Here's a look at a few things we're watching on this fifth Football Friday of the season:
Dodge City at Wichita West
Dodge City will look to avenge their third of four losses from last year when they play Wichita West at Northwest's stadium. The Red Demons have already beaten Campus (34-12) and Great Bend (24-21) after losing to those teams in 2018. West beat Dodge City in Dodge 27-14 last season, a win that was the first of a five-game winning streak for the Pioneers.
West is currently on a two-game losing streak at the hands of GWAL powers Bishop Carroll (34-7) and Wichita Northwest (63-14), teams the Pioneers also lost to last year by scores of 49-20 and 56-32.
Dodge City is coming off a thrilling three-point victory over WAC foe Great Bend. The Red Demons led 21-0 at half before Great Bend rallied to tie the game at 21 in the fourth quarter. Dodge City would earn the win with a 20-yard field goal.
The Red Demons are led on offense by QB Beau Foster who has passed for 701 yards and rushed for 420, according to Southwind Broadcasting's Sean Boston. He has accounted for 10 total touchdowns and distributed the ball to nine different receivers led by junior Matt Friess with 16 catches for 354 yards and senior John Johnson with eight receptions for 125 yards.
The defense is led by nose guard Santonio Turner, a sophomore transfer from Liberal, with 36 tackles, followed by Johnson with 34. Senior linebackers Tommy Bermudez and Jashon Taylor have tallied 33 and 32 tackles respectively and Alden Knedler has 31 total tackles to go with three interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
If the Red Demons can beat the Pioneers they'll improve to 5-0 for the first time since head coach Dave Foster's first season at the helm in 2010, a year in which they finished 11-1 with a 42-38 semi-final loss to eventual 6A champion Wichita Heights.
Cimarron continues to roll
The Cimarron Bluejays got a bit of a jolt late this offseason when coach Greg Koenig moved to Colorado after his wife got a job offer that was too good to pass up.
Former Campus and Wichita Southeast head coach Mike Schartz, Koenig's defensive coordinator the past two seasons, and a Cimarron native, took over.
The transition has been smooth and Cimarron has cruised to a 4-0 record behind a vaunted rushing attack that features a pair of talented junior backs in Tate Seabolt and Hunter Renick.
Seabolt led the Bluejays with over 1,500 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns last season and has 283 yards with five scores so far this season. Seabolt is also a standout wrestler and the younger brother of Josh Seabolt who plays linebacker for a much improved Bethel College team under second year coach Terry Harrison.
Renick, a big back at 6-2, 245, was a relative unknown prior to his emergence at the Sharp Performance Top Prospect Camp in Salina this summer. Renick opened the eyes of college scouts on hand with his combination of strength and athleticism. Renick had a huge game in last week's win over Southwestern Heights recording 121 yards rushing and a score on just eight carries. He now has 242 yards and three touchdowns on just 31 carries through four games.
The Bluejays will be favorted against Sterling this week and a win could set up a big game with a potentially undefeated Lakin team next week.
Cherokee-Southeast looks to continue hot start
The Southeast Lancers are 4-0 for the first time since 1967, according to KOAM's Jacob Lenard, and the Lancers will try to win their first ever Three Rivers League championship Friday night at home versus Jayhawk-Linn of Mound City.
Sixth year Southeast head coach Jerrad Hansen has stuck with the Lancer program even while suffering through a 28-game losing streak that spanned from mid-October of 2014 through the end of the 2017 season.
The Lancers ended that losing streak in week one of the 2018 season with a 20-6 victory over Uniontown. Hansen would lead Southeast to a 4-5 record last season with three of the five losses by 14 points or less.
Entering this season expectations were high. The Lancers returned 11 players with starting experience including senior quarterback Bryce Peterson and senior running back Jakob Tavernaro and six linemen weighing in at 210 pounds or more.
