District Preview: 8-Man, Division II

Northern Valley's Cooper Mussman (61) & Golden Plains' Kade Wessel (23). (By Judy Rogers)
By: Matt Gilmore & Conor Nicholl, for Kpreps.com
Sep 29, 2015

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Defending champion Victoria was the clear favorite to repeat in Eight-Man, Division II at the beginning of the season.  The Knights opened with a solid 16-12 victory over reigning Eight-Man, Division I champion Central Plains. 

But senior quarterback Brady Dinkel was life-watched to Wichita with a small laceration of his liver and complications with his pancreas.  Joe Dortland has performed admirably in Dinkel’s place since moving from running back.

Sharon Springs-Wallace County will present a formidable challenge on the west side of the state.  The Wildcats are clicking on offense behind senior, two-year starter Eric Gfeller.

Otis-Bison, ranked No. 4 in the Kpreps poll, is also undefeated and in Victoria’s district.

On the east side of the bracket, 2014 state runner-up Argonia-Attica is extremely explosive on offense averaging 57.5 points per game.

Joining them in District 4 is fifth-ranked Pretty Prairie which has surrendered only eight points all season.  Axtell and Pike Valley are also teams to watch on the eastern side of the bracket.


District 1   (Gilmore)

  • Axtell (3-1) – After a tough season-opening loss to Hanover, the Eagles have rebounded with wins over two Nebraska schools and a Missouri school. Axtell is led by senior quarterback Colton Buessing’s 504 passing yards and seven touchdowns in three games. Kaleb Buessing has rushed for 310 yards and six scores and filled in a quarterback last week in throwing for 143 yards and a score.
  • Pike Valley (3-1) – Pike Valley is talented enough to make noise in the playoffs like 2014’s quarterfinal run. Sophomore Lane Peters has 626 rushing yards and nine scores in his first four games. Peters has averaged 9.9 yards per carry this season. Pike Valley lost 34-28 to unbeaten Mankato-Rock Hills in Week 2, but posted a solid 30-18 win over Beloit St. John’s-Tipton last week.
  • Frankfort (2-2) – Frankfort’s two losses have come to ranked 8M-I teams in No. 4 Hanover (62-30) and No. 5 Burlingame (48-26). Senior running back Jase Suther leads the Wildcats  with 432 yards rushing and six scores. Quarterback Adam Kenworthy has 323 passing yards and four scores, and 201 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Wildcats are trying to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
  • Blue Valley Randolph (1-3) – The Rams haven’t reached the playoffs since 2006 and have only one winning season (5-4 in 2013) during that span.  For Blue Valley to end that streak this season, they’ll need big performances from Chase Carey, Trevor Schwerdt, and Haydn Budenbender.
  • Linn (0-4) – Linn enters district play having been outscored 222 to 28 this season against opponents that are a combined 13-2. Evan Bott leads the Bulldogs ground game with more than 200 yards rushing.
  • Southern Cloud (0-4) – After scoring only six total points in the first three weeks of the season, the Warriors finished were more competitive last week in a 36-22 loss to Tescott. The competition has been good with Southern Cloud’s opponents posting a combined 14-2.

Key games: (Wk 5) Frankfort at Axtell; (Wk 6) Frankfort at Pike Valley; (Wk 7) Pike Valley at Axtell

Winner: Axtell
Runner-up: Pike Valley

District 2   (Gilmore)

  • Chase (4-0) – Chase has been dominant this season in averaging more than 53 points per game while giving up a total of 14 points. The competition hasn’t been great as only Wheatland-Grinnell (3-1) has a win this season.  Chase has talent in returning District 2 offensive MVP Brendon Clark and all-district offensive linemen Riley Munoz and Brandon Enfield.
  • Wilson (3-0) – Wilson has three wins in a season for the first time since 2012.  The Dragons last made the playoffs in 2009.  If you see that Wilson lost in Week 4, consider that was a junior varsity game against Natoma who decided to play 6-man football this season. 
  • Tescott (3-1) – Tescott hasn’t reached the playoffs since back-to-back appearances in 2007 and 2008.  The Trojans have won three straight games after a 50-26 loss to Lincoln to open the season. Tescott is averaging 38 points per game and given up 27.  If the defense can play consistent in district play, the Trojans could reach the postseason.
  • Sylvan-Lucas Unified (2-2) – Sylvan-Lucas has alternated wins and losses so far this season.  After a 30-28 win against Wetmore, the Mustangs lost to Lincoln, drilled Lakeside-Downs, and lost by 14 to Goessel. R.J. Haberer threw six touchdown passes against Lakeside; four of which went to Tanner Kubick.
  • Burrton (1-3) – The Chargers ended a 32-game losing streak in Week 1 with a 41-12 win over Fairfield-Cunningham. Burrton has also been competitive in losses to Stafford and Canton-Galva before being overmatched by Pretty Prairie last week. Sophomore Sydney Fout has been a bright spot with nearly 300 rushing yards and six touchdowns in Burrton’s first three games.
  • Centre-Lost Springs (0-4) – Centre is 0-4 on the season, but Tye Remy’s team has played a tough schedule. The Cougars’ four opponents are a combined 12-4 this season. Centre has blowout losses to Solomon and Rural Vista and lost by 12 to a good Little River team and eight points to Goessel. The Cougars have already played the top teams on their schedule, so don’t be surprised to see them make some noise in District 2.

