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Rankings after Week 3

  • Defending 8-Man II champion Axtell looked impressive in blowing out Clifton-Clyde this week. (Photo: Everett Royer,
    Defending 8-Man II champion Axtell looked impressive in blowing out Clifton-Clyde this week. (Photo: Everett Royer,

Three weeks of the season completed and many of the favorites solidified their position at the top of the rankings after quality wins. For the smaller classes district play begins to heat up this week and the playoff picture begins to take shape.

Class 6A

1. Manhattan (3-0)
2. Derby (2-1)
3. Wichita Northwest (2-1)
4. Blue Valley Northwest (2-1)
5. Lawrence (2-1)

Notes: This classification appears deep. No teams in our Top 5 appear to be heavy-favorites to win it all, which is exactly the way we like it. Class 6A should make for a fun postseason. ... A quality 5A Hays High team appeared to have Manhattan on the ropes Friday night taking a 14-10 lead into the half, but MHS showed why they may have the best team in 6A this season by rallying in the second half to come away with the 10-point victory, 31-21. The offense displayed versatility in the passing game and outside of two long touchdown plays by standout HHS junior running back Malik Bah, including an 80-yard rushing TD on the first play from scrimmage, the Manhattan defense made things tough on Hays most of the night. Senior quarterback Keenan Schartz threw for 204 yards on 15 of 28 passing and spread the ball around to multiple receivers, according to Manhattan Mercury sportswriter Zach DeLoach. Schartz also rushed for 101 yards on 22 carries. The defense forced Hays to punt on seven of 11 drives and forced two turnovers. Manhattan is one of three remaining unbeaten teams in 6A West and the Indians will host one of those teams this week when 3-0 Washburn Rural comes to town. ... Derby downed Bishop Carroll 45-38 in a shootout for the ages and Dylan Edwards showed why he is the best running back in the state with four rushing touchdowns and a 92-yard kick return score. QB Brock Zerger played well in leading the Panther passing attack and Miles Wash made a key third quarter interception, but the defense gave up more than 400 yards of offense to the Golden Eagles. This week Derby will host an unbeaten Class 5A Hutchinson team. ... Wichita Northwest scored at least 41 points for the third straight game and held a once highly-regarded Kapaun offense to just 14 points. Cencere Thompson and LJ Phillips continue to provide a potent one-two punch in the Grizzly backfield behind a big and physical offensive line while the defense has shown significant improvement since the Week 1 loss to Carroll. A game with Wichita East will likely test that defense this week with Blue Ace quarterback Daeonte Mitchell throwing to a loaded receiving corps and handing off to an emerging star in junior running back Rayvelle Leak. ... Blue Valley Northwest doubled up Blue Valley 48-24 behind 310 rushing yards from Grant Stubblefield as the senior set the career rushing record for the Huskies with over 2,900 career rushing yards and likely plenty more to come. The Huskies will get another test this week as they travel to Lee's Summit North to play the third ranked team in Missouri's largest classification. ... Sticking with the theme this week, Lawrence used a big-game from running back Tyrell Reed to pick up their second victory of the season, 45-14 over Shawnee Mission East. While Reed only rushed for 50 yards on 10 carries, he scored a pair of rushing touchdowns and returned a touchdown 99 yards for a score. He also returned a punt for 25-yards that helped to set up fellow running back Brayden Heck for one of his two scores. Tyson Grammer continued his progress in the passing game completing 9 of 16 passes for 218 yards, an average of just under 25 yards per reception. Dominic Ostronic and Sam Sedo caught touchdown passes and Cole Watson tallied a 55-yard completion to set-up one of Reed's rushing scores.

Others: As noted above, this is a deep classification. Gardner-Edgerton improved to 3-0 with a quality 36-19 win over Olathe West but we'll get more information about the Trailblazers when they play 5A #1 Mill Valley this week. The Blazers play a brutal three-game stretch with Olathe North and Lawrence following the game with MV. ... Olathe North is also 3-0 after handing an upstart SM North team their first loss of the season. ... Garden City is the other remaining unbeaten and they'll get a good gauge of where they stand in 6A - and the WAC - when they host Hays this week. The Buffs have a quality group of skill players in QB Caleb Wiese, running back Zak Keosengphet, and athlete Jerry Arteaga, but the defense is an even bigger story for the Buffs after allowing only six points the last two weeks. Carter Ramsey had two interceptions in Friday's win over Wichita West, and returned one for a score. ... Junction City fell behind against 4A power McPherson 12-3 Friday night before pulling away for a 30-15 win. The Blue Jays will find out just what kind of team they have in the next three weeks with a harrowing three-game stretch at Bishop Carroll and Washburn Rural before coming home to host Manhattan in one of the state's best rivalry games. ... After a Week 1 loss to Aquinas an experienced Blue Valley West squad looks like a team that could make noise come playoff time.

