Friday Playoff Preview: Class 2-1A

Smith Center QB Thayne Benoit (10) & RB Cale Rogers (3). (Photo by Jean Stapel)
By: Matt Gilmore & Conor Nicholl for
Nov 4, 2015

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Class 2-1A

East: Lyndon (7-2) at Mission Valley (7-2)

Flint Hills League rivals Lyndon and Mission Valley will square off in the first round of the Class 2-1A playoffs in Eskridge on Friday night.

Mission Valley defeated the Lyndon 26-20 back in Week 2, ending the Tigers’ 24-game league winning streak.

That first meeting saw the Vikings and Tigers tied at 20 after three quarters. Mission Valley quarterback Clay Phillips broke a 65-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to provide the eventual game-winning points.

Phillips later grabbed an interception to seal the win for the Vikings. He rushed for a game-high 144 yards and two touchdowns in the game.

The Vikings used the momentum from that win to finish a Flint Hills League best 6-1 on the season. Mission Valley’s lone loss came 41-14 to Council Grove in Week 4.

The Vikings then won the District 3 championship despite a 22-20 loss to Marion to close out the regular season. Mission Valley, Marion and Northern Heights finished in a three-way atop the district standings at 3-1. Mission Valley and Northern Heights advanced to the playoffs based on the district points tie-breaker, Marion’s season ended at 7-2.

Lyndon rebounded from the early-season loss to Mission Valley by winning four straight games before a 28-6 loss to Olpe in district play.

Sophomore Dexton Swinehart leads the Tiger ground game with 794 yards and 12 touchdowns. Senior Wyatt Fitch has added 508 yards and seven scores.

Rylan Burns has passed for 793 yards and seven touchdowns on the season. Swinehart is also the Tigers’ leading receiver with 37 catches for 420 yards and four touchdowns.

In the first meeting, Mission Valley held Lyndon to 49 rush yards on 29 attempts.  If the Vikings can slow down the Lyndon ground attack again, they may find themselves in the state quarterfinals.

Mission Valley 26, Lyndon 24 (Gilmore)

West: No. 4 Smith Center (8-1) at No. 2 Sedgwick (9-0)

Smith Center has enjoyed a three-win improvement from a rare 5-4 season in 2014. The Redmen began the season 8-0 before it losing a late 7-0 lead against rival Phillipsburg last Thursday in a 14-7 loss. The game cost Smith Center a share at an outright Mid-Continent League title and the district crown.

Smith Center is now 8-3, 5-4 and 8-1 in the three-year Darren Sasse era. The Redmen have a collective margin of 329-98 this season after had a total score of 181-188 in 2014. Smith Center has plenty of talent in the backfield led by Thayne Benoit, Cale Rogers, Chase Ryan and Kaden Meitler.

Sedgwick took an upset loss to Ell-Saline – who they beat in the regular season – in the first round of the 2014 playoffs. The Cardinals finished 7-3 with a season margin of 389-178. This season, the Cardinals are undefeated with a scoring margin of 359-121. That includes a 34-32 road comeback victory at Phillipsburg in Week 6.

Sedgwick averages 421 yards per game, with 217 on the ground and 204 in the air. Senior Grant Hilliard has completed 110 of 152 passes (72.4 percent) for 1,478 yards with 17 scores against six interceptions. He leads the team with 147 carries for 802 yards and nine touchdowns.

Since 2004, Smith Center and Sedgwick have not played each other. The pace of the game is likely going to be key. Sedgwick likes to have plenty of snaps (62.8 per game) and feature a short passing game, while the Redmen are run-heavy.

Sedgwick, though, is more explosive offensively and is solid up front in a battle of top-5 teams.

Sedgwick 24, Smith Center 14 (Nicholl)

The rest of our 2-1A first-round picks:

Wabaunsee (3-6) at No. 5 Troy (7-1) – Troy

Jeff Co. North (6-3) at Jackson Heights (7-1) – Jackson Heights

Northern Heights (6-3) at Olpe (7-2) – Olpe

Syracuse (4-5) at Oakley (6-3) – Oakley

Sacred Heart (5-4) at No. 3 Phillipsburg (7-2) – Phillipsburg

Ellis (6-3) at No. 1 Meade (9-0) -- Meade


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