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Semi-final match-ups set

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Updated brackets linked here along with a brief rundown of notable quarterfinals

  • Clockwise from top left: Olathe North's Arland Bruce IV, Wichita County's Jesse Gardner, Central Christian's Caleb Lambert, Norton's Kade Melvin, Centralia's Kamble Haverkamp and Hoisington's Mason Haxton all keyed their team to victories in Friday's quarterfinal playoff games. (Gardner photo by Everett Royer, Haxton photo by Joey Bahr)
    Clockwise from top left: Olathe North's Arland Bruce IV, Wichita County's Jesse Gardner, Central Christian's Caleb Lambert, Norton's Kade Melvin, Centralia's Kamble Haverkamp and Hoisington's Mason Haxton all keyed their team to victories in Friday's quarterfinal playoff games. (Gardner photo by Everett Royer, Haxton photo by Joey Bahr)

After a fun Friday night of quarterfinal contests the state semi-final match-ups are set. Check out the brackets linked below followed by a complete Hoisington/Garden Plain game wrap from Joey Bahr and a brief look at some notable results from last night:

6A Bracket

5A Bracket

4A Bracket

3A Bracket

2A Bracket

1A Bracket

8-Man I

8-Man II

Hoisington dominant in victory over unbeaten Garden Plain

By Joey Bahr, For Kansas Pregame

The Hoisington Cardinals defeated the Garden Plain Owls 48-22 to advance to the 2A Sub-State game for the second year in a row.

The game saw two undefeated 10 win teams match up.

Garden Plain won the toss to start the game and deferred to the second half.

Hoisington received the opening kickoff and started at their 23-yard line. The Cardinals got off to started on a low note with back-to-back false start penalties. Wyatt Pedigo and Mason Haxton responded with runs of 12 and 15 yards respectively. The drive stalled after an incompletion from Haxton to Hunter Morris.  Hoisington would not throw another pass all night. After gaining 41-yards, the Cardinals punted to Garden Plain, setting the stage for a big play from the Cardinal defense.

On the Owls' third play from scrimmage, Matt Pauly threw an interception to Hoisington's Avery Brewer. The Cardinals took over on the Garden Plain 41-yard line.

After carries from Pedigo and Haxton, Pedigo capped the drive with the Cardinals' first touchdown of the night. After a Jamie Echanove point after touchdown, the Cardinals led 7-0.

Garden Plain responded quickly after receiving the ensuing kickoff when Owl quarterback Matt Pauly ran the ball in from 61-yards out to for the Owls' first points of the night. But Pedigo would add a special teams big play when he slipped into the backfield and blocked Jack Haukap's PAT, leaving the Cardinals up by one, 7-6.

Hoisington started the next drive at their 39-yard line. They took just over two minutes off the clock when Mason Haxton scored his first touchdown of the night on a 27-yard run. Echanove's PAT kick bounced off the crossbar and fell back into the field of play giving the Cardinals a 13-6 lead.

On the very next play, Garden Plain's Matt Pauly would showcase his versatility with a 94-yard kick return to the end zone, but an illegal block would pull the points off the board and the ensuing drive would fall short deep in Hoisington territory as the Cardinal defense held stopped the Owls on downs.

Hoisington took over the ball at their three-yard line. Just three plays later, they were in the end zone on the opposite end of the field. Mason Haxton started the drive with a 17-yard run to give the Cardinals some breathing room. Pedigo added a six-yard run. On the very next play, Pedigo found the edge and took off for a 74-yard touchdown run. After a successful PAT, the Cardinals extended their lead to 20-6.

Garden Plain returned the ensuing kickoff to their own 37-yard line and moved the ball down the field again driving all the way to Hoisington's seven-yard line. But once again the Cardinal defense stopped the Owls and headed into halftime with the 14 point lead.

Garden Plain started the second half with the ball and a methodical drive. Over 13 plays, the Owls ate 4:50 off the clock, and covered 66 yards culminating with a Pauly to Trey Smith 18-yard touchdown pass and a successful two-point conversion would pull the Owls to within six, 20-14.

