District Preview: Class 2-1A

Can Keenan Smith (3) & Oakley make the playoffs out of a solid District 7? (Photo by Cristy Park)
By: John Baetz, Matt Gilmore, Conor Nicholl, & Mark Schremmer for Kpreps.com
Sep 30, 2014

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Throughout the 2013 season, Class 2-1A football felt like a foregone conclusion. 

The Centralia Panthers were loaded with talent and dominant during the regular season. The Panthers cruised to the state title with a 61-0 blowout of La Crosse in the championship game.

This year, Class 2-1A is completely wide open.

After four weeks, only two teams in the classification are unbeaten. The Lyndon Tigers are unbeaten but have faced opponents that are a combined 4-12.

In the west, Meade is unblemished but has been tested in a 24-21 win over Southwestern Heights and a 12-6 win over Cimarron.

Newcomers to 2-1A Phillipsburg and Sedgwick are both ranked in the top five poll and figure to be factors in the playoffs.

And, don’t forget about La Crosse.  The Leopards have talent but are not very deep and injuries have made their roster even thinner. The Leopards were blasted by Southeast of Saline 40-6 last week.

It should be an exciting next couple of months as the parity in 2-1A should make for some exciting football.  


District 1   (Gilmore)

  • Troy (3-1) – The Trojans ended a three-year playoff drought last season under first-year coach Derek Jasper. This season, Troy is one of the top teams on the eastern side of the bracket. Quarterback Tristan Speer can stretch defenses through the air with receivers like Collin Jasper, Jake Ross, and Cuttar Huss. The running game provides balance with seniors Derek Franken and Alex Schmille getting the bulk of the carries.
  • Doniphan West (0-4) – The Mustangs have struggled to an 0-4 start under first-year coach Rod Pittman. Freshman quarterback Levi Wyatts has three 100-yard passing games, but has been inconsistent as you would expect. Doniphan West must establish consistency on the ground to improve an offense that has produced only two touchdowns all season.
  • Jefferson Co. North (0-4)The Chargers are winless this season, but their four opponents are a combined 12-3. Jeff Co. North has been competitive in losses to Oskaloosa 36-28 and Pleasant Ridge 50-30.
  • Leavenworth-Immaculata (0-4) – Immaculata is struggling with numbers this season after losing coach Sean Sachen and his son Drew to Leavenworth High School. Drew was a Kpreps All-District selection a year ago and was named defensive MVP of District 2. The Raiders closest loss thus far this season has been 28 points. 
  • Maranatha Academy (0-4) – Maranatha’s first season as a KSHSAA football member has been easy thus far. The Eagles have dropped their first four game, but came close in last week’s 6-0 loss to Jayhawk-Linn. Senior Jace Burdette (6-1, 190) is a talented player that started at Frontenac as a sophomore in 2012.

Key Games: All games between the winless teams will be crucial in determining the district runner-up. That second playoff spot may come down to Jefferson Co. North at Doniphan West in Week 9.

Winner: Troy

Runner-up: Jefferson Co. North

District 2    (Gilmore)

  • Onaga (1-3) – Onaga enters district play on a three game losing streak, but those losses have come to unbeaten Centralia, and one-loss Troy and Washington County. Senior Michael Bliss has rushed for more than 300 yards this season after rushing for nearly 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns a year ago. The Buffaloes have made the playoffs in four of the past six seasons.
  • Valley Falls (1-3) – The Dragons have just one win this season, but two 2-point losses to Oskaloosa and Maur Hill-Mount Academy. The Dragons also played well in a 21-6 loss to unbeaten Horton.
  • Valley Heights (1-3) – The Mustangs three losses this season have come to teams that are a combined 10-2. Tony Trimble’s returns a veteran group that features multiple options in the backfield.  Junior Keaton DeWalt and sophomore Logan Woodyard have rushed for 337 and 329 yards, respectively. Quarterback Gage Woodyard has added 228 yards rushing and has a great target in the passing game in Elijah Smith.
  • Jackson Heights (0-4) – Caleb Wick went 13-6 in his first two seasons at Jackson Heights, but his Cobras have struggled to an 0-4 start this season. Heights may be gaining some momentum in the past two weeks with single-digit losses to McLouth and Oskaloosa.
  • Wabaunsee (0-4) – Wabaunsee is the only team in this district to make the playoffs a season ago. The Chargers have only averaged seven points per game this season, while giving up nearly 42. Freshman Kolby Droegemeier leads the Chargers with 280 yards rushing this season.

Key Games: All games will be key in a district where the five teams have combined for just three wins.  

