Class 3A Quarterfinal Preview

Garden Plain's Nate Pauly takes a pitch in a playoff game last season. (by David Jackson)
By: Mark Schremmer & Conor Nicholl for
Nov 10, 2016

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Class 3A

East: Wellsville (10-1) at No. 2 Nemaha Central (11-0)

Wellsville and Nemaha Central are both fresh off close victories. The Eagles held off Galena 27-22, and the Thunder maintained their perfect record with a 21-14 win over perennial 3A power Silver Lake.

The Eagles are on a six-game winning streak since falling 26-21 to Santa Fe Trail in Week 5.

Coach Brad Burkdoll has led Wellsville to 10 wins for the second consecutive season.

Reece Williams leads the Eagles’ offense with 1,104 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns on 144 carries. Quarterback Trajen Smith has passed for 1,517 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Williams is also the team’s leading receiver with 26 catches for 540 yards and five touchdowns. Alex Hosford added 19 catches for 405 yards and five TDs.

Nemaha Central has big wins over Holton, Sabetha and Silver Lake. The Thunder defense has pitched four shutouts and held opponents to eight points or fewer in seven out of 11 games.

The Thunder stopped Silver Lake on a key fourth-and-1 with about a minute left to hold off the traditional power.

Silver Lake gained 341 yards of offense compared to Nemaha Central’s 197, but the Thunder defense forced three turnovers. David Delaney recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for the Thunder’s first touchdown.

Nemaha Central quarterback Ryan Hasenkamp passed for 65 yards and rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown.

Warren Seitz, who starred at Missouri and spent two seasons in the NFL, has directed Nemaha Central to two consecutive seasons of 10 wins or more.

Nemaha Central 28, Wellsville 13 (Schremmer)

West: No. 5 Garden Plain (10-1) at No. 1 Hoisington (11-0)

The Cardinals delivered a great defensive performance in a 20-0 road win against Norton last Saturday. It marked first time the Bluejays had been shutout since Week 7 of the 2011 season. Hoisington had posted just one shutout this year, against struggling Hillsboro.

The win marked Hoisington’s first road playoff victory since 2006. The Cardinals forced Norton standout junior quarterback Jace Ruder into 12 of 23 passing for 119 yards with no touchdowns against two interceptions. Norton had 20 carries for 16 yards.

Standout running back Hunter Hanzlick, the school’s all-time leading rusher, was hurt early in the contest with an elbow injury. Without Hanzlick (two carries, three yards), senior Cam Davis continued his torrid pace with 13 carries for 154 yards and three scores.

Junior Sean Urban stepped into a big role with 30 carries for 172 yards. Urban also led the team with eight tackles, and standout senior Landen Urban recorded six. Hoisington was plus-3 in turnover margin.

Hoisington averages 381 rushing yards per contest with 1,493 from Hanzlick and 1,100 by Davis (on 13.9 yards per carry). Urban has 807 rushing yards on 10.9 yards a carry. When all-purpose yards are included, Davis actually has a slight edge over Hanzlick for the team lead (1,628 to 1,561).

Hoisington’s defense has forced 28 turnovers, including 20 fumbles recovered, and is plus-22 in turnover margin.

Garden Plain has statistically overachieved this season. Of Kansas’ 12 teams that have at least 10 victories, Garden Plain has easily the lowest average margin of victory with a 36-18 score. The Owls are 4-1 in games decided by nine points or fewer and won 34-20 at home versus powerful Halstead last week.

Nate Pauly has 1,523 rushing yards and 28 rushing scores, has passed for 525 yards and five TDs, picked off five passes on defense and serves as the team’s kicker and primary returner. The Owls are plus-10 in turnover margin.

Halstead, a team very similar to Hoisington, had 310 total yards, including 222 on the ground. Garden Plain finished with 447 yards, including 169 rushing by Pauly and 144 from senior Martin Landewhr. Pauly accounted for four scores.

The Cardinals have a total score of 492-116, while Garden Plain is at 395-197.

Hanzlick’s health is certainly a key factor but last Saturday’s victory proved the Cardinals could win a game with Urban/Davis carrying the load and exceptional play from its defense.

Garden Plain has continued to win close games all season behind Pauly. The Owls will keep it close but no team, including Collegiate, Pratt and Washington County, has been able to stay with Hoisington for all four quarters.

Hoisington 31, Garden Plain 20 (Nicholl)


The rest of our 3A quarterfinal picks:

Caney Valley (9-2) at No. 4 Rossville (10-1) -- Rossville

Hesston (8-3) at No. 3 Phillipsburg (11-0) – Phillipsburg


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