District Preview: Class 4A, Division II

Frontenac running back Jake Wilbert (12). (by Derek Livingston)
By: Conor Nicholl, Mark Schremmer, & Matt Gilmore for Kpreps.com
Oct 11, 2017

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Scott City head coach Jim Turner has served on the Beavers’ staff for 22 years. After his first fall, Glenn O’Neil came to Scott City. The two became good friends and shared defensive duties.

“We kind of see things about the same,” Turner said of him and O’Neil. “I don’t know how many times on the headset we were talking when we were running the defense and saying the same thing at the same time. We just always got along pretty well. He’s probably a little quieter than I am.”

Turner, the Scott City track coach since 1997, helped O’Neil some with the boys’ basketball program and coached the girls’ team from 2000-09.

When Bill Arnold left for Topeka Hayden 11 years ago, O’Neil took over as head football coach and Turner became defensive coordinator.

Scott City continued to have success with double-digit winning seasons from ’08-15 along with a state title and a runner-up. The Beavers often ranked first or second in 3A in scoring defense, and O’Neil became the school’s all-time winningest coach with great success in football and basketball.

Last year, O’Neil left for Topeka Seaman and Turner became head coach. Scott City bumped to 4A-II and dropped to 7-3.

Scott City lost late to Hays High in Week 1 and fell to Holcomb in Week 2 and again to the Longhorns in the first round of the playoffs. Statistically, though, Scott City was on par with previous Beaver years.

Scott City had an average score of 37-13 and ranked in the top-3 in 4A-II in offense and defense. The Beavers ended the year with slightly better offense/defense margins than Holcomb.

“I don’t think we were disappointed with our season,” Turner said.

This year, Scott City has continued its metronomically consistent pace. The Beavers, just outside the top-5 in preseason, have risen to No. 2.

The Beavers and defending titlist Pratt, on a 14-game winning streak, are the class’ lone unbeatens at 6-0. Scott City owns wins versus Holcomb (5-1), Cimarron (4-2) and beat 4A-I Hays High, 29-8, the most points a strong Hays defense has permitted this year.

Scott City has an average score of 32-9, ranks in the top-10 in offense and first in scoring defense. The Beavers have permitted around 130 yards a game. The Beavers have long used a 4-4 but will move to different formations versus different offensive sets, especially wide-open looks.

“They’ve got to read keys and take care of their responsibilities.” Turner said. “That’s the biggest thing, and they do pretty well at that, through all years. It’s not really any different this year than the previous years.”

Scott City’s consistency is different than many of the top 4A-II squads. Preseason No. 1 Collegiate (3-3) has tumbled out of the rankings. Pratt, unranked in the preseason, has relied heavily on junior running back Travis Theis.

He has rushed for 1,201 yards, or 55 percent of his team’s total. Nickerson, considered a possible breakout team in the summer, is 4-2 with losses to Pratt and Hoisington. Columbus was briefly No. 1 before it fell to Galena last week. The Titans had beaten Galena five straight times dating back to 2012.

Topeka Hayden, last year’s runner-up to Pratt, opened the year second in the poll. The Wildcats are outside of the top-5 with a 2-4 mark in the challenging Centennial League.

Turner looks little at the whole landscape, though believes Arnold’s Hayden squad will post another strong finish.

“That’s going to affect their win-loss record,” Turner said of Hayden’s conference. “I know that they are going to be very good.”

Scott City is in competitive District 7 with Colby (4-2), Concordia (3-3) and Goodland (2-4). A first-round playoff game will likely be against Pratt/Holcomb. Colby had its best start since 1992 before losses to Holcomb and Norton.

On film, Turner noticed the Eagles had trouble with snaps in the rain and missed several players versus Norton, most notably electrifying junior Jordan Schippers.

“Try to worry too much about what’s going on around us,” Turner said. “This week we have got Colby. …. Everything else will just kind of iron out as we go along.”

Scott City has plenty of balance, especially in the backfield with junior Wyatt Hayes and seniors Nick Nowak and Jarret Jurgens. Hayes has tallied more than 600 rushing yards with 10 rushing scores. Hayes and Jurgens wrestle and have displayed good feet and balance.

“They are all good leaders for us, but they are pretty different in their running styles,” Turner said. “Jarret is pretty elusive. They all have pretty good speed, they are all about the same. Nick is kind of more of a power back. He kind of likes to put his shoulder pads down.”

Sophomore Parker Gooden, helped by offensive coordinator Brian Gentry, has seven touchdown passes. He has thrown interceptions in just two games. Junior Marshall Faurot, an outstanding athlete, is the top receiver and a standout cornerback. He has five receiving TDs.

