Playoff Preview: Class 4A & 3A (Quarterfinals)

Top-seeded Louisburg will try and take down Bishop Miege. (photo by Andy Brown)
By: Matt Gilmore & Conor Nicholl for
Nov 8, 2018

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Class 4A

VIEW: 4A Bracket

4A East

#5 Bishop Miege (8-2) at #1 Louisburg (10-0) – Bishop Miege

This game pits the favorite in Class 4A against the top seed in the east. Bishop Miege’s path towards a fifth consecutive state title includes a trip south to Louisburg where the Stags last won, 49-6, in the second round of the 2016 playoffs. The Stags also defeated Louisburg in the playoffs in 2015, 2014, and back in 2009.

Miege is coming off of a 49-20 road victory at Pittsburg in a game where the Stags scored a pair of touchdowns late in the second quarter to take control. Miege led 21-13 in the middle of the second quarter when Sam Pedrotti connected with Phillippe Wesley on an 8-yard touchdown. Brison Cobbins later scored in the final 30 seconds of the half to lead 35-13. Pedrotti hit Hudson Bentley on a 40-yard touchdown in the third quarter and Cobbins added his third rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter. Pedrotti was impressive in putting the ball right on his receivers while many times throwing on the run. The senior quarterback finished 16 of 21 passing for 207 yards and four touchdowns in the game. Cobbins rushed for 167 yards on 25 attempts to go along with his three scores, and also caught a touchdown pass. Linebacker Dylan Downing led a strong defensive effort from Miege, that only gave up three big plays to Pittsburg speedster Dylan White.

Louisburg also turned in a strong defensive performance in shutting out KC Piper, 48-0. The Pirates had scored 115 points in the past two weeks, but couldn’t get anything going against the Wildcat defense. After rushing for 462 and 291 yards the previous two weeks, Piper was held to 75 rush yards on 27 attempts by the Louisburg defense. On offense, Louisburg quarterback Madden Rutherford led the way by scoring on two short touchdown runs in the first half as the Wildcats built a 28-0 lead. Rutherford added a 50-yard touchdown sprint in the third quarter and tossed an 80-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Cooper in the fourth quarter.

Louisburg has been playing well of late, but needless to say the Wildcats will have to play an error-free game to defeat the powerful Stags. The Wildcats will be without one of their top two-way players as senior RB/LB Austin Moore suffered a broken collarbone in last week's game. Both teams are highlighted by the defenses. Louisburg has only allowed 74 points all season – second best in the classification behind Paola. Meanwhile, many believe this is the best defensive unit Miege has had in recent years.

#3 Paola (9-1) at #2 Basehor-Linwood (9-1) – Basehor-Linwood

Paola will visit Basehor-Linwood in a game that looks to be a great matchup on paper. The Panthers only loss has come to top-seed Louisburg, 25-7, back in Week 8, while Basehor-Linwood dropped a 14-13 decision to Lansing back in Week 2.

Last week, Paola advanced with a 35-13 victory over Tonganoxie. The Panthers scored 14 points in the third and fourth quarters to turn a 13-7 halftime deficit into the 22-point win. Connor Hasz rushed for three touchdowns as Paola took the lead mid-way through the third quarter. The Panthers then scored on a halfback pass from Garrett Williams to Corbin Gant to take a two-score lead early in the fourth quarter. Seth Richmond completed the scoring with a touchdown pass to Evan Peuser.

By comparison, Basehor-Linwood defeated Tonganoxie 42-6 in the season opener. But, of note, that was prior to the emergence of Tonganoxie senior running back Korbin Riedel who, beginning in Week 3, went on to rush for 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns this season.  The Panthers and Bobcats also share Fort Scott and Eudora as opponents. Paola shutout Eudora 35-0, while Basehor-Linwood beat the Cardinals 44-16 two weeks later. Back in Week 2, Paola dominated Fort Scott in a 42-0 shutout, while Basehor-Linwood scored twice in the fourth quarter to eliminate the Tigers 31-14 last week.

