Tuesday Playoff Preview: 8-Man, Division II

Brad Lightfoot will try to lead Otis-Bison past Wallace County. (Everett Royer, KSportsImages.com)
By: Conor Nicholl for Kpreps.com
Nov 2, 2015

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Class 8M-II

East: Pike Valley (7-2) at Chase (9-0)

Chase has posted back-to-back 9-0 regular seasons. A 9-1 record is rare in Kansas high school football. Two teams apiece in each of the last three years have posted 9-1 marks, four at the eight-man level. Last season, Chase and Peabody-Burns finished the regular season unbeaten and then dropped their first playoff game.

Chase lost 58-34 at home to Pike Valley, its fourth first-round loss since 2010.

The Kats have its best team in the five-year John Wellman era. Senior Brandon Clark is the best QB/LB Wellman has coached. He has accounted for 43 scores and hasn’t thrown an interception. Senior Riley Munoz (6-1, 275) is an all-state caliber player along the line.

Unlike the loss last year, Chase won’t have any starters out because of injury. The last two years mark the best regular seasons in the last 45 years for the Kats.

Pike Valley finished 5-6 last season under veteran coach Don Melby. The Panthers have a pair of losses to Rock Hills (34-28) in Week 2, and at Axtell (22-0) in Week 7. Sophomore Lane Peters leads the team in rushing for the second straight year with 127 carries for 1,392 yards and 23 scores.

Pike Valley has 16 turnovers and 21 fumbles (11 lost) this season. Their losses came in very different ways. Against Rock Hills, the Panthers rushed for 324 yards and completed a season-high eight of 13 passes, though for only 27 yards. Axtell contained Pike Valley to 124 rushing yards and 75 passing. Pike Valley had four turnovers versus Rock Hills, and two versus Axtell.

Last year, Pike Valley had 26 turnovers although the playoff-win over Chase was the only game the Panthers didn’t commit a turnover.

This is arguably Chase’s best chance to make a deep run and its most experienced team. Clark makes enough plays, and the game resembles the Rock Hills contest. Pike Valley moves the ball, but the Kats win the turnover battle.

Chase 36, Pike Valley 30 (Nicholl)

West: No. 5 Otis-Bison (8-1) at No. 2 Sharon Springs-Wallace Co. (9-0)

Otis-Bison is 4-0 in first-round games under 11th-year coach Travis Starr, though all four contests were at home. The first of those games was a 60-30 first round win against Wallace County in 2008. This marks the first time the two programs have matched up since.

The Cougars, led by a huge defensive improvement, are back in the playoffs for the first time in three years and have a four-win improvement from last fall.

Wallace County hasn’t lost a home game since Week 4 of the 2010 season. The trip is 178 miles for the Cougars, though Starr has not worried about playing on the road. This marks Otis-Bison’s sixth road game of the year. The Cougars are 5-0 on the road with long trips to Thunder Ridge, Northern Valley and Beloit St. John’s-Tipton.

Otis-Bison has averaged 229 rushing yards a game, though had just 88 yards in a loss to Victoria last Thursday for the district title. The Cougars rallied back from a two-score deficit and tied the game at 22 before Victoria scored 46 unanswered. Junior Brad Lightfoot has 1,318 all-purpose yards with 23 scores.

Wallace County has enjoyed another great season and bumped Jeff Hennick’s career mark to 20-1 in two years. Senior quarterback Eric Gfeller, senior fullback Luke Schemm and senior wide receiver Spencer Medina lead the offense. The Wildcats are tied for No. 3 in the classification in scoring defense.

A big key to watch will be the two-point conversions. Wallace County has converted 83 percent of two-point attempts, and kicker Sammy Aquino is 5 of 5 on extra points. Last season, Wallace County was at 43 percent on two-point plays and two of four on kicking.

Otis-Bison is at 68 percent (41 of 60) on two-point plays with no kick attempts.

Defensively, Wallace County has allowed teams to convert 27 percent (3 of 11) on conversions.

Wallace County is the more complete, experienced team. Lightfoot and Otis-Bison will keep the game manageable, but the Wildcats’ balanced attack and home field advantage leads to victory.

Wallace County 42, Otis-Bison 24 (Nicholl)

The rest of our 8M-II first-round picks:
Centre-Lost Springs (4-5) at No. 4 Axtell (8-1) -- Axtell

Caldwell (4-5) at Colony-Crest (5-3) -- Caldwell

Hartford (7-2) at No. 3 Argonia-Attica (9-0) – Argonia-Attica

Satanta (6-3) at Minneola (6-2) -- Minneola

Triplains-Brewster (7-2) at No. 1 Victoria (8-0) -- Victoria

Ashland (6-2) at Ingalls (8-1) -- Ingalls


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