Class 5A

1. Mill Valley (3-0)
2. Maize (3-0)
3. Bishop Carroll (2-1)
4. Hays (2-1)
5. Hutchinson (3-0)

Notes: Mill Valley played their toughest opponent thus far in front of nearly 5,000 fans on Friday night, and Shawnee Mission Northwest was unable to score on the Jags in a 51-0 blowout. The competition should get just a bit better again this week, but it's hard to imagine a scenario where the Jags lose again in the regular season with only a Week 7 game with Olathe North looking like a possible stumbling block. ... Maize and a healthy Avery Johnson with his stable of receivers and running backs and a big and talented offensive line looks like the only team that could challenge Mill Valley's stranglehold on 5A and if that matchup happens it will be a repeat of the 5A title game of a season ago. The Maize defense has allowed just 21 points this season and everyone in the state is looking ahead to a matchup at Derby in Week 6. ... Bishop Carroll took Derby to the wire in a 45-38 loss and Jackson King looks like he is just behind Avery Johnson and Hayden Jay as the third best quarterback in the classification and possibly the state. As long as he has Tate Blasi to throw to he'll continue to be in that conversation. Carroll should get a good test from Junction City this week and games with Kapaun, Wichita Heights, and Wichita East to close out the regular season should prepare the Golden Eagles for their playoff run. ... Hays High moves up thanks to their solid play against 6A's top-ranked Manhattan in a 31-21 loss. Junior running back Malik Bah is one of the state's best and showed it with his 80-yard touchdown run on the opening play from scrimmage and a late game catch for a 73-yard score. Evan Lind and Wyatt Waddell are emerging names to know on the Hays High defense. Hays travels to Garden City Friday to play the 3-0 Buffs in a key WAC contest. .... The fifth spot in this poll is the toughest to determine, but we'll go with Hutchinson after a nice win over Maize South 35-21 on Friday. The Salthawks rushed for nearly 400 yards in the game and Zion Burgess and Noah Khokhar led the way. Hutch travels to Derby this week and Mike Vernon will get a better idea of where his squad stands at the mid-point of the season.

Others: The Kapaun Crusaders are reeling after back-to-back losses to 6A Wichita East and Northwest and travel to Colby this week to play a neutral site game with an 0-4 team from Westminster, Colo. Kapaun still has a stable of great players and should be 3-2 when they head into their Week 6 rivalry game at Bishop Carroll. Even with a couple early season setbacks Weston Schartz is well-equipped to have his team ready by the time they travel across town for "The Holy War." ... Highland Park continues to burn up scoreboards behind Tre Richardson, the state's most exciting player, and the Scots will be heavy-favorites this week against Harmon before the two toughest opponents on the regular-season schedule at Lincoln Prep (Mo.) and at Atchison. While Richardson continues to dazzle in all phases of the game the Scots are getting great play from his supporting cast including dual-threat QB Kei'Juan Johnson (20-30, 452 yards, 7 TDs, O INTs, 25 car., 297 yards, 3 TDs) and A'Ydren Drew-Gregory (2 rec., 49 yards, 1 TD against Sumner). The offensive line is opening up holes and the defense is making plays when it counts. Drew-Gregory is also a key piece of the defense where he has two interceptions already this season and Mackey James leads the team with 32 total tackles. Sophomore Jamon Wilson is an emerging name to know on the HP defense with 19 tackles and two sacks through three games. He also carried the ball 10 times for 50 yards and a TD against Sumner. It's already a historic year for the Scots in ending the lengthy losing streak and it looks like the regular season offers plenty more opportunities for wins. ... De Soto has just a seven-point loss to unbeaten 6A Washburn Rural. Coach Brian King continues to do wonders with the Wildcat program and they most certainly will be a factor come playoff time.

