District Preview: Class 2A

Luke Baker has helped Belle Plaine start 3-0 for the first time since 2007. (by Cheyenne Cooper)
By: Conor Nicholl, Alex Hammeke, & Matt Gilmore for Kpreps.com
Sep 25, 2019

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Class 2A


District 1 
Humboldt (3-0)
Jayhawk-Linn (3-0)
Southeast-Cherokee (3-0)
Erie (1-2)
Northeast-Arma (1-2)
Riverton (1-2)

Humboldt is again the runaway favorite in District 1. The Cubs had an incredible run all the way to the state semifinals last fall before falling to Riley County. While graduation took standout Dagen Goodner and others, Conor Haviland has led the Cubs to a 3-0 start. Although last week, Humboldt had to rally from down 10 in the final minutes to overtake Eureka, 38-32. Jayhawk-Linn opened with easy wins over Yates Center and Uniontown before needed three overtimes to get by county rival Pleasanton last week. The Jayhawks begin district play with road games at Humboldt and at Southeast. Southeast is 3-0 for the first time since 2012. The Lancers blew out Yates Center last week behind a big night from Bryce Petersen. Four backs have more than 150 yards rushing on the season led by Zaden Hendricks’ 357 yards. Southeast as a team has averaged 9.3 yards per carry, but the competition will get tougher. Erie has started the Eddie Kearns era 1-2 with a 34-19 win over Neodesha in Week 2. The Red Devils will begin on the road at Riverton in district play this week. Riverton is much improved this season under veteran coach Johnny Mallatt. The Rams have better numbers and have picked up a quality win over Baxter Springs, 30-21, in Week 2 before being outscored by unbeaten Lighthouse Christian (Mo.) last week, 52-35. Northeast-Arma snapped a 30-game on-field losing streak with a 36-0 shutout of Yates Center earlier this year. Veteran coach David Pitts is trying to build a Viking program that has struggled for a long time. The Vikings will host rival Southeast this week.

Playoff Qualifiers - Projected Order of Finish:
1. Humboldt, 2. Riverton, 3. Southeast-Cherokee, 4. Jayhawk-Linn

District 2  
Silver Lake (3-0)
Osage City (1-2)
Central Heights (0-3)
McLouth (0-3)
Oskaloosa (0-3)
West Franklin (0-3)

Second-ranked Silver Lake is the runaway favorite to win this district. The Eagles picked up legendary coach C.J. Hamilton’s 425 career victory last week in a 25-0 shutout of Riley County. Silver Lake is more experienced on the defensive side of the ball this season, although quarterback Cody Hay has played well. Hay has thrown for 516 yards and four touchdowns, while sophomore Gannon Remer leads the ground game with 247 yards and two scores. Osage City rebounded from consecutive losses to open the season with an 18-13 win over Council Grove last week. Osage City is the only other team besides Silver Lake that enters district play with a victory. The Indians are a young team that includes freshman Landon Boss at quarterback and sophomore Brody Littrell in the backfield. Central Heights has struggled to an 0-3 start in which the Vikings have scored only 12 total points. Central Heights won three games last season, their most since 2013. In fact, the Vikings have won five total games since a 5-5 season in 2013. McLouth has matched Central Heights in that the Bulldogs have also only managed 12 points all season. The Bulldogs have given up 42 points per game in losses to quality programs in Maur Hill, Jefferson Co. North, and Pleasant Ridge. Oskaloosa is the third team in this district that has managed to score only 12 points all season. The Bears enter district play having lost 15 consecutive games. Finally, West Franklin has dropped three straight to Mission Valley, Northern Heights, and Lyndon to open the season. Those opponents are a combined 8-1 on the season.

Playoff Qualifiers - Projected Order of Finish:
1. Silver Lake, 2. Osage City, 3. West Franklin, 4. McLouth

District 3 
Maur Hill-Mount Academy (3-0)
Riverside (2-1)
Atchison County (1-2)
Nemaha Central (1-2)
Pleasant Ridge (1-2)
Horton (0-3)

