District Preview: Class 2-1A

Plainville's Noah Hansen (25) is pursued by Smith Center's Jesse Staples (11). (by Everett Royer)
By: Conor Nicholl, Mark Schremmer, & Matt Gilmore for Kpreps.com
Oct 3, 2017

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In 2016, injury-plagued Centralia slipped back to 1-8, a very rare down season for the Panthers and veteran coach Larry Glatczak. The Panthers captured 2-1A state titles in ’09, ’11 and ’13 with a runner-up showing in ’12. Centralia had reached the playoffs 20 straight seasons.

Centralia lost four starters to season-ending injuries, including three returning seniors: quarterback/free safety Trenton Flentie, offensive lineman/linebacker Josh Hasenkamp and lineman Justin Ferron. Flentie’s absence forced the Panthers to play then-freshman Kamble Haverkamp under center in the single wing.

“The culture here is that we want to win a bunch of football games, and last year was tough,” Glatczak said. “The kids that we had fought, battled, and it was one of those years.”

This fall, Centralia has opened 3-2, and when strength of schedule is accounted for, emerged as one of 2-1A’s top teams. The Panthers are one of just five 11-man Twin Valley League programs, along with Troy, Doniphan West, Valley Heights and Washington County. Nearby conferences like the Big Seven and Mid-East League, full of primarily 3A powers, have played the Panthers.

This season, Centralia opened with a 28-6 loss to 3A Sabetha, a game Glatczak labeled a “good measuring stick.” Then, the Panthers defeated 3A St. Marys, 29-8.

“It felt good to get a win over a good team, a good quality team like St. Marys who had a lot of kids coming back,” Glatczak said.

After league wins versus Troy (49-0) and Doniphan West (58-6), Centralia lost at Seneca-Nemaha Central (13-0). Sabetha and Nemaha Central are 5-0, while NC is ranked No. 1 in Class 3A. It marked the fewest points Nemaha Central has scored since a ’14 playoff defeat.

“Sabetha was a good test for us, Nemaha was a good test, and little disappointed offensively,” Glatczak said. “We moved the ball between the 35s but just never could put the ball in the end zone. The defense played really well.”

Glatczak credited his longtime friend and defensive coordinator Roger Holthaus for leading the defense versus the Panthers. Glatczak and Holthaus were Centralia graduates and played together on the ’85 state runner-up squad. Both attended Baker University and have served on Centralia staff since the early ‘90s.

“We wanted to take the outside away,” Glatczak said. “They are so good on the outside with the jet sweep, and we were able to take away the outside for the most part, then contained them on the inside as well. Kids just flew around, they gang-tackled, and just did a great job defensively.”

Through the first five games of ’16, Centralia had permitted 165 points. This year, against the same quintet, the Panthers have allowed 55, sixth-best in the classification. The rise of Centralia presents a dichotomy in 2-1A, especially on the eastern side.

Unlike other classes, 2-1A has very few marquee intra-class early season games that can help determine the pecking order.

While Smith Center and Ell-Saline have emerged as the west favorites, the east features four of the classification’s five undefeated teams: Lyndon, Jefferson County North, Jackson Heights and Valley Heights. The latter two are in District 2 with Centralia.

While those four deserve credit with big blowouts each week, their SOS are among the classification’s lowest, according to Prep Power Index. In the 35-team classification, Lyndon, the top offense at 272 points, has played the No. 32 SOS.

Jefferson County North, with the second-best offense at 256 points, is at 29. Jackson Heights, the top defense at 20 points allowed, stands at 33. Valley Heights, the third-best offense at 238 points, is at 35.

Centralia’s defense has held opponents 22.4 points under their season average relative to their other games. Jackson Heights’ defense has held opponents to 21.9 points under their relative season average. Valley Heights is just about even in relative defense.

However, the Mustangs’ offense is 26.5 points better than their opponents’ scoring defense is other games. Centralia checks in at plus-9.9, Jackson Heights at 6.8.

