The Pick List - Week 6

Michael Helton (22) will try to lead undefeated Galena past unbeaten Columbus. (Derek Livingston)
By: Mark Schremmer, Conor Nicholl, & Matt Gilmore for
Oct 4, 2017

Share This Story:

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:

Garden City (5-0) at 6A No. 4 Wichita Northwest (4-1)

Garden City is tied with No. 1-ranked Lawrence Free State with just 37 points permitted for the best scoring defense in Class 6A. High-octane Northwest is third in scoring offense with 215 points, trailing only Derby (243) and Topeka High (227).

Garden City and Free State are the only two unbeaten squads left in 6A. Garden City has tallied 121 points. Northwest has permitted 115 points, or 23 points a contest. Last season, the Buffs went 9-1 with a big home playoff loss to Free State and an average score of 35-19. Northwest finished 6-4 with an average score of 50-39.

Garden City graduated its standout tandem of quarterback Jesse Nunez and fullback Peyton Hill, along with all-state linebacker Zeke Herrera. The Buffs lost more than 90 percent of their rushing yards, and Hill and Herrera signed with Fort Hays State.

Senior Garret Doll has completed 62 of 113 passes for 903 yards with a 10/5 TD/INT ratio. Senior Quinton Lapointe, also a standout defensive back, has 97 rushes for 365 yards and three touchdowns. Garden City has averaged 56.2 offensive plays a game, while quick tempo Northwest is at 62.6.

The defensive line has been superb for the Buffs. Senior Demarcus Elliott leads with 7.5 TFLs, while senior Jasper Partin and junior Ethan Crone rank second with seven TFLs. Partin has recorded five sacks as GC has forced 16 turnovers.

Wichita Northwest lost in the final seconds to Bishop Carroll, 40-35, in Week 1. Since then, Northwest defeated Wichita Heights (37-20), won at Great Bend (63-27) against Wichita West (54-14) and then best Kapaun, 26-14. Kapaun is the top scoring defense in 5A.

Senior Austin Anderson has completed 55 of 96 passes for 904 yards with a 9/3 TD/INT ratio. Junior Breece Hall, considered a breakout player at the start of the season, has 101 carries for 924 yards and eight scores. Senior Jaxson Reynolds has 31 catches for 493 yards and five touchdowns.

Junior Marcus Hicks, a high-profile Division I prospect, has emerged with 10.5 TFLs. He was held out of last week’s win for precautionary reasons from an injury. The defense has forced 11 turnovers for a team that’s plus-3 in turnover margin.

These teams have routinely played each other. Northwest holds an 8-4 margin since ’04, though Garden City won 46-34 in 2016. The Grizzlies are just a few seconds away from beating Carroll and close to one of the top teams for all classes. The Buffs have played well after heavy graduation losses. Garden City’s defensive line will keep it close, but Northwest has too much offense and has showcased an improved defense.

Our Pick: Wichita Northwest 30, Garden City 14 (Nicholl)

5A No. 4 St. James Academy (5-0) at 5A No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas (4-1)

Another critical Eastern Kansas League matchup between a pair of top-5 Class 5A teams. Aquinas has been ranked either first or second in 5A all year, while St. James vaulted into the rankings after a season-opening 45-21 road victory versus Mill Valley.

Last week, St. James, one of the season’s surprises, delivered a 35-28 win versus Blue Valley, then ranked in the top-5 in Class 6A. In its relatively short football history, St. James had been 0-5 versus those two squads before 2017.

St. James has never defeated Aquinas. The Saints are 2-0 versus the Thunder with a 42-7 win in ’15 and 24-7 last year.

The Thunder, which finished 6-5 in ‘16 with losses to Mill Valley in the season opener and again in the playoffs, is one of four unbeatens left in the classification, along with Goddard, Valley Center and K.C. Schlagle.

St. James has yielded big improvement on both sides.

After the Thunder allowed 131 points in the first five games of 2016, St. James has permitted 95 this year, tied for 12th-best in the classification.