Key games:  Chase appears to be the favorite, but all games should be key in what is a wide-open district.

Winner: Chase
Runner-up: Centre-Lost Springs

District 3   (Gilmore)

  • Hartford (3-1) – Hartford is 3-1 with only a loss to state-ranked Burlingame back in Week 1. Quarterback Danen Kistner transferred over from Waverly after earning all-district honors last season. Kistner passed for 273 yards and eight touchdowns in Hartford’s 68-52 win over Marais des Cygnes Valley.  He tossed four touchdown passes to Clayton Fowler.
  • Chetopa (1-3) – Chetopa dominated during the regular season a year ago, but lost in the second round of the playoffs to Axtell without all-stater Derrick Cassell. Graduation hit the Green Hornets hard, as did the transfer of all-state WR Sherrick Rogers back to Pittsburg. Coach Sean Price also left for the Labette County job.  The Hornets have been competitive except for last week’s 50-0 loss to Uniontown. Alex Carter leads Chetopa with 371 yards rushing and four scores.
  • Colony-Crest (1-3) – After a season-opening 50-point win over Pleasanton, Crest has lost three straight to the top three teams in the Three Rivers League. The Lancers are off this week before opening district play at home against Hartford on October 9th.
  • Altoona-Midway (0-4) – The encouraging news for Altoona-Midway is that the Jets have been able to field a varsity team for a second consecutive season.  Altoona cancelled the varsity seasons in 2012 and 2013.  Last season, the Jets went winless and only scores seven points all season. Thus far this season, Altoona-Midway has scored six points.
  • Southern Coffey Co. (0-4) – The Titans reached the finished 4-6 a season ago, but reached the first round of the playoffs before falling to Argonia-Attica. Southern Coffey County has been competitive this season and was within 52-44 of Madison last week before falling 74-44. In that game, quarterback Nick Spencer passed for 354 yards and six touchdowns. Sophomore Chonnor Ludolph hauled in 258 receiving yards and five of those touchdowns.

Key games: (Wk 6) Chetopa at Southern Coffey Co.; (Wk 7) Colony-Crest at Chetopa; (Wk 8) Southern Coffey Co. at Colony-Crest

Winner: Hartford
Runner-up: Southern Coffey County

District 4  (Gilmore)

  • Argonia-Attica (4-0) – With some key players back from last season’s state runner-up finish, the A&A Titans were already going to be dangerous. The addition of former Norwich quarterback Jacob Norris only makes them stronger. They still have Alec McDaniel, perhaps 8-man’s most dynamic player. McDaniel already has amassed more than 500 yards of total offense and 13 touchdowns. Devon Newberry is a playmaker and leads the team in rushing with 284 yards. The Titans will be a tough out this season.
  • Pretty Prairie (4-0) – Pretty Prairie expected a strong turnaround season with the help of 13 returning starters.  Thus far the Bulldogs are unbeaten and have only allowed eight total points. They moved into the 8M-II rankings this week at No. 5 after a 60-8 win over Burrton. Damien Goetz rushed for three touchdowns and was one of six different Bulldogs to score.
  • South Barber (3-1) – South Barber’s only loss under new coach Matt Cantrell came 60-12 to 8M-I No. 1 Spearville. Grant Cantrell leads the Chieftains with 422 passing yards, seven passing touchdowns, 265 rushing yards, and three rushing scores. Spencer Kimmell has 15 receptions for 262 yards and six scores.
  • Norwich (2-2) – As mentioned earlier, Jacob Norris transferred in-district to Argonia-Attica, but this year’s Eagles appear improved under Mike Wilmott. Norwich has posted a 32-22 win over Hutchinson Central Christian and a 54-0 blanking of Fairfield-Cunningham. Still, the district will present significant challenges for the Eagles.
  • South Haven (2-2) – South Haven saw a playoff streak of at least ten consecutive season end with a 2-7 campaign in 2014. The Cardinals are 2-2 after alternating wins over Oxford and Cedar Vale-Dexter, with losses to improved teams in Sedan and Central Burden. Senior Trent Short has passed for 487 yards and nine touchdowns already this season, while Zach Pounds has 363 receiving yards and eight scores.
  • Caldwell (1-3) – Caldwell finished 7-3 a year ago with a first-round shootout loss at Chetopa. The Blue Jays return junior quarterback Colten Ward along with three other starters. Caldwell has put up 43.5 points per game, but is 1-3 due to a defense that surrenders 50 points per game. Their one-win is a quality one, 52-24 over a Udall team that was highly thought of entering the season.