Jayhawk-Linn has been a consistent winner in the Three Rivers League losing just one league contest in the last four seasons and through the first four games of this year. The Jayhawks opened with league wins over Yates Center (48-0), Uniontown (38-8) and Pleasanton (20-14 in three OTs) - the team who delivered that lone league loss.
Check out Jacob Lenard's look at the Southeast program here:
Northern Heights enjoying breakout season
Northern Heights is another team that entered the season expecting to improve, but few saw the Wildcats starting 4-0 in relatively dominant fashion, especially after scoring just 103 total points last season while scoring seven points or less six times with four shutouts.
The Wildcats have scored at least 27 points in each of their four wins and increased their scoring output each week culminating with a 42-0 victory over Yates Center last week. The defense has also impressed allowing just 27 total points on the season and no more than 13 points in any one game.
This week Northern Heights will face an equally improved Lyndon team, now 4-0 under new coach Scott Jones after an unusual 3-6 finish last year. The game will decide the Flint Hills League title, the first such championship for the Wildcats, should they win, since 2007, according to Brent Maycock of the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Northern Heights is led by first-year starting quarterback Cameron Heiman, a senior who transferred from Emporia two seasons ago. Heiman has accounted for 419 yards through the air and 581 yards on the ground and 15 total touchdowns accounted for (11 rush, 4 pass), according to Northern Heights' stats report on MaxPreps.
NH also features one of the most versatile athletes in all of Kansas in 6-2, 240 pound senior tight end/linebacker Tee Preisner. Big and agile with great hands, Preisner has nine receptions for two TDs, 12 carries for 90 yards and two more scores this season and 15 tackles, five for loss, one interception and one fumble recovery on defense.
For his career, Preisner has caught 60 passes for 1,119 yards with 10 TDs, carried the ball 85 times for 492 yards with seven scores and recorded 197 total tackles as a four-year starter.
He's also averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds on the basketball court last season and has a personal best distance of 46-4 in the shot put, a state qualifying throw last season.
The offensive line is led by 6-4, 320 pound Gabe Brammell who could emerge as an All-State candidate along with Preisner and Heiman.
Coach Darwin Sweetman, is in his second year as co-head coach with long-time Wildcat coach Greg French, is proud of the progress his team has made this season.
"We have improved a ton since the beginning of the season," Sweetman said. "We knew coming in that we had the potential to be really good, but we just had to work and get to our potential. The boys put in the work and I think we have reached our potential.
"Our defense has really played well all season. Our varsity D has only given up 20 points all year. We fly to the ball and capitalize on mistakes which puts a lot of pressure on the other team."
Sweetman says the team has a great opportunity to achieve one of their goals this week.
"Our goal coming into the season was a league championship. We are one step away. Our boys have been really focused all week, even though it’s our homecoming, and we had a good week of practice. We just need to go out and do what we do best and we’ll take care of business."
Check out Preisner's highlights from past seasons here:
Garden City’s Janas joins team, has another breakout year
Garden City junior running back Josh Janas elected to join the football team this year after a breakout season in wrestling last winter. Janas has continued his rise with 88 carries for 447 yards and eight rushing touchdowns. He ranks third in the Western Athletic Conference in rushing, according to league statistician/Hays High broadcaster Dustin Armbruster.
Overall, Garden City has delivered 158 carries for 718 yards and 10 rushing scores.
Janas, with Garden City quarterback Carlos Acosta injured down the stretch, helped GC captured its first win of the season with a 35-32 road win at Hays High in WAC play last Friday. He finished with 32 carries for 173 yards and two touchdowns behind the Buffs big offensive line that includes Kansas Pregame coverboy Refujio Chairez.
In Week 3, GC lost, 21-12, to Hutchinson as Janas delivered 21 carries for 120 yards and two scores. In Week 2, Garden City fell 38-26 to Valley Center. Janas has 20 carries for 99 yards and three touchdowns. In the season opener, Garden City opened with Derby, ranked No. 1 in 6A and on a current 17-game winning streak.
