District Preview: Class 2-1A

Ell-Saline's Noah Bradley during the 2014 2-1A title game. (Everett Royer, KSportsImages.com)
By: Conor Nicholl & Matt Gilmore for Kpreps.com
Oct 2, 2015

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Only four teams remain unbeaten in Class 2-1A after four weeks.

Top-ranked Meade has rolled to a 4-0 start in winning by an average of 37 points per game.

Joining the Buffaloes on the west side of the bracket are Smith Center and Sedgwick.

The Redmen have played extremely well and beat a solid Norton team 27-14 last week.  Sedgwick is unbeaten behind an explosive offense that averaged more than 40 points per game over the first three weeks before winning a 16-9 slugfest in the rain at Bennington.

On the east side of the bracket only Marion remains without a loss. The Warriors will play Meade in a non-district game on October 16th.

Only six other teams in the state have a winning record through four weeks with four of those on the eastern side of the bracket.


District 1   (Gilmore)

  • Troy (3-1) – Troy graduated a lot of talent off of last season’s 10-2 team that reached the state semifinals. The Trojans opened up with a tough 36-18 loss to a Washington County team that is still unbeaten. The Trojans then built a 30-0 lead on Centralia only to need a late touchdown to withstand the Panthers furious rally for a 37-34 win. Reid Greaser has taken over for 2014 all-stater Tristan Speer at quarterback Greaser has completed 61 percent of his passes for 659 yards and nine touchdowns. Cuttar Huss, Brody Winter, and Chris Winkel are primary receiving targets.  
  • Doniphan West (2-2) – The Mustangs have lost two straight to TVL powers Washington County and Centralia. Sophomore quarterback Levi Watts and senior receiver Cooper Leach highlight the Doniphan West offense. Watts has thrown for 776 yards and eight touchdowns, while Leach has more than 450 receiving yards and nine scores.
  • Jefferson Co. North (2-2)The Chargers were last in the playoffs in 2012, but feel they have the talent to get in this season. Quarterback Bryce Noll has been impressive in passing for 619 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Brayden Summers is the leading receiver with 18 catches for 360 yards and five scores. Noll is also a capable runner, but Ridge Robertson is the primary option out of the backfield.  
  • Maranatha Academy-Immaculata (0-4) – Maranatha welcomed Immaculata into a co-op this season when the Raiders didn’t have numbers to field a team. This makes the Eagles ineligible for the playoffs since the co-op took place in the middle of a two-year cycle. The Eagles have been competitive in all four losses with three of those games decided by less than six points.   

Key Games: All games between Troy, Doniphan West, and Jeff Co. North will be key. We’ll highlight (Wk 7) when Troy visits Doniphan West

Winner: Troy
Runner-up: Doniphan West

District 2    (Gilmore)

  • Jackson Heights (3-1) – After going 7-2 in 2013, injuries hampered the Cobras last year resulting in a 3-6 season.  Jackson Heights has an eye on returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. The Cobras have scored more than 40 points in each of their wins, while being held to a safety in their loss to Maur Hill-Mound Academy. Jackson Heights is off this week after Leavenworth-Immaculata was unable to fill a team.
  • Valley Falls (1-3) – The Dragons have dropped three games to quality teams in Oskaloosa, Pleasant Ridge, and Maur Hill-Mount Academy. Valley Falls is led by quarterback Marty Gatzemeyer who can be a significant dual threat. The Dragons have not reached the playoffs since 2010.
  • Onaga (0-4) – Onaga completed a strong 2014 season in reaching the state quarterfinals before being eliminated by eventual state champion Olpe, 33-22. Last season the Buffaloes opened 1-3, and are winless entering district play this season. They have battled solid Twin Valley League competition thus far, which should prepare them for districts. Brendan Melvin is one of Onaga’s primary ball carriers, while quarterback Jace Fischer connected with Tanner Marten for one of the Buffaloes’ two touchdowns last week.
  • Valley Heights (0-4) – Valley Heights made the playoffs in 2014 after a four-year absence.  There is talent back in Kpreps All-District running back Logan Woodyard, and linebackers Keaton DeWalt and Micah Kenworthy. Sophomore Hunter Stevenson give the Mustangs another weapon on offense to go along with Woodyard and DeWalt. Kenworthy is a relentless blocker on the offensive line. The Mustangs rushed for 272 yards, but committed four turnovers in a 35-20 loss to Centralia.
  • Wabaunsee (0-4) – Wabaunsee has played its typical difficult early season schedule against Mid-East League competition. The Chargers have scored only 23 points in four games, but narrowly fell at St. Marys, 14-6. Wabaunsee may still be a year away as the Chargers have only one senior on the roster in Bryce Kelley. Kolby Droegemeier leads the Chargers with 290 rushing yards and two touchdowns through four games.

