Kpreps 2019 Preseason Rankings

Sep 2, 2019

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It’s time for football! kicks off the 2019 season with the release our Top 5 rankings. So, let’s get started! Take a look at our preseason rankings and let the debate begin!

But first, our annual disclaimer: the Kpreps rankings are a collaborative effort from multiple media sources across the state and will be released each Monday throughout the season.

Class 6A

Derby opens the season as the top-ranked team in Class 6A for the fourth consecutive year. The Panthers have reached the 6A state title game in four consecutive years having won titles in 2015, 2016, and 2018. Brandon Clark’s group seemingly reloads each season and this year appears to be no exception. The Panthers return eight starters on offense including Tre Washington who rushed for more than 1,800 yards and 24 scores last season. Grant Adler returns for his third season at quarterback, although he’s been injured in each of the past two seasons.  

Blue Valley North checks in at No. 2 to begin the season. Andy Sims has turned Blue Valley North into a top tier program in Class 6A, leading the Mustangs to a 35-21 record in his first five seasons. Blue Valley North had posted 27 total wins in the ten seasons prior to Sims’ arrival. Graham Mertz has moved on to Wisconsin, but Henry Martin stepped in as a freshman QB last fall and looked more than capable to lead the offense at a high level.  

Gardner-Edgerton completed an improbably turnaround in going from winless during the 2017 season, to 10-1 last fall. The Trailblazers reached the state quarterfinals before falling to Mertz and Blue Valley North, 49-28. Gardner-Edgerton returns standout athlete Teven McKelvey at quarterback and Kansas State commit Talor Warner on the offensive line. The backfield has some holes to fill with the graduation of Luke Jennings, Jacob Hunsperger, and Baylor Maxwell, but 16 total returning starters should keep the Blazers playing at a high level.

Olathe North nearly reached the state title game to take on Derby. The Eagles fell 51-49 to Blue Valley North in the semifinals despite an incredible effort from quarterback Arland Bruce, IV. All Bruce did was pass for 174 yards and five touchdowns and rush for 112 more yards. All-state running back Daymonn Sanchez has graduated after rushing for 2,400 yards and 29 touchdowns, but the Eagles return four starters on the offensive line and should be a factor again this fall.

Finally, Blue Valley claims the No. 5 spot to open the season. The Tigers battled through a brutal schedule and several key injuries last season to a 4-5 record, but return plenty of talent to get back to the level they’re accustomed to. Jake Wolff hasn’t yet started at quarterback, but has received a lot of D-1 interest. He’ll have a couple of guys with D-1 offers to throw the ball to in Dorian Stephens at receiver and Iowa-commit Mason Richman at tight end.

Several other strong contenders highlight a deep Class 6A this fall as Lawrence Free State, Topeka High, and a few others should be in consideration for a spot in the poll very soon.

Class 5A

St. Thomas Aquinas completed an undefeated season by winning the schools’ first state football championship with a 49-28 victory over Wichita Northwest. Sophomore sensation Tyron “Tank” Young rushed for 329 yards and four touchdowns in the victory to add to finish his season with 2,075 yards and 26 touchdowns. The Saints graduated a lot of talent off of last year’s team and highly-recruited brothers Matthew and Jaeden Roberts moved on to defending Texas 6A-I (and national champion) Houston North Shore. Still there is plenty of talent remaining for Randy Dreiling to make a run at his ninth overall state championship.

Wichita Northwest moved down to Class 5A last season and reached the state title game for the second time in school history. The Grizzlies put up incredible numbers on the offensive side of the ball last season, but were also involved in some high-scoring shootouts. Northwest won consecutive playoff games 84-67 over Bishop Carroll and 67-60 over Maize. A lot of that firepower has graduated. All-state running back Breece Hall made his debut as a true freshman at Iowa State this past weekend. But Reagan Jones returns at quarterback after passing for more than 2,400 yards and adding nearly 1,400 rushing yards with 51 total touchdowns.

Bishop Carroll opens the season at No. 3 for the second consecutive season. The Golden Eagles return 11 total starters from an 8-3 team that reached the state quarterfinals. Carroll battled through numerous injuries last season, especially at quarterback. Third-string sophomore Aiden Niedens eventually was thrown into action in the playoffs and responded by throwing seven touchdowns passes in the season-ending loss to Wichita Northwest. The Eagles also return four starters up front. Bishop Carroll will open with No. 2 Wichita Northwest this week.

For the second straight season, Mill Valley opens the season at No. 4 in the poll. The Jaguars lost four games last fall – two to 5A champion Aquinas, one to 4A champion Bishop Miege, and one to 6A runner-up Blue Valley North. This season, Mill Valley returns a lot of experience on the offensive line along with running back Tyler Green.

Finally, De Soto edges out a couple of teams for the No. 5 spot in the opening poll. The Wildcats reached the state quarterfinals a year ago before falling to Olathe West. De Soto returns nine starters on each side of the ball including quarterback Jackson Miller who accounted for 1,600 yards and 24 touchdowns as a sophomore last fall.

Class 4A

Bishop Miege’s domination of Class 4A continued last season with their fifth consecutive state championship. The Stags return plenty of talent to be the favorite for a sixth consecutive title, but they’ll once again have a new face at the quarterback position. Timothy Dorsey is expected to take over the offense from Sam Pedrotti. There will be plenty of weapons at his disposal with Minnesota-commit Daniel Jackson returning from injury to headline a wide receiver group that also includes Division 1 recruit Phillippe Wesley. Brison Cobbins returns for his senior year in the backfield after rushing for more than 1,300 yards last fall.

Goddard reached the state championship game last fall in the first season under the direction of Tommy Beason. The Lions return quarterback Kyler Semrad for his third season behind center. Semrad passed for nearly 2,000 yards last season.

McPherson begins the season at No. 3 after reaching the state semifinals before a heartbreaking 15-14 loss to Goddard. The Bullpups were hit hard by graduation on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense should be solid with six returning starters including Kansas State commit Cody Stufflebean.  

A pair of Frontier League teams round out the preseason top five in Class 4A. Louisburg finished the regular season unbeaten and earned the top seed on the eastern half of Class 4A. The Wildcats rolled through a couple of playoff wins before falling to Miege. While Louisburg los some key players quarterback Madden Rutherford returns as one of the classification's bests after throwing for more than 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns a year ago.

Louisburg topped rival Paola, 25-7, to claim the Frontier League title last fall. Paola checks in at No. 5 this preseason as the Panthers return seven starters on each side of the ball from a team that reached the state quarterfinals last fall. The Panther defense returns plenty of experience from a unit that allowed less than nine points per game and posted five shutouts.

Class 3A

Two-time defending champion Sabetha opens the Class 3A poll at the top after narrowly escaping Pratt, 43-42 in overtime in last year’s title game. The Bluejays return the bulk of their offensive line and quarterback Gabe Garber to direct the offense. Garber is a Kpreps two-time all-state performer, earning all-purpose designation last fall for an incredible stat line that included nearly 1,000 passing yards, 1,155 rushing yards, and 112 tackles on defense.

Perennial state title contender Andale is back near the top at No. 2 to open the season. The Indians’ season ended with a 21-19 loss to Pratt in the state semifinals. Andale returns quarterback Easton Hunter and defensive standouts Mac Brand (LB) and Scotti Easter (DB).

Perhaps the most talented roster returning this season is that of Marysville. The Bulldogs appear loaded for a deep playoff run after falling in two overtimes to Galena in the quarterfinals last fall. Quarterback Brandon Schroedl and running back Atreyau Hornbeak will lead the offensive headlines, while all-stater Garron Champoux returns at linebacker after 144 tackles last fall.

Scott City opens the season at No. 4 in the poll. The Beavers return several starters off a team that reached the state quarterfinals before falling to Andale.   

Topeka Hayden rounds out the Top 5 at No. 5. The Wildcats were handled by Marysville in a quarterfinal loss, but Hayden returns several talented players to make a run again this fall. Nine players with starting experience return on defense, while the offense will feature backs Will DeVader and Desmond Purnell behind a group of four returning offensive linemen.

Class 2A

Phillipsburg retains the No. 1 spot to open the 2019 season after the Panthers’ won their second state football title in school history with a 27-0 shutout of Riley County. Phillipsburg returns several talented players on the line, and Ty Sides should step in at quarterback to take the place of his brother Trey.

Hoisington and Conway Springs begin the season at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Hoisington is loaded with returning talent led by North Dakota commit Wyatt Pedigo. Pedigo rushed for 2,000 yards last season and is also one of the top linebackers in the state. Conway Springs returns a couple of key players in their single-win backfield in Collin Koester and Peyton Winter, but the Cardinals will have to develop line play to make a deep playoff push.  

Mid-East League rivals Rossville and Silver Lake round out the Class 2A poll at Nos. 4 and 5, respectively. Both teams reached the state quarterfinals last fall and lost in heartbreaking fashion. Rossville fell 24-22 to Humboldt, while Silver Lake lost 40-34 in over time to Riley County. This season, both Rossville and Silver Lake return several starters across their respective offensive lines, but may have questions to answer at some key skill positions.  

Class 1A

Once again, Smith Center dominated the competition en route to another state title. The Redmen rolled to a 59-0 shutout of Olpe in the title game. This year, the Redmen return several key players up front, but must replace their entire backfield.

Fellow Mid-Continent League rival Plainville slides into the No. 2 spot to open the season. The Cardinals lost to Smith Center 49-7 in the state semifinal game. Plainville returns two standout small school players in Jordan Finnesy and Jared Casey.  

Jackson Heights opens the season in the No. 3 spot in Class 1A. The Cobras return seven starters on each side of the ball including several multi-year starters across the offensive line. Cooper Williams is back in the backfield after rushing for nearly 1,600 yards and 17 touchdown a season ago.