Derby is known for its outstanding run defense but Janas tallied a solid 15 carries for 55 yards and a score. Janas earned team player of the game honors on special teams in Week 1 and on offense in Week 2.
The 5-foot-9 Janas had a breakout performance at the prestigious Rocky Welton tournament in late January. He was seeded 23rd and finished fifth. Janas won a regional title and took fifth at state in Class 6A at 138 pounds.
Garden City has rushed for 180 yards a game after just 136 on the ground last year in a rare 2-7 season. GC hadn’t won on the road since ’17 before Friday’s victory. Last year, Reece Morss led the Buffs with 565 yards, a number Janas could surpass this week when the Buffs travel to Liberal (1-3) in another conference game.
Sedgwick’s improved defense
Sedgwick’s longtime rallying cry has always been “more offense.” The Cardinals been one of the state’s most consistent attacks under coach Jeff Werner. Sedgwick has averaged at least 34 points per game every season in the last decade.
Last year, the Cardinals finished 8-2 and dropped its scoring defense from 25.4 points allowed in ’17 to 15.9. It marked Sedgwick’s best scoring defense since at least ’04. Sedgwick graduated one-year foreign exchange student Eric Kohncke, a first-team all-state player with 136 tackles, 17 for loss.
This fall, Sedgwick has continued the excellent defense without Kohncke. The Cardinals are one of eight 4-0 squads in 1A with an average margin of 48-8. Last week, Sedgwick earned a quality road win, 31-13, at Heart of America rival Ell-Saline in a contest that concluded Monday because of weather.
The Cardinals have received key play from senior middle linebacker Gannon Resnik, junior cornerback Henry Burns, junior outside linebacker Nolan Crumrine, sophomore cornerback Ryan Stucky and the defensive line of Colby Mertens, Kolby Hutton and Zach Miller.
Sophomore quarterback Lance Hoffsommer (1,101 passing) and running back Kale Schroeder (122 yards on 22 carries against Ell-Saline) have paced the offense. This week, Sedgwick plays host to Marion (1-3), a squad that has tallied just 30 total points this year.
Lakin’s Kayden Christiansen continues impressive season
Class 2A has possibly yielded the state’s biggest surprises of any classification with undefeated Belle Plaine and Southeast-Cherokee, Conway Springs with a rare regular season loss, and Riverside’s upset of Maur Hill last week.
However, Lakin (4-0) and Cimarron (4-0) have continued to roll and are nearly set for a huge game in Week 6 in Cimarron. Lakin has scored more points every week, going from 36 to 44 to 50 to 60. The Broncs have outscored teams, 190-42, and rank second in 2A in scoring offense.
Lakin senior lineman Hadley Panzer, a Kansas State commit, is well-known for his ability on the gridiron and on the mat as an undefeated state wrestling titlist.
Senior Kayden Christiansen, though, has put together another impressive season. In the first three contests, he rushed for 27 carries for 285 yards and five touchdowns. Christiansen finished with 162 carries for 1,022 yards and 14 rushing yards in ’18.
Christiansen has also earned the statewide ACA/Kpreps Sportsmanship Excellence Award for Week 3 and committed to Bethel College this week. Lakin is home against Southwestern Heights (2-2) on Friday.
Check out the story on Christiansen's ACA/Kpreps Sportsmanship award here:
Wallace County and Quinter face-off in battle of winless teams
Once a state 8-Man power under Kevin Ayers and Jeff Hennick the Wildcats of Wallace County are struggling through a winless start to the season in which they have yet to score a point and lost all four games by at least 44-points. Coach Ayers is gone to his wife's alma mater in Little River and Hennick is in his third season as the head coach at Oakley. Former assistant Brad Willems has inherited the program and is working to put points on the board.
