Kpreps Game Day - Week 1

Photo by Sheri Thompson
By: Matt Gilmore, Conor Nicholl, & Jeff Wurtz for
Sep 5, 2019

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Kpreps Game Day feature is designed to provide you with a program for things to watch out for in Week 1 action. If you have suggestions for what you would like to see in future Game Day features, send us a message on Twitter or Facebook.

Kansas gets Started Thursday Night Action

The Kansas high school football season officially kicked off on Thursday with a pair of games.

Belle Plaine and Inman played a scoreless first half before the Dragon scored once in the third and fourth quarters to win, 14-0. Belle Plaine’s Colton Koenigs picked up the victory in his coaching debut. The Dragons posted a 4-win season in 2018, the most wins by that program since going 5-4 in 2011. The Dragons have now won nine games in the past 3-plus seasons after battling through a 31-game losing streak from 2012 to 2016.

In the other match-up, Goddard, the No. 2 ranked team in Class 4A, took down Wichita East, 34-22. Goddard quarterback Kyler Semrad threw four touchdown passes in the victory over the Blue Aces. This game was played on Thursday since the Lions share a field with Goddard-Eisenhower. The Tigers open at home on Friday against Salina Central in the debut of new head coach Darrin Fisher.

Upset Special? – Class 5A Andover at Great Bend

Erin Beck has done a strong job in his three years as Great Bend head football coach. He is 23-9 with marks of 10-2, 5-4 and 8-3. However, the Panthers have some unique home/road splits. Great Bend is 14-6 (70 percent) in home games, and 9-3 (75 percent) in road contests.

Great Bend has taken several odd losses/upsets at home, and also been challenged by sub-.500 teams. In his first year, GB’s both losses came at home, 21-14 in overtime against Garden City decided on the game’s final play, and 50-21 versus Goddard in the semifinals.

Two years ago, Great Bend narrowly beat Wichita East, 7-6, an eventual three-win team. As well, GB lost to Liberal (23-21) and Goddard Eisenhower (35-28), both at home. Liberal was 6-3, though Eisenhower finished 5-6. Last year, GB lost a sizable lead to Bishop Carroll in the fourth quarter and fell 36-33 at home. Great Bend also held off Hays High, 15-7, in Week 2; HHS was 3-6.

Great Bend has a key first three weeks with versus Andover, at Hays High and versus Wichita Northwest. The Panthers are breaking in multiple new offensive linemen starters, and senior Dalton Miller, one of the state’s top defensive backs, moves to quarterback. Andover, a potential breakout team, lost 35-12 in this contest last year. However, the Trojans return junior quarterback Eli Fahnestock, a three-year starter, running back Peyton Henry, and kicker David Kemp. The latter two have FCS/FBS interest.

Andover is 0-2 against GB in the last three years, the only meetings since at least ’04. In the last two seasons, the Trojans are slightly better on the road (5-6) than home (3-5). Andover returns all of its 279 offensive yards from last fall’s game. GB graduated Shrine Bowl quarterback Koy Brack, who passed for 260 yards, rushed for 53 and accounted for four offensive scores.

Upset Special II? – Holton at Jefferson West

It’s very rare for Holton to be an underdog, especially in Big Seven play, but the Wildcats finished 3-6 behind Brooks Barta in ‘18. Last year, Jeff West delivered the upset. Holton was 14-0 against Jeff West from ’04-17 before Jeff West won 14-12. JW finished 5-4 and had a three-win improvement. Jeff West returns the three Saili brothers and shifts Quinn Neuenswander to quarterback. In this game last year, Holton had an incredible 80-39 edge in total plays, yet was offensively inefficient. Leading rusher Trey Wright and Konnor Tannahill return.

Last Central Prairie League 11-man game ever?

Ellinwood travels to La Crosse for the final 11-man Central Prairie League game – perhaps ever. La Crosse will switch down to the eight-man ranks starting next season. Ellinwood has good numbers with a 31-player roster for coach Alex Birney. The Eagles finished 3-6 last fall. La Crosse was also 3-6 with similar offensive/defensive scoring numbers to Ellinwood. However, the Leopards return basically everyone, including senior quarterback Hunter Morgan, a three-year starter. La Crosse won 48-0 in ‘18.