Quarterback Dylan Mussett has passed for 1,938 yards and 17 touchdowns this season while adding six rushing touchdowns. Against Fort Scott, Mussett threw for 206 yards and a touchdown. Dylan Donnelly remains the Bobcats leading receiver with 44 catches for 799 yards and six scores. Jacob Coleman and Nolan Ford are close behind with 449 and 431 receiving yards, respectively. The Bobcats rushed for 239 yards against Fort Scott led by Mason McDaniel’s 115 yards and Ford’s 105 yards. On the season, McDaniel leads the team with 791 yards and 13 scores, while Ford has added 545 yards and seven touchdowns.

Paola’s defense has been exceptional this season, having posted five shutouts and allowed a classification-best 69 points. Meanwhile, Basehor-Linwood has averaged nearly 40 points per game. In a matchup this even, turnovers and field position could likely be the key.

4A West

#13 Ark City (4-6) at #1 McPherson (10-0) – McPherson

McPherson will be the favorite against an Arkansas City team that is arguably the biggest surprise left in the state playoffs. McPherson has thrown for 237 yards a game and rushed for 192. Senior Kyler Hoppes has completed 130 of 192 passes for 2,138 yards with a 30/2 TD/INT ratio. Senior Jace Kinnamon has cleared 100 yards rushing in all but one contest, having rushed for 1,494 yards and 31 scores on 157 carries. Senior Gabe Hoover has 59 catches for 1,098 yards and 16 scores. Four of the top-five leaders in tackles for loss are seniors, led by 17 TFLs from Khalil Lisbon and 11 from Honestee Whittker.

Arkansas City is No. 13 seeded on the 4A West side and has defeated No. 4 Mulvane and No. 5 Coffeyville. Ike Abrams scored the winning touchdown from three yards out with three minutes remaining for the final score in a 29-26 win versus Mulvane. Last week, Ark City scored 21 unanswered points in the second half for a 28-6 win. Abrams rushed for 160 yards and two scores. McPherson has outscored teams 527-83 and leads 4A in both scoring offense and defense.

Ark City has actually been outscored this year with 196 points and 262 allowed. The Bulldogs have enjoyed their furthest advancement since a quarterfinal run in 1996. McPherson reached the quarterfinals in 2016 and the semifinals in ’17. Last season’s final four finish tied the best showing in school history.

#3 Goddard (8-2) at #2 Wellington (8-2)Goddard

This is the first meeting between the schools since the 2013 season opener, a 34-28 Wellington victory. Goddard won the ’12 season opener, 34-14, against the Crusaders. Goddard sophomore quarterback Kyler Semrad has completed 140 of 257 passes for 1,754 yards with a 16/10 TD/INT ratio. Senior Ben Bannister has by far led the team in rushing with 138 carries for 848 yards and nine scores. Goddard has averaged 6.6 yards per pass and 4.3 yards per rush with 25.8 points per game. The Lions have permitted just 12 points a contest, fourth-best in the classification. Last year, Goddard averaged 41.4 points a game but had significant graduation losses and former assistant Tom Beason took over as head coach.

Wellington has faced the No. 26 strength of schedule, according to Prep Power Index, while Goddard is at No. 11. Wellington has enjoyed its best season since 2004. The Crusaders have an average scoring margin of 27-14 this season. Quarterback Michael Ledbetter has passed for 1,218 yards, and Grey Hatfield has rushed for 1,008 yards. DeAndre Washington has more than 500 receiving yards.

Last week, the Crusaders held off Buhler 14-7. Ledbetter threw for 127 yards with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Washington. Ledbetter tallied a quarterback scramble in the fourth, and Washington had an interception in the last minute of the game. Then, Buhler got the ball back and had four yards to go for a score, when Wellington’s Chi Barton intercepted the Crusaders in the end zone. Wellington limited Buhler to 171 total yards.

Class 3A

VIEW: 3A Bracket


Galena (10-0) at Marysville (8-2) – Galena

These two sets of Bulldogs will meet in Marysville with a trip to the state semifinals on the line. Galena has actually made the long trip to Marysville before. The two met in the Class 3A substate semifinals back in 2009 with Marysville coming out on top, 31-21. The Bulldogs fell in the state championship game a week later, 37-30 to Wichita Collegiate. Marysville reached the Class 3A state title game last year as well, falling 7-6 to Sabetha after throwing an interception at the goal line in the closing seconds.