Key Games: Any of the top four teams could earn one of the two playoff spots, but (Wk 9) Valley Heights at Jackson Heights could be for the district title.   

Winner: Jackson Heights
Runner-up: Valley Heights

District 3 (Gilmore)

  • Marion (4-0) – In their second season in Class 2-1A, Marion remains in the Kpreps rankings at No. 5.  The Warriors opened with a hard-fought 24-14 win over Moundridge before winning their next three games by at least 15 points each.  Aaron Riggs leads the Warriors on the ground with more than 400 rushing yards and seven touchdowns this season. Jack Schneider has played well at quarterback and looks receiver Mason Pedersen in the passing game.
  • Mission Valley (3-1) – After a 3-0 start, Mission Valley ell 41-14 at Council Grove. The Vikings first two games of the season were each decided by six points. With eight starters back on each side of the ball, Mission Valley should content for a playoff spot.
  • Northern Heights (2-2) – Northern Heights is close to being 4-0. The Wildcats led Lyndon 7-0 in the fourth quarter before the Tigers scored and got a pick-6 for a 14-7 win. Last week, Northern Heights fumbled in the fourth quarter which led to Osage City scoring a game-winning touchdown run with 2:30 remaining. Trent Burd rushed for 393 yards and three scorers in just the Wildcats’ first two games.
  • Chase County (1-3) – Chase County opened the season with a 29-0 shutout of West Frankling.  Since, the Bulldogs have been shut out by Council Grove and  held to single touchdowns in losses to Osage city and Lyndon. The Bulldog offense keeps things primarily on the ground with junior Kraig Hatcher’s team-high 342 yards and four touchdowns. On defense, Colton Haney averages 14.8 tackles per game having registered 59 on the season.
  • Herington (0-4) – Herington snapped a 25-game losing streak last year, but has now lost nine consecutive games.  The Railers have not qualified for the state playoffs since 2002. Senior Justin Biehler has rushed for 291 yards and three scores. He has also passed for 186 yards and two touchdowns, but has been intercepted eight times.

Key Games: (Wk 6) Northern Heights at Marion; (Wk 8) Northern Heights at Mission Valley; (Wk 9) Mission Valley at Marion  

Winner: Marion
Runner-up: Mission Valley

District 4   (Gilmore)

  • Lyndon (3-1) – The Tigers have won three of their first four games, but each game has been close. Lyndon beat Herington, who is still winless, 14-0 in Week 1 before losing 26-20 to Mission Valley. Since, Lyndon has posted a seven-point win over Northern Valley and a five-point win over Chase County. Junior quarterback Rylan Burns has passed for nearly 400 yards and three scores this season, while sophomore Dexton Swinehart has 304 receiving  yards and two scores.
  • Olpe (2-2) – After losses to La Crosse (22-12) and Riley County (55-30) to open the season, defending champion Olpe has posted dominant wins over Eureka and Central Heights. The Eagles had several key positions to fill from last year’s title team, but Chris Schmidt’s team is beginning to gain momentum.  Dylan Redeker and Andrew Burenheide combined for more than 200 yards rushing last week.
  • Oswego (1-3) – After Oswego opened the season with a 20-16 win at Maranatha-Immaculata the Indians have dropped three straight. In those three losses to Erie, Jayhawk-Linn, and Northeast-Arma, the Indians have given up 37 points per game.  To compete for a playoff spot Oswego will have to be better on defense.
  • Whitewater-Remington (0-4) – The Broncos have played a tough schedule against Heart of America League teams Bennington, Sedgwick, and Marion that are now a combined 11-1. Last week, Remington fell to Inman by 30 points. Quarterback Blake Thunberg passed for more than 100 yards in each of the first three games.
  • Yates Center (0-4) – Yates Center has not lost 14 consecutive games since their 2013 8-man playoff win over West Elk. The Wildcats only scored in double digits one game last year and were shut out three times. This season, the Wildcats are averaging 14 points per game but are giving up 44.5 per game.