Winner: Valley Heights

Runner-up: Onaga

District 3 (Gilmore)

  • Marion (2-2) – Marion drops to 2-1A after a strong 9-2 season a year ago, but is dealing with some inexperience. Still the Warriors have talent in lineman Kyle Palic and wideout Jacob Baldwin. The Warrior’s losses have come to unbeaten Hutchinson Trinity and 3-1 Ell-Saline.
  • Chase County (1-3) – Chase County enters district play on a three-game losing streak. Turnovers have hurt the Bulldogs this season as Chase County has lost five fumbles and thrown eight interceptions. Brendan Watts has primarily been the quarterback for the Bulldogs, but Brett Engle got some time last week as Watts played some receiver.
  • Herington (1-3) – Herington snapped a 25-game losing streak with a 13-10 win over West Franklin last week. Quarterback Chase Mayes passed for 76 yards and a score in the win. The Railers have won more than one game in a season only twice since 2004.
  • Mission Valley (1-3) – After a 33-12 opening-week win over Osage City, Mission Valley has dropped three straight games. Two of the Vikings’ losses have been by single digits to Lyndon (36-30) and Council Grove (34-26). The defense has to improve for the Vikings to snap a five-year playoff drought. Mission Valley has surrendered an average of 41 points in the past three games.
  • Northern Heights (1-3) – Northern Heights had high expectations entering the season, but injuries have slowed the Wildcats success. The Wildcats opened with a strong win over Council Grove, but have dropped three straight games. Donovan Read and Mitchell Wecker are explosive players, but Wecker has not played since Week 2. Read has rushed for 350 yards and four scores.

Key Games:  All games are key in a district that appears to be wide open given the injuries to Northern Heights. (Wk 8) Mission Valley at Northern Heights may decide the second playoff spot.  

Winner: Marion

Runner-up: Mission Valley

District 4   (Schremmer)

  • Lyndon (4-0) – The Tigers have graduated an abundance of talent in recent years, but they seem to keep reloading. A 36-30 win at Mission Valley in Week 2 has been Lyndon’s only close game so far this season. Dawson Swinehart has rushed for more than 500 yards and has passed for about 250.
  • Olpe (3-1) – Ranked No. 3 in the state, the Eagles’ only loss was to No. 2 La Crosse. Since then, Olpe has rattled off consecutive wins over Riley County, Eureka and Central Heights. Andrew Burenheide led the Eagles with about 100 yards rushing during last week’s 48-8 win over Central Heights. Olpe has made the playoffs in all but two seasons since 2003.
  • Oswego (3-1) – The Indians opened the season with three wins against teams that combine for a 1-11 record. Oswego entered the difficult part of its schedule with a 29-0 loss to Northeast-Arma on Friday. Junior quarterback Johnathan Walker leads the Oswego offense with more than 500 yards rushing. The Indians are attempting to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
  • Whitewater-Remington (1-3) – The Broncos snapped a five-game losing streak with a 24-0 win over Inman this past week. Sophomore Todd Ensz led the Broncos in rushing with 189 yards on 53 carries.
  • Yates Center (0-4) – A year after having a 7-4 record and their best season in recent memory, the Wildcats have struggled in their return to 11-man football. Yates Center has been outscored 177-8 in four games.

Key Games:   (Wk 7) Olpe travels to Lyndon for a game that could determine both playoff spots from the district.

Winner: Olpe

Runner-up: Lyndon



District 5   (Schremmer)

  • Sedgwick (3-1) – The Cardinals are ranked No. 5 in the state, and their only loss came in the season opener to unbeaten Hutchinson Trinity. Since then, Sedgwick has cruised to easy wins over Whitewater-Remington, Ell-Saline and Bennington. Senior quarterback Brylie Ware has passed for more than 600 yards and rushed for more than 500.
  • Medicine Lodge (1-3) – After winning a close game over a still winless Belle Plaine team in Week 1, the Indians have dropped three straight to Conway Springs, Douglass and Chaparral.  Medicine Lodge’s last playoff appearance was in 2011, and the Indians last winning record came in 2009.
  • Sacred Heart (1-3)The Knights’ only victory was a 13-12 overtime victory against Minneapolis. Sacred Heart quarterback Justin McCartney has passed for almost 300 yards. Four different players have more than 100 yards rushing for the Knights.
  • Inman (0-4) – Boasting a 6-3 record the past two seasons, the Teutons haven’t scored more than eight points in a game this season. Last week’s 24-0 loss was to a previously winless Whitewater-Remington squad.
  • Moundridge (0-4) – The Wildcats enter district competition on a six-game losing streak that dates back to last season. Moundridge has missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons after a streak of nine straight playoff appearances.

Key Games:  Sedgwick appears to be the class of the district, while the remaining teams all will battle for the second playoff spot.