Maur Hill-Mount Academy enters as the only unbeaten team in District 3. The Ravens won a battle with 1A contender Jackson Heights, 18-14, last week. Maur Hill quarterback Jack Caudle is one of the state’s top signal-callers having passed for 650 yards and nine touchdowns already this season. But Caudle used his legs to rally the Ravens past Jackson Heights last week. The senior ran for 134 yards and a touchdown, while Andrew Schwinn added 105 yards and another score. Riverside has won two of its first three games under new coach Bryce Paden. The Cyclones beat Big 7 foes Hiawatha (14-13) and Royal Valley (42-14). This week Riverside gets the tough assignment of traveling to Atchison to take on Maur Hill. Atchison County will try and make a push in District 3 behind the legs of senior Tucker Smith. Smith has already rushed for 564 yards and four touchdowns in the Tigers’ first three games. He had nearly 250 yards on the ground in last week’s lopsided loss to 1A contender Valley Heights. Nemaha Central is a dangerous one-win team entering district play. The Thunder pushed two-time defending champion Sabetha in the season opener before falling, 13-6. Lat week, Nemaha Central fell 28-14 against Holton. Pleasant Ridge got in the win column last week with a 35-6 decision over McLouth. The Rams have been led by quarterback Conner Gibson who has rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns, and passed for 144 more yards and two scores. Finally, Horton has dropped 14 consecutive games since their last win towards the end of the 2017 season. The Chargers scored 24 points in last week’s loss to Troy – their most since Week 4 of last season.

Playoff Qualifiers - Projected Order of Finish:
1. Nemaha Central, 2. Maur Hill, 3. Riverside, 4. Atchison County

District 4   
Southeast of Saline (3-0)
Mission Valley (2-1)
Rossville (2-1)
Council Grove (1-2)
Riley County (1-2)
St. Marys (0-3)

This was one of the state’s closest districts last season as Riley County, Rossville and Southeast of Saline all finished 4-1 in district play. Riley County won the district with a plus-76, while Rossville stood at plus-65, and SE Saline was at plus-28. Riley County eventually earned state runner-up after losing to Southeast in district play and then beating the Trojans in the playoffs. This district is full of top quarterbacks with Riley County’s Garrett Harmison, Rossville’s Torrey Horak and Southeast of Saline’s Jackson Gebhart. Southeast of Saline stands at 11-2 since the start of 2018 and has outscored its three opponents, 126-22. Rossville and Riley County carry losses to Silver Lake, though Rossville fell, 14-13, in a game that wasn’t decided until the final 90 seconds. Riley County also lost to 1A power Centralia. Gebhart has completed 28 of 51 passes for 305 yards with three scores against two interceptions. Junior Bryant Banks leads with 41 carries for 323 yards and seven scores, and Gebhardt is at 47 carries for 238 yards and five touchdowns. Sophomore Matthew Rodriguez leads with 27 tackles, six for loss. Horak has delivered big numbers with 25 of 38 passing for 400 yards with a 5/2 TD/INT ratio, along with 204 yards and five rushing scores, all team-highs. Five of the top-six tacklers are non-seniors, paced by 30 tackles from sophomore Corey Catron. Mission Valley opened 4-0 last year but then went 1-4 down the stretch. This season, the Vikings have a collective score of 79-68. First-year Council Grove coach Butch Hayes previously served a long stint as an assistant and head coach at Ellis, and an assistant at Rock Creek. The Braves went 2-7 last season. St. Marys has lost every contest by at least 26 points. St. Marys coach Myron Flax, formerly at WaKeeney-Trego, coached against Hayes when he was at Ellis.

Playoff Qualifiers - Projected Order of Finish:
1. Rossville, 2. Southeast of Saline, 3. Riley County, 4. St. Marys


District 5 
Belle Plaine (3-0)
Cherryvale (2-1)
Fredonia (2-1)
Douglass (1-2)
Eureka (1-2)
Neodesha (0-3)

Last year, none of the teams in this district played past Week 9. Douglass won the district at 5-0, and Fredonia and Belle Plaine both went 3-2, though Fredonia won the tiebreaker. Belle Plaine first-year coach Colton Koenigs, a former Andover Central quarterback, has led the Dragons to a surprise 3-0 start – and zero points allowed. Belle Plaine defeated Inman (14-0), Kingman (16-0) and Wichita Independent (66-0). Last year, the Dragons opened 0-2 and finished 4-5. Cherryvale posted a 42-6 loss to Caney Valley and has won back-to-back games by at least 25 points. Fredonia has a pair of victories by at least 24 points sandwiched around a 50-14 Week 2 loss to Humboldt. Douglass finished 7-2 last year, though graduated first team all-state running back Zach Dressler (1,695 rushing yards). Douglass averaged 36.8 points a contest in’18, and 28.7 this year. Eureka had to play all its games on the road last year after a tornado caused destruction to a wide swath of the town, and the football complex. Eureka finished 3-6 in ’18 and will have its first home game on Friday versus Fredonia. Eureka was unable to play at home the last two weeks and its home designated sites were Chanute and Iola. The Tornadoes nearly pulled an upset against Humboldt last week, though lost 38-32, when Humboldt recovered an onside kick and had a big fourth-and-long conversion. Former Bennington head coach David Gillett took over for Neodesha, which has lost all games by at least 15 points and allowed 147 total points.

Playoff Qualifiers - Projected Order of Finish:
1. Eureka, 2. Belle Plaine, 3. Cherryvale, 4. Fredonia

District 6  
Garden Plain (3-0)
Conway Springs (2-1)
Hutchinson Trinity (2-1)
Chaparral (1-2)
Whitewater-Remington (0-3)
Wichita Independent (0-3)

Last year, Conway Springs was 5-0, Trinity Catholic finished 4-1 and Chaparral 3-2 to lead the district. Garden Plain finished 2-3, though has made big improvements this year. Garden Plain has vaulted to fourth in Class 2A after not being ranked in the preseason. Quarterback Matt Pauly has stepped up and had a big year after he was an honorable mention all-state returner in ’18. He has completed 12 of 25 passes for 303 yards with nine scores against one interception. Four players have at least 147 rushing yards, and Pauly leads with 261 and four rushing scores. The top-three tacklers are all juniors with Tranden Daerr leading with 21 stops.  Garden Plain has ranked second in 2A in scoring offense with 135 points (45 per game) after 28.3 scored last year. Conway Springs was ranked third in 2A in the preseason, though took an upset loss to Cheney, 49-19, in Week 2. The Cardinals bounced back with a 31-10 road victory against Kingman last week, though they trailed 10-6 at one point. The Cardinals have just three home games this year. Quarterback Collin Koester delivered 22 carries for 186 yards and two touchdowns, and Heath Hilger delivered 8.5 tackles in last week’s victory. Trinity led 2A in scoring defense last year with nine points allowed, though has permitted 19 points a contest this fall. The Celtics graduated multi-year standout Kaleb Hammeke. Chaparral took big graduation losses and has new coach Jordan Moshier, who has served an assistant in several places and is the son of Wichita North head coach Scott Moshier. Opponents outscored Remington, 89-0, in the first two weeks and then Remington lost to Inman, 15-7, last week. Independent has lost every game by at least 50 points.

Playoff Qualifiers - Projected Order of Finish:
1. Garden Plain, 2. Conway Springs, 3. Hutchinson Trinity, 4. Chaparral

District 7 
Cimarron (3-0)
Lakin (3-0)
Southwestern Heights (2-1)
Ellinwood (1-2)
Sterling (1-2)
Lyons (0-3)

Cimarron and Lakin will likely battle for the 2A District 7 championship. Cimarron returns four starters on both sides from last year, including junior running back Tate Seabolt. Seabolt rushed for 1,531 yards and 17 scores on 211 carries. Lakin has returned nine starters on both sides of the ball from last year, including K-State commit Hadley Panzer on the OL and Kayden Christiansen in the backfield. Southwestern Heights looks to also have a strong year after returning eight starters on the ball. Ellinwood and Sterling have struggled a bit this year, Ellinwood picking up their lone win against winless Sublette and Sterling getting theirs against Marion, a team who is also 1-2. Lyons has struggled against tough Central Kansas League competition this year and comes in winless. The schools of District 7 have experienced coaching turnover quite a bit over the past year. Lyons, Sterling, and Cimarron all have new coaches this year. Alongside that, Cimarron, Lakin, and Southwestern Heights have new quarterbacks from last year.

Playoff Qualifiers - Projected Order of Finish:
1. Lakin, 2. Cimarron, 3. Southwestern Heights, 4. Sterling

District 8   
Ellsworth (3-0)
Hoisington (3-0)
Minneapolis (2-1)
Norton (1-2)
Phillipsburg (1-2)
Thomas More Prep (1-2)

Hoisington is the clear favorite in 2A District 8. The Cardinals, currently ranked 1st in the Kpreps.com 2A poll, fell to district foe Phillipsburg twice and 3A runner-up Pratt last year. Returning eight starters on both sides from last year’s 9-3 team, this could be the year that Hoisington makes it to the state championship game. Ellsworth finds themselves much improved from last year’s 2-7 mark and could share the NCAA title with Southeast of Saline if the Bearcats defeat league opponent Minneapolis this week. Minneapolis started 2-1 this fall, the same as last year, however they have improved a bit this year from last year. Defending 2A champion Phillipsburg has fallen to 1A powers Plainville and Smith Center.  Don’t let that fool you into thinking that the Panthers won’t be a threat in District 8. Senior Quarterback Kade Melvin will look to help his Norton Bluejays bounce back from a rare 4-5 season. Norton, like Phillipsburg, also has losses to Smith Center and Plainville.  TMP features new head coach Jay Harris, and also has losses to Smith Center and Plainville also.

Playoff Qualifiers - Projected Order of Finish:
1. Hoisington, 2. Phillipsburg, 3. Norton, 4. Minneapolis


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