The Pick List - Week 8

Davis Dubbert will try and lead St. John's-Tipton past No.2 Pike Valley (by Jeri Dubbert)
By: Conor Nicholl, Mark Schremmer, & Matt Gilmore for
Oct 19, 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 Junction City (6-1) at Topeka Seaman (6-1)

Two of the top teams in the Centennial League are set to meet Friday in Topeka when the Seaman Vikings host Junction City.

Both teams’ lone loss came to the undefeated Manhattan Indians.

The Junction City Blue Jays fell 27-22 to Manhattan in Week 6. Junction City earned lopsided league victories over Emporia, Topeka West and Topeka Highland Park and close wins over Topeka High and Washburn Rural.

Last week, Junction City cruised to a 43-14 win over Gateway (Mo.), scoring the game’s first 43 points. Ryan Hennington led the Blue Jays by rushing for three touchdowns.

The Vikings fell 42-21 to Manhattan in Week 5.

Seaman posted close wins over Topeka Hayden, Shawnee Heights and Washburn Rural.

Quarterback Dalton Cowan has led the Vikings with 1,257 passing yards and 13 touchdowns. Cowan, Mike Latendresse and Kevin Moranz have all rushed for 250 yards or more. Nick Steiner has caught 31 passes for 493 yards, and Moranz has 31 catches for 457 yards.

Our Pick: Junction City 28, Seaman 20 (Schremmer)

4A-II No. 2 Frontenac (7-0) at 4A-II No. 3 Columbus (7-0)

Class 4A, Division II takes center stage this week with several of the top games on the Week 8 schedule will be played in the state’s newest classification.

One of those games features No. 2 Frontenac at No. 3 Columbus in a battle of unbeatens in the CNC League.  This Week 8 showdown will determine the outright league champion for the third consecutive season.

Since joining the CNC in 2012, the Columbus Titans have posted a 28-4 league record, including a 3-3 mark in that first season (with losses to Southeast-Cherokee, Girard, and St. Mary’s Colgan).  So it’s evident that the Titan program is rolling.  The Titans are 25-1 in the CNC over the past four seasons.  That one loss was at home to Frontenac (22-13) in 2014.  It decided the league title for the Raiders.

Last season in Frontenac, Columbus outscored the Raiders 54-43 on the way to another league title. 

The road team was won both meetings in this series.

Columbus enters Friday’s showdown averaging 39.5 points per game, while giving up 14.7.  Frontenac averages 46.6 points per game and has given up only 6.7 per contest.

The Titans are led by junior Keenan Stanley on offense.  Stanley (6-1, 190) has rushed for 896 yards and 12 touchdowns, while catching 16 passes for 275 yards and three scores.

Peyton Hale has added 392 rush yards and four touchdowns to a the Titans’ ground attack that graduated All-State selection Jace McDown and his 2,667 yards rushing and 38 touchdowns last season.

Quarterback Ridge Smith has completed 61 percent of his passes for 895 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Frontenac is led by senior quarterback Brandon Mlekus, a dual threat quarterback that, much like Stanley, is a threat to break a big play on every snap.

As a junior last fall, Mlekus passed for 1,830 yards and rushed for 797 more yards. This season, Mlekus has rushed for 12 touchdowns, passed for seven scores, and returned an interception for another score.

Cadin Bolinger and Austin Madl are also solid options out of the backfield, while Ryan Long, Dylan Flora, and Broc Ginavan are primary receiving targets.

Senior A.J. Lusker (6-2, 260) leads the Raiders on the offensive and defensive lines.

The Raiders closest test this season came in a Week 3, 28-7 win over rival St. Mary’s Colgan.  Frontenac led 14-7 entering the fourth quarter before two Mlekus touchdown runs widened the margin.

Coach Mark Smith is 35-14 in his fifth season with the Raiders.

Our Pick: Frontenac 34, Columbus 20 (Gilmore)

4A-II No. 5 Topeka Hayden (3-4) at Holton (4-3)

Two perennial powers are set to face off in a Class 4A Division II battle with significant district implications.

Both Hayden and Holton enter on a hot streak after rough starts.

The Hayden Wildcats started the season with an 0-3 record but have won three of their last four games.

Last week, Hayden earned a 27-6 win over the previously undefeated Santa Fe Trail Chargers. Hayden held the Chargers to their lowest point total since 2014.

Tomas Stringer led the Wildcats with 76 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

The Holton Wildcats also opened the season with an 0-3 record and had lost four straight when adding in last season’s 4A-II state title game. Holton’s three losses this season came against opponents that are now a combined 19-2. Holton has since bounced back with a four-game winning streak.

Holton rushes for 346 yards per game. Miles Strozier leads the team with 889 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, while Spencer Baum is second with 753 yards and 11 scores.

