the 8 Man districts have been determined. But that’s not the case in a loaded District 3 of Division I which features three of the state’s top teams.
Madison leads the district lead with a 4-0 record, but Lebo and Burlingame are right behind at 3-1. Marais des Cygnes Valley could play a role in confusing things even further as the 2-2 Trojans host Lebo. Madison hosts Burlingame on Thursday night.
If Burlingame and Lebo post victories, the district would feature three teams tied at 4-1. To complicate things further, if the Beatcats and Wolves win by 21 points or more, all three teams would be tied in the point tie-breaker as well.
In other words, these games carry a lot of weight.
Madison has been arguably the most dominant team in Division 1 this season.
The Bulldogs are unbeaten and feature a defense that has given up only 16 total points and recorded six shutouts.
On offense, Madison averages nearly 54 points per game led by junior back Kole Schankie. Schankie has rushed for 974 yards rushing and 26 touchdowns this season, including 174 yards and 3 scores in the 46-0 shutout of a depleated Lebo team two weeks ago.
Burlingame features a pair of explosive backs in Jason Clem and Ty Lang. The Bearcats will need a big night from those two if they are to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
Our Pick: Madison 46, Burlingame 14
Thunder Ridge (6-2) at Victoria (7-1)
A win Thursday against Kensington-Thunder Ridge secures the district title for Victoria and a first-round home playoff game on Tuesday. Both teams are streaking.
The Knights have won seven straight following a week one 36-14 loss to Macksville. In the process, Victoria has allowed six or less points in five games including three shutouts.
The Knight's Kameron Dinkel has collected more than 1,100 all-purpose yards, including a team-high 860 rushing yards on 106 carries. Receiving-wise, the 170-pound Dinkel has seven catches for 180 yards, both team highs. He has emerged as a special teams threat, too. On defense, Dinkel has more than 50 tackles at linebacker as the Knights have outscored opponents 351-96 and rank fifth in scoring defense in Eight-Man II.
Thunder Ridge has picked up six straight victories since season opening losses to Hill City and Hanover. The Longhorns average 44.1 points per game, eighth-best in Eight-Man II.
Junior running back Joel Struckhoff, who coach Jerry Voorhees considered moving to quarterback, has continued to put up big numbers with 1,180 rushing yards, 8.95 yards per carry and 20 rushing scores. In his career, the 6-1, 171-pound Struckhoff has picked up 4,006 rushing yards with 66 rushing touchdowns.
Thunder Ridge, in its third year after Agra-Eastern Heights and Kensington consolidated, is 19-8. The eight losses have come to programs with a combined record of 79-9 with three state championships. This season, Hill City and Hanover have combined for a 15-1 record.
In this game a streak will come to an end and a district championship will be won, but with two high powered offenses the Knights and Longhorns should produce one for the ages.
(Conor Nicholl, The Hays Daily News, contributed to this article.)
Our Pick: Victoria 44, Thunder Ridge 38
The Pick List:
Kapaun Mt. Carmel (7-1) at Andover Central (7-1) – Andover Central
Baldwin (7-1) at Eudora (6-2) – Baldwin
Basehor-Linwood (8-0) at Perry-Lecompton (6-2) – Basehor-Linwood
Nickerson (6-2) at Buhler (8-0) – Buhler
Cherryvale (5-3) at Caney Valley (6-2) – Caney Valley
Troy (6-2) at Centralia (7-1) – Centralia
3A #2 Scott City (8-0) at Cimarron (6-2) – Scott City
Concordia (7-1) at Clay Center (5-3) – Concordia
Derby (5-3) at 6A #1Wichita Heights (8-0) – Wichita Heights
6A #5 Dodge City (8-0) at Garden City (5-3) – Dodge City
Fort Scott (5-3) at Anderson County (6-2) – Fort Scott
Galena (6-2) at Riverton (7-1) – Riverton
Hays (6-2) at Salina Central (6-2) – Salina Central
Marion (5-3) at Hillsboro (4-4) – Hillsboro
4A #4 Holton (6-2) at Royal Valley (7-1) – Holton
3A #5 Hutch Trinity (7-1) at Sedgwick (6-2) – Hutch Trinity
Kinsley (5-3) at Ness City (4-4) – Ness City
Wakefield (6-2) at 8 Man-I #5 Lakeside-Downs (7-1) – Lakeside
Lebo (7-1) at Marais des Cygnes Valley (5-3) – Lebo
Little River (6-2) at Lincoln (7-1) – Lincoln
2-1A #5 Oswego (6-2) at Lyndon (6-2) – Oswego
Norton (7-0) at Phillipsburg (6-1) – Norton
Olathe South (6-2) at 6A #3 Olathe East (7-1) – Olathe East
Quinter (6-2) at 8 Man-I #3 Osborne (7-1) – Osborne
4A #2 Louisburg (8-0) at Paola (6-2) – Louisburg
Pleasant Ridge (7-1) at Rossville (5-3) – Rossville
Riley County (6-2) at Rock Creek (5-3) – Riley County