The Pick List - Week 7

Goddard's Blake Sullivan (11) & Kody Gonzalez (4) lead the Lions vs Valley Center. (David Jacksson)
By: Matt Gilmore & Conor Nicholl for
Oct 12, 2016

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Each Thursday throughout the regular season, The Pick List will feature six of the best match-ups across the state, and make our predictions on a handful of other games.

Feature Games of the Week:

6A No. 3 Shawnee Mission East (5-1) at Lawrence (5-1)

Three teams sit atop the Sunflower League standings with a 4-0 record, and two of them meet this week.  Shawnee Mission East travels to Lawrence take on the Lions in a battle of two of those teams, while the third, Lawrence Free State, travels to Olathe East.

Shawnee Mission East has been near the top of the Class 6A poll all season.  The Lancers were ranked second before a painful 26-20 loss to Rockhurst (Mo.) in a game that East dominated but was plagued by turnovers.

Since that loss, the Lancers have rolled to victories over Olathe North (48-13), Shawnee Mission North (77-26), and Olathe East (49-7). 

Quarterback Luke Kaiser has played well this season.  The senior rushed for apair of touchdowns and tossed a touchdown pass to Sky Tate in last week’s win over the Hawks. In addition to Tate, Trevor Thompson (410 receiving yards) has been a big-play threat when the Lancers choose to pass.

Most of the time, the East offense keeps things on the ground. Milton Braasch and Nigel Houston lead a talented backfield.  The offense has been explosive as evidenced by a 70-point first half in the win over Shawnee Mission North.

Lawrence has been somewhat of a surprise after only returning two starters on each side of the ball from last year’s 10-1 team.

The Chesty Lions have been led by senior running back Trey Moore who has 785 rushing yards in just five games this fall.  Moore suffered a season-ending injury early last season, but has worked with the guys at Athletic Strength Institute ( to come back for a breakout senior season.

In last week’s win over Olathe South, Moore rushed for 180 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries.  Quarterback Dante’ Jackson has also been explosive.  Jackson added 160 yards rushing and two scores against the Falcons, while passing for a touchdown.

Our Pick: SM East 38, Lawrence 17 (Gilmore)

5A No. 5 Goddard (5-1) at Valley Center (6-0)

Goddard and Valley Center, both expected to improve in Class 5A this season, will decide the AVCTL Division II crown on Friday. Valley Center, Wichita Heights, and Great Bend are the lone undefeated squads in the classification. Valley Center has already bettered last year’s 4-5 mark, while one-loss Goddard is a victory away from last year’s 6-4 record.

Goddard has been slightly more dominating than Valley Center against similar opponents. The Lions opened with a 27-26 double overtime home victory versus Olathe Northwest before a 35-6 road loss to Derby in a game called at halftime because of weather. Then, the Lions rolled over Andover (50-14), Goddard-Eisenhower (60-12), Salina South (42-7) and Arkansas City (52-13).

Valley Center has wins versus Salina South (27-9), Campus (34-7), Arkansas City (29-7), Newton (21-0), Hays (20-6), and Goddard-Eisenhower (54-28). Still, the Hornets have permitted just 57 points and rank first in the classification by a wide margin in scoring defense. Goddard is fifth in offense with 237 points. The Lions average 166 passing and 243 rushing yards a contest for 6.8 yards per play.

Junior Blake Sullivan has completed 54 of 118 passes for 871 yards with 15 scores against one interception. Senior Kody Gonzalez, with five 100-yard performances, has 97 carries for 745 yards and six scores. Sullivan has 73 carries for 446 yards and seven TDs. Junior A.J. Vang anchors a massive line. Defensively, Goddard has forced 16 turnovers, including five forced fumbles from senior Ethan Wright, and is plus-10 in turnover margin.

Like Goddard coach Scott Vang, Valley Center coach Caleb Smith has done a great job turning around the struggling program. The Hornets have posted 0-8, 3-6 and 4-5 marks in Smith’s first three seasons. Valley Center has passed for 154 yards and rushed for 131 yards a contest.

Junior Wyatt Lange leads the offense with 59 of 96 passing for 1,078 yards with a 12/4 TD/INT ratio. Junior Caleb Rains and Lange have combined for nine rushing scores; Rains leads the team with 383 yards.

Valley Center has averaged 6.2 yards per play but just four yards a rush. The Hornets have 11 forced turnovers and are plus-3 in turnover margin. Junior Aaron Coash is one of the state’s best kickers with 15 of 16 on extra points and 5 of 6 on field goals.

Goddard has won seven straight in the series, including 29-6 last season. However, the game is typically low scoring with the last five matchups 21-20, 22-7, 14-10 and 10-7 before last season. Valley Center’s defense is quality but Goddard is just too powerful, especially up front.

Our Pick: Goddard 32, Valley Center 21 (Nicholl)

5A No. 1 Wichita Heights (6-0) at 5A No. 4 Bishop Carroll (4-2)

Two longtime rivals play with significant City League ramifications. Wichita Heights leads the City League with a 4-0 league mark, while Bishop Carroll, Wichita Northwest, and Wichita South all stand at 3-1. South and Heights play next week. Carroll has defeated South (36-20) but lost to Northwest (61-49). Heights has beaten Northwest (53-33).

Carroll has not finished outside of the top two in the league in coach Alan Schuckman’s 22 years. Northwest won the league last season, while Heights last captured the crown in 2011 when it advanced to the Class 6A state championship game. Carroll was the Class 5A state champion in 2014 and the runner-up last year.

Carroll is 8-4 against Heights in the last 12 meetings, and has won the last six. The teams met up twice in 2014. Heights’ last win was a 45-14 victory in 2011.

Wichita Heights, led by sophomore quarterback K’Vonte Baker, has opened undefeated after a 7-4 season last year. The Falcons won its first three games by 20 points apiece before back-to-back blowouts and a 24-21 win versus Kapaun last week. Baker rushed 13 times for 109 yards and scores of nine and 59 yards and threw a 23-yard touchdown pass on his lone completion.

Bishop Carroll, with losses to Northwest and Derby, has tested itself against the No. 13 SOS in 5A, according to Prep Power Index. Heights is ranked at the No. 27 SOS.

Carroll has dealt with multiple injuries, including to its top two running backs Adam Theis and Gage Gottschalk. However, Jackson Nichols stepped in and rushed for a pair of scores in last week’s 36-20 victory versus Wichita South.

Braden Howell has played well, including 184 passing and 60 rushing last Friday. Heights ranks third in 5A offense with 253 points, and Carroll stands fourth at 246. Carroll, traditionally elite on defense, has allowed 70 more points than the Falcons.

While Kapaun gave Heights a scare last week, the Falcons have a great offense and have slowed down opponents better than Carroll.

Our Pick: Heights 40, Carroll 30 (Nicholl)

Spring Hill (4-2) at De Soto (5-1)

Spring Hill travels to De Soto (5-1) this week in a game that will likely decide the Frontier League title. Spring Hill is 4-0 in the Frontier League with Louisburg and De Soto tied at 3-1.

Even more importantly, the winner of the Broncos and Wildcats this week will likely get the second playoff spot in District 2 which includes No. 1 Bishop Miege (5-1) and Eudora (2-4).

After opening the season with consecutive losses to Kaw Valley League members Tonganoxie and Basehor-Linwood, Spring Hill has won four consecutive games against Frontier League competition.

The Broncos put themselves on the state radar with a 28-27 upset of then No. 3 Louisburg last week.  Quarterback Jacob Letellier rushed for a pair of touchdowns and threw a touchdown pass to Tyshaun Straw in the win.  Straw also added a touchdown run for the Broncos.

But the play of the game was delivered by Nathan Ewing late in the fourth quarter.  Louisburg scored with ten seconds remaining to pull within one and decided to go for the two-point conversion and the win. Ewing tackled Louisburg’s Korbin Hankinson on the attempt to secure the win.

Straw has been key in the Broncos offense this season.  The senior badk has rushed for 685 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year.  Letellier has shown the ability to be a dual threat as well.  He’s passed for 711 yards and five touchdowns, and added five touchdowns rushing as well.

Meanwhile, De Soto’s only loss came 31-17 to that same Louisburg team.

The Wildcats have relied on a solid defense that surrenders only 10.8 points per game and has posted three shutouts. De Soto hasn’t allowed a point since a 28-7 victory over Paola on September 23rd.  Since then, the Wildcats have shut out Nevada (Mo.) 35-0 and Baldwin, 43-0. De Soto held Baldwin to 130 yards of total offense last week.

Quarterback Bryce Mohl has been the offensive catalyst for the Wildcats.  Through six games this season, Mohl has rushed for 716 yards and nine touchdowns, and passed for 540 more yards and four scores. Mason Clark, Darren Winans, and Trevor Watts have combined for an additional 726 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.  

As with any game between teams that look even on paper, turnovers will likely be the key.

Our Pick: De Soto 27, Spring Hill 21 (Gilmore)

Nemaha Central (6-0) at Sabetha (6-0)

The Big 7 Conference title and likely the Class 3A, District 1 title will be on the line when Nemaha Central goes on the road to take on rival Sabetha. The Thunder and Bluejays are both 6-0 and sit just outside the Kpreps 3A rankings.

Nemaha Central has used an explosive offense and stingy defense to remain unbeaten this season. The Thunder average 51 points per game while giving up only 11 points per game.  Nemaha Central has posted three shutouts this season.

Ryan Hasenkamp has rushed and passed for at least one touchdown in every game this season.  Jacob Koelzer has rushed for 16 touchdowns, including 12 scores in the Thunder’s last three games.  

Both Nemaha Central and Sabetha have each posted a close, comeback win over Holton.  The Thunder scored on a Hasenkamp 1-yard run with less than a minute to go to pull within 42-41 of the Wildcats.  Hasenkamp then added the two-point conversion with a strong second effort to give Nemaha Central their second consecutive victory over Holton.  Prior to last season, Nemaha Central (and former Nemaha Valley) had not defeated Holton since 1995.

Sabetha also scored late in the game to defeat Holton.  In a tie game, Sabetha was gifted a Holton fumble at the 11-yard line with nine seconds remaining.  The Bluejays then connected on a 28-yard field goal to win 25-22.

Sabetha averages 44 points per game and surrenders just seven points per game with three shutouts. On offense, the Blue Jays feature a loaded backfield that includes Zach Edelman, Blake Plattner, and Trae Snyder. Snyder leads the team with 719 rushing yards with nine touchdowns, while Plattner has 688 yards and a team-high 14 scores. Edelman adds 225 yards and five touchdowns.

Sabetha averages 362 yards rushing per game and has attempted only 16 passes all season. Meanwhile, Nemaha Central is more balanced on offense with Hasenkamp at quarterback.  He passed for 215 yards in the Holton win.

Nemaha Central won last year’s meeting 31-8 and has won eight of the last nine meetings in the series.  Sabetha entered district play last season at just a 2-4, but advanced all the way to the 3A state quarterfinals and eliminated Silver Lake along the way. 

Our Pick: Nemaha Central 27, Sabetha 21 (Gilmore)

2-1A No. 5 Washington County (5-1) at 2-1A No. 1 Troy (6-0)

It’s not a district game, but Friday’s 2-1A showdown of ranked teams still carries a lot of significance.  Fifth-ranked Washington County travels to top-ranked Troy in a game that will likely decide the Twin Valley League title, and perhaps set a standard for the “team-to-beat” on the east side of the classification.

Last year, the Tigers defeated Troy 36-18 in the season-opener. After losing standout players Konner Penning and Cole Thompson from a 10-1 team in 2015, Washington County has maintained a high-level of success this season.

The Tigers are 5-1 with their only loss coming at Class 3A’s No. 1 Hoisington, 47-6, back in Week 3. The Tigers have posted solid wins over Riley County (28-16) and Jackson Heights (22-14) before being challenged by Centralia (28-21) last week.

Jerrod Hoover has played well at quarterback, and the Tigers continue to rely on the ground game with Jae Eaton and Hunter Kier.  Kier rushed for more than 1,450 yards last season. 

Troy returned 14 total starters from last season’s 2-1A state runner-up finish.  The Trojans have only really been pushed a couple of times this fall.  Troy defeated Centralia 33-16 back in Week 3, before squeaking by Perry-Lecompton 25-22 the following week.

Returning Kpreps All-State quarterback Reid Greaser has thrown for 1,579 yards already this season.  The receiving options are really good in Brody Winder and Cuttar Huss.  Winder leads the Trojans in receiving with 591 yards, while Huss has 573 yards. 

Huss is the type of do-it-all player that can be a difference-maker at the small school level.  

Our Pick: Troy 33, Washington County 27 (Gilmore)

The Pick List:

Blue Valley North (3-3) at Mill Valley (3-3) – Blue Valley North

Topeka Seaman (5-1) at Washburn Rural (4-2) – Washburn Rural

4A-I No. 2 Andale (6-0) at 4A-I No. 4 Buhler (5-1) – Andale

Atchison (6-0) at Tonganoxie (4-2) – Atchison

Scott City (4-2) at Colby (3-3) – Scott City

Pratt (5-1) at Hugoton (4-2) – Pratt

Topeka Hayden (2-4) at 4A-II No. 4 Santa Fe Trail (6-0) – Hayden

Beloit (5-1) at Marysville (4-2) – Marysville

Cheney (5-1) at Chaparral (6-0) – Chaparral

Southeast of Saline (6-0) at Marion (6-0) – Southeast of Saline

3A No. 5 Garden Plain (6-0) at Conway Springs (5-1) – Garden Plain

3A No. 4 Rossville (5-1) at Mission Valley (5-1) – Rossville

Jackson Heights (4-2) at Valley Heights (5-1) – Valley Heights

Cedar Vale-Dexter (4-2) at Oxford (4-2) – Cedar Vale-Dexter

West Elk (5-1) at Sedan (6-0) – West Elk

Sharon Springs-Wallace Co. (3-3) at 8M-II No. 2 Hodgeman Co. (5-1) – Hodgeman

Otis-Bison (4-2) at 8M-II No. 4 Dighton (6-0) – Dighton


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