Hayden and Holton will play for the first time since 2013 when Holton won 31-14.

Our Pick: Hayden 24, Holton 14 (Schremmer)

4A-II No. 1 Holcomb (7-0) at Pratt (6-1)

This contest will have significant ramifications in 4A-II, District 8.

Holcomb, the No. 1 team in 4A-II and the defending state champions, has won 16 straight contests. The Longhorns had the best scoring defense in the classification last year and rank No. 2 behind Frontenac this season with just 57 points permitted. Holcomb has not allowed more than 14 points in any game in the winning streak, including quality wins versus Cimarron (55-13), Scott City (32-13) and Ulysses (52-0) this season.

Pratt has enjoyed a strong improvement and defeated Hugoton on the road, 31-28, with a 35-yard field goal by Noah Myers as time expired last Friday.

The Greenbacks’ lone loss was a 32-14 home defeat to Hoisington (No. 1 in 3A) in Week 5. Pratt ranks second in offense with 283 points and has allowed 128 points. Holcomb has tallied 275, No. 5 in the classification. Pratt has already won its most games since a 6-5 season in 2005. The Greenbacks’ explosive offense rushes for 313 and passes for 69 yards a contest for 7.9 yards per play.

Sophomore Travis Theis has 149 carries for 1,030 yards and 15 scores, and senior Hunter Kaufman has 60 offensive touches for 771 yards and 13 TDs. Pratt has just five turnovers and is plus-six in turnover margin. Holcomb won 57-26 and 33-7 the last two years.

Holcomb has 214 rushing and 189 passing yards a contest for 6.8 yards per play. Junior Trey Gilbert has completed 76 of 136 passing for 1,320 yards with 21 scores against six interceptions. Senior Conner Vancleave has 22 catches for 369 yards and five TDs. Holcomb’s offense has committed 13 turnovers, but its defense is outstanding with 22 forced turnovers.

Seniors Dillon Williams (83 tackles), Vancleave (eight TFLs), Michael Roth (five INTs) and Brandon Stegman (four INTs) lead the defense.

Last week, Holcomb led Kingman to 36 plays for 79 yards. Pratt scores more than 14 against Holcomb, but the Longhorns come away with the win.

Our Pick: Holcomb 34, Pratt 21 (Nicholl)

3A No. 3 Phillipsburg (7-0) at Norton (5-2)

The two Mid-Continent League rivals match up in a contest that will likely decide both playoff berths from District 14.

Phillipsburg is 5-0 in Mid-Continent League play and has clinched the league crown with wins over Plainville (3-1) and Smith Center (4-2). Norton is 1-2 in league play with two MCL contests left. Last year, Norton, Phillipsburg and Smith Center all tied for the league crown with one loss, though Norton had the higher winning percentage with a 5-1 record. Phillipsburg’s last undefeated MCL season was a 4-0 mark in 2013, its lone outright league crown in the last 23 seasons. In 2000, Smith Center (6-0) and Phillipsburg (5-0) both were perfect but didn’t play each other, according to MCL archives.

Phillipsburg, the defending 2-1A state champions, has won 14 straight contests. Among 11-man teams, only Derby and Holcomb have currently won more consecutive games. The Panthers, though, have suffered two significant injuries in the last two weeks with senior running back Mark Coomes and lineman Drew Stapel.

The Panthers have rolled 50-0 against Larned and 58-18 versus TMP, two struggling programs, the last few weeks. Sophomore quarterback Trey Sides is in his second year under center, while junior running back Kirk Coomes and junior fullback/linebacker John Gower continue to play at a high level. The offensive line had four new starters this season. Phillipsburg has outscored teams 309-70 and ranks in the top-4 in both scoring offense and defense.

Norton opened 2-2 with a 20-14 Week 2 loss at Plainville and a 20-17 overtime home defeat versus Smith Center in Week 4. Since then, the Bluejays have defeated Southwestern Heights (60-16), won against a solid Colby team on the road (52-41) and defeated Russell (48-14) last week. Norton has outscored opponents, 288-134.

Norton has struggled throughout the year with efficient passing behind junior quarterback Jace Ruder, a Division I recruit, but has still moved the ball well. This season, the Bluejays, helped by big plays, have averaged 7.7 yards a snap compared to 6.6 last season. In the loss to Smith Center, the Bluejays held a 346-324 yardage edge but were minus-3 in turnovers. Against Plainville, Norton had a pair of costly interceptions.

Against Colby, Ruder was 4 of 10 of 112 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The Bluejays rushed 50 times for 407 yards, including 237 and three scores on 27 carries for junior Tevin Petrie. Overall, Ruder has completed 57 of 116 passes for 1,092 yards with a 10/5 TD/INT ratio. The speedy Petrie has 126 carries for 1,056 yards and 11 scores. Senior standout Jacob Green has a team-high 100 tackles, including seven for loss and a pick-six. Junior Collyn Auker has emerged as a standout with 11 TFLs, best on the team.

Since 2007, Norton is 7-2 versus its Highway 36 rival, including a 20-7 Week 9 victory in 2012, and a 7-6 win last season.  Of the last 12 matchups, nine are within 16 points and six within seven points. If they are healthy, the Panthers get the edge. However, Norton, which is 13-2 in its last 15 home games and has traditionally played very well at Travis Field, is the healthier team.

Our Pick: Norton 34, Phillipsburg 28 (Nicholl)

8M-II No. 2 Pike Valley (6-1) at Beloit St. John’s-Tipton (6-1)

This contest will go a long way in deciding the District 4 playoff qualifiers.  Pike Valley and Beloit St. John’s-Tipton are both 6-1, 3-0 in district play. Rock Hills, which plays BSJT next week, is 6-1 and 2-1 but has lost to Pike Valley. The Panthers’ lone loss was a 34-32 road defeat in Week 4 at undefeated Osborne that was close throughout. BSJT lost, 50-18, at home versus Osborne in Week 2.

Pike Valley had trouble converting two-point conversions throughout the Osborne game and missed on the game-tying conversion with 1 minute, 25 seconds left. Pike Valley, behind speedy junior running back Lane Peters, averages 272 rushing yards and 89 passing yards a contest.

Peters has 114 carries for 1,028 yards and 19 rushing scores. He has cleared over 100 yards in all but one contest. Junior Davante Hammer has completed 26 of 45 passes for 523 yards with an 11/1 TD/INT ratio. Junior Cole Strickler has 35 offensive touches for 460 yards and nine scores. He also leads the team with 50 tackles. Juniors Max Rickard (four fumble recoveries) and Anton Reeves (three interceptions, two pick-sixes) have been playmakers. Pike Valley has a total margin of 366-82, while the Blujays are at 280-122 with a forfeit against Southern Cloud last week.

BSJT has posted its fifth straight winning season and matched last season’s record from a 6-3 season. The Blujays average 219 rushing and 170 passing a game. Senior quarterback Davis Dubbert is 75 of 128 for 996 yards with 12 scores against four interceptions. Junior Ty Brummer has 105 carries for 627 yards and 11 scores. BSJT has averaged 5.3 yards per rush after just 3.3 last season. The Blujays are plus-2 in turnover margin compared to plus-10 for Pike Valley.

Pike Valley is 1-3 in the last four meetings against the Blujays, but the Panthers did win 30-18 last season. BSJT has made big improvements in the run game, which was needed if the Blujays were going to reach the postseason. However, last season, BSJT went 0-3 against teams that finished with a winning record. This season, the Blujays’ lone opponent thus far against a winning team is Osborne. In those four games, BSJT has permitted 44.5 points a game. It’s been difficult for any team to slow down Peters and the Panthers.

Our Pick: Pike Valley 42, St. John’s-Tipton 30 (Nicholl)

The Pick List:

Lawrence (5-2) at Lawrence Free State (5-2) – Lawrence   

6A No. 3 SM East (6-1) at SM West (5-2) – SM East

5A No. 5 St. Thomas Aquinas (5-2) at 6A No. 2 Blue Valley (7-0) – Blue Valley

Maize (6-1) at Hutchinson (6-1) – Hutchinson

Wichita South (4-3) at 5A No. 3 Wichita Heights (6-1) – Wichita Heights

4A-I No. 2 Basehor-Linwood (7-0) at Atchison (6-1) – Basehor-Linwood

4A-I No. 1 Bishop Miege (6-1) at De Soto (6-1) – Bishop Miege

Nickerson (5-2) at 4A-II No. 4 Wichita Collegiate (4-3) – Collegiate

Chaparral (7-0) at Garden Plain (6-1) – Garden Plain

Hesston (4-3) at Southeast of Saline (7-0) – Southeast of Saline

Perry-Lecompton (3-4) at 3A No. 2 Silver Lake (7-0) – Silver Lake

Chase County (5-2) at 2-1A No. 4 Lyndon (7-0) – Lyndon

2-1A No. 1 Troy (7-0) at Jefferson Co. North (7-0) – Troy

Wabaunsee (3-4) at 2-1A No. 5 Washington County (5-2) – Washington

Logan-Palco (6-1) at Solomon (5-2) – Logan-Palco

Rural Vista (5-2) at 8M-I No. 3 Burlingame (7-0) – Burlingame

Leoti-Wichita Co. (5-2) at 8M-I No. 2 Spearville (7-0) – Spearville

Hodgeman County (5-2) at 8M-II No. 3 Dighton (7-0) -- Dighton


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