Saturday Playoff Preview: Class 4A

Can James Newton lead Coffeyville to another win over Chanute? (Photo by David Jackson)
By: Conor Nicholl, Mark Schremmer, & Matt Gilmore for
Nov 9, 2013

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Class 4A

4A East: Independence (5-5) at No. 5 Paola (9-1)

The Independence Bulldogs have picked the right time to play their best football of the season. After opening the year with a 1-5 record, the Bulldogs have won five straight.

Independence has undergone a major role reversal. In its first six games, Independence was scoring 17.5 points per game while allowing 35.6. In the Bulldogs’ past four games, they have been scoring 37.8 and allowing 11.3 points per game.

With that said, one can’t ignore that Independence’s level of competition has changed from the first six games to the past four. A Southeast Kansas League team, Independence was in a district that included smaller Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League teams.

Still, Independence has played well. The Bulldogs scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to secure a 33-14 win against Columbus on Tuesday. Courtlan Hayes rushed for a touchdown and returned an interception for a touchdown.

Paola is coming off a 24-7 win against the SEK’s Fort Scott Tigers. The Panthers’ Jeremy Criddle ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.

Fort Scott defeated Independence 31-12 in the fifth week of the season.

Paola ended Independence’s prior two playoff appearances in the second round of the 2009 and 2010 playoffs.

Paola 28, Independence 13  (Schremmer)

4A East: No. 3 Baldwin (10-0) at Tonganoxie (9-1)

Baldwin travels to Tonganoxie in a battle of two high-scoring 4A contenders.

Tonganoxie football is enjoying a resurgence under former Larned coach Al Troyer. The past two seasons, the Chieftains are 14-7 and have reached the second round of the playoffs each year. Last season, Tonganoxie fell to eventual state runner-up Eudora 31-10 in the second round.

The Chieftains feel they have the talent to have a longer run this season. Tonganoxie has not reached the state quarterfinals since 1995 when there was one less round of the playoffs. 

Senior running back Cole Holloway leads the Tonganoxie offense with 1,311 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns. His classmate Shane Levy has added 734 yards and ten scores on the ground.

Tyler Ford directs the Chieftain offense form his quarterback position and has contributed 623 yards and eight touchdowns rushing, while passing for 1,002 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Their opponent, the Baldwin Bulldogs, also likes to run the ball.

Senior Chad Berg quarterbacks the Bulldogs after missing most of last season with two separate injuries. He has come back this season and rushed for more than 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns and thrown for 650 more yards and ten scores.

Cornell Brown is a game-breaker for the Baldwin offense and in the return game.

The Bulldogs have averaged nearly 45 points per game while giving up only nine.

Look for Baldwin to use its big offensive line and the speed of Berg and Brown to advance.

Baldwin 35, Tonganoxie 17 (Gilmore)

4A West: No. 1 Holton (10-0) at Mulvane (6-4)

What more can you say about the Holton Wildcats other than that they’re the defending 4A state champions and they are on a 24-game winning streak?

Holton has dominated most of the season. Other than a 12-10 win against Hiawatha on Sept. 27, the Wildcats have won every other game by at least 17 points. Holton is coming off a dominating 45-0 win over a Hesston team that entered the game with only one loss.

As usually is the case, much of the credit goes to the running game. Holton rushes for 379.7 yards per game while passing for only 7.3 yards per game.

Brenden Hampton leads the ground attack with 986 yards and 14 touchdowns. Drake Ewing has 666 yards and 13 touchdowns. Defensively, Indie Allen has four sacks.

While Holton’s running game goes through several ball carriers, Mulvane feeds the ball to senior Michael Mason most of the time. Mason has 2,155 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns on 271 carries.

Mulvane is coming off an emotional 47-45 victory against Wichita Collegiate. The Wildcats had trailed 45-27 early in the fourth quarter of that game. Mason rushed for 354 yards in the win.

Mulvane has experienced an up and down season that includes three losses of seven points or fewer to Chanute, Buhler and Winfield. Holton defeated Mulvane 28-6 in the substate semifinal a season ago.

Holton 40, Mulvane 21  (Schremmer)

4A West: Winfield (7-3) at Topeka Hayden (6-4)

Hayden won an overtime thriller, 48-45, against Maize South on Tuesday, while Winfield defeated Rose Hill, 14-12. It marked just the third playoff victory in Winfield’s school history. Winfield was 2-9 entering 2013. Hayden is in the top-10 all-time for playoff victories (45) with five state championship game appearances and three titles.

Winfield has enjoyed a three-win improvement and its first season with more than four victories since a 5-5 mark in 2008. The Vikings have balance with 163 passing yards and 165 rushing yards per contest.

Three quarterbacks have thrown for at least 292 yards and have combined for 1,628 yards and a 13/12 TD/INT ratio. Seniors Jordan Johnson and Logan Mays have combined for 1,486 rushing yards and 17 rushing scores.

This year, Hayden has battled an always tough schedule and outscored opponents 297-207. Winfield has beaten teams by a total score of 270-169, but has played the No. 32 strength of schedule, much weaker than Hayden’s.

Hayden’s schedule and tradition yields a victory.

Hayden 32, Winfield 14 (Nicholl)

The rest of our 4A second-round picks:
KC Piper (6-4) at Spring Hill (5-5)
Coffeyville (9-1) at Chanute (8-2)
McPherson (6-4) at No. 2 Andale (10-0)
No. 4 Buhler (9-1) at Abilene (6-4)

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