The Thunder’s defense has permitted 95.2 rushing yards a game and just 3.3 yards per carry. No team has averaged more than 4.1 rushing yards a carry versus the Thunder’s defense this fall. Opponents have completed 92 of 175 passes for 1,038 yards with a 7/8 TD/INT ratio. They’ve averaged 5.9 yards per attempt with a 106.5 passer rating on the NCAA scale.

Aquinas’ defense has allowed 90 points but has been a little behind St. James on the yards per play. The Saints have permitted 137 rushing yards a game and 4.4 yards per carry.

Aquinas’ pass defense has permitted 56 of 119 passing for 792 yards with a 4/3 TD/INT ratio. Teams have averaged 6.7 yards per attempt with a 109.0 passer rating on the NCAA scale.

Offensively, Aquinas has tallied 166 points and SJA 152. In the first five games of ’16, the Thunder had just 68 points.

The Thunder has run the ball effectively with senior Jack Petz. He has 103 carries for 632 yards and 10 scores. The running game has averaged 230 yards a game and 5.9 yards per carry.

St. James has played two quarterbacks with sophomore Jack Moellers (217 passing) and senior Luke Heller (533 yards). The Thunder has a 7/1 TD/INT ratio and averaged 8.3 yards per attempt.

Last season, with Kansas State signee Sammy Wheeler as quarterback, SJA had a 15/14 TD/INT ratio and 5.5 yards per attempt. SJA committed 17 turnovers and finished minus-1 in turnover margin.

This year, the Thunder has six turnovers and stands at plus-four in turnover margin. Senior Cole Barrett has picked off three passes.

Aquinas, with legendary coach Randy Dreiling, has posted state runner-up and back-to-back semifinals since he came from Hutchinson. The Saints’ lone loss came to Bishop Miege, 27-14, in Week 3.

Senior quarterback Will Swanson has completed 23 of 41 passes for 516 yards with a 4/2 TD/INT ratio.

He has rushed 52 times for 201 yards and five scores. Junior running Cameron Jackson has 74 rushes for 506 yards with six touchdowns. Senior linebacker Dan Bollig has keyed the defense with six tackles a contest, along with six TFLs, 3.5 sacks and an interception this year.

In an oddity, the EKL could have two undefeated teams in league play if SJA and Miege wins out.

The Thunder plays Aquinas, has a non-league game versus Kapaun and then faces winless Blue Valley West to close the regular season. Miege (5-0) gets Mill Valley on the road this week to finish its league schedule.

While the EKL has had some conference ties with teams with one loss, two EKL squads with zero conference losses in the same season has never occurred since the league was founded in 1938, according to conference archives.

A key area to watch will be first quarter play. Both teams like to run the ball and whomever leads early could establish itself. SJA holds a collective 45-21 first-quarter margin, and Aquinas is at 77-14.

These two teams could meet up again in the 5A sub-state title game. This time, Aquinas has just enough offense to win.

Our Pick: Aquinas 21, St. James 17 (Nicholl)

4A-II No. 1 Columbus (5-0) at Galena (5-0)

Two undefeated teams are ready to square off in a game that will likely decide the CNC League title.

Columbus has won its three league games by a combined score of 130-15. Overall, the Titans offense is averaging more than 400 yards of offense.

Senior quarterback Ridge Smith has completed 33 of 52 passes for 564 yards and six touchdowns with only two interceptions. Senior Kale Smith is the top receiving target with 16 catches for 354 yards and five touchdowns.

Senior running back Keenan Stanley is a focal point of the offense, rushing for 568 yards and seven touchdowns on only 67 attempts. Sophomore Grayson Walden has contributed 366 yards and five touchdowns on 53 carries.

Senior Zach Porter leads the defense with 36 tackles, including 12 for loss. He also has recorded three interceptions.

One of 10 teams still undefeated in Class 3A, Galena remains unranked despite its 5-0 record. The Bulldogs are enjoying their first 5-0 start since they began the 2009 season with a 12-0 record.

So far this season, Galena has outpaced its opponents 154-41.