“I don’t know that they have played a Sabetha or a Nemaha yet, but they are awfully good football teams,” Glatczak said of Valley Heights and Jackson Heights. “They are 5-0, so they have got to be pretty decent. They are putting up a lot of points. That makes a difference, too. Valley is putting up 50 points a game. That means they are pretty talented. It’s going to come down to probably three of us fighting for two spots.”

Centralia stands at the eighth hardest strength of schedule. Tradition-rich Colgan, part of the strong CNC league, has posted a 3-2 mark and top-eight defense while facing the hardest SOS.

Valley Heights, Jeff Co. North and Lyndon have never reached a state title game. Jackson Heights’ last state berth came in 1983.

“If we didn’t play the Sabethas, and Senecas, everything would look really nice and everything would look pretty cheery,” Glatczak said. “Just tougher to find out where your weaknesses are if you don’t play a Nemaha, a Sabetha. … Makes us better, makes us work harder during the season because we know that we’ve got games like that on the schedule.”

Glatczak said the lone injury is junior tailback Isaac Gore. He led the team with 850 rushing yards in ’16, hurt his shoulder in training camp and should return in a week or two.

“Been a blessing,” Glatczak said. “We need to keep people healthy.”

Junior tackle Derek VanDorn (6-foot-3, 275 pounds) has anchored both lines. Hasenkamp has been solid at linebacker. Glatczak labeled Haverkamp a “pretty heady kid” at defensive back, and Flentie and senior Nate Rempe are the safeties. Senior cornerback Evan Slater has picked off three passes.

“Really does a good job protecting that side of the field, and then the other kids are starting to follow along with that,” Glatczak said of Van Dorn. “Josh Hasenkamp has played well at linebacker for us really standing out for us, and flying around.”

Centralia held St. Marys to 42 plays for 196 total yards. Troy features quarterback Kipp Jasper, and Doniphan West has Levi Watts, a four-year starter. Both have put up big numbers, but the Panthers held both to low totals.

“Both those quarterbacks are extremely talented, and seemed like the week before they played us, they threw for 200 to 300 yards, and we were able to hold both of those to I think under 70 yards each,” Glatczak said. “Our secondary is flying around better, our defensive front is rushing the quarterback, and making them hurry and do some things. It’s a collective effort on the defensive front as well as the secondary.”

Offensively, Flentie leads Centralia with 57 rushes for 512 yards after he missed the last four games of ‘16.

“You always want your seniors and your well-experienced kids to be your leaders and (Trenton) is one of those,” Glatczak said.


District 1   (Gilmore)

