Will each Kpreps top-ranked team win a state title?

By: Kpreps.com
Sep 3, 2013

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We’ll be first to admit that preseason rankings are often a bit of a long shot.  It’s nearly impossible to determine how teams will be affected by graduation, transfers, or injuries from one year to another. 

Looking back at the Kpreps preseason rankings in each of the past three seasons, at least three of our preseason top-ranked teams have won state titles in their respective classification each year.  In five other instances, our preseason No. 2 team has won the title. 

With that being said, we thought we would take a more in-depth look at this season’s top-ranked teams and try and identify why each one will or will not win the title in their respective class.

Class 6A – Derby Panthers

Why they will win the 6A title

The Panthers are the most talented team.  As many as five Derby seniors are reportedly receiving interest from Division I schools led by DeAndre Goolsby (6-5, 230) who is rated among the top tight ends in the nation.  Goolsby has reportedly narrowed his college choices to Oklahoma, Ohio State, Florida, Arkansas, and Kansas State.  In addition, the Derby offense features running back Tyler West (6-0, 210) and offensive lineman Cole Hansen (6-3, 270) who have received interest from Army and Air Force, respectively.  The Panther defense is led by speedsters Travis Young (6-1, 205) at safety and linebacker Jose Delgado (5-11, 190).  Derby held opponents to a little more than 11 points per game last season and posted three shutouts. 

Why they won’t

Hutchinson. The Salthawks know how to win come playoff time.  They’ve reached the state title game in their classification in nine of the past ten seasons. Derby has lost its last five meetings with the Salthawks, including twice in 2012.  In each of those meetings the Salthawks scored late to overtake the Panthers.  Hutch scored with just 1:19 remaining to win in the regular season matchup 31-28.  In the state semifinal showdown, Hutch quarterback Trevor Turner dove in from a yard out to pull the Salthawks within 28-27 with just 58 seconds left.  After a timeout, Hutch coach Randy Dreiling decided to go for the two-point conversion and the win, and Turner delivered with the conversion run to give Hutch a 29-28 win.  Derby has also struggled with Wichita Heights over the past several seasons but topped the Falcons 21-15 in overtime to win the District 6 championship last fall.


Class 5A – Salina South Cougars

Why they will win the 5A title

The Cougars return a wealth of talent including senior running back Mike Jones.  How fast is Jones? Try asking the Great Bend Panthers who he throttled for 411 yards and five touchdowns in district play last season.  With the school’s all-time rushing leader Cody Busby battling some minor injuries last year, Jones emerged to lead the team with 1,781 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns.  He’s one of eight returning starters on offense for the Cougars this fall.  Quarterback Justin Stonebraker also returns as well as his top receivers Zach Nachbar and Aaron Mar. Up front the Cougars return Doug Dewindt (6-1, 250), Kevrick Cox (6-2, 260), Dalton Harman (6-2, 230) and Kole Smith (6-3, 280).

Why they won’t

The Cougars were really run-heavy on offense in 2012, but that’s not to say they were not successful. South rushed for more than 360 yards in their 45-21 semifinal loss to Bishop Carroll.  In fact, the Cougars rushed for more than 4,300 yards and 47 touchdowns on the ground last season.  Salina South ran the ball on 83 percent of their snaps last season, and rushing yards accounted for 81 percent of their total offensive yards.  Still, there will be times when they will need to be able to pass efficiently against strong defenses.  A key point in that playoff loss to Carroll occurred when South lost yards on three consecutive rushing plays deep in Eagle territory while trying to cut into a 24-14 deficit.  Stonebraker threw for 875 yards and 13 scores last season and will need to show the ability to make plays with his arm in order for South to win the title.


Class 4A – Holton Wildcats

Why they will win the 4A title

Their offensive line.  Holton returns a talented group of linemen which paved the way for the Barta-Bone to produce nearly 5,500 yards and 74 touchdowns on the ground last fall.  The Wildcats have good size across the line including Cooper Allen (5-10, 280), Dalton Beightel (5-10, 250), Alex Coder (6-0, 250), Bradley Hooper (5-11, 250), Kyle Mick (5-11, 180), Jake Reiderer (6-3, 270), and Cooper Zeller (6-2, 295). Those will lead the way for senior running back Drake Ewing (6-0, 195) who led the Wildcats with 1,317 rushing yards and 17 scores last fall.

Why they won’t

Basically the Wildcats cannot beat themselves with turnovers and penalties and need to avoid injuries.  Holton is used to making deep runs in the 4A state playoffs, but two years ago the Wildcats suffered an early exit at the hands of eventual champion Rose Hill.  Holton entered that game a little banged up and ended up really hurting itself with three turnovers and several costly penalties.  If Wildcats can avoid beating themselves, it may take a near perfect performance to derail them from another 14-0 state title run.  Of course McPherson was a little over a minute from knocking the Wildcats out in the quarterfinals a year ago, but Holton’s Trent Tanking took a short pass 65 yards for a score to preserve a 31-27 quarterfinal win.


Class 3A – Silver Lake Eagles

Why they will win the 3A title

The Eagles balance on offense.  Silver Lake coach C. J. Hamilton has traditionally done an outstanding job of adjusting his offensive style to his players.  That’s just been one of the great characteristics that have made him the all-time wins leader in Kansas history (357-84).  When he has a Kruger at quarterback, expect the offense to be capable of putting up big numbers.  Senior signal-caller Dailin Kruger threw for more than 1,800 yards and 28 touchdowns last season while also rushing for more than 1,000 yards and 18 scores.  The Eagle offense put up nearly 5,200 yards of total offense last season with a 55/45 percent run/pass balance.  That should make things difficult on opposing defenses again this season.