The expectations were high for the Bulldogs entering the season as they returned 10 starters on each side of the ball.

Like Columbus, Galena boasts a strong offense. During a 41-6 win over Baxter Springs, quarterback JC Shelton passed for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Kooper Lawson ran for 76 yards and only one touchdown in the win.

Joseph and Michael Helton are the Bulldogs primary ball carriers, while Garrett Hall is one of the top receivers in Class 3A.

The Titans won last year’s matchup 36-35 after scoring 16 unanswered points in less than 7 minutes.

Stanley rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown in the win. Columbus has won the past five meetings between the two teams.

Our Pick: Columbus 27, Galena 20 (Schremmer)

3A No. 3 Silver Lake (5-0) at Riley County (5-0)

The Mid-East League title will be on the line when No. 3 Silver Lake travels to unbeaten Riley County.

Silver Lake remained unbeaten after a 14-0 shutout of rival Rossville on the “War on 24” last week. Mason Jones scored touchdowns in the second and fourth quarter to provide the game’s only points.

Jones, who has been slowed by an injury, led the Eagles with 158 rushing yards in the contest. Silver Lake put up more than 400 yards of total offense, but was slowed by more than 100 yards in penalties and two turnovers.

Turnovers have slowed the Eagles in the past few weeks, but keep in mind Silver Lake has played one game less than other teams given a Week 2 forfeit by Wabaunsee.

The Eagles committed four turnovers in a 27-20 victory over St. Marys back in Week 3. Silver Lake trailed 20-13 entering the fourth quarter before scoring 14 unanswered to win.

The defense has carried the Eagles. Against St. Marys, Silver Lake allowed only 66 rush yards and 146 total yards. The Bears scored on a kickoff return for a touchdown and a pick-six.

Last week the Eagles held Rossville under 200 yards of total offense.

Friday Silver Lake will get tested by a Riley County team that averages more than 320 yards per game on the ground. Senior Tyler Halstead and junior Mikey Waggoner who both average more than 100 yards per game.

Halstead leads the Falcon ground game with 632 yards and ten scores. Waggoner has 535 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Ty Nelson has added 228 yards on the ground in limited carries.

Halstead has only attempted 15 passes this season, but he’s completed eight for 188 yards and four touchdowns.

The Falcon defense has also been strong in allowing less than ten points per game.

It’s been 20 years since Riley County claimed a portion of the Mid-East League title; sharing it with Silver Lake in 1997. The Falcons last defeated Silver Lake, 28-20, in 1996.

Our Pick: Silver Lake 28, Riley County 21 (Gilmore)

2-1A No. 3 Lyndon (5-0) at Osage City (5-0)

A Lyndon team that has scored 272 points will face an Osage City squad that’s held opponents to 14 points or fewer in four of five games.

The winner of Friday’s game between the Tigers and Indians will likely claim the Flint Hills League title.

Senior quarterback Jamie Reed leads a balanced Lyndon offense that averages 207.2 yards through the air and 217.2 yards on the ground.

Dexton Swineheart has been the Tigers’ biggest offensive threat, rushing for 497 yards and nine touchdowns and catching 23 passes for 610 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Class 3A’s Osage City is 5-0 a year after finishing 5-6. It’s the Indians first 5-0 start in Andrew Gantenbein’s nine years as head coach.

Senior quarterback Tucker Kimball has passed for more than 1,000 yards.

Osage City entered the season with eight returning starters on each side of the ball.

Last year, Lyndon topped Osage City 28-13. The Indians haven’t defeated the Tigers since 2009.

Our Pick: Lyndon 35, Osage City 28 (Schremmer)

West Elk (5-0) at St. Paul (5-0)

The two unbeaten teams in Eight-Man, Division I, District 1 will square off in St. Paul where the Indians will host West Elk.

Last season, this district produced a three-way tie atop the district standings with 5-1 records, but the St. Paul and West Elk survived to advance to the playoffs while Sedan was left out despite an 8-1 record.

In the head-to-head meeting, St. Paul shut out West Elk in the second and fourth quarters to earn a 66-42 victory. The game was tied at six after one quarter, but St. Paul scored three times to take a 28-6 halftime lead. West Elk came to life in the third quarter, outscoring the Indians 36-24 to pull within 52-42 heading to the fourth, but the Indians held the Patriots scoreless the rest of the way to claim the 24-point win.

St. Paul and West Elk each advanced to the state quarterfinals last season. St. Paul blasted Peabody-Burns in the first round before losing to Burlingame, while West Elk beat Oxford before a loss to eventual champion Osborne.

West Elk opened district play last week with a 54-8 win over Southern Coffey County. The Patriots have four really solid teams left on their schedule after Friday’s showdown with the Indians. West Elk will host Sedan (4-1), travel to Marmaton Valley (4-1), and host Madison (4-1).

Quarterback Cade Miller is one of eight-man football’s best players. Miller (5-10, 160) has passed for 456 yards and nine touchdowns this season, and added 556 yards rushing and 12 more scores. William Silvey has added more than 300 yards rushing and five scores for the Patriots.

Miller is coming off of a season where he rushed for 1,240 yards and 29 touchdowns and passed for 1,033 yards and 18 scores. He accounted for five touchdowns in the loss to St. Paul last season.

St. Paul has a pair of shut outs this season over Chetopa and Frankfort. The Indians also have two more victories in which they’ve only allowed eight points in each game. St. Paul’s closest games have been the opener, a 32-8 win over Pleasanton, and a 64-36 road win at Axtell in Week 4.

Braven Born leads the Indian offense. Born put up 256 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in the win over Axtell. Adam Albertini rushed for 94 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s win over Madison. Collin Carlson has also had big games including a 153-yard, 4-touchdown effort at Axtell.

Senior Anthony Albertini is one of the classification’s top linemen, earning Kpreps all-state honors on the defensive side last fall.

Our Pick: St. Paul 44, West Elk 36 (Gilmore)

The Pick List:

Junction City (3-2) at 6A No. 5 Manhattan (4-1) – Manhattan

6A No. 2 Shawnee Mission East (4-1) at Olathe East (3-2) – SM East

4A-I No. 1 Bishop Miege (5-0) at Mill Valley (2-3) – Bishop Miege

Blue Valley Southwest (3-2) at Blue Valley (3-2) – Blue Valley

5A Wichita Heights (3-2) at Kapaun Mt. Carmel (4-1) – Wichita Heights

Andale (5-0) at Wichita Collegiate (3-2) – Andale

4A-I No. 3 Buhler (4-1) at Augusta (4-1) – Buhler

Wellington (3-2) at 4A-II No. 3 Scott City (5-0) – Scott City

Colby (4-1) at Norton (4-1) – Norton

Hoisington (3-2) at 4A-II No. 4 Nickerson (4-1) – Hoisington

4A-II No. 5 Holcomb (4-1) at Lakin (5-0) – Holcomb

Caney Valley (4-1) at Cherryvale (4-1) – Caney Valley

2-1A No. 4 Ell-Saline (5-0) at Sterling (4-1) – Ell-Saline

Marion (4-1) at Hutchinson Trinity (4-1) – Hutch Trinity

Mulvane (3-2) at 3A No. 4 Conway Springs (5-0) – Conway Springs

3A No. 1 Nemaha Central (5-0) at Perry-Lecompton (4-1) – Nemaha Central

Elkhart (4-1) at Cimarron (3-2) – Cimarron

Atwood-Rawlins Co. (3-1) at 8M-I No. 1 St. Francis (5-0) – St. Francis

Bennington (5-0) at Victoria (4-1) – Victoria

Central Plains (4-1) at Little River (4-1) – Central Plains

Marmaton Valley (4-1) at Madison (4-1) – Marmaton Valley

8M-I No. 4 Osborne (4-1) at Logan-Palco – Osborne

8M-II No. 2 Pike Valley (5-0) at Mankato-Rock Hills (5-0) – Pike Valley


Use your Facebook account to add a comment or start a discussion. Posts are subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment.