Friday Playoff Preview: Class 6A

Will Schneider & Shawnee Mission North have a big challenge in No.1 Lawrence. (by Don Austin)
By: Matt Gilmore & Conor Nicholl for
Nov 5, 2015

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Class 6A

East: No. 5 Olathe North (8-1) at Blue Valley North (8-1)

Perhaps the best first-round game on Friday’s slate features traditional  power Olathe North at surprising Blue Valley North.

The Blue Valley North Mustangs are in the playoffs for the first time since 2007 and are guaranteed a winning record for the first time since 2006. The Mustangs had won just 15 games over the past eight seasons, but have had an outstanding season under Andy Sims.

Blue Valley North has won seven consecutive games since a 42-13 loss to St. Thomas Aquinas back in Week 2. The Mustangs started to gain the state’s attention with a dramatic 28-27 win over Blue Valley. In that game, North scored two touchdowns in the final 1:15 to upset the Tigers.

Last week, Blue Valley North shut out Shawnee Mission West in the second half of a 49-21 district-clinching win.

Senior quarterback Joey Dolan completed 31 of 36 passes for 367 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Mustangs. On the season, Dolan (6-2, 175) has completed 69 percent of his passes for 2,501 yards and 31 touchdowns with seven interceptions.

Senior Alex Blake (6-3, 205) leads the team with 46 receptions for 805 yards and 14 touchdowns. Cooper Lantefield leads the Mustang ground attack with 731 yards and eight touchdowns.

Olathe North is back in the playoffs after last season’s heartbreaking 36-35 double-overtime loss in the state semifinals to eventual champion Shawnee Mission East.

Coach Chris McCartney has led the Eagles to an 8-1 record in his first season as head coach. The Eagles lost 35-33 to Rogers-Heritage in Week 1, but later found out that Heritage had used an ineligible play and would forfeit the game.

In Week 8, Olathe North stormed back from a 24-7 deficit to grab a late lead against No. 1 Lawrence on three touchdown passes from Matt Wright to Isaiah Simmons. Lawrence would eventually score with four seconds left to top the Eagles, 31-28.

Wright directs the Olathe North offense from his quarterback position. He has passed for 1,150 yards and 14 touchdowns, while adding 952 yards and 11 scores on the ground.

Senior Vinnie Shabazz (5-10, 190) has rushed for 1,597 yards and 21 touchdowns while averaging eight yards per carry. Shabazz rushed 42 times for 270 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 19-13 win over Olathe Northwest.

Olathe North 27, BV North 24 (Gilmore)

West: Topeka High (8-1) at No. 4 Derby (8-1)

Topeka High visits Derby in one of the premier matchups in all of Kansas on Friday. Topeka fell 21-0 to red-hot Lawrence Free State, winners of six straight, last Friday settling for the district runner-up.

Derby took over the lead in 6A scoring offense with 445 points, two more than Shawnee Mission East and five ahead of Wichita Northwest. The Panthers’ lone loss was a 27-20 road defeat in Week 3 at 5A No. 1 Mill Valley. Derby held the yardage battle, but Mill Valley had key defensive plays and special teams.

Topeka, which tallied 380 points, finished No. 2 in scoring defense with 85 points.

The Panthers have dealt with some injuries, namely to standout running back Garrett Xanders (torn ACL), but quarterback Brady Rust is one of the state’s top passers with 1,277 yards. Senior offensive lineman Trevor Hudson has enjoyed a standout season, too.

Since their lone loss, Derby has won every game by at least 28 points.

Derby stands No. 10 all-time in Kansas history with 28 playoff appearances, according to Two seasons ago, Derby won the Class 6A state title. Last season, the Panthers fell in the quarterfinals to eventual runner-up Hutchinson. Derby has made the playoffs every year since 2006.

Topeka High has made a great turnaround under Walt Alexander, but it has yet to translate into a deep playoff run. In 2012, Topeka defeated Wichita Northwest 42-13 to capture the school’s first ever playoff victory. The Trojans then lost 42-33 to Hutchinson in the second round. In 2013, Topeka lost 55-48 to Wichita Heights.

Last year, Topeka fell 64-46 to Hutchinson in the first round. The Trojans are 1-8 all-time in the postseason. After a 4-5 mark in 2011, Topeka is 9-2, 8-2, 7-3, and 8-1 the past four seasons.

Mike McCoy leads the offense with 1,400 rushing yards. The Trojans had scored at least 31 points in every game before being shut out by Free State last week. Topeka had three turnovers in the defeat.

Since 2004, Derby and Topeka have not played each other. Derby is red-hot with an offense that’s nearly impossible to stop. Topeka has a history of playing in high-scoring playoff games. This is another one.

Derby 55, Topeka High 40 (Nicholl)


The rest of our 6A first-round picks:

Shawnee Mission North (3-6) at No. 1 Lawrence (9-0) – Lawrence

Shawnee Mission West (7-2) at Blue Valley (7-2) – Blue Valley

Blue Valley Northwest (2-7) at No. 2 Shawnee Mission East (8-1) – SM East

Wichita North (1-8) at No. 3 Wichita Northwest (9-0) – Wichita Northwest

Wichita West (5-4) at Lawrence Free State (6-3) – Free State

Hutchinson (6-3) at Junction City (9-0) -- Hutchinson

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