Key Games:   (Wk 5) Remington at Olpe;  (Wk 7) Lyndon at Olpe; (Wk 9) Lyndon at Remington

Winner: Olpe
Runner-up: Lyndon



District 5   (Nicholl)

  • Sedgwick (4-0) – The Cardinals finished a suspended game with Bennington on Saturday and pulled off a 16-9 victory. Sedgwick has been very impressive on both sides of the ball and has allowed just 51 total points. Senior Grant Hilliard and freshman Hooper Schroeder share quarterback duties in a fast-paced offense that relies on the short passing game.
  • Medicine Lodge (2-2) – The Indians have already eclipsed last season’s victory total from a 1-8 season. Medicine Lodge has not played in a close game yet. It opened with a 59-0 victory versus Belle Plaine, lost 34-7 at Conway Springs, won 44-6 at Douglass and lost 57-0 versus Chaparral.
  • Inman (1-3)The Teutons opened up with losses by 20 to Ell-Saline, 11 to Bennington, and five points to Hutchinson Trinity.  Inman broke through for a 42-12 victory at Whitewater-Remington last week. The Teutons have not reached the playoffs since 2003.
  • Sacred Heart (1-3) – The Knights have opened with four, Class 3A NCAA league schools. Sacred Heart fell 55-14 to Southeast of Saline in Week 1, and won at Minneapolis, 30-0, in Week 2. The Knights lost 20-17 to an undefeated, high-octane Beloit squad in Week 3, and a 23-14 road loss to Ellsworth in Week 4. Sacred Heart had just 23 players, 15 non-freshmen, for last week’s game. Linemen Christian Bonilla and Jerod Toogood suffered injury in the contest. Sacred Heart finished with three first downs and allowed a safety.
  • Moundridge (0-4) – The Wildcats have tallied just 39 points in the first month, but their defense has kept them in contests. Moundridge has lost games by 10, 16 and six points. The Wildcats have lost seven games in a row.

Key Games:  (Wk 5) Sacred Heart at Sedgwick

Winner: Sedgwick
Runner-up: Sacred Heart

District 6  (Nicholl)

  • Smith Center (4-0) – Arguably the most improved team in 2-1A, Smith Center is undefeated after a 5-4 season in 2014. The Redmen delivered a statement win in a 27-14 home victory versus rival Norton last week. Smith Center hasn’t lost a home game since Week 2 of the 2013 season. The Redmen get Ell-Saline and Phillipsburg both at home.
  • Bennington (3-1) – Bennington finished 5-4 in 2014, its first winning season in a decade. The Bulldogs haven’t made the playoffs since 2009, but are off to a fine start in their final season before switching to 8-man football. Bennington gets Smith Center at home, but has to travel to Phillipsburg and Ell-Saline. The Bulldogs’ defense has permitted only 36 total points.
  • Phillipsburg (3-1) – The Panthers have a bevy of talented players, including freshman quarterback Trey Sides, wingback Kirk Coomes, fullback Brock Means and lineman Seth Jacobs. Phillipsburg has faced some extremes in losing 7-6 against rival Norton in Week 2, winning a wild 76-42 Week 3 contest at Plainville, and surviving for a 20-12 win at Oakley last week. Phillipsburg has missed running back Nate Prewitt and lineman Kian Stegmaier, though both should be healthy for the main part of districts.
  • Ell-Saline (2-2) – Last year’s surprise 2-1A runners-up opened with a 41-21 victory at Inman and a 28-12 win against Moundridge. The Cardinals have since lost 31-0 to Sedgwick, and 40-22 at Marion. Running back Dakota Came and quarterback Noah Bradley lead the offense.
  • Republic County (2-2) – First-year coach Andy Gwennap, a former Smith Center standout, has led an impressive turnaround for the Buffs. Last season, Republic County went 1-8 and ended a 33-game losing streak. This season, the Buffs defeated Minneapolis, 33-7, in Week 1, won at Russell, 30-23, in Week 2, then lost to Ellsworth, 21-8, and at Beloit, 60-6, in Week 4.