Quinter is also 0-4 but scored 26 points in last week's narrow loss to Triplains-Brewster, 32-26. The Bulldogs have won just one game total in the last four seasons and are just 1-40 in their last 41 games dating back to Week 7 of the 2014 season. The Bulldogs were an improved team last season in spite of their 1-8 record, scoring at least 16 points in five games with two losses by eight points or less including a 36-28 loss to T-B in OT.
Something has to give tonight.
Moundridge at Macksville
With defending state champions Central Plains down this year, 8-Man Division I, District 5, is wide open. Macksville joins Pratt-Skyline and Little River as 1-0 teams within the district.
Macksville is currently 2-2 overall, but picked up a 46-0 win over St. John last week in both team’s district opener. Mackville hosts Moundridge this week and a win for the Mustangs would go a long way in securing a playoff spot. Skyline and Little River, who face off this week (see below), look to be the early favorites in the district.
The Macksville offense goes through freshman quarterback Ryan Kuckelman and junior running back Michael Seward, who each have five rushing touchdowns on nearly the same amount of rushing attempts. Kuckelman also has two passing touchdowns, although the Macksville offense is run-first.
Macksville has yet to play a close game this season, with blowout wins over Kinsley and St. John to go along with lopsided losses to Ness City and Victoria. That may change this week against a Moundridge team that is also 2-2 overall, and will be hungry for its first district win.
The Wildcats were rolled last week by undefeated Skyline. Moundridge opened the season with an 18-12 win over Goessel and has a 20-point win over Solomon. The Wildcats fell 66-20 in Week 2 to Bennington.
Six-foot-four tight end Brady Helms and quarterback Corbin Unruh are players to keep an eye on when Moundridge has the ball.
Although this is not a must-win game for Moundridge, the Wildcats should be plenty motivated if they wish to make the playoffs. A loss to Macksville would mean the Wildcats would likely need to win two out of three against St. John, Central Plains, and Little River to secure the fourth spot in the district.
A win against Macksville gives the Wildcats the opportunity at No. 3 or No. 2 spot. Again, the district is wide open, meaning numerous outcomes are possible.
Little River at Pratt-Skyline
One of the premier football games in the state is located in Pratt today, and it doesn't feature the Pratt Greenbacks. Pratt-Skyline is off to a 4-0 start under third-year head coach Andrew Nation. Skyline is outscoring opponents 198-54 in the early season with nice wins over Kiowa County and Argonia-Attica.
Last week, the Thunderbirds ran wild on Moundridge and came away with a 60-14 win. Skyline rushed for 441 yards against Moundridge with Jesus Casas carrying most of the load. Casas had 244 yards on just 16 attempts and rushed for four touchdowns.
Quarterback Braden Tyler was also nearly unstoppable on the ground, rushing for 140 yards on nine carries and scoring three touchdowns. For good measure, fullback Eli Temanson - a physical player who looks for contact on both sides of the ball - averaged 5.7 yards per carry and scored once.
Skyline has athletes and is good at what they do. When Skyline hosts Little River tonight, 8-Man Division I District 5 may be on the line.
Little River has rebounded nicely since its Week 1 loss at top-ranked Canton-Galva. Little River is 3-1 and 1-0 in districts after knocking off Central Plains 48-0 last week.
Little River is well coached with former Jetmore and Wallace County veteran Kevin Ayers in his first year with the program.
Juniors Graham Stephens and Jayden Garrison are the team’s top two athletes. Stephens, who played quarterback last year but has since transitioned to running back, has 300 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
Garrison, the quarterback, also has seven rushing touchdowns and 413 rushing yards. Both standouts have four passing touchdowns to boot.
The offense lives through those two, but junior Keaton Richardson has three receiving touchdowns and 104 receiving yards.
It’s difficult to call a game in early October a district championship, but with Little River owning a 48-0 victory over Central Plains already, these two teams look like the best in the district.
A lot is on the line in this one.
Check out Pratt-Skyline's Eli Temanson's highlights here: