8 Man-I District Preview
Running back Damon Schurr has Osborne contending on the west side of 8M-I. (Photo by Marion McReynolds, for Kansas Pregame)
By Contributing: Conor Nicholl (Hays Daily News), Mark Schremmer, Matt Gilmore (Kpreps.com), & John Baetz (Kansas Pregame)
Posted: September 29, 2011 - 7:36 AM
8-Man Division I
In recent history, Eight-Man, Division I has produced more schools winning state championships than any other classification.
Helped by several powerhouses moving between Eight-Man, Division I and Division II, teams dropping from the 11-man to the 8-man ranks and overall parity throughout the class, no team has repeated as state champions since Coldwater in 1994-95.
In the last 15 years, 12 different teams have won a state title. In six of the last seven years, programs have either won its first state football title in program history or snapped a long streak between state crowns. The last three champions, Baileyville B&B, Quinter and Madison had stretches of 16, 17 and 26 years between the schools winning at Newton's Fischer Field.
This year, the stretch of unpredictability could end — or may continue for another year.
Defending state champion Madison, ranked No. 1 all year in the KPreps.com poll, has looked dominant. The Bulldogs have outscored its four opponents 217-6 through four weeks.
However, the next four teams in the poll, Lebo, Downs-Lakeside, Osborne and Central-Burden, have all either never won a state football crown or have a long drought between titles. Lebo and Lakeside have never won a state football crown. Osborne won the Class 3A title in 1983, while Central-Burden collected the 3A championship four years later for the schools' lone championship.
· Central Burden (4-0, 0-0 district) – The Raiders have cruised through their first four games, scoring at least 46 points in each game and recording three shutouts. A lot of their success has come through the air. Central Burden senior quarterback Bo Savage has completed 57-of-79 passes for 981 yards with 23 TDs and only two interceptions. Savage’s main target has been senior wide receiver Ky Biddle, who has 21 catches for 497 yards and 11 TDs.
· Sedan (4-0, 0-0 district) – The Blue Devils definitely have displayed some offensive firepower. Sedan has scored at least 50 pointsin every game this season and has scored more than 70 points twice. Junior Nick Kimple has been a big part of that firepower. During Sedan’s 54-6 win against Flinthills, Kimple completed 7-of-11 passes for 134 yards and two TDs and rushed for 110 yards and one touchdown.
· Udall (3-1, 0-0 district) – After a 46-36 loss to unbeaten South Haven in the Eagles’ opener, they have cruised through their past three games. Senior running back Colton Witte has been a big weapon for Udall, rushing for 438 yards and five TDs. In last week’s 77-0 win against Elk Valley, Witte scored two TDs, despite having only two carries.
· West Elk (3-1, 0-0 district) – Like Udall, the Patriots lost their opener then cruised in their next three games. West Elk fell 22-8 in its first game to St. Paul. Since then, the Patriots have won their next three games against Elk Valley, Flinthills and Yates Center by a combined score of 136-6.
· Oxford (2-2, 0-0 district) – The Wildcats have been on both ends of blowouts this season. Oxford opened the season with a 68-0 win against Attica where Darrin Haskins rushed for 182 yards. In Week 3, Chetopa blanked the Wildcats 48-0.
· Cedar Vale-Dexter (1-3, 0-0 district) – After dropping their first three games of the season, the Spartans recorded their first win last week by beating Flinthills 70-20. Junior Devon Ames rushed for 151 yards and three TDs against Flinthills. He also caught five balls for 78 yards and another TD in the win.
Key games: (Week 7) Sedan at Central Burden could decide the district winner.
Winner: Central Burden
· Chetopa (3-1, 0-0 district) – The Green Hornets rolled their first three opponents before being outgunned 72-46 by Sedan this past week. Quarterback Dylan Price has led Chetopa with arm and his legs. He has completed 31-of-59 passes for 754 yards and 10 TDs, while rushing for 367 yards and three TDs. Running back Justice Riddle has ran for 354 yards and eight TDs.
· St. Paul (3-1, 0-0 district) – The Indians’ only loss was 40-22 to second-ranked Lebo in Week 2. Since then, St. Paul has posted wins of 48-0 against Burlingame and 60-8 against Altoona-Midway.
· Pleasanton (2-2, 0-0 district) – The Blu-jays did lose 60-0 to top-ranked Madison in Week 2, but plenty of teams have taken their lumps against the defending state champs. In every other game, Pleasanton has either won or been competitive. The Blu-jays’ 40-34 loss to Marais des Cygnes Valley was one they let slip away. Pleasanton had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.
· Marmaton Valley (1-2, 0-0 district) – The Wildcats’ record may be a little deceiving. While they only have one win, their two losses are to second-ranked Lebo and a 3-1 Marais des Cygnes Valley team. Cole Becker rushed for 128 yards and two TDs in the loss to Marais des Cygnes.
· Colony Crest (1-3, 0-0 district) – The Lancers have fallen below expectations so far this season. Colony Crest finished 9-2 in 2010 and returned four all-league performers. However, the Lancers already have more losses than in all of last season.
· Yates Center(0-4, 0-0 district) – The Wildcats not only have lost all four games, they have been shut out in three of them. However, they were very competitive against a 3-1 Southern Coffey Co. team, falling 28-22.
Key games: (Week 7) St. Paul travel to Chetopa for a game that will likely decide the district champion.
Winner: St. Paul
· Lebo (4-0, 0-0 district) – The good news for the Wolves is that they are No. 2 ranked team in all of 8-Man Division I. The bad news is that the No. 1-ranked Madison Bulldogs also are in their district. Lebo’s only two losses in 2010 were both to Madison. First-year coach Troy McArthur has already directed the Wolves to some big wins this year, beating St. Paul 40-22 in Week 2 and Waverly 36-14 in Week 3. Quarterback Trevor White passed for 135 yards and two TDs, while rushing for 140 yards and one TD against St. Paul.
· Madison (4-0, 0-0 district) – The defending state champion Bulldogs are on a 17-game winning streak, but they will have a target on their back each and every week. Madison returned only four starters on each side of the ball from last year’s title team, but that hasn’t slowed down the Bulldogs. They have posted shutouts in three of the four games, allowing only six points for the season. KoleSchankie is Madison’s best offensive and defensive weapon, rushing for 1,900 yards and 52 TDs in 2010.
· White City (4-0, 0-0 district) – The Huskies are playing inspired football after finishing 1-8 a year ago. However, White City has a huge mountain to climb with the top two ranked teams in the state playing in its district. The Huskies will drop to 8-Man Division II next season.
· Marais des Cygnes Valley (3-1, 0-0 district) – The Trojans have scored 40 points or more, and their only loss came 50-40 to a 3-1 Waverly team. They appear to have the offense to play with about anyone. However, a defense that has allowed at least four touchdowns in every game this season is probably too porous to compete with the likes of Madison and Lebo.
· Southern Coffey Co. (3-1, 0-0 district) – The Titans, like all the other teams, are dealing with being in what is most likely the most competitive 8-Man Division I district in the whole state. However to keep things in perspective, the Titans’ victories come against three teams with one win combined.
· Burlingame (2-2, 0-0 district) – The Bearcats have the worst record in the entire district, and they boast a .500 record. They beat up on two 0-4 teams in Hartford and Yates Center but lost big to St. Paul and Waverly.
Key games: (Week 7) The game of Madison at Lebo may not only decide the district but also give an idea of who might be the best team in the state.
· Lakeside-Downs (4-0, 2-0 district) – The Knights have blown past their first two district opponents. Miles Thomas has been a big reason why. The senior has rushed for 411 yards and seven TDs on only 50 carries. Brandon Smith has been the Knights’ top receiver with nine catches for 191 yards and five TDs.
· Mankato-Rock Hills (3-1, 2-0 district) – The Grizzlies were 5-4 last season, but having a healthy Blake Walter at quarterback may take them to the next level. Walter injured his ACL early in 2010 and was lost for the season. This year, he passed for 123 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 301 yards and five TDs. However, the Grizzlies’ most effective weapon may be handing off to senior Alex Smith. He’s rushed for 627 yards and 10 TDs on only 40 carries.
· Wakefield (2-2, 1-0 district) – The Bombers may be only 2-2 so far, but they have won the game that matters. Last week’s 62-48 victory against Blue Valley Randolph has the Bombers sitting 1-0 in the district and poised to compete for a spot in the playoffs. Wakefield has made it to the playoffs only once in the past 18 seasons, making it to the first round in 2006.
· Clifton-Clyde (3-0, 1-1 district) – The Eagles are already at a disadvantage, falling 66-16 last week to Mankato-Rock Hills. It could be a difficult loss to recover from, with Lakeside-Downs and Wakefield still remaining on the schedule. Clifton-Clyde’s three wins come against teams that combine for a 1-11 record.
· Pike Valley (0-4, 0-1 district) – After scoring only three points over the first two weeks, the Panthers have at least shown a little offensive life the past two games. The Panthers have posted at least 20 points in their last two games.
· Blue Valley Randolph (2-2, 0-2 district) – The Rams won their first two games, but have allowed 62 points each in two district losses. They did show an ability to score against Wakefield, falling 62-48.
· Southern Cloud (0-4, 0-2 district) – The Warriors have had a tough start in district competition, having to play what is arguably the two best teams (Lakeside and Mankato) in the first two games. The Warriors struggled mightily in both, falling 60-0 and 62-0, respectively.
Key games: (Week 7) Mankato-Rock Hills travels to face Lakeside-Downs in what is expected to be a big district battle.
Runner-up: Mankato-Rock Hills
· Macksville (4-0, 2-0 district) - Last year's District 5 runner-up, the Mustangs may be the favorite this season as Pretty Prairie was raided by graduation. The Mustangs have dispatched their first two district opponents - Fairfield and South Central - easily, outscoring them a combined 88-34. The Macksville offense is fueled by senior quarterback Seth Filbert who gets it done through the air throwing for more than 200 yards in each of the two district wins. Senior running back Adam Oak is the driving force in the ground game tallying at least 80 yards rushing in the two district contests and also serving as Filbert's favorite receiving target.
· Pretty Prairie (4-0, 1-0 district) - Pretty Prairie rolled through this district last season behind the running of big back Daniel Krehbiel, but he, and four other key players are gone to graduation after finishing 2010 11-1. Four returning starters including 6-4, 205 pound junior tight end/safety Stetson Broce have the Bulldogs unbeaten thus far including a two-point thriller last week against traditional power South Barber. The Bulldogs easily dispatched district foe South Central, 46-0.
· St. John (3-1, 1-0 district) - The Tigers lost their season opener to last year's state runner-up Otis-Bison, 58-14, but have since reeled off three straight victories and scored at least 40 points in all three wins. The Tigers opened district play with a 40-22 win over Pratt-Skyline last week on their Homecoming.
· Kiowa County (2-2, 1-1 district) – The Mavericks have one of the state’s most exciting players in Ross Binford. Binford has rushed for 1,199 yards through the first four games of this season after rushing for 473 yards and scoring all 62 points in Kiowa County’s 62-28 win over Fairfield in Week 4. Binford rushed for 2,332 and 32 touchdowns last season.
· Pratt Skyline (3-1, 1-1 district) – Skyline averaged 50 points per game in their first three wins before being held to just 22 in a Week 4 loss to St. John. The T-Birds have been led by Brennan Stotts who has rushed for 447 yards and six touchdowns.
· South Central (1-3, 0-2 district) – The Timberwolves have played a brutal schedule thus far. South Central’s three losses have come against teams that are a combined 12-0 in South Gray, Pretty Prairie, and Macksville. The Timberwolves have been competitive in those games having lost to South Gray by 14 and Macksville by 20.
· Fairfield(2-2, 0-2 district) –The Falcons began this season the same way they began 2010, with wins over Attica and Burrton. Last season, the Fairfield then lost seven straight to finish the season as the schedule strengthened. For 2011 to be any different, they’ll need a better defensive effort than Week 4 when Fairfield surrendered 473 yards rushing to Ross Binford of Kiowa County.
Key Games: (Wk 5) Pretty Prairie at Macksville, (Wk 8) St. John at Macksville, (Wk 9) Macksville at Pratt Skyline
Winner: Pretty Prairie
· South Gray (4-0, 2-0 district) — Jeff Blattner, in his 31st year of coaching and third with the Rebels, has turned South Gray into one of eight-man's top defenses. The Rebels have outscored its four opponents 160-28 and are tied for fourth in scoring defense in the classification, according to preppowerindex.com. South Gray has posted several impressive wins, including a 32-6 victory against Kiowa County and a 50-6 district victory against Hodgeman County.
· Minneola (2-2, 2-0 district) — The Wildcats have been one of Kansas' most up-and-down teams in the last six years. Starting in 2006, Minneola has posted records of 2-7, 6-4, 7-3, 9-1 and 0-9 before they've turned things back around this fall under first-year coach Seth Mills, a Norton graduate and son of former Hays High School coach Brad Mills. Minneola has a quality non-district defeat when they lost at Ashland, ranked No. 5 in Eight-Man, Division II, 20-14 in Week 1. Minneola has a ground-heavy attack that has churned out 1,256 rushing yards, including 614 from quarterback Matt McClaren. He has cleared at 125 yards in every game, including 255 combined yards in district victories against Kinsley and Deerfield.
· Ness City (4-0, 1-0 district) — Second-year coach Chris Bamberger is a former Kansas State linebacker, played at Jetmore under former coach Kevin Ayers, considered one of Kansas' top coaches. Bamberger has taken Ayers' approach of hard-nosed defense, a simple, ball control offense and aggressive play. After a 1-3 start last season, Ness City is 8-2. The Eagles own quality wins against Victoria and Hill City. Junior Garrett Flax has three special teams scores and rushed for 455 yards. The Eagles rank seventh in the classification in scoring defense, allowing just 8.5 points a contest.
· Jetmore-Hodgeman County (2-1, 1-1 district) — Jetmore has struggled a little after they lost all-staters Even Kreger and Devan Rudzik to graduation. After a Week 1 bye, Jetmore defeated winless WaKeeney-Trego 46-12 in non-district action, then lost to South Gray 50-6 and defeated Kinsley 38-28. Last year, Jetmore reached the playoffs before they lost in the second round to Hill City on the road.
· Spearville (0-4, 0-2 district) — Hunter Heiland and Blake Loder have split time at quarterback for the Lancers. Together, they've completed 27-of-62 passes for 320 yards with two touchdowns against one interception. Heiland leads the team with 275 rushing yards, while Loder ranks second at 256. Spearville lost its first two games by a combined 10 points, but have suffered back-to-back shutout losses by a combined score of 96-0 to Ashland and South Gray the last two games.
· Deerfield (1-3, 0-2 district) —Deerfield had a victory against winless Rolla, but has dropped three games by at least 22 points, including district losses to Ness City and Minneola. Deerfield has allowed 50 points per game through the season's first month.
· Kinsley (1-3, 0-2 district) — After a 30-12 Week 1 victory against Fowler, Kinsley has dropped three straight by a combined total of 37 points. That included a 30-25 defeat to Minneola and a 38-28 loss to Hodgeman County in district play.
Key Games: Hodgeman County at South Gray, Week 3 (South Gray won 50-6), Hodgeman County at Ness City (Week 6), South Gray at Ness City (Week 7)
Winner: Ness City
Runner-up: South Gray
· Quinter (4-0, 2-0 district) —The Bulldogs have delivered a perfect first month behind its usual formula: a strong running game and a stout defense. Quinter, the 2009 Eight-Man, Division I state champions, is 32-5 with one home loss since they moved to the eight-man ranks. Fullback Logan Reed, a three-year starter, has 81 carries for 719 yards and 12 touchdowns. Sophomore Colton Corwin, in his first year as starting quarterback, has rushed for 455 yards and eight scores. Overall, Quinter has 1,475 yards of total offense, 1,333 on the ground. The Bulldogs, top-10 in the classification for scoring defense in each of the past three seasons, rank sixth this year and have outscored opponents 176-30.
· Osborne (3-1, 2-0 district) — Steve Tiernan, who won two state titles with Baileyville B&B, took over the Bulldog program this year. The Bulldogs, ranked fourth in KPreps.com's poll, lost to third-ranked Downs-Lakeside in the first week of the season in the final minutes. Osborne has one of Kansas' top offenses and has averaged 44 points per game. Damon Schurr, one of Kansas' fastest players, has 65 carries for 751 yards and 14 touchdowns. Quarterback Ethan Slothower, in his third year as a starter, has rushed for 216 yards and four scores and passed for 364 yards with four touchdowns against one interception. Kenton Ubelaker has hauled in 10 catches for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Last year, Osborne, in its first season of eight-man football, had the program's best year since 1983 when they finished 10-2 and lost to Hill City in the sub-state championship game.
· Hoxie (2-2, 1-1 district) — The Indians have continued to make progress with third-year coach Lance Baar and could reach the postseason for the first time since they lost in the first round of the Class 2-1A playoffs in 2007. Quarterback Colton Spresser has passed for 401 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 201 yards and three scores. Jaxsen Moss has collected three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries to lead the defense. Hoxie has lost two close games, a 30-22 non-district Week 2 defeat to Sharon Springs and a 42-38 loss to Osborne in Week 4.
· Sylvan-Lucas Unified (2-2, 1-1 district) — The Mustangs have shown they can win big and lose big. Sylvan-Lucas defeated Natoma 68-22 in non-district play in Week 1 and beat Stockton 46-19 in a Week 4 district game. Both squads are winless. In between, the Mustangs fell 74-42 to Lincoln and lost 38-6 to Quinter in district, squads that are 8-0. Brandon Pool leads Sylvan-Lucas with 78 carries for 536 yards and five scores.
· Hill City (1-3, 0-1 district) — The Ringnecks have taken a big tumble from last year's 11-2 team that finished Eight-Man, Division I state runner-up and set school records for wins and scoring offense. Hill City graduated many of its top players from 2010, including quarterback Reggie Jordan, the KPreps.com Eight-Man, Division I Player of the Year, and all-state lineman Eric VanLoenen and Tyler Bess. This year, Hill City has suffered shutout losses to Thunder Ridge and Ness City in non-district action. Quarterback Dylan Anderson has passed for 302 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 470 yards and four scores.
· WaKeeney-Trego (0-4, 0-1 district) —Last year, the Golden Eagles, in its first year of eight-man football, had the hardest schedule in Eight-Man, Division I, according to preppowerindex.com. This year, Trego's schedule — which has losses to Ness City (4-0), Thunder Ridge (4-0), Hodgeman County (2-1) and Quinter (4-0) — again ranks as the most difficult. Running back Cameron Staples leads Trego with 84 carries for 420 yards and five scores.
· Stockton (0-4, 0-2 district) — The Tigers have lost their four games by a combined score of 156-38. No game is within 20 points. One positive is the play of kicker Tyler Peterson. Last year, Peterson led the nation's eight-man kickers with six field goals and had 21 touchbacks on 29 kickoffs, a 72.4 percentage that was second-best among Kansas eight-man kickers, according to MaxPreps.com. This fall, Peterson had eight touchbacks on 11 kickoffs, averaged 37 yards on 14 punts and made 2-of-4 field goals with a long of 42 yards.
Key Games: Osborne at Hoxie (Week 5: Osborne won 42-38); Quinter at Hoxie (Week 7); Osborne at Quinter (Week 9)
· Lincoln (4-0, 2-0 district) - The Leopards won this district last year and the return of junior quarterback Dayton Walter makes them the favorite again. Walter passed for 1,800 yards and 28 touchdowns with only three interceptions last season and is on track for similar numbers this fall as the Leopards have rolled to 4-0. Big senior end Wyatt Schroeder (6-6, 220) is one of the best in 8-Man and is force on the defense piling up 24 tackles and five sacks already in 2011.
· Central Plains (3-1, 2-0 district) - The newly consolidated Central Plains Oilers includes traditional football powers Claflin and Quivira Heights and together the two teams have formed a program that looks to challenge Lincoln and Little River for District 8 supremacy. The dynamic backfield of Benn Kirmer and Nick Schepmann is formidable. In their only loss so far the Oilers played close with 8-Man II power Otis-Bison before the Cougars ran away with the game in the fourth quarter.
· Little River (2-2, 1-1 district) - The return of all-league backs Chet Cordell and Derek Dean has the Redskings hoping for a playoff birth this season but it may not be enough to topple returning champion Lincoln. Dean has accounted for 327 yards and five touchdowns rushing and Cordell has added 354 yards and six touchdowns. Cordell has also been brilliant from his linebacker spot tallying 55 tackles through four games.
· Canton-Galva (2-2, 1-1 district) - The Canton-Galva Eagles appear improved in their second year under Darrin Fisher, but it may not be enough to compete with the upper crust of District 8. The Eagles struggled in a 60-14 loss to Lincoln last week and face tough district foes Central Plains and Little River sandwiched around a non-district game with Solomon over the next three weeks.
· Peabody-Burns (2-2, 0-1 district) - The Warriors lost a number of talented players to graduation from last year's 6-4 district runner-up team that was blated by Osborne in the playoff opener. Peabody-Burns opened the season with consecutive victories over Centre and Wakefield, but have since posted consecutive losses to Canton-Galva and Hope.
· Solomon (1-3, 0-1 district) – The Gorillas went 4-5 in the first year of 8-man football in 2010. For Solomon to improve on that record and get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008, they must rely on a sophomore quarterback in Colton Shirack who has rushed for 458 yards and seven touchdowns.
· Goessel (0-4, 0-2 district) - The Goessel Bluebirds have fallen on hard times only two years removed from an 8-3 season. First year coach Tyler Schrodder inherited an inexperienced squad from former coach Justin Coup who has since moved on to coach 8-Man II's top ranked Baileyville Falcons. The Bluebirds have allowed at least 52 points in each of their first four losses.
Key Games: (Week 3) Central Plains beat Little River 42-26; (Week 7) Lincoln at Central Plains; (Week 9) Lincoln at Little River
Runner-up: Central Plains