One of the state’s best three-way players

Little River travels to Canton-Galva, ranked No. 1 in Eight-Man, Division I. C-G is known for its no-senior roster last year and returns its all-state talent with quarterback Landon Everett and wide receiver Tyson Struber. However, LR, which won this game last year and went 7-2, returns junior Graham Stephens. New coach Kevin Ayers, after state title winning stints at Jetmore and Wallace County, has been highly impressed with Stephens, including his punting.

Stephens passed for 520 yards and nine scores. He led the team with 107 carries for 753 yards and 17 TDs. Stephens delivered 39.8 yards per punt, including seven of 12 inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

Victoria at Otis-Bison: Streaks and linemen

Since ’04, this is easily the most played matchup for Victoria. The Knights are 9-5 against Otis-Bison in a back-and-forth series. O-B is 4-2 in the last six meetings, though Victoria is 5-4 in the last nine. However, both squads continue to hold serve at home. Victoria is 10-0 in the last two seasons. O-B is 14-0-1 at home – including the rare tie against South Barber last year – in the last 15 contests in Otis. The home team has won the last three games in this series, though the total margin of those contests is 26 points.

A key matchup to watch is up front. Eight-man football graduated a high number of its top linemen, though three are the best returners are in this game with Victoria’s Kirk Huser, and Otis-Bison’s Kendall Steinert and Hunter Mitchell. All three players are at least 220 pounds.

Class 5A: Wichita Heights at Maize South

Last season, Maize South opened 0-3, including the season-opening 35-21 road loss to Wichita Heights. Maize South eventually captured six straight victories and went 6-4, while Heights went 4-5. The Mavericks could be a strong 5A contender in the west, and a win against a perennial City League power would help.

Although it’s a small sample size, the Mavericks are 1-3 all-time against the City League.

Maize South is 0-2 versus Bishop Carroll with losses by a combined score of 79-14. Last season marked the only meeting against Heights in school annals. The Mavericks defeated Wichita North, 59-22, in Week 8, the only time Maize South scored more than 28 points in a contest last year. Heights is also looking to bounce back after its third straight season of decreasing wins. The Falcons posted their first losing record since before ’04 last year.

Josh Sanders rushed for 925 yards last year, and Dylan Depperschmidt is expected to step in for standout K’Vonte Baker at quarterback. Maize South scored 21.3 points a game, though permitted 21.8. Heights was still high scoring at 30.9 points a game, though permitted 33.3 a contest.

The Battle of the Bloody Bucket is back!
Last year we reintroduced many in the state to the Battle for the Bloody Bucket. The game pits the Oswego Indians against long-time rival Chetopa. The two schools are only separated by approximately 10 miles in southeast Kansas, but the football rivalry was put on hold for several years until Oswego made the transition to 8-Man football last season. The Indians dominated the renewed rivalry game, 54-14. 

The game has been referred to the Battle of the Bloody Bucket referring to a bucket of towels soaked in sweat, dirt, and blood that one opposing team mistakenly left behind on their sideline in the 1950s (no one seems to remember which team). When that opposing school called to ask for the return of their bucket, the hosting school replied that they would have “earn it” back on the playing field.

For a long time, the winning school retained a wooden bucket carved with the result of each year’s game from 1954 to 1987.The bucket was cut in half in the late 1980’s when Chetopa switched to 8-man football with each school retaining half. The schools have met since in the late 90s, but will renew their rivalry now that Oswego has switched to 8-man football.

Entering the 2019 season, Oswego has high expectations in returning seven starters on each side of the ball from a 6-3 campaign last fall. Entering his second season with the Indians, coach Matt Fowler has some key elements returning to make the Indians a playoff contender. Jace Wilson returns after an all-state junior season in which he rushed for 1,440 yards and 21 touchdowns. Wilson has been equally efficient as a receiver out of the backfield and a return man in his career. Wilson will be joined in the backfield by Isaac Elliott and Lance Teal, and have all three linemen back up front.

Fowler (68-35 in his career) may have the talent to deliver Oswego’s first playoff win since 2009.  

The 78th meeting of the Cowley Cup
Ark City will travel to rival Winfield in another edition of the Cowley Cup. Ark City leads the all-time series 52-24-1. Last season, the Bulldogs defeated the Vikings 7-3 in the season opener. Ark City then dropped its next five games before topping Valley Center and then playing Andover Central close in a 20-18 defeat. The Bulldogs then upset Mulvane, 29-26, in the first round of the playoffs, and followed that up with a 28-6 win at Coffeyville. Ark City reached the Class 4A state quarterfinals before a blowout loss to McPherson.

Eureka’s only road game
You may remember that Eureka played all their games on the road last season after their home field sustained damage from a Tornado last summer. The idea was that the Tornadoes would be home each game this season. In fact, Eureka opens the season at Leon-Bluestem for a second consecutive year. But all other games are technically “home” games; however, the Tornadoes will play Caney Valley at Chanute next week, and meet Humboldt in Iola on September 20th

Can Hanover expand on 38 straight?

Hanover has been here before. In fact, three of the last five years they have opened the season as the defending state champions. But for the first time in a while, graduation may have an effect on the Wildcats. After all, they graduated a group that went 50-1 in their four-year careers. The Wildcats will have inexperience at multiple positions with lineman Jonah Weber (6-4, 270) listed as the only returning starter. The Wildcat offense will have a chance to kick things in high gear against a Pike Valley team that finished below .500 last year, but returns six starters on each side of the ball.

1A Battle in the TVL

The Week 1 matchup between Troy and Valley Heights might be the best of the week in the Twin Valley League. Tony Trimble’s triple option offense featuring Junior QB Cameron Beardsley and Senior RB Cole Coggins is something to behold. Coggins has produced back-to-back all-state seasons with 1,288 years and 18 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2017, and 1,336 yards and 20 scores last year.

Troy’s offense is based around the abilities and maturity of third year starter Kipp Jasper. Jasper threw for nearly 1600 yards and 19 scores and scampered for 7 more. This one should be fun. The Trojans pulled out the 27-12 victory last season, but will be on the road on Friday night.

Northeast & Pleasanton change locations

On Thursday, it was announced that the Three Rivers League matchup between Northeast-Arma and Pleasanton was being moved to Pleasanton due to an electrical problem at Sam Nicoletti Field in Arma. The Blu-Jays won last year’s season-opener, 42-14, and should contend for the Three Rivers League title with a solid returning nucleus that includes receiver Kasen McKee and running back Blake Pohlmier.

Keep an eye on the state’s current longest streaks (by classification):

Current Longest Winning Streaks:

Class 6A
Derby – 13

Class 5A
St. Thomas Aquinas - 12

Class 4A
Bishop Miege - 6

Class 3A
Sabetha – 20

Class 2A
Phillipsburg - 13

Class 1A
Smith Center – 10

Class 8M-I
Central Plains - 13

Class 8M-II
Hanover - 38

Weskan - 6

Current Longest Losing Streaks:

Class 6A
KC Harmon – 30 games
Shawnee Mission West – 19 games
Blue Valley Northwest – 12 games

Class 5A
Topeka Highland Park – 43 games

Class 4A
Ottawa – 15 games
Independence – 13 games

Class 3A
Bishop Ward – 47 games
Larned – 10 games
Osawatomie – 9 games
Rock Creek – 9 games

Class 2A
Lyons – 29 games
Oskaloosa – 13 games
Horton – 11 games
Wichita Independent –10 games

Class 1A
Sublette – 32 games
Republic County – 19 games

Class 8-Man, Division I
St. John – 13 games

Class 8-Man, Division II
Burrton – 17 games
Colony-Crest – 11 games
Tescott – 9 games

Deerfield – 26 games
Western Plains – 20 games


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