Class 4A

1. St. Thomas Aquinas (3-0)
2. Bishop Miege (3-0)
3. Chanute (3-0)
4. Wamego (3-0)
5. Eudora (3-0)

Notes: We know it's not fun to talk about for much of the state, but Aquinas and Miege are 1 and 1a in this classification and the rest of 4A is very likely at least two touchdowns away from those two squads and the Saints and Stags would be ranked in the top four of 5A and 6A as well. If scores against common opponent Blue Valley North are any indicator then the margin between Aquinas and Miege is razor-thin, with Miege beating North 40-14 in Week 1 and Aquinas downing the Mustangs 42-14 on Friday. ... Chanute posted their most impressive win of the season in dominating Tonganoxie 41-17. The Blue Comets appear to be picking up steam and are likely heavy-favorites in the rest of the regular season contests, though Week 7 at a currently unbeaten Coffeyville team is an intriguing matchup. ... Wamego continues to impress in absolutely dominating North Central Kansas League opponents and look to be the strongest of three remaining unbeatens in 4A West. The Red Raiders shutout Concordia 46-0 Friday and have allowed just 13 points on the year. ... Eudora got a good win over Spring Hill, 37-10, to improve to 3-0 on the season and the Cardinals look like the best team in the Frontier League.

Others: While St. James Academy is not the team they were the past two seasons, and they will be an underdog in this week's matchup at Aquinas, the Thunder would still challenge the remainder of the 4A field. It will be important for the Thunder to find a couple of wins to avoid the bottom seed of the East playoff bracket where Miege, Aquinas, or a very good Chanute squad would likely await in the first round. ... McPherson lost a 12-3 lead to a quality 6A Junction City team to fall 30-15 to the Bluejays. The Bullpups will have a challenging game with Circle this week. The T-birds continue the building project under Logan Clothier and if CHS can pull out a win against McPherson they may have what it takes to run the table in the regular season. ... After a pair of close wins to open the season Basehor-Linwood blew out a KC Turner team mired in a nine-game losing streak and improved to 3-0, but the Bobcats will get stiffer competition this week at Shawnee Heights and games with Seaman and De Soto to end the season will be a good measuring stick for Rod Stallbaumer as his teams heads into the playoffs. ... Third year Coffeyville coach Deonta Wade has the Golden Tornado going in the right direction with a 3-0 start. Games with Independence and at Wamego in the next two weeks and versus Chanute in Week 7 will likely define the season for the Golden Tornado.

Class 3A

1. Andale (3-0)
2. Wichita Collegiate (3-0)
3. Topeka Hayden (3-0)
4. Holton (2-1)
5. Rock Creek (2-1)

Notes: Going to keep it short here. Andale continues to roll and everyone can't wait for the matchup at Collegiate in Week 6. ... Topeka Hayden has played a trio of quality opponents from the lower classifications and with last week's 55-34 win over Rossville it appears coach Bill Arnold's offense is picking up steam. ... Holton's close loss to Nemaha Central and quality win over Sabetha in the first two weeks continue to look better and while Perry-Lecompton won't go down without a fight this week and a road trip to Rossville is an intriguing matchup in Week 7, the Week 8 matchup with Hayden is one of the state's marquee games of 2022 and the likely District 4 championship game. ... Rock Creek will get a test from league foe Silver Lake this week.

Others: Girard looked impressive in pulling away from Galena in the second half to improve to 3-0. The Trojans will get a test from Frontenac this week. ... Pratt improved to 3-0 and continues to impress. While games with Cheney and Hoisington the next two weeks won't be cake walks, the Week 8 matchup with Andale will give the Greenbacks the ultimate gauge heading into the playoffs. ... Wellsville continues to roll behind standout running back Nash Money and a matchup at Bishop Ward in two weeks is the toughest contest remaining on the regular season schedule. ... Parsons looks like one of the most explosive teams in 3A but games at Galena, at home against Frontenac, and at Columbus in the final three weeks of the season are the toughest games on the schedule for the Vikings ... Friday's 12-6 overtime victory at Afton, Okla., saw Baxter Springs improve to 3-0 on the season after entering the year on a 25-game losing streak, but a brutal four game stretch at Parsons, versus Galena, at Frontenac and versus Columbus will provide the Lions the toughest run of opponents on the schedule. ... Holcomb (3-0), Hugoton (3-0), and Scott City (2-1) provide a tough trio at the top of District 8. The Beavers, specifically, appear on a mission to improve on last year's rare losing season. Scott City lost to a ranked Millwood, Okla., team on Friday and the Beavers will be challenged in a stretch that includes games at TMP, at home against Hugoton, and at Holcomb over the next three weeks.

Class 2A

1. Southeast of Saline (3-0)
2. Nemaha Central (3-0)
3. Sabetha (2-1)
4. Kingman (3-0)
5. Norton (3-0)

Notes: Southeast of Saline continues to dominate all comers and we don't see that changing. ... Nemaha Central appears to be the best of the east and a Week 8 matchup with Sabetha is one of the marquee games of 2022. A potential 2A title game matchup between Southeast of Saline and Nemaha Central looks like it could be a good one. ... Sabetha will be favorites in the next four weeks before a Week 8 trip to rival Nemaha Central likely for the District 4 title. ... Kingman will be a heavy-favorite against Douglass and could get a challenge at 3A Hesston in Week 5 before a Week 6 matchup with Chaparral likely determines the district champion. ... Norton jumps into the poll this week after dominating Oakley 56-15, but the rankings from the third spot on down appear very balanced.

Others: Humboldt is just outside the Top 5 and a trip to Council Grove this week is key against a Braves squad that has looked impressive on defense in shutting out their first three opponents of the season. Even so, Humboldt is a favorite in this game and a Week 8 matchup with Osage City could determine the district championship for a District 2 that features five teams with two total losses between them. ... Rossville falls out of the Top 5 with their loss to Topeka Hayden, but the Dawgs still scored 34 points against the 3A power. A three-game stretch against unbeaten Atchison County, at rival Silver Lake, and at home against Holton provides plenty of opportunities for quality wins. In spite of the 1-2 start Rossville remains the favorite in District 3. Winning the district is key for the Dawgs to help them avoid first round playoff matchups with District 4 favorites Nemaha Central and Sabetha. ... For Hoisington, Week 5 and 6 games with Pratt and Lakin are the two toughest remaining on the schedule with the latter a potential District 7 championship game. ... TMP improved to 3-0 with a 27-13 win over Plainville but the Monarchs host a much improved Scott City team this week before they get into district play in a District 8 that appears to be the most balanced in the classification. While Norton appears to be the District 8 favorite Phillipsburg, Beloit and even Russell will contend for the district title. ... Ellsworth is a feel-good story this season behind quarterback Will Cravens. Coach Josh Homolka's squad will be favorites in the next four contests before a likely district title game with top-ranked Southeast of Saline in Week 8.

Class 1A

1. Inman (3-0)
2. Olpe (1-2)
3. St. Mary's-Colgan (2-1)
4. St. Marys (1-2)
5. Smith Center (2-1)

Notes: This is the most difficult classification to nail down a Top 5 for, but the next two weeks will give us plenty of information. ... Inman, with their overall team speed featuring the Brunk cousins (Harrison and Eli), look like the best team in the classification right now, but games at Sterling and home against unbeaten Hutch-Trinity the next two weeks should give us a better idea if they have a firm hold on the top spot. The game with Trinity will likely determine the District 7 champion and let us know if the Celtics are in fact a 1A contender. ... The Olpe Eagles ended a brutal three-game stretch to start the season with a 20-12 win over a good 2A Osage City team on Friday and now the Eagles will be heavy-favorites in four of the final five weeks of the regular season including contest with current unbeatens Pleasanton and Jayhawk-Linn. A Week 6 non-district contest with Caney Valley should provide a good late-season test. ... St. Marys fell hard at Silver Lake as the Eagles looked like their old selves under new coach Logan Pegram. Even so, the Bears will be heavy-favorites in four of the next five contests and a Week 6 matchup with Jeff Co. North will likely be for the District 3 title. ... Colgan blasted Riverton 54-14 and will be heavy-favorites in four of the final five games with a Week 6 contest with Columbus a possible stumbling-block. ... Smith Center's size and physicality are the primary factor for putting them in at number five this week and a Week 2 loss to Norton looks better after the Bluejays dismantled Oakley on Friday. The Redmen make the long drive out to Wabaunsee this week where they will face a very good Charger squad in what is likely the District 5 championship game. Both teams are 2-1 with losses against quality opponents and both will be favorites against the remaining district foes.

Others: Centralia has looked impressive in the first three weeks of the season under new head coach Roger Holthaus but the next three weeks feature much tougher opponents, including key district matchups versus Troy and at Jackson Heights the next two weeks. All three teams are unbeaten through three weeks and if comparing common scores reveals anything then Troy may be the best team in the district after the Trojans beat Valley Heights 55-6 last week and Centralia only beat them 34-14 in Week 1. Jackson Heights has looked impressive on offense through three weeks in scoring at least 49 points in each contest, but the defense has some question marks.

8-Man I

1. Little River (2-1)
2. Wichita County (3-0)
3. Chase County (3-0)
4. Meade (3-0)
5. Hill City (3-0)

Notes: Why does a 2-1 Little River squad move into our top spot when there are a dozen unbeaten teams in the division? Because we believe they are still the best team in the classification behind their quality group of skill players and it appears that Division II powers Axtell and Canton-Galva would be the top two teams in DI so the season-opening 30-point loss to C-G doesn't look all that bad as the year moves along. The west side of the bracket is absolutely loaded though and while Little River appears to have smooth sailing in district play the playoffs will present a host of challengers. ... Wichita County vaults into the second position after a good win against a quality Hoxie team. The Indians improved to 3-0 in a game where they exploded for 22 fourth quarter points to pull away for the 56-28 win. ... Chase County maintains the third spot in our poll this week but games with Burlingame this week and at Lyndon in Week 6 will give us a better idea how well the Bulldogs are built for a deep postseason run. CC has plenty of talent in the senior class but are incredibly reliant on Mitch Budke on both offense and defense, so keeping him healthy is key. ... Defending Division I champion Meade remains in fourth and has allowed just one score in the first three games. The Buffs will be favored heavily the next two weeks before a likely district championship game with Wichita County in Week 6 ...  Hill City pulled away from DII third-ranked Thunder Ridge in the second half for their third quality win of the season. The Ringnecks host Rawlins County and Quinter the next two weeks in what appear to be a pair of good opponents before a Week 6 trip to Hoxie that could be for the District 6 title.

Others: New 8-Man co-op South Sumner continues to chug along and will be favored heavily the next two weeks before a three-game stretch to close the season presents the three toughest opponents on the schedule. ... Burlingame's Week 2 blowout of Lebo, 54-6, looks even more impressive after the Wolves beat Madison last week and barely lost to Lyndon in Week 1. The Bearcats travel to Chase County this week in one of the state's top games. A victory over the Bulldogs will likely push Jeff Slater's squad into the Top 5 and will give the Bearcats the inside track in one of the state's toughest districts. ... Clifton-Clyde was blown out by Axtell but the Eagles were competitive with the defending DII champions for a half and still has the players to compete for the District 5 title with a trip to play the only unbeaten team remaining in the district in Washington. ... Argonia-Attica, Lyndon, Macksville, and West Elk also remain undefeated along with feel-good story Wichita Independent, who improved to 3-0 through three weeks after winning just three total games in the past five seasons of 8-Man.

8-Man II

1. Axtell (3-0)
2. Canton-Galva (3-0)
3. Victoria (3-0)
4. Thunder Ridge (2-1)
5. Dighton (3-0)

Notes: Axtell was impressive in their 58-12 dismantling of consistent 8-Man I winner Clifton-Clyde Friday night and proved, together with Canton-Galva, that they are likely the two best teams in all of 8-Man. ... Speaking of Canton-Galva, Jett Vincent returned three interceptions for touchdowns and quarterback Garrett Maltbie returned from injury as the Eagles blasted Solomon, 58-6. Much like Axtell this is a complete team and their talent extends well beyond their star returning QB, as evidence by their success in his absence, but with him back, they'll be even better. ... A Thunder Ridge loss to a good Hill City squad coupled with another blowout win for Victoria leaves those teams flip-flopped in the Top 5. ... Dighton showed a bit of vulnerability in a narrow four-point win over Quinter, but the Hornets will get a chance to prove they belong in the Top 5 in a district where three of the five teams are 3-0 (Bucklin, Dighton, Minneola) and Hodgeman County is 2-1.

Others: Colony-Crest's 24-point loss to Chase County two weeks ago continues to look like a "good" defeat and the Lancers appear well-equipped to enter the Week 8 matchup at Lebo at 6-1 where the two will likely play for a district title. ... Osborne looks like a contender again and they'll get the chance to prove it in matchups with Lakeside and St. John's-Beloit in the next two weeks. Both teams are 3-0 so far and the biggest obstacles to Osborne's pursuit of the District 4 championship. ... South Barber is also just outside of the Top 5 and the Chieftains should be the favorites in the rest of the games on their schedule, though a Week 7 matchup at Stafford and at Week 8 matchup at Hodgeman County are intriguing games.


1. Cunningham (3-0)
2. Ashland (2-1)
3. Waverly (3-0)

Notes: After years of struggling in 8-Man, Tescott has made the move to 6-Man and are 3-0. The Trojans will get a chance to prove they are among the best in the class this week when they take on top-ranked Cunningham. ... Ashland improved to 2-1 with their 50-28 win over Cheyln last week.