The Olpe slipped by Centralia, then shutout a short-handed St. Mary’s Colgan team in order to reach the state championship game. From there, things didn’t go the Eagles’ way as Smith Center rolled to a 59-0 victory. Olpe graduated two-time all-state back Blaine Hinrichs who missed the second half of last season due to injury. Still the Eagles return Colby Hoelting at quarterback and Kynden Robert in the backfield as part of 15 total returning starters.

Finally, Centralia rounds out the top five to open the season. The Panthers finished 8-3 after early season losses to Rossville and Riley County. Centralia graduated size up front in Derek VanDorn and Daegan Steinlage, but Austin Holthaus returns to lead the way for explosive back Kamble Haverkamp.

Class 8M-I

In Class 8-Man, Division I, Central Plains is the defending champion after a dominant run to the title in which the Oilers allowed only 34 total points. However, the Oilers graduated a talented senior class that included six total all-state selections and open the 2019 season at No. 4 in the Kpreps poll.

Instead, it’s Canton-Galva that begins the year with the target on its back. The Eagles reached posted a 10-2 record last fall and reached the state semifinals before falling to Solomon. Canton-Galva returns every player off of that squad including all-state quarterback Landon Everett and standout defensive back Tyson Struber. For the Eagles to live up to the preseason hype they’ll have to pass a test right away against Little River. The Redskins handed Canton-Galva one of two losses last season, 52-20 in the season opener.

The St. Francis Indians open the season in the No. 2 spot after reaching the state semifinal round before being shut out against Central Plains. The Indians return a talented offensive line that features Jesse Baxter and Colton Neitzel, and return three-year starter Brady Dinkel at quarterback.

Hodgeman County opens the season in the third spot. The Longhorns reached the state quarterfinals last fall before falling 30-20 at St. Francis. Hodgeman County will feature one of the most talented backfields in the classification with senior Eli Salmans at running back and junior Isaac Salmans at quarterback. The Salmans brothers will likely carry the load offensively for a Longhorn team looking to get back to their third state title game in the past seven years.

Finally, South Central rounds out the poll at No. 5. The Timberwolves reached the state quarterfinals before a 54-52, overtime loss to Canton-Galva. South Central’s only other loss came in the regular season against Hodgeman County. The Timberwolves return several talented players including Chayde Synder and Gage Girk, who each received Kpreps all-state honors on the defensive side of the ball last season.

Several other contenders wait just outside the top five in what is one of the deepest classifications in the state.

Class 8M-II

Once again, defending champion Hanover opens the season as the top team in Class 8-Man, Division II. The Wildcats won their third consecutive state title by holding off Osborne, 58-50 in the title game. Hanover enters this season on a 38-game win streak, but graduation claimed many multi-year starters. The Wildcats will have to reload with less experienced players stepping up to fill those roles, but Hanover has shown little trouble in doing that in the past.

Axtell finished 10-2 last fall with both losses coming to their Twin Valley League rival, Hanover. The Eagles challenged the Wildcats in the regular season before falling 50-42, then came up on the short end of a 60-14 decision in the state semifinal game. This may be Axtell’s year, however. The Eagles return all-state quarterback Quinn Buessing who is coming off a 2018 season in which he passed for 2,595 yards, 51 touchdowns, and added nearly 700 rushing yards with 13 more scores. Gone is his record-breaking wide receiver Hunter Koch (73 catches, 1,265 yards, 33 TD), but several talented players return to make the Eagles a serious contender.

Osborne checks in to the initial poll at No. 3 after last year’s runner-up finish. The Bulldogs return one of the classification’s most exciting players in senior Darrien Holloway, but must replace his brother Darnell who graduated after earning all-state honors with more than 2,500 yards of total offense and 46 combined touchdowns. Darrien garnered all-state honors as well as a 1,500-yard rusher, and will likely be relied upon to carry much of the load this fall. Osborne opens with a key game against Hill City. The Bulldogs outlasted the Ringnecks 88-76 in the 2018 season opener.

South Barber opens the season as the No. 4 team in 8M-II. The Chieftains return six starters from a team that finished 9-1-1 last season and reached the state quarterfinals. Senior quarterback Trevor Rooks returns after earning all-state recognition as an all-purpose player having produced 2,200 yards of total offense and 45 total touchdowns.

Finally, rounding out the 8M-II poll is St. Paul at No. 5. The Indians followed up their 2017 runner-up finish in 8M-I with a quarterfinal finish in 8M-II last fall. Adam Albertini returns in the backfield after having rushed for more than 2,200 yards and scoring 60 total touchdowns last fall. St. Paul has returns six starters on offense and five more on defense. The Indians open at Sedan and look to avenge a 44-36 loss to the Blue Devils from last year’s season opener.

Visit the Rankings page each week to view a complete list of the top five teams in each classification and how they performed last week.


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