But the big play Cardinal offense would answer again taking just three plays to go 73 yards with Pedigo notching his third score of the night on a six-yard run and extending their lead to 27-14.

After Garden Plain mishandled the kickoff and started at their own three-yard line, the Cardinal defense would force another punt.

Hoisington junior quarterback Mason Haxton scored his second touchdown of the night on the second play of the drive with a 42-yard run. The PAT pushed the Cardinal lead to 34-14.

Garden Plain would answer with a nine-play drive 61-yard drive that would eat up 3:54. Blake Long would cap the drive with his first touchdown of the night on a three-yard run. The Owls converted the two-point try and pulled to within 34-22, but it would be the Owls' final points of the night.

The Cardinals essentially put the game away on the next drive eating up six and a half minutes with an 11 plays, 64 yard scoring march. Pedigo capped the drive with his fourth score of the night and the Cardinals took a commanding lead, 41-22.

Pedigo would put the Cardinals back in business with an interception on the Owls next drive and he would add his fifth rushing touchdown of the night on the following Hoisington drive to ice the game and deliver the Cardinals to the semi-finals, 48-22.

Hoisington amassed 465 yards, all of them coming on the ground with just one pass attempt on the night. Pedigo led the Cardinals with 252 yards and five touchdowns. Haxton accounted for the other two Cardinals scores on 194 yards rushing.

Garden Plain piled up 378 yards of offense and Matt Pauly led the Owls with 163 yards rushing and 51 yards passing scoring touchdowns rushing and passing

Blake Long scored Garden Plain's other touchdown.  He carried the ball 20 times for 101-yards.

A key factor in the game were the Cardinals two intercpetions of Pauly passes, both resulted in Hoisington scores on their next offensive possession.

"They are a great football team and we came up short," Garden Plain coach Ken Dusenbery said after the game. "Hoisington played great defense and made it hard."

Many fans and members of the media believe this game may have featured the two best teams in Class 2A.

"This game had a state championship feel to it," Dusenbery added. "I don't mean that this decided the championship, but it was hard-hitting and both teams played hard. I don't feel we lost, Hoisington won. That's how playoff football should be."

Hoisington coach Zach Baird recognized his seniors after the win.

"This senior group has been so special for us," Baird said. "They played hard, fought hard for each other."

Baird also credited his defense.

"Our defense was impressive," Baird said. "The plays Garden Plain made were tough. Our guys continued to fight and play with effort all game long."

Hoisington advances to the semi-final game for only the third time in school history and the second year in a row.  

They will travel to Norton for the second time this year. The Cardinals faced the Bluejays in Week 8 to decide the District 8 Championship and won 38-7.

"It's fun to get a rematch," Baird said. "You have film you can watch, but you know they are going to change things up and so will we."

Garden Plain ends the season at 10-1, while Hoisington improved to 11-0 for the first time since 2016.

Central Christian hangs on for thrilling win over Thunder Ridge

Hutchinson's Central Christian Cougars stunned the visiting Thunder Ridge Longhorns Friday night, jumping out to a 58-20 lead late in the second quarter when Longhorn senior Reece Struckhoff connected with freshman Dylan Bice on a 49-yard Hail Mary to carry some momentum into the half.

The Longhorns would hold the Cougars to just six points in the second half and pull to within 64-60 before Cougar defensive back Adam Hall would seal the game with an interception on the final Thunder Ridge drive.

Struckhoff rushed for 249 yards on 36 carries while Cougar standout quarterback Caleb Lambert passed for 184 yards and bruising senior running back Garrett Burns had one of the biggest games of his high school career with 216 yards on 23 carries.

Coach Struckhoff went to Twitter after the game to praise his seniors for their effort this season.

"So proud of the way we fought tonight," Struckhoff said in his post. "Tough loss men but, just know we will be back next year! Seniors, I’m so thankful for all of you...great group of young men that never gave up."

Central Christian will travel to Osborne for next week's semi-final match-up after the Bulldogs survived South Barber, 28-20, in spite of playing without talented senior running back Darrien Holloway, who was injured in last week's game.

Olathe North edges Blue Valley West in overtime

By Gallagher Martin, For Kansas Pregame

A game-winning extra point by Zach Willoughby-Neal gave Olathe North a 35-34 win in overtime over Blue Valley West.

The Eagles led 21-7 at halftime and 28-14 late in the third quarter, but the Jaguars were able to claw their way back. BVW tied the game at 28 with 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

The Jaguars received the ball first in overtime and scored a touchdown, but the extra point was blocked by Mason Pride. Arland Bruce IV scored on a 10-yard touchdown during Olathe North’s first possession, and Willoughby-Neal’s extra points sent the Eagles to the semifinals. 

Olathe North, now 9-2, hosts Blue Valley (8-3) with a trip to the 6A State Championship on the line. Topeka (10-1) avenged a loss to Junction City and will travel to Derby (11-0) in the other semi-final game, after the Panthers dominated Manhattan. 

Wichita County defeats Little River in shootout

By Gallagher Martin, For Kansas Pregame

Leoti-Wichita County snapped Little River’s nine game winning streak on Friday in an offensive shootout. 

Wichita County jumped out to a 32-8 lead in the second quarter before Little River responded with 22 unanswered. Wichita County 28 straight points before the two teams traded touchdowns before settling for a 74-38 Wichita County win. 

Wichita County ran 91 plays and racked up 578 yards of total offense, 408 of which came on the ground.  Little River had 300 yards rushing, with quarterback Jayden Garrison accounting for 227 of those, but the Redskin offense was depleted with Graham Stephens out with an injury.

Wichita County’s Jesse Gardner had 182 rushing yards and a game-high six touchdowns. 

Wichita County improves to 10-1 while Little River ends its first season under Kevin Ayers at 9-2. Wichita County travels to St. Francis (11-0) next Friday in a rematch of a game the Indians won 46-0 earlier in the season. Madison (11-0) hosts Canton-Galva (11-0) in the other semifinal game.

Big third quarter pushes Norton past Conway Springs

By Gallagher Martin, For Kansas Pregame

It was a back-and-forth affair as Norton defeated Conway Springs 34-32 in one of the best quarterfinal games Friday night.

Conway Springs scored first, but Norton always had an answer. The Cardinals scored 68 seconds into the game, but Norton only needed 1:24 to tie the game at seven. Conway Springs countered as Cardinal quarterback/spinner back Collin Koester returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. By the end of the first quarter, the Cardinals held a 20-14 lead.

Trailing by five at halftime, Norton outscored Conway Springs 13-0 in the third quarter and took a 32-24 lead into the fourth. The Cardinals scored a touchdown less than two minutes into the fourth, but the Bluejays held tough on the two-point try. Neither team found the end zone the rest of the way. 

Kade Melvin led Norton with four rushing touchdowns, including a 40-yard burst early in the first quarter.

Norton is now 8-3 on the year and will host 11-0 Hoinsington in the 2A Semifinals. Hoisington already owns a 38-7 win over Norton earlier this season. In the other semifinal game, Nemaha Central (9-2) hosts Riley County (9-2).

Centralia hands Olpe first loss of season

By Gallagher Martin, For Kansas Pregame

Centralia won its 10th straight game and handed Olpe its first loss of the season in a 22-20 slugfest. 

Down by eight with just over a minute to go, Olpe quarterback Colby Hoelting found receiver Wylie Redeker for a 17-yard touchdown pass. Centralia stuffed the two-point try and held on for the two-point win. 

Centralia trailed 14-6 at halftime but outscored Olpe 16-6 in the second half. Centralia quarterback Kamble Haverkamp opened the second-half scoring with a 76-yard touchdown run up the middle. Haverkamp scored on a 25-yard run later in the fourth quarter as well. 

Centralia is now 10-1 and hosts Jackson Heights (9-2) in the 1A Semifinals. Smith Center (11-0) hosts Plainville (10-1) in the other semifinal game.

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