Winner: Sedgwick

Runner-up: Sacred Heart

District 6  (Baetz)

  • Bennington (3-1) – The Bulldogs posted a 3-0 start for the first time in at least the last nine seasons before falling to Heart of America League foe Sedgwick (45-6) last week. Now, Bennington hosts Phillipsburg, the new No. 1 team in 2-1A. The Bulldogs are led by senior quarterback Kyle Kieborz who has accounted for over half their total yards this season. Bennington’s three wins have come against teams that have combined for one total win.
  • Ell-Saline (3-1) – The Cardinals’ only loss came to No. 5 Sedgwick, 44-12. Quarterback Louie Arceo and running back Cody Walters both have big play capability, and the offensive line can open up holes with seniors Evan Morrical and Collyn Fouard. Morrical is a beast on the defensive line. The Cardinals have a tough match-up at Hutch Trinity before playing host to perennial playoff winner Smith Center to open district play. Ell-Saline just missed the playoffs in 2013 with a 14-0 loss to Plainville.
  • Phillipsburg (3-1) – The Panthers feature an explosive ground game that is averaging nearly 300 yards rushing per game. Four different players have rushed for at least 194 yards including speedy senior Stuart Lennemann (301 yards on 19 carries), bruising fullback Brock Means (307 yards on 55 carries), and senior quarterback Sam Sage (221 yards on 35 carries). The Panthers are again big up front on both sides of the ball and feature seniors Luke Jacobs (6-6, 225) and Kian Stegmaier (6-0, 265).
  • Smith Center (3-1) – An inexperienced Smith Center team has turned heads with their 3-1 start under second year head coach Darren Sasse. Smith Center is led in the backfield by seniors Nick Lehmkuhl - one of just two players with starting experience entering the season - and Brody Frieling. The Redmen are trying to earn their 12th consecutive trip to the playoffs.
  • Republic County (1-3) – The Buffs ended a 33-game losing streak with a 34-21 win over Russell in Week 2. Aside from that, the Buffs have scored only one touchdown in their three losses. Sophomore Trey Kuhlman is the team's signal caller while junior fullback Derek Vanous is the team's leading rusher. Vanous missed last week's loss to Beloit with an injury. Of the team's statistical leaders on both offense and defense, only one is a senior.

Key Games: (Wk 6) Smith Center at Ell-Saline; (Wk 9) Smith Center at Phillipsburg;

Winner: Phillipsburg

Runner-up: Smith Center

 District 7   (Nicholl)

  • La Crosse (3-1) – La Crosse, the defending Class 2-1A runner-up, lost in the regular season for the first time since Week 9 of the 2009 season with a 40-6 defeat to 3A power Southeast of Saline last week. The Leopards lost starting sophomore safety/wide receiver Clayton Herdman for the year in Week 1. Turnovers have been a major issue for an inefficient offense against a tough schedule. La Crosse has 12 turnovers and is minus-6 in turnover margin.
  • Ellis (2-2) – Quarterback Easton Smith has been the state’s most efficient sophomore passer for most of the season and has completed 38 of 68 passes for 593 yards with eight scores against one interception. Junior Dylan Haas leads the squad with 45 tackles and recorded at least 11 tackles in the first three games. Ellis looks to return to the playoffs for the first time in three years.
  • Leoti-Wichita Co. (1-3) – Opponents have outscored Leoti 163-32, though Leoti did defeat Stanton County 20-8 in Week 3.
  • Oakley (1-3) – Oakley has greatly struggled in its first season in of MCL play with first year coach Ty Pfannenstiel. Two time all-state lineman Ryan Kuhn has been bothered by a severe ankle injury all year.
  • Plainville (1-3) – The Cardinals scored their first points of the season in a 12-7 victory against TMP last week. Plainville finished plus-4 in turnover margin and rushed for 201 yards. Speedy sophomore back Hayden Friend had 23 rushes for 188 yards. Senior lineman Alex Wahrman has also been banged up.

Key Games: La Crosse remains the class of the district, but little separates Ellis, Plainville and Oakley. Injuries to key players will certainly impact this district.  Ellis has received the best quarterback play and has played well defensively the last three weeks, but a healthy Kuhn could change the equation for Oakley. (Wk 7) Ellis at Oakley; (Wk 8) Oakley at Plainville;  (Wk 9) Plainville at Ellis

Winner:  La Crosse

Runner-up: Oakley

District 8    (Nicholl)

  • Meade (4-0) – Meade has narrowly remained undefeated this season behind one returning offensive and two returning defensive starters. The Buffs have won the last two contests 24-21 and 12-6. Meade has averaged 302 rushing yards per contest and has 16 rushing scores. Four players have between 236 and 303 yards.
  • Elkhart (3-1) – Elkhart, a team known for its high-powered offense, has played low-scoring games this season. In Week 1, the Wildcats defeated Hooker, Okla., 8-0. In Week 2, the Wildcats won 26-14, and Elkhart lost to Lakin, 14-12, in Week 3.
  • Sublette (1-3) – First-year coach Faron Kraft led the Larks to a 30-0 Week 2 victory against Leoti, but the Larks have lost the last two games by a combined score of 117-27.
  • Stanton County (1-3) – Jon Schnable has struggled after he built a successful program at Rolla the last two seasons. Stanton County has scored just 14 points this season, but has lost the last two games by a combined score of 38-8.
  • Syracuse (0-4) – Syracuse has tallied just 14 points this season and has lost every game by at least 42 points. The Bulldogs have lost 26 straight games.

Key Game: (Wk 8) Meade at Elkhart will decide both playoffs spots.

Winner: Meade

Runner-up: Elkhart


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