Why they won’t

The depth and competition on the western half of Class 3A.  Recent history in state championship games has not been kind to the Eagles.  The fact that Silver Lake has played in ten of the past eleven 3A state championship games is incredible, but the Eagles have only won the crown in 2006 and 2010 during that span.  Last year, the Eagles used a short field from the help of a strong wind to build a 21-0 lead only to see Scott City rally and win 28-21. In that game, it wasn’t the power running game that has been synonymous with most championship teams from out west (Silver Lake actually out rushed the Beavers).  Instead it was Scott City’s ability to throw the ball the proved to be the difference.  Regardless, it has been evident that in recent years the quality of competition on the western side of the 3A bracket is more challenging than on the east side.  Those teams from out west are battle-tested once they’ve reached the title game, and as a result they’ve fared very well in bringing home the crown.


Class 2-1A – Centralia Panthers

Why they will win the 2-1A title

Centralia is the most talented team.  The Panthers return nine starters on offense and all eleven on defense from last season’s 2-1A runner-up finish.  This group is hungry after squandering a chance to claim back-to-back 2-1A titles in the final three minutes.  Centralia led 25-14 before Meade scored two late touchdowns to win 28-25.  Larry Glatczak’s team returns three Kpreps All-State performers in QB/DB J.T. Rosine (6-1, 210), RB/LB Sam Steinlage (6-1, 195), and lineman Joey Ferron (6-4, 275).  Despite all of their accolades on offense, Centralia’s defense is traditionally a strength based on the preparation of Glatczak and coach Roger Holthaus.  The Panther ‘D’ allowed only seven points per game last fall and posted five shutouts. 

Why they won’t

The Panthers are a heavy favorite to claim the 2-1A crown, but they need to avoid significant injuries.  Centralia especially can’t afford to lose Rosine or Steinlage who carry a bulk of the load on offense.  Rosine rushed for 1,880 yards as a junior, while Steinlage added more than 1,400 yards.  They combined for 60 touchdowns. Remember it was Steinlage who exited the Panthers’ semifinal win over Lyndon with a sprained knee but contributed 96 yards rushing and a score against Meade in the title game. Steinlage is especially valuable on defense where he registered more than 150 tackles as a junior last fall.  


Class 8-Man, Division I – Madison Bulldogs

Why they will win the 8M-I title

The Bulldogs’ talented backfield.  Madison returns five offensive starters from last year’s 10-2 team that averaged nearly 50 points per game.  The Bulldogs feature a big, talented backfield in Dallas Thompson (6-1, 215) and Owen Reed (6-1, 220) coupled with a pair of quarterbacks in senior Sage Blubaugh and junior Dustin Stutesman.  Thompson put up great numbers on the ground in the 2012 regular season before suffering a broken leg in a first-round playoff win over Pike Valley.  Without him, Reed stepped up and led the Bulldogs to the state semifinals where they fell to Mankato-Rock Hills on the road. Madison must replace Nick Young on the offensive line, but return Hayden Serrer (5-10, 215) and tight-end Gavin Beyer (6-3, 215). The Bulldogs are trying to get back to Newton where they won consecutive Division I championships in 2010 and 2011.

Why they won’t

To hoist the trophy in Newton for the third time in four years, Madison must have better luck with injuries if they want to escape the competitive eastern half of the Division I bracket.  To get back to the state title game the Bulldogs must get past Lyon County League rivals Marais des Cygnes Valley and Lebo, defending state runner-up Mankato-Rock Hills, and other contenders including No. 5 Osborne, Clifton-Clyde, and Udall.  That is a tall task for a healthy set of Bulldogs, especially with their power running game at anything but full strength.


Class 8-Man, Division II – Baileyville B&B Falcons

Why they will win the 8-Man II title

Baileyville B&B has a group of sixteen upperclassmen who will find a way to get the Falcons back to Newton and raise the trophy in the school’s last season.  Why should anyone think differently? B&B has played in an 8-man state championship game in each of the past five season; winning titles in 2008, 2010, and 2012.  Yes that means they’ve lost those titles in odd-numbered years, but this group is determined not to let that happen.  B&B is led by senior quarterback Dustin Rottinghaus who threw for more than 1,300 yards and rushed for 600 yards last season.  The Falcons averaged nearly 46 points per game in 2012, while giving up less than ten.  Rottinghaus returns his top receiver in Cameron Haug (6-4, 190) and second leading rusher in Brendon Bergman. The defense will be led by Rottinghaus, Cole Deters, and junior Derek Mueting at linebackers.

Why they won’t

As stated above, B&B has lost in the title game in the odd numbered years (to Thunder Ridge in 2011 and Quinter in 2009), and you can add in the pressure of winning the school’s fifth football title in its last year of existence.  But throw all of that stuff out the window.  Coach Justin Coup’s challenge will be to replace a talented group of seniors that graduated last year, especially on the respective lines.  Curtis Stallbaumer (6-4, 240) was a Kpreps All-State selection on the offensive line and Blake Reinecke (6-3, 185) and Jason Haverkamp (6-3, 180) were also solid contributors.  Also departing was running back and linebacker Dustin Deters, a converted guard, who led the team in rushing and tackles a year ago.  The Falcons will need to find replacements for those guys up front and a marquee back to emerge to be successful, especially with Twin Valley League rival Hanover expected to pose a significant challenge on the eastern half of Division II.

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