Galena has rolled to a 10-0 start by outscoring its opponent by an average margin of 44.5 to 6.7. The Bulldogs’ 67 points allowed is tied for second in Class 3A behind only Andale’s 55. Last week, Galena defeated CNC rival Frontenac for a second time this season. The Bulldogs won 27-7 after dominating the first meeting, 47-0. Kooper Lawson rushed for a pair of touchdowns as the Bulldogs led 14-0 at halftime. Quarterback JC Shelton then added a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown runs to provide the final margin. Shelton is the catalyst behind the Galena offense. A quick and shifty runner, Shelton has been difficult for defenses to corral and is also a weapon in the return game. Galena likes to keep things on the ground with backs Kooper Lawson and Nick Sarwinski getting the bulk of the carries after losing standout fullback Joseph Helton to an early season injury.

Galena may have to use more balance against a Marysville defense that is playing well. The other set of Bulldogs advanced to the quarterfinal round with a 36-14 road victory over traditional power Topeka Hayden. Marysville has outscored its opponents by an average margin of 34 to 14 this season, but the Bulldogs have averaged more than 42 points per game in the last five weeks. That includes a 6-0 shutout in the mud at Holton. Part of the reason for the offensive success has been the play of running back Atreyau Hornbeak (6-0, 195). The junior has had his best two games of the season in consecutive weeks in rushing for 165 yards and two touchdowns in an opening-round win over Santa Fe Trail, then torching Hayden for 299 yards and three scores last week. On the season, Hornbeak has rushed for 990 yards and 14 scores on 141 attempts after rushing for more than 850 yards and 20 touchdowns as a sophomore last season. In addition, junior quarterback Brandon Schroedl has been a nice replacement for 2017 all-stater Jack Blumer. Schroedl has passed for nearly 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns, while rushing for 316 yards and three more scores. Last year, wideout Jacob Backus put up great numbers in an all-state junior season in which he had 79 receptions for 919 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s backed that up with a senior campaign that has included 50 receptions for 694 yards and nine scores. The Marysville defense, led by Garron Champoux’s 127 tackles, will have to try and contain Galena’s ground attack after giving up 250 rushing yards to Hayden last week. Marysville has give up at least 300 rushing yards in three other games this season.

These two teams appear to be incredibly evenly matched. Marysville may be a little more balanced on offense, and has been playing very well of late behind Schroedl and Hornbeak. Meanwhile, cold, wet conditions may play more into Galena’s style of play.

Sabetha (10-0) at Parsons (8-2) – Sabetha

Defending Class 3A champion Sabetha will make the long trip south to Marvel Park to take on the upstart Parsons Vikings. These two programs will face off for a big at a substate semifinal appearance despite two completely different levels of playoff experience. Sabetha is in the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season and the 14th time in the last 15 years. Incredibly, the year the Blue Jays missed the playoffs, 2007, they finished with an 8-1 record, but were left out on a district tie-breaker method that has since been retired.

On the other side, the Parsons Vikings picked up their first playoff win in 42 years by beating Girard in the first round. Last week, the Vikings put together a complete game in winning at Prairie View, 38-23. DaQuan Johnson threw a touchdown pass to Davonte Yates and caught three touchdown passes from quarterback Gage Friess in the victory. Friess threw four touchdown passes in the game with the other going to Patrick Loadholtz. On the year, Friess has passed for 1,742 yards and 24 touchdowns while also leading the team in rushing with 712 yards and six scores. Loadholtz is the team’s leading receiver with 742 yards and nine touchdowns on 39 receptions. Yates has been a big-play threat as well with nearly 400 receiving yards on just 19 receptions. Johnson is a difference-maker in all three phases of the game.

Meanwhile, Sabetha will look to win the battle up front and control the ball with its option offense. The Blue Jays average 305 yards per game on the ground. Junior quarterback Gabe Garber directs the offense and has rushed for 856 yards and 13 touchdowns. Garber has also kept defenses honest by passing for 803 yards and 10 scores. Senior Joe Gruber leads the team with 957 rushing yards and 11 scores. Seniors Tristan Edelman and Joel Hackney have picked up the slack since classmate Mason Engelken (464 yards, 5 TD) was lost for the season due to injury. Edelman and Hackney have combined for 481 yards and six scores. Ryan Stapleton is the Blue Jays’ leading receiver with 13 catches for 281 yards and four scores.

The Sabetha defense has been exceptional in allowing only 74 points all season while pitching four shutouts. The Blue Jays’ closest game of the season came in a 35-33 win over Perry-Lecompton back in Week 3 where Sabetha allowed 285 yards rushing. Last week, Sabetha won the rematch, 26-8, and held the Kaws to 84 rush yards on 27 attempts. Parsons will likely need to connect on some big plays to have success against the Sabetha defense. Look for the Vikings to find ways to get Johnson and their other playmakers involved as much as possible.   


Pratt (10-0) at Smoky Valley (10-0) – Pratt

Both schools have enjoyed great success in the last several years with Pratt coach Jamie Cruce and Smoky Valley’s Tim Lambert. Pratt won the Class 4A, Division II state title two years ago, and Smoky Valley has posted a combined 27-5 the last three seasons. However, both teams are 10-0 for the first time in many years – Smoky Valley since a 10-1 mark in 1992, and Pratt is 10-0 for the first time since a 13-0 state title year in 1995.

Despite both being members of the Central Kansas League, the two schools have only met three times in recent history. Pratt defeated Smoky Valley, 38-6, in quarterfinals of the 2016 playoffs. The Greenbacks also defeated the Vikings in regular season contests in 2010 and 2011.

Pratt has permitted 88 points this season, five more than Smoky Valley. However, the Greenbacks have scored 445 points, to Smoky Valley’s has 319. Pratt has rushed for 381 yards and passed for 66 yards a contest. Senior Travis Theis, in a switch back to quarterback, has enjoyed another great season with 25 of 48 passing for 643 yards with a 9/1 TD/INT ratio. Theis has 152 carries for 1,955 yards and 30 scores. Senior Kadence Riner has also averaged 12 yards a carry with 69 rushes for 829 yards and 10 scores. Senior Brett Winsor has 17 catches for 520 yards and nine scores. Riner has 58 tackles with 16 TFLs. Pratt has committed just five turnovers and is plus-16 in turnover margin. The Greenbacks has averaged 9.7 yards per play.

Smoky Valley, behind its great offensive line and stable of running backs, has averaged 345 rushing yards a contest and 30 passing yards a game. The Vikings average 6.3 yards per play. Senior Tim Lambert, Jr. has rushed for 1,395 yards and nine scores, while senior fullback Cort Elliott has 1,044 yards and 12 scores. Senior quarterback Lane Schrag has 742 rushing yards and 11 TDs. Seniors Ethan Wampler and Konrad Peterson anchor the line. A key area to watch is ball control. Smoky Valley has averaged 59.1 plays a contest, Pratt 46.3.

Scott City (10-0) at Andale (10-0) – Andale

Andale coach Dylan Schmidt said facing Scott City was like looking in the mirror because of the significant similarities between the two squads. Andale and Scott City have matched up once before, in the 1991 playoffs where Scott City won 9-6 in double overtime in the first round of the 4A playoffs. Scott City went on to capture the 4A state title against Riverton that season. Longtime Andale defensive coordinator Tim Fairchild coached in the contest and still vividly remembers the game. Andale has multiple current connections to the contest, including 2018 players who had dads in the game, including current starting senior fullback Devin Marx.

This season, the longtime powers are virtually the same. Andale has led 3A throughout the fall in scoring offense and defense with a total margin of 499-55. Scott City is fourth in scoring offense and tied for second on defense with a total margin of 428-67. Both teams have former assistant coaches as head coaches. Jim Turner was the longtime Scott City assistant and recently the defensive coordinator before he took over as head coach three years ago. Andale alum Schmidt is in his second season as head coach.

Scott City running back Wyatt Hayes has more than 4,000 career rushing yards, including 16 carries for 179 yards and five scores last week against Beloit. The Beavers have a host of playmakers with quarterback Parker Gooden, wide receiver Marshall Faurot and linemen Kyle Sherwood and Chase Cupp. Scott City is 10-0 for the ninth time in the last 13 years.

Andale is the defending 4A-I state runner-up. Senior Mason Fairchild, a South Dakota commit, has served in multiple roles on offense and started at defensive end. Senior Ethan Baalmann and junior Easton Hunter have again switched off at quarterback, and both have started at defensive back. The offensive line features three seniors: center Cory Mohr, guard Ethan Shackelford and tackle Cooper Venjohn. Defensively, junior inside linebacker Mac Brand has played well.


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