  • Jefferson Co. North (6-0; 1-0) – After consecutive playoff trips ending in losses in the first round, this year’s Chargers appear poised to be a contender in Class 2-1A. Jeff Schneider returned 15 total starters from last season’s 8-2 team. The Charges are unbeaten and averaging 51 points per game while giving up less than 10. Ridge Robertson and Samuel Larson headline a deep backfield. Robertson is averaging 16.5 yards per carry with 774 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, while Larson has added 337 yards and five scores. Quarterback Boston Lane has passed for 355 yards and seven scores and added six more rushing touchdowns. Lane’s top receiving target remains senior Brayden Summers who was a Kpreps All-State selection as a sophomore. This season Summers has 310 receiving yards and six touchdowns giving him 1,432 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns over the last three seasons.
  • Doniphan West (3-2; 1-0) – The Mustangs have already exceeded last season’s win total and are trying to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Doniphan West picked up a key district win, 18-13, over Troy last week as Levi Watts connected with Zeb Speer on a pair of touchdown passes. Watts has thrown for 737 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. Luke Blevins is the Mustangs leading receiver with 417 yards and four scores, while Speer has 178 yards and four touchdowns.
  • McLouth (0-5; 0-0)McLouth expected to return a solid nucleus of 16 returning starters from 2016’s 4-5 team, but the Bulldogs have stumbled to an 0-5 start. The Bulldogs offense has averaged 16 points per game, but McLouth will have to improve on holding opponents off the scoreboard to succeed in district play. The Bulldogs have given up an average of 37 points per game.  
  • Troy (1-4; 0-1) – It’s no secret that the defending-champion Trojans were hit hard by graduation. Just two starters returned for Derek Jasper’s club on each side of the ball.  Kipp Jasper has taken over at quarterback and passed for 839 yards and nine touchdowns for a Trojan offense that averages 20 points per game. He has a couple of good receiving options in Reid Jasper and Tate Smith, while Tysen Williams has proven capable out of the backfield. Turnovers have hurt Troy in their losses. Last week’s loss to Doniphan West puts Troy’s four-year postseason streak in jeopardy as the Trojans still have a district match-up against unbeaten Jefferson County North in Week 8.
  • Horton (2-3; 0-1) – Horton last reached the playoffs in 2014 when the Chargers posted a 7-2 record and fell to Centralia in the first round. Since then, Horton is just a combined 3-20. This season, the Chargers have wins over Pleasant Ridge (18-0) and Maranatha Academy (57-16). Horton’s ground game is led by quarterback Matthew Lobdel, Conner Dean, and Craig Wahwahsuck.   

Key Remaining Games: (Wk 6) Horton at Doniphan West; (Wk 9) Troy at Horton

Winner: Jefferson Co. North
Runner-up: Doniphan West

District 2    (Nicholl)

  • Jackson Heights (5-0; 1-0) – Jackson Heights has outscored teams 194-20 against the second-easiest strength of schedule in the classification, according to Prep Power Index. The Cobras lead 2-1A in scoring defense. Since Caleb Wick took over the program in 2012, Jackson Heights has opened 3-1 or better in every season but one. Jackson Heights started 4-0 last year and then finished 2-3. In ’15, an 8-1 regular season led to a quarterfinal showing.
  • Valley Heights (5-0; 1-0) – Valley Heights, with its great rushing attack, stands third in the classification in scoring offense with 238 points. The Mustangs have permitted 132, second-most of anyone in the classification with a winning record. Valley Heights has played the easiest SOS. The Mustangs have six all-time playoff appearances, all since ’06, including a 7-3 mark last year. Cole Coggins is one of the state’s top rushers with 68 carries for 735 yards, while Jordan Yungeberg has 70 carries for 505 yards.
  • Centralia (3-2; 0-0) – The Panthers had a 1-8 record last fall, a rare down season for the traditionally-strong Panthers and longtime coach Larry Glatczak. Centralia has competitive losses to Class 3A unbeatens Sabetha and Nemaha Central. The Panthers have a total margin of 142-55.
  • Wabaunsee (0-5; 0-1) – Wabaunsee has struggled with numbers and had to forfeit one contest against Silver Lake. Wabaunsee has the No. 2 SOS and has scored just 46 points. The Chargers have historically struggled with a 5-5 record in 2013 the best winning percentage in the last decade.
  • Washington County (0-5; 0-1) – Washington County, a playoff team the last two seasons, has announced it will move to the eight-man ranks last fall. The Tigers forfeited a contest versus Hoisington. Against the third-hardest SOS, Washington County has tallied just 13 points and permitted 159.

