Tuesday Playoff Preview: 8-Man, Division II

St. John's-Tipton QB Trey Dubbert (Photo by Everett Royer KSportsimages.com)
By: Matt Gilmore and Conor Nicholl
Nov 3, 2014

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East: Pike Valley (4-5) at Chase (9-0)

One of five undefeated teams in Eight-Man, Division II is the Chase Kats, who have improved from a 3-6 season a year ago to claim a district championship.

The Kats will now have a chance for the schools’ first playoff victory in 28 years when they host the Pike Valley Panthers.

Chase is unbeaten and turning scoreboards at an average of 56 points per game. The Kats’ defense has also been solid in surrendering a little more than 12 points per contest.

Junior quarterback Brandon Clark has put up big numbers on the ground.  The backfield features fullback Mikey Brown and speedy sophomore Kendren Julian.

Coach John Wellman has done an outstanding job with the Kats in posting a 25-12 record in his four years at Chase.

They’ll draw veteran coach Don Melby and the Panthers who have four of their last five games after starting the season 0-4.  That early season schedule against strong programs including Rock Hills, Thunder Ridge, and St. John’s-Tipton has prepared the Panthers for this point.

Pike Valley is balanced on offense with three players rushing for more than 360 yards on the season. Junior Dawson Carlgren leads the way with 506 yards and eight touchdowns.  Freshman Lane Peters has rushed for 496 yards and eight more scores, and junior quarterback Jacob Field adds 360 yards and five scores to the total.

To win, the Panthers will have to improve on the defensive side where they’ve surrendered an average of 32 points per game.

Chase 36, Pike Valley 34 (Gilmore)
East: Caldwell (7-2) at No. 1 Chetopa (9-0)

On paper, this is the most intriguing match-up on the east side of the Division II bracket.

On one hand you have Chetopa which has rolled to a 9-0 start by outscoring its opponents by an incredible 588-34 on the season. Yeah, you read that right. That equates to an average score of 65-4 each game.

Senior back Derrick Cassell (6-1, 195) has rushed for 1,269 yards and 28 touchdowns this season to lead the Hornets. Quarterback Philip Moses is in his third year starting and has thrown for 1,092 yards and 23 scores against only one interception. Sherrick Rogers has caught 32 passes for 725 yards and 15 scores and will be a match-up problem for a lot of teams.

The Green Hornets are senior laden, big, and fast. But they’re largely untested. The varsity group has played the equivalent of 17 quarters this season. That test will come on Tuesday night.

Caldwell is 7-2 having lost to unbeaten ranked 8-man teams in Argonia-Attica (60-38) and Udall (14-12). The Blue Jays can be explosive in their own right. Caldwell averages 38 points per game and gives up nearly 16.

The Blue Jays can be balanced when they want to, but Coach Sean Blosser’s group would like to keep things on the ground with Darin Ward, Colten Ward, and Trent Kendrick.

The Ward brothers have each led the team at times this season, while Kendrick broke free for 148 yards on 13 carries in last week’s win over Norwich. Expect Kyler Bruey to also be a factor.

Darin Ward didn’t appear to play last Thursday against Norwich, so his health may be a factor in this one.

Caldwell was well positioned for a playoff run a year ago, but had as many as five players suffer season-ending injuries.

Chetopa 46, Caldwell 28 (Gilmore)
West: Hoxie (5-3) at No. 2 Victoria (8-1)

Victoria has won eight games in a row since a season-opening road loss to Central Plains, including a road win against Beloit St. John’s-Tipton and a home victory versus Thunder Ridge.

The Knights have reached the playoffs 13 straight seasons, while Hoxie has reached the playoffs three straight falls, including a 10-2 mark in 2013.

Both squads are well-rested. Victoria had a forfeit win against Natoma in Week 8 and a 50-0 win against Otis-Bison called in the third quarter last Thursday. Hoxie had four straight blowouts and an open date in Week 9.

Victoria hasn’t lost a home game since Week 2 of the 2012 season.

Junior quarterback Brady Dinkel has passed for 689 yards and 10 scores and rushed for 626 yards and 11 TDs. Victoria has scored a defensive/special teams score in all but one game this season.

Hoxie’s three losses came against Oberlin (46-14 in Week 1), Quinter (38-34 in Week 2 in a wild finish) and 24-16 against Wallace County in Week 4. The Indians have just 15 players, four fewer than Victoria.

Junior Josh Heim has completed 32 of 58 passes for 501 yards with 11 scores against six interceptions. All-state senior running back Connor Katt has 115 carries for 822 yards and 15 scores. He has 1,357 all-purpose yards after he finished with 2,055 all-purpose yards in 2013. In losses, Katt has put up solid numbers with 61 carries and 296 yards.

Hoxie’s major issue has been 17 turnovers, but the Indians have forced 22 and are plus 5 in turnover margin. Victoria is plus 11 in turnover margin and plus 14 in the eight-game winning streak.

Victoria and Hoxie are two similar teams, both with small rosters that are battle-tested. Each team has many experienced, athletic players, especially in the backfield with Katt and the Knights’ Bryan Dome.

However, Victoria’s offense has put up big numbers against ranked teams, while Hoxie has struggled to score against top squads. Victoria, with the home field advantage, pulls away in the second half.

Victoria 42, Hoxie 22  (Nicholl)
West: No. 5 Beloit St. John’s-Tipton (7-2) at No. 3 Sharon Springs-Wallace Co. (9-0)

This is a rematch of last year’s sub-state championship game, a 31-6 Wallace County victory.

Wallace County has made the playoffs every year since 2006. First-year coach Jeff Hennick, the quarterback on the ’07 state championship team and an assistant last year, has continued the Wildcat tradition.

Wallace County has allowed no more than 20 points in any contest and ranks No. 2 in scoring defense with 76 points allowed.

Junior Eric Gfeller has played well in his first season under center, completing 39 of 65 passes for 768 yards with a 15 to 1 touchdown-interception ratio.

Gfeller, Luke Schemm and Nate KIinge have combined for 31 rushing touchdowns. Junior Hardin Perry has 11.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles.

Beloit St. John’s-Tipton has reached the playoffs three straight years.

The Blujays lost 68-56 to Victoria in Week 7, and then defeated Thunder Ridge 54-50 and Northern Valley 46-38 to secure a playoff berth.

St. John’s-Tipton ranks fifth in scoring offense with 456 points. Senior quarterback Trey Dubbert has continued his outstanding year despite injuries to top playmakers Garrett Mishler and Parker Gates. Dubbert has thrown for more than 1,100 yards with over 20 scores.

The big question is: Can Wallace County put pressure on Dubbert? If the Blujays were at full strength, they would be the pick. But Wallace County is at home with a more complete roster.

Wallace County 40, St. John’s-Tipton 28 (Nicholl)

The rest of our 8 Man-II first-round picks:
Sylvan-Lucas Unified (5-4) at Axtell (7-2)
Southern Coffey Co. (4-5) at No. 4 Argonia-Attica (9-0)
Satanta (7-2) at Minneola (8-1)
Stafford (8-1) at Ingalls (9-0)

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