Key Games: (Wk 5) Caldwell at Argonia-Attica; (Wk 6) Pretty Prairie at Caldwell; (Wk 7) Pretty Prairie at Argonia-Attica; (Wk 7) Caldwell at South Barber

Winner: Argonia-Attica
Runner-up: Pretty Prairie


District 5   (Nicholl)

  • Ashland (3-1) – Ashland has rebuilt since a 1-8 season in 2012 when the Blue Jays had zero returning starters. Ashland opened with a 60-14 loss against a quality South Central team, then won at Fowler (54-0), and Kiowa County (74-28) before the big road win versus Ingalls (56-42) last Friday. The Blue Jays had lost three in a row versus Ingalls. Ashland has passed for 161 yards and rushed for 147 a game behind junior Reece Kay (53 of 95 passing, 642 yards, 9/6 TD/INT ratio). Ten turnovers and a minus-1 turnover margin is a negative.
  • Minneola (2-2) – The Wildcats have matched last season’s loss total from a 9-2 season. Minneola had a young team in 2014, but had to replace 2,000-yard rusher Joey Harrington. It opened with a 56-6 victory against Fowler, then lost 44-14 to Kiowa County before a 72-24 loss to Ingalls and a 46-0 victory against South Gray. The offense has collected 251 total yards a game, 219 on the ground and 5.8 yards a carry. Senior Landon Walker has 82 carries for 563 yards and 12 scores. In 2014, Minneola averaged 352 yards a game, 304 rushing yards, and 8.5 yards a carry.
  • Stafford (2-2) – Stafford has matched its losses from an 8-2 season in 2014. The Trojans, known for offense, has tallied just 96 points and allowed 132. Stafford averaged 40 points a game last season.
  • Bucklin (1-2) – Bucklin, a long struggling program, matched last year’s win total with a 37-14 home win versus Fowler in Week 3. Last year, Bucklin defeated Cunningham to end a 54-game losing streak in Week 7.
  • Fairfield-Cunningham (0-4) – The first season of a co-op agreement between Fairfield-Cunningham hasn’t yielded any victories. The Griffins have tallied just 18 points and lost every contest by at least 29 points.

Key Games:  (Wk 7) Minneola at Ashland will decide both playoff spots

Winner: Ashland
Runner-up: Minneola

District 6   (Nicholl)

  • Ingalls (3-1) – Ingalls had been a top-4 squad through the season’s first three weeks but took an upset loss, 56-42, to Ashland last week and dropped out of the rankings. The Bulldogs, 10-1 last season, still retain plenty of offensive firepower with a classification-best 258 points. Ingalls senior running back Branson Sandoval has 639 rushing yards, and senior all-purpose threat Josh Irsik has 555 all-purpose yards. The loss ended Ingalls’ 15-game regular season winning streak.
  • Moscow (2-2) – Junior Freddy Gonzalez leads the offense with 339 rushing yards and five TDs. Moscow has averaged 6.4 yards per pass attempt and 4.9 yards per rush with a 44 percent completion rate from junior quarterback Jesse Stuckey. The Wildcats defeated Balko (Okla.), 22-6, in Week 1, had big losses at Hodgeman County and versus Dighton-Healy, and won 66-20 at Norwich last week.
  • Satanta (2-2) – Senior Jesus Garcia had 357 rushing yards and seven rushing TDs in the first three games. Sophomore Ty Blair has taken over at quarterback for graduated Kyle Abernathy. The Indians, which finished 7-3 in 2014, has lost five in a row to Ingalls, but has captured six straight victories against the rest of the district.
  • Deerfield (1-3)Deerfield’s only victory came in Week 3 at home versus Wichita Life Prep, a non-KSHSAA school. Its other three games are losses by the 45-point margin. Starting in Week 2, Deerfield has a stretch of four road games in five contests.
  • Fowler (0-4) – Fowler, 16-5 from 2012-2013, has seen the bottom drop out. The Goldbugs went 2-7 in 2014 and replaced its coach. Opponents have outscored Fowler, 197-20 this season.
  • Rolla (0-4) – Rolla was not competitive in its first three contests and played a wild game in an 87-52 home loss to Boise City (Okla.) last week. Rolla has played three straight Oklahoma teams, the first two on the road.

Key Games:  (Wk 6) Ingalls at Satanta will decide both playoff spots.

Winner: Ingalls
Runner-up: Satanta

District 7   (Nicholl)

  • Otis-Bison (4-0) — The Cougars have risen into the top-5 and climbed close to its 2009-12 status when it finished a combined 40-6. Otis-Bison has permitted eight points a game after it allowed 48 a contest in a 4-5 season last year. Senior quarterback Kade Urban and junior running back Brad Lightfoot lead the offense.
  • Victoria (4-0)Victoria dealt with tragedy after a marquee Week 1 home victory against Central Plains when senior quarterback/safety Brady Dinkel was life-watched to the hospital with liver/pancreas issues. Senior Joe Dortland has stepped into Dinkel’s place and played well, including quality victories versus Ellinwood in Week 2 and Ness City last Friday. Victoria’s great defense has permitted just 36 points, fifth-best in the classification.
  • Beloit St. John’s-Tipton (3-1) – BSJT, traditionally known for its passing game, has thrown for 154 yards a game and rushed for 97 a contest. Junior Davis Dubbert, in his first season as a starter after his brother, Trey, graduated, has completed 47 of 85 passes for 595 yards with a 9/3 TD/INT ratio. BSJT has averaged just 2.9 yards a carry. The Bluejays have forced 19 turnovers (including 15 fumble recoveries, five by Mason Eilert), scored twice on safeties, and returned two interceptions for scores. The Blujays, like last year, are again dealing with some injury issues.
  • Northern Valley (1-3) - The Huskies returned just one starter, lineman Colten Bach, and have virtually started over for 39th year coach Chuck Fessenden. Opponents have outscored the Huskies 159-86. Sophomore quarterback Caden Kinderknecht has 215 passing and 328 rushing yards with six TDs accounted for.
  • Thunder Ridge (1-3) - The Longhorns, traditionally an eight-man power, were expected to take a drop back this season after coach Jerry Voorhees left, and Thunder Ridge graduated a big class. Opponents have outscored the Longhorns 180-42 under new coach Otis Hendryx.

Key Games:  (Wk 6) Otis-Bison at BSJT; (Wk 7) BSJT at Victoria; (Wk 9) Victoria at Otis-Bison

Winner: Victoria
Runner-up: Otis-Bison

District 8   (Nicholl)

  • Triplains-Brewster (3-1, 2-0 district) — The Titans have quietly emerged as a solid eight-man program since the start of 2013 with 6-3, 6-3 and 3-1 records. Senior quarterback Ryan Gfeller has put together another strong year with 233 passing, 375 rushing and 11 scores accounted for. The Titans’ defense has 15 sacks and has forced eight turnovers.
  • Wheatland-Grinnell (3-1, 2-0 district) — The Thunderhawks have already bettered last season’s victory total from a 2-7 season. W-G is looking for its first playoff appearance since 2002. The Thunderhawks have passed for 130 yards and rushed for 116 a game. Senior Clay Schwarz has passed for 413 yards with a 6/3 TD/INT ratio.
  • Sharon Springs-Wallace Co. (4-0, 1-0 district) – Wallace County hasn’t lost a regular season contest in four seasons and has played well through early seasons tests against Atwood-Rawlins County, Oberlin-Decatur Community, WaKeeney-Trego and Hoxie. Senior quarterback Eric Gfeller has emerged as one of eight-man’s best players with 627 passing yards and 530 rushing yards with 19 TDs accounted for.
  • Hoxie (1-3, 1-1 district) – The Indians have taken losses to Oberlin-Decatur Community and at home versus Wallace County last week. Hoxie has a very young team with three seniors and no juniors, and Indian sophomore Latham Schwarz has emerged as the top playmaker. Hoxie has made the playoffs three straight seasons.
  • Tribune-Greeley Co. (1-3, 0-1 district) – The Jackrabbits opened the season with 50-0 win against Rolla and have lost the last three games 64-0, 46-0 and 52-6.
  • Cheylin (0-4, 0-2 district) – Cheylin has continually declined from a school mark 10-1 record in 2010. At the time it marked the fourth straight year of growth. The Cougars are 8-2, 5-4, 2-7, 1-8 and 0-4 this season.
  • Golden Plains (0-4, 0-2 district)Opponents have outscored the Bulldogs, 190-14. The Bulldogs have lost 14 consecutive contests.

Key Games:  Wallace County is the clear favorite, but the runner-up spot is a close race. (Wk 5) Hoxie at Wheatland-Grinnell; (Wk 6) Triplains-Brewster vs. Hoxie; (Wk 9) Triplains-Brewster vs. Wheatland-Grinnell

Winner: Sharon Springs-Wallace County
Runner-up: Hoxie

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