Key Games:  (WK 7) Valley Heights at Jackson Heights; (WK 8) Centralia at Valley Heights, (WK 9) Jackson Heights at Centralia

Winner: Centralia
Runner-up: Valley Heights

District 3 (Schremmer)

  • Lyndon (5-0) – The Tigers, ranked No. 3 in 2-1A, have dominated their first five opponents. Lyndon won those five games by a combined score of 272-49, boasting the most point in the classification. Senior Dexton Swinehart has rushed for 497 yards and nine touchdowns on only 34 carries. He’s also caught 23 passes for 610 yards and 10 touchdowns. Lyndon won the district last year despite falling in Week 9 to Olpe.
  • Olpe (3-2) – After starting the season with a 1-2 record, the Eagles are on a two-game winning streak with victories over Burlington (13-8) and Uniontown (55-0). In the win over Burlington, the Olpe defense picked off three passes and executed a goal-line stand. Last year, the Eagles fell to St. Mary’s-Colgan in the first round of the playoffs.
  • Northern Heights (2-3) – The Wildcats will try to fare better in the district this season after going winless last year. In losses this season, they have been outscored 126-18. During victories, Northern Heights has won by a combined score of 88-29. Senior quarterback Justin Redelfs has passed for 392 yards and four touchdowns, and he’s rushed for 378 yards and three touchdowns.
  • Chase County (1-4) – The Bulldogs won their first game of the season last season, beating Central Heights 49-8. A year ago, Chase County finished with a 6-3 record. Despite returning four starters on each side of the ball, however, the Bulldogs lost their first four games by a combined score of 218-39.

Key Games: (Wk 9) Olpe at Lyndon will decide both playoff spots  

Winner: Lyndon
Runner-up: Olpe

District 4   (Gilmore)

  • St. Mary’s Colgan (3-2) – The 2017 season didn’t start out ideally for first-year head coach Shawn Seematter as Colgan lost starting QB/LB Bryce Hutchins of the sixth play of an opening week loss to Galena. Junior Cade Simmons has filled in nicely at quarterback after moving from fullback. His play has been helped by athletes like Jeremiah Buche and Max Wilson, while freshman fullback Domenico Bevilacqua has emerged as problem for opposing defenses to bring down. The Panthers two losses have come to unbeaten Galena (16-0) and 4A-II No. 1 Columbus (23-8).
  • Uniontown (2-3) – Uniontown has picked a pair of wins over winless opponents in Southeast-Cherokee (16-12) and Northeast-Arma (38-30, in two overtimes). The Eagles will host Maranatha Academy (1-4) this week before opening district play at Oswego.  
  • Oswego (1-4) – Oswego picked up its first win of the season last week with a 34-28 decision over Northeast-Arma. The Indians are trying to get back to the postseason for a second consecutive season. Oswego is relying on several freshmen in key roles this season. Logan Teal has thrown for more than 200 yards and two scores in his initial season, while classmate Chase Evans is the team’s leading rusher with 271 yards and four scores.  
  • Yates Center (1-4) – Yates Center has won only five games since a surprising 7-4 season in 2013 that ended with a loss in the 8-Man, Division I quarterfinals. The Wildcats finished with two wins last fall and, like Oswego and Uniontown, have a win over Northeast-Arma. Yates Center has given up an average of 58 points per game outside of the win over Northeast.

Key Games:  (Wk 7) Uniontown at Oswego; (Wk 8) Yates Center at Uniontown; (Wk 9) Oswego at Yates Center

Winner: St. Mary’s Colgan
Runner-up: Oswego


District 5   (Nicholl)

  • Medicine Lodge (2-3; 1-0) – Medicine Lodge won its season opener, 27-20, at Douglass before big losses to 3A powers Chaparral (56-15), Cheney (47-6) and Conway Springs (54-0). Last year, Medicine Lodge won at Inman, 49-20, to open district play. Coach Josh Ybarra has done a nice job turning around a team that finished 0-9 last season. The Indians have not had a playoff berth since ’11 and a winning season since 2008. Wide receiver Drew Honas has put up all-state numbers with 27 catches for 671 yards and seven TDs.
  • Moundridge (1-4; 1-0) – The Wildcats have been competitive in all but one of their contest. Moundridge had losses by 10, 11 and 14 points before a district-opening 20-19 road game against Whitewater-Remington last week. Moundridge earned runner-up to Sedgwick in this spot last season. Moundridge’s last non-losing record was a 5-5 mark in 2011. It’s last winning record was a 7-4 year in ’08.
  • Sedgwick (1-4; 0-0) – Sedgwick has tallied at least 34 points in the last nine seasons. The Cardinals have made the playoffs seven of the past eight years and won six straight district titles. Sedgwick has not had a losing season since a 4-5 mark in 2006. The Cardinals are in danger of having all of those streaks end after a 1-4 start this year. The Cardinals have tallied 30 points a contest but allowed 39.2 against the fourth-hardest SOS in the classification. Last year, Sedgwick permitted 26.9 points a contest in a 7-3 year. A major difference has been close games. Sedgwick went 4-1 in games decided by four points or fewer last year. This season, Sedgwick is 1-3 in games with 13 points, including a three-point loss. Junior quarterback Hooper Schroeder (50 of 86 for 662 yards) and senior all-state wide receiver Brayden Francis (30 catches, 591 yards, 10 scores) continue to lead the offense.
  • Inman (0-5; 0-1)Inman has tallied just 40 points and permitted 186. The Teutons have won just five games since the start of the ’14 season. 2013 marked the last winning season with a 6-3 record. Inman has not made the playoffs since 2003.
  • Whitewater-Remington (0-5; 0-1) – Opponents have outscored Remington 167-65. The Broncos have been close in two games, a 34-20 road loss against Sterling in Week 1, and a 20-19 home defeat to Moundridge last week. Remington has not posted a playoff berth and winning season since a 7-3 mark in 2010.

Key Games:  (Wk 6) Sedgwick at Medicine Lodge; (Wk 7) Moundridge at Sedgwick; (Wk 8) Medicine Lodge at Moundridge

Winner: Sedgwick
Runner-up: Medicine Lodge

District 6  (Nicholl)

  • Ell-Saline (5-0) – Ell-Saline, a breakout candidate at the start of the season, went 3-6 in each of the past two years. Ell-Saline has opened 5-0 including a high-profile Week 1 contest against Sedgwick and a 14-6 win versus previously Hutchinson Trinity last week. The Cardinals hold the inside track for the Heart of America crown and its first playoff berth since a surprise state runner-up in ’14. Junior quarterback Nick Davenport (42 of 90 passing for 583 yards, more than 230 rushing yards) has enjoyed an excellent dual threat season alongside a veteran, senior-heavy offensive line and sophomore slot Sawyer Kramer. Freshman Treyton Peterson had five interceptions in the first month. Ell-Saline is tied for second in the classification with 48 points permitted.
  • Smith Center (4-1) – The Redmen have marquee wins against Plainville (16-7) and Norton (43-0) and played 3A powerhouse Phillipsburg very competitively in a 23-0 loss, easily the Panthers’ closest game. Smith Center, ranked No. 1 all season, stands fifth in scoring defense with just 50 points allowed. Five players have between 102 and 278 rushing yards and three Redmen have a 100-yard rushing attack, led by junior Ethan Peterson (19 carries, 278 yards). Smith Center is plus-3 in turnover margin led by its all-state duo of senior defensive back Colton Hutchinson (team-best 52 tackles) and senior defensive end Dalton Kuhn (Redmen-high six TFLs).
  • Sacred Heart (1-4) – First-year coach Garrett Galanski has led an offense that has produced 256 passing yards and 65 rushing yards a game with 25.8 points a contest. However, the defense has struggled, allowing 38.4 points a game. The Knights opened with a 41-20 road win against Minneapolis and then have dropped four straight, though the last two contests are 44-41 and 38-27. Junior David Anderson, who played under center as a freshman and sophomore, has emerged with 1,018 passing yards and a 9/7 TD/INT ratio. However, Sacred Heart is minus-6 in turnover margin.
  • Republic County (0-5) – After the school’s first playoff appearance and victory since Belleville and Hillcrest consolidated in the mid-2000s, Belleville has struggled to be competitive this year. The Buffs have tallied 12, six, six, six and six points this season and lost all but one game by at least 40 points.

Key Games: (Wk 9) Smith Center at Ell-Saline should decide both playoff spots.

Winner: Smith Center
Runner-up: Ell-Saline

 District 7   (Nicholl)

  • La Crosse (3-2) – The Leopards, which advanced to the second round of the playoffs last year, have won three straight after an 0-2 start. That includes a 31-26 home win in Week 4 against Ellsworth for the Bearcats’ only defeat. Sophomore Hunter Morgan has enjoyed a solid year in his first season under center with 26 of 41 passing for 533 yards and an 8/1 TD/INT ratio. Senior Zak Brown, junior Christian Suppes and Morgan have rushed for between 193 and 297 yards. They have combined for 11 rushing scores. The Leopards are plus-seven in turnover margin.
  • Ellis (2-3) – Ellis has victories against Syracuse and Sublette and losses against county rival Thomas More Prep plus ranked teams Valley Heights and Phillipsburg. Senior quarterback Joseph Eck has completed 19 of 48 passes for 225 yards with a 4/3 TD/INT ratio. He leads the team with 61 carries for 440 yards and eight scores with three 100-yard showings. The Railers have seven turnovers and are even in turnover margin.
  • Plainville (2-3) – The Cardinals lost a close road game to Smith Center to open the year before big losses to Norton and Phillipsburg. Since then, Plainville, the defending state runner-up to Troy, has beaten TMP and Republic County. A big change came in Week 4 when coach Grant Stephenson moved all-state lineman Hayden Gillum to fullback. Sophomore Jordan Finnesy has accounted for 398 passing, 575 rushing and 10 scores. Gillum is second with 31 carries for 235 yards and three touchdowns. The Cardinals also have 40 players, nearly twice as many as La Crosse and Ellis.
  • Oakley (1-4) – After a one-win season in 2016, Oakley has struggled in the first season under new coach Jeff Hennick after he had a successful run at Wallace County. Oakley defeated Sublette, 21-0, in Week 2 but has lost each other contest by at least 38 points.

Key Games: (Wk 9) La Crosse at Plainville may decide both playoff spots.

Winner:  Plainville
Runner-up: La Crosse

District 8    (Nicholl)

  • Elkhart (4-1) – The district runner-up to Meade last season, Elkhart has posted a strong first half, including a weather-shortened Week 1 win at La Crosse. The Wildcats are fourth in offense with 201 points. Junior quarterback Lane Whisennand has been one of Kansas’ breakout players with 26 of 45 passing for 519 yards and a 7/1 TD/INT ratio. He has 106 carries for 1,065 yards with 15 scores. Whisennand, in his first season as a starter, has eclipsed 100 yards in each contest. In his first two years, Whisennand had six combined carries.
  • Meade (2-3) – Longtime assistant coach Justin Powell took over after successful coach Scott Moshier went to Wichita North. Meade lost its first two contests before a 49-16 road win versus Southwestern Heights. Meade has split the last two games with a 28-0 home defeat to Cimarron and a 27-7 road win versus Syracuse. Senior quarterback Tristan Haynes, a transfer from Minneola, has completed 25 of 58 passes for 171 yards with a 5/7 TD/INT ratio. He has rushed 116 times for 467 yards and four scores.
  • Stanton County (2-3) – Stanton County has matched last season’s win total after a Week 1 home win against Beaver (Okla.), 18-6, and a Week 3 home victory versus Syracuse, 14-8. In the other three games, the Trojans have tallied just six points.
  • Sublette (0-5) – Sublette has lost 19 straight games. The Larks have tallied just 20 points this season.

Key Game: (Wk 8) Meade vs. Elkhart will decide both spots.

Winner: Elkhart
Runner-up: Meade


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