Friday Playoff Preview: Class 4A-I

Chicago Elias of Independence hauls in a pass. Indy hosts Louisburg on Friday night. (David Jackson)
By: Mark Schremmer & Conor Nicholl for
Nov 2, 2016

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Class 4A – Division I

East: KC Piper (6-3) at No. 1 Bishop Miege (8-1)

The KC Piper Pirates earned a spot in the playoffs by earning big victories over Tonganoxie and Atchison. Now, the Pirates will face their biggest challenge yet in the top-ranked and two-time defending state champion Bishop Miege Stags.

KC Piper finished second in the Kaw Valley League behind Basehor-Linwood. The Pirates look to the run first, averaging 225.1 yards on the ground.

Senior J.J. Letcher leads the way with 1,501 yards and 17 touchdowns on 202 carries. He’s also the team’s leading receiver with 17 catches for 283 yards and three touchdowns.

Piper senior quarterback Jordan Goodpaster has completed 57 of 123 passes for 870 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions.

The Stags are more likely to put the ball in the air, throwing for 266.4 yards per game. When the Stags do throw the ball against the Pirates, it may be wise to throw away from Letcher. Piper’s defensive back has 10 interceptions and seven pass deflections this season.

However, Bishop Miege junior quarterback Carter Putz has excelled at taking care of the football. He has completed 119 of 168 passes for 2,269 yards and 33 touchdowns with only two interceptions.

Putz’s leading receivers are Landry Weber (40 catches, 854 yards) and Jafar Armstrong (37 catches, 853 yards).

Freshman Brison Cobbins leads Miege’s ground attack with 529 yards and five touchdowns on only 53 carries.

Senior Joe Pedrotti has recorded four sacks for the Stags, who won their three district games by a combined score of 158-19.

Miege’s only loss came 35-28 to Blue Valley in the season opener. Blue Valley is currently ranked second in Class 6A.

The Stags have eliminated the Pirates from the playoffs in each of the past two seasons.

Miege 52, Piper 24 (Schremmer)

West:  No. 4 Andale (8-1) at McPherson (7-2)

This is very even matchup featuring Andale’s No. 2 offense (423 points) versus McPherson’s top-ranked defense (75 points permitted) in the classification.

McPherson has won seven straight contests after a pair of opening losses, both at home, to Buhler (26-13) and Maize South (14-6). Since then, the Bullpups have been dominant with three shutouts and a district title.

Andale lost, 28-21, to Buhler in Week 7 and took the district runner-up spot. The Indians have found ways to hold off Mulvane (61-52) and deliver a furious comeback versus Collegiate (32-21). Additionally, Andale rolled over Labette County, 49-8. This is legendary coach Gary O’Hair’s last season, who announced he and his wife will move to New Mexico following the school year.

Andale has an average score of 47-20, while McPherson’s average score is 32-8. The Bullpups’ defense has held every offense under its season scoring average.

McPherson has permitted teams 16.5 points under its scoring average compared to games when the opponents don’t play McPherson. The best performance came in a 41-0 win versus playoff qualifier Augusta. The Orioles tallied 30.8 points a contest in its other eight contests.

Andale’s offense has been 19.9 points better than its opponents’ defensive average when they don’t face the Indians. Andale’s best offensive game came in the 61-52 win against Mulvane. The 7-2 Wildcats had allowed 21.5 points its other eight contests.

In each Buhler loss, the teams struggled in run defense.  Dalton Brown had 39 carries for 194 yards and two scores versus Andale. Against McPherson, the Crusaders tallied 227 rushing yards. Buhler led McPherson, 14-0 early, and held Bullpup quarterback Casen Hoover to 2 of 10 passing in the second half. Hoover is 85 of 149 for 1,244 yards with 22 scores against two interceptions.

The Indians lost quarterback Taylor Richter to a hip injury early in its Buhler loss and stayed close behind standout running back Tristan Dagenais and backup quarterback Ethan Baalmann. Andale also lost 2015 all-state running back Zach Meyer to injury on the opening kickoff of the season-opener.

Andale rallied from a 14-point deficit to tie the score, but Buhler scored the game-winning points with 8:02 left and then ran out the clock after the Indians couldn’t convert a fourth down.

McPherson is 19-9 in the last three years but has a surprisingly six home losses, albeit against challenging teams. The Bullpups have lost those contests of 9.7 points and three are within a score.

Andale has made the playoffs every season since ’01 and won 12 straight first round contests. This marks the fifth straight season the teams have matched up. Andale has won the last three, including 29-8 last year and 36-7 in the ’13 playoffs. McPherson won 42-36 in the 2012 playoffs.

McPherson will keep it low scoring, but Andale, which has found a way to win close games this season, grinds out a road victory.

Andale 24, McPherson 17 (Nicholl)

The rest of our 4A-I first-round picks:

De Soto (7-2) at No. 2 Basehor-Linwood (9-0) – Basehor-Linwood

Labette County (5-4) at Ottawa (7-2) – Ottawa

Louisburg (7-2) at Independence (8-1) – Louisburg

Augusta (6-3) at Mulvane (7-2) – Mulvane

Abilene (7-2) at No. 3 Buhler (8-1) – Buhler

Ulysses (4-5) at No. 5 Maize South (8-1) – Maize South


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