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Football Friday #2: What we're watching for!

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Football Friday #2: What we're watching for!

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  • Southeast junior wide receiver AJ King (#3) will look to get the Buff offense untracked this week against Wichita South. (Photo by Huey Counts)
    Southeast junior wide receiver AJ King (#3) will look to get the Buff offense untracked this week against Wichita South. (Photo by Huey Counts)
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After an exciting opening week of high school football in Kansas I think we're all ready for Week 2! The week actually got started with a number of games Thursday night, with several of those postponed until this afternoon or Saturday because of weather delays including notable games between Blue Valley/Blue Valley North and Frontenac/Colgan. Blue Valley was leading North 14-7 when the game was postponed and was scheduled to resume in the second half at 3 p.m. Friday. Frontenac was leading Colgan 20-0 with 5:37 in the first half before the game was postponed until Saturday at 1 p.m.

Here are a few games I'm intrigued by for September 13, 2019:

South/Southeast game features multiple storylines

In a battle of two long-struggling City League rivals a good game could be on the agenda after solid starts in Week 1. Wichita South was explosive in a 47-6 win over Wichita North while Southeast held Kapaun to six points in a 6-3 loss. Yes, we know it's a loss, and no, there are no moral victories, but Southeast had not stayed within 17 points of Kapaun since a 14-7 loss in 2009, also the last time they held the Crusaders to less than 23 points in their annual match-up.

Both teams are in their first seasons under new head coaches. The Titans under South alum Russ Wells and Southeast under former Salina Central standout and Pittsburg State player Taylor Counts.

The Titans exploded for 47 points in last week's win over North behind senior quarterback Jashun Grant's 286 yards rushing on only nine carries and Jordan Huggins added 74 yards on five carries as the Titan backfield appeared to have speed to burn. Grant was also efficient in the passing game completing 4 of 5 attempts for 63 yards and two TDs.

Southeast features a couple of athletes who could emerge as explosive playmakers in senior quarterback Quintin Thomas and junior wide receiver AJ King.

While there's a lot of football left to play, these two teams appear to be in good hands with their first year coaches. If Southeast can couple some offense with what appears to be a stiff defense they could create an exciting match-up with South.

Maize South and Andover feature exciting junior quarterbacks

Maize South got a good week one win over Wichita Heights, 40-24, while Andover lost a overtime heartbreaker to Great Bend 13-10. South is widely regarded as one of the top teams in 5A this season after finishing up 2018 winning six of their final seven games. Andover appeared poised to breakout this year with a number of talented players returning to the line-up.

But the story of this game could be a pair of junior quarterbacks. 

Colin Shields passed and ran the ball effectively in leading South back from 24-13 deficit to avenge last year's loss to Heights, while Andover's Eli Fahnestock was challenged by a Great Bend defense that held the Trojans to less than 40 yards rushing.

Andover won the regular season match-up last year 20-3 and Maize South avenged that loss with a 21-17 win in the first round of the playoffs. Of Andover's six losses last year, four were by seven, three, two and four points.

South features one of the state's top offensive linemen in Cody Fayette while Andover has one of the state's top junior kickers in David Kemp. Kemp made a 49 yard field goal last week in the loss to Great Bend, but missed two others, including one in overtime.

Hays/Great Bend is one of the state's great rivalries

Great Bend will travel to Hays in one of the state's great rivalries. The game has been especially close in the last four seasons with a 15-7 Great Bend win last year, a 21-20 Hays win in 2017, a 35-14 Great Bend win in 2016 and a 40-29 Great Bend win in 2015.

Will Great Bend get their mind right after a near miraculous overtime victory against Andover last week? Can Hays find some defense after giving up nearly 50 points in Week 1?

Hays has a number of quality young players under second year head coach Tony Crough and even though they lost to 6A Junction City 48-30 last week the Indians should make this rivalry game one to watch.

Mid-Continent League powers, less powerful?

Phillipsburg and Smith Center, long-time rivals, rolled to dominant state titles a year ago and continued their success in week one victories, but, both teams looked a little different while breaking in a number of new personnel.

Norton, who suffered their first losing record in years a season ago, challenged Plainville in a 29-22 loss last week to keep the Mid-Continent League standings in a similar pecking order as a year ago.

Tonight, Phillipsburg travels to Plainville and Norton makes the trip to Smith Center in what I believe will be closer games than a year ago - Phillipsburg beat Plainville 31-3 while Smith Center pounded Norton 40-0.

Phillipsburg must find a way to slow down Kansas Pregame coverboy Jared Casey, who last week rushed for over 200 yards in the win over Norton while the Bluejays will have to find a way to slow down the Redmen's Jaden Atwood, who finally trampled TMP into submission as the Redmen scored all 34 points in the final three quarters after a scoreless first quarter.

Phillipsburg and Smith Center likely find a way to win again this week, but, in a nod to ESPN's College Gameday, the games will be much closer than the experts think.

Hill City/Trego an important early season game in 8-Man

After watching Hill City play last year, and with the graduation of standout quarterback Connor Born the only glaring hole, I was shocked to see the Ringnecks lose so soundly to an excellent Osborne team last week. Hill City appeared to be a program on the rise with a number of talented and hard hitting players returning.

This week the Ringnecks travel to WaKeeney to take on long-time Mid-Continent League rival Trego. The Golden Eagles got a dominant win over Stockton a week ago and feature a pair of emerging standouts in junior quarterback Kobi Shubert and senior tight end/defensive end Dillon Dunn.

Hill City needs a win ahead of back-to-back games against tough opponents in Thunder Ridge and Clifton-Clyde. For Trego, a win over Hill City could pave the way for a quality season.

Players to watch

Here are a few players we've got our eye on this week:

Cael Johnson, QB, Burlington

Burlington senior Cael Johnson exploded for 268 yards of total offense in last week's win over Council Grove. The 6-foot, 165 pound quarterback in John Petrie's Single Wing offense rushed for 152 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries while also completing 5 of 6 passes for 116 yards.

The Wildcats face a tough opponent in 1A power Olpe and Johnson will need a big game for the Wildcats to win.

Matt Pauly, QB, Garden Plain

Conway Springs and Garden Plain has long featured standout athletes with the last name Pauly and it appears Matt may be the next in that line. The 5-11, 160 pound senior didn't have the highest QB Rating in the state last week, but he found the end zone plenty.

Pauly rushed for 72 yards and one touchdown on seven carries and completed just 2 of 7 passes but both when for scores and added 77 yards to his total on the night. He'll be expected to find the end zone again tonight against a Douglass team that lost numerous key players to graduation.

Micah Thompson, RB, Logan-Palco

Thompson, a 5-11, 180 pound junior, led L/P with 169 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries in last week's 52-22 victory over Triplains-Brewster and will be counted on for more production this week as the Trojans face a Wheatland-Grinnell team that pounded Fairfield 52-6 in Week 1.

That's a look at what's on our minds for Week 2. Remember, let the players play, the coaches coach and the officials officiate and enjoy this second week of high school football action.

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