Key Games: (Wk 5) Bennington at Phillipsburg; (Wk 6) Ell-Saline at Smith Center; (Wk 7) Bennington at Ell-Saline; (Wk 8) Smith Center at Bennington; Ell-Saline at Phillipsburg; (Wk 9) Phillipsburg at Smith Center

Winner: Smith Center
Runner-up: Phillipsburg

 District 7   (Nicholl)

  • Ellis (2-2) – The Railers opened with a blowout road loss to Norton and fell to Thomas more Prep, a team that is just 1-12 in the last two seasons. Ellis bounced back with a quality neutral site victory against Maur Hill-Mount Academy in Week 3. Last week the Railers defeated Syracuse. Junior Dalton Hensley moved to running back this season and has played very well in the backfield.
  • La Crosse (2-2) – The Leopards have played a challenging early-season schedule with victories against Olpe and Minneapolis alternated with losses to Larned and Southeast of Saline. La Crosse has several key players banged up, including senior Alex Jay (knee). Junior quarterback Clayton Herdman, who will play Friday, has rushed for 395 yards, passed for 255 and accounted for six total scores. La Crosse has played the No. 9 SOS in the classification, according to preppowerindex.com.
  • Leoti-Wichita Co. (1-3) – Leoti-Wichita County, in its last season of 11-man football, has continued to struggle. The Indians own a 16-12 win at Stanton County, but have finished 1-8 in each of the past three seasons.
  • Oakley (1-3) – Oakley started 1-3 early last season then played well down the stretch and won a playoff game. The Plainsmen have similar scores to 2014 with a close, low-scoring win versus Colby (13-6) and three straight MCL losses within a combined 19 points. Oakley was scoreless with Norton after the first half in Week 3, and fell 20-12 to Phillipsburg last week. Oakley’s district slate finishes with a road game at Ellis, home versus Plainville, and at La Crosse. Oakley has the No. 2 SOS.
  • Plainville (1-3) – Plainville is tied for seventh in the classification with 126 points, but has allowed 164. By comparison, the Cardinals scored just 123 points and were shut out four times during a 3-6 season a year ago. Plainville is led by junior quarterback Hayden Friend. The Cardinals play at Norton in non-district play this week in addition to district games at La Crosse and at Oakley. The Cardinals have played the No. 7 SOS.

Key Games: The top four teams are all very close, and Plainville has the offensive firepower to win the district. La Crosse, as long as it remains healthy, remains the most complete team, while Oakley is strong defensively. Tiebreakers will likely decide this district as all four teams could easily take a loss.

Winner:  La Crosse
Runner-up: Oakley

District 8    (Nicholl)

  • Meade (4-0) – The No. 1 team in Class 2-1A has easily the classification’s top offense with 195 points, 47 more than other team. Junior quarterback Lawson Luetters has passed for 456 yards and rushed for 473 while accounting for 16 touchdowns. Seniors Delrey Welsh and Kash Larrabee are 1-2 in tackles (37 and 29) and are tied for the team high with five tackles for loss.
  • Elkhart (2-2) – Elkhart experienced a tough loss when all-state fullback/end Tanner Burnett followed former Wildcat Coach Khris Buckner to Wilburton (Okla.) just before the season started. Burnett has rushed for 277 yards and two touchdowns for Wilburton (2-2). Meanwhile, Elkhart opened with a 33-6 loss at Hooker (Okla.) and then fell 28-14 versus Southwestern Heights. The Wildcats defeated Lakin, 15-14, and won, 33-6, at Sublette last week.
  • Sublette (2-2) – Sublette has matched last year’s win total from a 2-7 season. Sublette won at Leoti, 21-6, in Week 2, and delivered a signature, 13-12 win against Lakin.
  • Stanton County (0-4) – Opponents have outscored Stanton County 167-18. The Trojans, once a consistent contender in this district, have lost 14 straight games.
  • Syracuse (0-4) – Syracuse finished 3-6 last season, but have not been as competitive in the first month this season. All of the teams’ losses are between 31 and 38 points. Opponents have outscored the Bulldogs 158-20. Syracuse will transition to Class 3A after this season.

Key Game: Meade is the heavy favorite, and (Wk 5) Sublette at Elkhart will decide the runner-up spot.

Winner: Meade
Runner-up: Elkhart

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