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Sub-state predictions

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  • Gardner-Edgerton is looking for a return trip to the 6A title game. (File Photo)
    Gardner-Edgerton is looking for a return trip to the 6A title game. (File Photo)

Here it is, semifinal weekend, the final four in each classification remain. We did a little better with our picks last week, but still struggled more than a season ago. Even so, we'll take another stab at ranking the Top 5 in each class and guessing the winners of each semifinal. As always, good luck to each of the final four teams in each classification. Win or lose, what an incredible accomplishment to make it this far.

The asterisk (*) indicates our prediction of which of the two games in each classification will be the closest.

Class 6A

1. Washburn Rural (11-0)
2. Gardner-Edgerton (10-1)
3. Derby (10-1)
4. Manhattan (10-1)
5. Blue Valley (7-4)

Our picks:
Gardner-Edgerton over Blue Valley
*Washburn Rural over Derby

Blue Valley is really playing some good football and seems to have gotten a little better each week over the course of their current four-game winning streak, but Gardner-Edgerton is likely to be the most physical team the Tigers have played since a 10-7 loss to St. Thomas Aquinas in Week 7 and we think the Blazers are just a bit better.

Washburn Rural hosting Derby feels like it could be a coin-flip kind of game. Two of the best QBs in the state, a bunch of really talented skill players for both offenses, but we'll give the experienced and talented Junior Blue defense the slight edge in what should be a heck of a game.

Class 5A

1. Mill Valley (9-2)
2. Blue Valley Southwest (10-1)
3. Kapaun Mt. Carmel (10-1)
4. Eisenhower (10-1)
5. Maize South (8-3)

Our picks:
Mill Valley over Blue Valley Southwest
*Kapaun over Eisenhower

Mill Valley has shown a little vulnerability on defense this season and Blue Valley Southwest has an incredible offense behind quarterback Dylan Dunn and that fleet of receivers. This could be a high-scoring shootout, and should be a good game, but we just can't bet against a Jaguar team in search of a fifth straight state championship.

Eisenhower is on the verge of a historic season and has looked impressive in their three playoff victories, but we're going with Kapaun's senior experience.

Class 4A

1. St. Thomas Aquinas (8-3)
2. Bishop Miege (8-2)
3. St. James Academy (2-7)
4. Wamego (9-2)
5. Tonganoxie (9-2)

Our picks:
St. Thomas Aquinas over Tonganoxie
*Wamego over Andover Central

Guys listen, we know you don't like seeing that 2-7 St. James Thunder slotted in at number three in our rankings, but while the games would likely be closer than in the past we just still believe the Thunder win against any other 4A team on the schedule besides the two ranked ahead of them.

After surviving a much better than we gave credit for Atchison team in a 57-50 shootout last week Tonganoxie is into the semifinals for the first time in school history. Their reward? An Aquinas team that dispatched Basehor-Linwood 38-7 in the quarterfinals. The chips are stacked against the Chieftains, but certainly Tongie has some weapons that could test that incredible Aquinas defense.

Many thought Wamego would take a step back this season thanks in large part to the graduation of Hayden Oviatt, but the Red Raiders have reminded us they played much of last season without their star who is now playing for Army West Point. While Wamego's playoff schedule to this point has not had the strength of Andover Central's, the Red Raiders have been absolutely dominant and could make a repeat trip to the 4A title game after what is sure to be hard-hitting game with the Jaguars.

Class 3A

1. Cheney (11-0)
2. Andale (10-1)
3. Topeka Hayden (11-0)
4. Clay Center (9-2)
5. Wichita Collegiate (9-2)

Our picks:
Hayden over Holton
*Andale over Cheney

This is going to be a little counterintuitive to how we've typically ranked teams this season, but even though we believe Andale is going to beat Cheney in what is likely to be an epic match-up tomorrow night we'll leave Cheney at the top until the Indians are able to stake their claim to the spot by avenging their streak ending loss to the Cardinals five weeks ago. Cheney is incredibly good but it is so hard to beat a team like Andale twice. Dylan Schmidt has only lost three total games in seven seasons as Andale's head coach for a reason. It's hard to imagine his team won't be laser-focused on beating the Cardinals.

While we have incredible respect for Holton coach Brooks Barta and the amazing program he's built, Bill Arnold is no slouch as a coach – he recorded his 200th career coaching victory earlier this season – and his Hayden squad has dudes. Not just tackling machines like Jude Konrade, but speed merchants like Finn Dunshee who returns after missing some time to injury. This could be a heck of a game, but we think Hayden's playmakers will make just a few more plays.

Class 2A

1. Nemaha Central (11-0)
2. Hoisington (11-0)
3. Southeast of Saline (10-1)
4. Sabetha (10-1)
5. Norton (11-0)

Our picks:
*Nemaha Central over Sabetha
Hoisington over Norton

Sabetha likely plays Nemaha Central much closer than they did earlier in the season, but can they turn a 28-0 loss to the Thunder just four weeks ago into a win this week? Likely not against a team that is playing some of the very best defense in the state.

Norton is 11-0 and while they don't win flashy, they win. Even so, no one can deny this is the best team the Blue Jays have faced all season and if you want to play the score comparison game the Cardinals have a decided edge on paper. But Norton fans will point to the 2019 10-8 upset their squad pulled over a Hoisington team the Blue Jays were blown out by in that regular season to remind people why games are not played on paper.

Class 1A

1. St. Mary's Colgan (11-0)
2. Jeff County North (10-1)
3. Conway Springs (9-2)
4. Medicine Lodge (9-2)
5. Marion (9-2)

Our picks:
St. Mary's Colgan over Jeff County North
*Conway Springs over Medicine Lodge

Jeff County North vaults to number two with their dominance over Olpe, but after watching film and talking with coaches we'll continue to ride with a Colgan team seems destined to hoist a state championship trophy for the first time since 2003 and the first in the Shawn Seematter era.

We really thought Marion would emerge from the west side of the bracket but Conway Springs and Brayden Kunz had other plans. Medicine Lodge continues to prove us wrong, but we're going to double down and say the Cardinals will get their second win over the Indians this season.

8-Man I

1. Wichita County (11-0)
2. Lyndon (11-0)
3. Cair Paravel (9-2)
4. Ell-Saline (10-1)
5. Hoxie (9-2)

Our picks:
*Lyndon over Cair Paravel
Wichita County over Ell-Saline

Cair Paravel keeps it closer than the first time, but Lyndon finds a way. Incredible win for Ell-Saline over Hoxie last week, but Wichita County is a whole new kind of challenge.

8-Man II

1. Axtell (11-0)
2. Victoria (9-1)
3. Frankfort (10-1)
4. South Central (8-3)
5. Osborne (9-2)

Our picks:
Axtell over Frankfort
*Victoria over South Central

No classification has a clearer favorite than Axtell in 8-Man II. South Central is a great story this season, but Victoria will ratchet up the playoff competition for the Timberwolves.


1. Cheylin (10-0)
2. Ashland (9-1)
3. Cunningham (9-1)
4. Northern Valley (8-2)
5. Tescott (7-2)

Our picks:
*Cheylin over Ashland
Cunningham over Tescott

What an incredible five overtime win over Waverly for Tescott, but the trip to Cunningham is likely to end a very special season for the Trojans. Cheylin still looks like the favorite to win it all though.