Friday Playoff Preview: Class 5A

Can Blue Valley Southwest pull off another upset & beat the defending champs? (by Matt Gilmore)
By: Mark Schremmer & Conor Nicholl for
Nov 3, 2016

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Class 5A

East (11) vs (3)
Bonner Springs (4-5) at St. Thomas Aquinas (6-3)

The Bonner Springs Braves enter the second round of the playoffs with a bit of momentum after consecutive victories over Lansing. Meanwhile, the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints are still trying to regroup after dropping their final two games in the regular season.

Junior quarterback Coleton Oakes leads the Braves offense, passing for more than 1,300 yards. The Braves also use senior Charlie Gray as the quarterback in the Wildcat formation. Andrew Stephan has been Bonner Springs’ top target with more than 400 yards receiving.

Generating a lot of points can be a problem for the Braves, however. Bonner Springs has been held to 21 points or fewer in seven of nine games.

St. Thomas Aquinas, meanwhile, has scored 34 points or more in six games.

The Saints finished the regular season with a 30-27 loss to a previously winless Blue Valley Southwest squad and a 45-34 loss to 6A power Blue Valley. Aquinas got back on track last week with a 39-13 first-round playoff win over Leavenworth.

Junior quarterback Will Swanson has passed for more than 1,100 yards. Tristan Davis leads all Saints receivers with 16 catches for 322 yards. Swanson has also rushed for 543 yards.

Running back Drew Hicks, who ran for 72 yards and two touchdowns during last week’s win over Leavenworth, leads the Saints with 694 rushing yards in only six games.

Coach Randy Dreiling has led the Saints deep into the playoffs in each of his two years at the helm. Aquinas advanced to the 5A semifinals last year and fell to Bishop Carroll in the state championship game in 2014.

Aquinas 35, Bonner Springs 18 (Schremmer)

West (5) vs (4)
No. 2 Bishop Carroll (7-2) at No. 4 Goddard (8-1)

This game is a classic matchup of an up-and-coming program against the traditional elite program. Goddard has eight total playoff victories and has lost in the first round in its last four tries, including the past two seasons. Since 1989, the Lions’ lone trip to the quarterfinals or better came in 2007.

Carroll has 23 state playoff appearances with three state crowns and four runner-up showings. The Golden Eagles won titles in ’12 and ’14 and finished second most recently last season. Carroll has lost in the Round of 16 just once in school history, in 2004.

The teams have rarely played, with just three meetings since 2004, all coming from ’12-14. Carroll, with some of the great teams in recent Kansas history, won the three contests, 70-13, 48-0, and 67-0.

However, Goddard entered the season with high expectations and has been ranked throughout the second half of the year. Carroll lost to Wichita Northwest, 61-49, in Week 1, and defeated Wichita Heights, 42-41, in Week 8 to clinch a three-way share of the City League race.

The Lions rolled through AVCTL-II and has won every contest by at least 35 points since a 35-6 road loss to Derby in Week 2 in a game that was called at halftime because of weather. Carroll lost, 49-13, versus Derby in Week 5.

Goddard has a 400-134 margin against the No. 4 SOS in 5A, according to Prep Power Index. Carroll has outscored teams with a 354-224 margin with the No. 3 SOS. The Lions have the No. 1 scoring defense in 5A.

Goddard’s experienced offensive line has opened holes for one of the state’s best offenses with 277 rushing and 162 receiving yards a contest. Junior Blake Sullivan has completed 79 of 164 passes for 1,333 yards with 24 scores against just five interceptions. He has also rushed 107 times for 798 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Senior Kody Gonzalez has 148 carries for 1,332 yards and 12 scores. Goddard averages 7.8 yards per play (Northwest is at 9.0 yards per play). Goddard is 9-2 in its last 11 home contests.

Carroll has been banged up in the backfield with Adam Theis and Gage Gottschalk throughout the season, but quarterback Braden Howell has stepped up. Luke Linnebur has stepped up in the backfield, and Eric Nichols has emerged as a receiving threat.

Against Heights, Howell passed for 428 yards, while Nichols has 12 catches for 178 yards and three scores. After missing several weeks, Theis returned last week in a 41-8 win against Kapaun and rushed 18 times for 93 yards and two scores.

The Golden Eagles defeated rival Kapaun in the Holy War in back-to-back weeks entering this contest. The defense, traditionally very strong, returned just two starters.

In five games against Wichita Northwest, West, Heights, South and Derby, the Golden Eagles allowed 39.8 points per contest. In games when those squads didn’t play Carroll, they scored 41.4 points a contest- meaning the Golden Eagles’ defense has been good with holding teams around their season average. As well, this will be the Lions’ best offense they’ve seen all season.

While Goddard doesn’t have quite the offensive firepower has Northwest, Derby or Heights, its offensive balance and strong defense yields the win.

Goddard 42, Carroll 36  (Nicholl)

The rest of our 5A first-round picks:

East (8) vs (1)
 St. James Academy (5-4) at KC Schlagle (8-1) – St. James Academy

East (13) vs (5)
Blue Valley Southwest (2-7) at Mill Valley (5-4) – Mill Valley

East (7) vs (2)
KC Turner (5-4) at No. 5 Topeka Seaman (7-2) – Seaman

West (9) vs (1)
Emporia (4-5) at No. 3 Wichita Heights (8-1) – Wichita Heights

West (7) vs (2)
Andover (6-3) at No. 1 Great Bend (8-1) – Great Bend

West (6) vs (3)
Maize (7-2) at Valley Center (8-1) – Valley Center


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