Against Holcomb, Scott City trailed 14-0 off an odd play when Faurot hit Holcomb receiver Reece Morss after the catch. The ball popped in the air straight to Longhorn Chance Rodriguez, who raced in for a score.

The Beavers responded with touchdowns on three straight possessions. Gooden tossed a 15-yard pass to junior tight end Parker Vulgamore and a long touchdown to Faurot. Later, Moses Hinojos hit a 40-yard field goal.

“I don’t think our guys ever panicked,” Turner said.

Senior left tackle Baron Strine went down with a season-ending injury earlier this year. Zach Carson and senior Nic Cheney have rotated at Strine’s position. Junior Chase Cupp is at left guard. Jaren Berning starts at center, with junior Kyle Sherwood at right guard, and senior Reid Brunswig at right tackle.

Both of the Scott City’s backup centers are done for the year.

Sherwood and Hayes start at defensive end. Turner said 6-foot-4, 295-pound senior Daniel Nolasco has “been pretty steady” at defensive tackle. Nolasco started often as a sophomore before he was hurt in the first month in 2016.

Nowak, the weakside linebacker, has played well with around 60 tackles to lead the team. Brunswig has been a pleasant surprise at linebacker.

Brunswig first started at tackle late in ’16 after an injury to another player. Senior Adrian Ruelas has started at defensive back after he broke a finger against Holcomb. He has played with a cast on his hand.

“One of those kids that is well above where we thought he might be coming in from last year,” Turner said of Brunswig. “He has just really stepped it up.”


District 1  (Schremmer)

  • Santa Fe Trail (5-1) – The Chargers won their first four games before falling 28-12 to Class 3A’s Wellsville in Week 5. Santa Fe Trail started last season with a 6-0 record but finished 1-2 in the district and failed to make the postseason. Junior running back Will Herren has rushed for 840 yards and 16 touchdowns in just five games.
  • Holton (4-2) – The Wildcats opened the season with a 1-2 record but are now on a three-game winning streak. Holton’s two losses are to a pair of undefeated teams in Sabetha and Nemaha Central. Holton has won its past three games by a combined score of 131-41.
  • Jefferson West (2-4) – The Tigers enter district competition on a four-game losing streak, falling to Sabetha, Nemaha Central, Hiawatha and Royal Valley. Jefferson West hasn’t made the playoffs since 2013.
  • Topeka Hayden (2-4) – The Wildcats enter district play in a familiar situation. Topeka Hayden was 2-4 last season and then won all three district games to advance to the postseason. Now, the Wildcats will attempt to repeat their district success as they haven’t lost a district game since 2013. Hayden quarterback Sampson Huston has passed for nearly 1,000 yards.

Key Games: (Wk 7) Santa Fe Trail at Topeka Hayden; (Wk 8) Holton at Topeka Hayden; (Wk 9) Santa Fe Trail at Holton  

Winner: Hayden
Runner-up: Holton

District 2 (Schremmer)

  • Baldwin (3-3) – The Bulldogs enter district play after losing their past two games to Louisburg and De Soto by a combined score of 76-0. The Baldwin offense is led by senior quarterback Luke Laskowski. Last season, Baldwin started the season 0-6 but then went undefeated in districts.
  • Prairie View (2-4) – The Buffalos have lost their past four games. Last week, they were edged 30-27 to a 5-1 Santa Fe Trail team. First-year head coach Kyle Littrell has helped Prairie View already match its win total from all of last season.
  • Osawatomie (1-5) – The Trojans have played a strong scheduled as three of their losses came to teams with 5-1 records. Rod Madden’s squad entered last year’s districts with an 0-8 record but still made the playoffs. Osawatomie hopes to advance to the postseason for a fourth consecutive season. Sophomore Boyd Cole leads the rushing attack with about 450 yards.
  • Bishop Ward (0-6) – The Cyclones are on a 35-game losing streak. Their last victories came in 2013 when they finished with a 2-8 record. Before that, they were on a 33-game losing streak. This year, Bishop Ward has been limited to 24 points through six games.

Key Games: (Wk 7) Prairie View at Osawatomie; (Wk 8) Baldwin at Osawatomie; (Wk 9) Prairie View at Baldwin

Winner: Baldwin
Runner-up: Prairie View

District 3   (Gilmore)

  • Burlington (3-3) – The Wildcats enter district play having alternated wins and losses through six weeks this season. The schedule has been competitive with a strong win over Wellsville to open the season. Burlington has suffered close losses to Santa Fe Trail (36-28), Olpe (13-8), and Rossville (38-32). Connor Jeffers leads the Wildcat offense with 945 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. Jeffers has also thrown for 487 yards and four scores.
  • Girard (2-4) – Girard survived the tough CNC schedule with four losses to the upper-echelon of the league. The Trojans have featured more of a spread offense under former Pitt State All-American Neal Philpot as head coach. Kyler Siebert has played well at quarterback with Ty Norris also seeing some time. Cam McFarland is a quick and shifty back that has the capability of having a big game during district play.
  • Iola (2-4) – The Mustangs have won two straight games entering districts this week. Iola slipped by Parsons (28-25) before a 43-19 victory over Osawatomie last week. Those two teams are a combined 1-11 on the season.
  • Anderson County (1-5) – Anderson County has dropped four consecutive games since a wild, 50-45 shootout victory over West Franklin back in Week 2. The Bulldogs are led by junior running back Logan Allen who is closing in on a 1,000-yard season. Allen has 982 yards on 161 carries this season and has scored 11 touchdowns.

Key Games:  All games are key in a fairly even district, but watch Burlington at Girard in Week 8 in a game that could decide both playoff spots.

Winner: Burlington
Runner-up: Girard

District 4   (Gilmore)

  • Columbus (5-1) – The Titans were unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in Class 4A-II until last week’s 33-29 setback at 3A unbeaten Galena. Columbus rallied from a 26-7 deficit to take a 29-26 lead mid-way through the fourth quarter before Galena scored with five minutes left to retake the lead. Columbus has also been tested in victories at Pawnee (Okla.) and at Colgan. Senior Keenan Stanley has 828 yards rushing and ten touchdowns in five games. Quarterback Ridge Smith has also played well in passing for 637 yards and six scores. His top receiving target is Kale Smith who has five touchdown receptions.
  • Baxter Springs (4-2) – The Lions have won three straight games since suffering consecutive losses to St. Mary’s Colgan and Galena. Baxter’s four wins have come against opponents that are a combined 1-21 on the season. Narciso Ortiz has proven a capable back and sophomore Kyler Reece has shown a lot of big-play potential.
  • Frontenac (3-3) – Frontenac was hit hard by graduation after a 10-1 season a year ago. The Raiders are 3-3 with losses to unbeaten Galena (28-21), rival Colgan (20-0), and Labette County (31-17). Quarterback Peyton Brown and running back Jake Wilbert have keyed the Raider offense. Brown has a big target in tight end Broc Ginavan who had a 69-yard touchdown catch and run last week against Labette. Frontenac has reached the 4A-II state quarterfinals in each of the past three seasons.
  • Parsons (0-6) – The Vikings are winless but have put up some points this season. Parsons averages 24 points per game and has scored 50 and 43 points in losses to Independence and Chanute. Sophomore Daquan Johnson has shown signs of being an outstanding playmaker for the Vikings.

Key Games:  (Wk 8) Columbus at Frontenac will likely decide both playoff spots.

Winner: Columbus
Runner-up: Frontenac


District 5     (Nicholl)

  • Nickerson (4-2) – Nickerson has bounced in and out of the 4A-II rankings this season. The Panthers lost 28-14 at Pratt and took a minor upset with a 32-14 home loss to Hoisington last week. Nickerson had six turnovers in the game. Senior running back Peyton Kuhns has helped the Panthers tally 203 points.
  • Wichita Collegiate (3-3) – Collegiate, ranked No. 1 at the start of the season, has dropped three of four contests. The Spartans have fallen out of the top-5 after losses to Buhler (47-21), at Mulvane (35-19) and versus Andale (35-7). The Spartans have permitted 25 points a game. Last season, Collegiate went 7-4 and was also 3-3 after its first six contests. However, the Spartans had permitted just 20.8 points a game entering Week 7. Senior Cody McNerney has completed 70 of 139 passes for 1,163 yards with a 13/2 TD/INT ratio. He easily remains the team’s leading rusher with 71 carries for 375 yards and four scores. Since 2004, Collegiate is 6-1 against Nickerson and Clearwater and 3-0 against Trinity.
  • Wichita Trinity (3-3) – Trinity quarterback Sam Hardin has delivered excellent numbers for a squad that has delivered 210 points, third best in the classification. The Knights have permitted 238. He has completed 108 of 186 passes for 1,606 yards with a 22/5 TD/INT ratio. The Knights continue to look for their third playoff berth in school history.
  • Clearwater (1-5) – The Indians’ lone victory came in a 38-19 win at Rose Hill in Week 4. Clearwater has been competitive with losses by 12, four and 12 points. The Indians have had trouble scoring with just 93 points.

Key Games: (Wk 7) Nickerson at Wichita Trinity; (Wk 8) Wichita Collegiate at Nickerson; (Wk 9) Wichita Trinity at Wichita Collegiate

Winner: Collegiate
Runner-up: Nickerson

District 6   (Nicholl)

  • Smoky Valley (5-1) – Smoky Valley went 8-3 in 2016 with a total margin of 276-226. This season, the Vikings have opened 5-1 with a 195-90 margin. Only Scott City and Holcomb have produced better scoring defenses. Senior Brett Heitschmidt has completed 19 of 31 passes for 318 yards with a 3/0 TD/INT ratio. Senior Kyle Anderson has 105 carries for 693 yards and 10 scores with four 100-yard performances. Anderson leads the team with 40 tackles.
  • Clay Center (4-2) – Clay Center has enjoyed a three-headed attack in the backfield with seniors Peyton Lane (77 carries, 456 yards, seven rushing scores), Levi Pfizenmaier (82-395-1) and Caleb Mendum (39-306-4). Clay Center finished 5-5 and averaged 24.4 points per game in 2016. This year, CC has averaged 23.3 points per contest.
  • Rock Creek (2-4) – Rock Creek delivered a marquee win versus Rossville, 42-26, in Week 2. It ended a five-game losing streak against Rossville. Sophomore Taybor Vetter has 88 carries for 647 yards and eight scores. The Mustangs have not made the playoffs since eight straight trips from ’02-09. RC has two losses by a combined 12 points.
  • Chapman (1-5) – Chapman does own a solid victory with a 28-20 home win versus Southeast of Saline (2-2) in Week 2. The Irish opened the season with a 7-6 home loss to Jefferson West and a 14-12 road defeat to Wamego in Week 5. Chapman has had trouble scoring with 94 points. The Fighting Irish are 2-13 since the start of the ’16 season.

Key Games: (Wk 9) Smoky Valley at Clay Center

Winner: Smoky Valley
Runner-up: Clay Center

 District 7    (Nicholl)

  • Scott City (6-0) – Scott City has outscored teams, 191-52, against the sixth-best SOS in the classification. The Beavers lead 4A-II in scoring defense. Scott City and Pratt are the lone undefeated teams.
  • Colby (4-2) – Colby opened 4-0, the program’s best start since 1992. The Eagles have dropped the last two contests to Holcomb and Norton. Junior standout Jordan Schippers has more than 700 total yards.
  • Concordia (3-3) – Concordia went 1-8 in 2016 with multiple close losses. This year, the Panthers has three defeats by a combined seven points. Concordia is the only team to beat Marysville with a 22-16 home win in Week 4. Senior running back Rope Dorman has more than 580 rushing yards. He easily led the NCKL in rushing through the first month of the season.
  • Goodland (2-4) – Goodland has big wins versus Wray (Colo.) and Ulysses by a combined score of 87-12. The Cowboys have lost its four games by three, 15, 12 and eight points. Senior quarterback Levi Archer is one of the state’s top signal callers.

Key Games: Scott City is the favorite, but the runner-up spot is likely to be closely decided between the other three teams: (Wk 7) Goodland at Concordia; (Wk 8) Concordia at Colby; (Wk 9) Goodland at Colby

Winner:  Scott City
Runner-up: Concordia

District 8    (Nicholl)

  • Pratt (6-0) – The Greenbacks, defending 4A-II champions, have won 14 straight contests. Pratt has tallied 256 points and has led the classification in scoring offense by a wide margin. The Greenbacks are the only team to tally more than 208 points so far. Junior running back Travis Theis is one of the state’s top players regardless of classification with 131 carries for 1,201 yards and 18 rushing scores. He has exceeded 100 yards in every game.
  • Holcomb (5-1) – Holcomb captured the state championship in 2015 and then lost to Pratt twice in ’16. Holcomb defeated Scott City twice last year and lost suffered its only loss to the Beavers this fall. Holcomb has outscored teams 138-57 and ranks second in the classification in scoring defense, five points behind Scott City. Senior quarterback Trey Gilbert has completed 64 of 118 passes for 902 yards with a 10/4 TD/INT ratio. He leads the team with five rushing scores. Holcomb is plus-3 in turnover margin.
  • Hugoton (3-3) – Senior Manuel Mendoza has completed 19 of 39 passes for 210 yards with a 5/2 TD/INT ratio. Junior Dawson Kerbow has 78 carries for 434 yards and six touchdowns. Hugoton lost to Pratt in districts on a last-second field goal last year. In the last three years, the Eagles are 1-5 against Holcomb and Pratt.
  • Kingman (3-3) – Kingman is usually known for solid defense and has permitted just 117 points. However, the Eagles have scored just 121. Junior John Molitor has 59 carries for 325 yards and six scores. Kingman’s lone playoff appearance since 2005 came in ’13.

Key Games: (Wk 7) Pratt at Holcomb should decide both playoff spots.

Winner: Pratt
Runner-up: Holcomb


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