The Pick List - Week 6

Bishop Miege QB Timothy Dorsey will try and lead the Stags past Blue Valley. (by A.J. Hildreth)
By: Conor Nicholl, Alex Hammeke, & Matt Gilmore for
Oct 9, 2019

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Each Thursday throughout the regular season, The Pick List will feature six of the best match-ups across the state, and make our predictions on a handful of other games.

Feature Games of the Week:

Junction City (5-0) at Manhattan (4-1)

This week the Centennial League championship can be decided when Junction City makes the short drive north to take on the Manhattan Indians for the Silver Trophy. Junction City could win the Centennial title outright with a victory, while Manhattan could force a three-way tie between Manhattan, Junction, and Topeka if they win.

Last year Junction City stunned Manhattan 9-7 to win the Silver Trophy, which would be one of the two losses for Manhattan. Incredibly, nine of the last ten meetings between the Indians and the Blue Jays have been decided by single digits.

Junction City has featured a well-balanced offensive attack this season. The Blue Jays have passed for 1,199 yards, while rushing for 1,303 yards. The consistency in Junction City’s running game is even more impressive considering that the Blue Jays have a completely new offensive line this year, after losing every starter to graduation from a year ago.

In last week’s 76-8 victory over Topeka Highland Park, Puma Page had 127 yards and three touchdowns on five carries. The sophomore has only appeared in three games this season for the Blue Jays.

Junior quarterback Andrew Khoury has been one of the state’s most consistent passers this season. Against Highland Park, the Blue Jays kept the ball in the hands of Puma Page, and only passed the ball ten times. Of those ten passes, Khoury completed six with four going for touchdowns.

Khoury threw for 157 yards and three scores in the dramatic Week 4 victory over Topeka High when he connected with Ethan Alcorn on a touchdown pass with less than a second remaining.

The Junction City defense has allowed 19.2 points per game, but also has averaged three takeaways per game.

Quarterback Dayne Aschenbrenner has been the main threat this fall for Manhattan. Aschenbrenner has been elusive with the football, carrying 80 times for 597 yards and 12 scores. When he gives to running back BJ Young, the results are even more explosive. Young has had 720 yards and 10 TD’s on 77 carries this season, leading to an average of 144 yards per game.

Jacob Hirschey has come up big in the defensive backfield as the senior has picked off three passes this season. Joey Meyer, Tyce Hoover, and Ty’zhaun Jackson have been the leading trio of tacklers for the Indians; averaging 7.2, 6.6 and 6.4 tackles per contest, respectively.

Manhattan is looking for revenge as the Blue Jays blemished what was shaping up to be a special regular season a year ago. The setback cost Manhattan the outright Centennial title as the Indians instead had to settle for a share. While the Indians are a run-heavy offense, the Blue Jays keep opposing offenses to around 200 yards per game. Junction City’s balance could be the difference in putting the Blue Jays in control of the Centennial League race and keep in the Silver Trophy for another year.

Our Pick: Junction City 28, Manhattan 20 (Hammeke)

6A No. 5 Blue Valley (4-1) at 4A No. 1 Bishop Miege (4-1)

Another key Eastern Kansas League team that features two ranked squads. Blue Valley has a total margin of 149-100, while Bishop Miege is at 178-111.

Blue Valley finished 4-5 with a rare down season, notably with an offense that moved the ball well, though was offensively inefficient. Blue Valley averaged 15.3 yards per point in ’18 after 10.8 yards per point in ’16. Blue Valley is at 11.8 yards per point this year. As well, the Tigers have averaged 6.3 yards per play.

Junior Jake Wolff has completed 61 of 115 passes for 1,023 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. Junior Chase Jans has 58 carries for 405 yards and three scores. Jans has also returned a pair of kicks for touchdowns. Four players have between 11 and 15 receptions. Blue Valley has committed six turnovers and is plus-four in turnover margin. Senior Jack Bowersox leads with 52 tackles.

Blue Valley has bounced back with a 4-1 start after a 48-19 loss to Aquinas in Week 1. Since then, the Tigers have won 34-7, 31-13, 21-14 versus Missouri power Rockhurst, and 44-18.

Miege captured a pair of one-score victories in Weeks 1 and 3 against Blue Valley North and Mill Valley, contests the Stags led before the opponent made a comeback. In Week 4, the Stags fell, 28-27, in an upset versus St. James Academy. However, Miege bounced back with a 34-7 win versus Rockhurst after trailing 7-0 early.

Blue Valley holds a 12-6 lead in the previous 18 matchups. Miege is 4-2 in the last six meetings, including 55-10 and 29-15 wins the last two years. Miege has plenty of weapons, including quarterback Tim Dorsey, wide receivers Daniel Jackson and Phillippe Wesley, and running back Brison Cobbins.

Last week, Dorsey threw touchdown passes of 57 and 60 yards to Jackson. Cobbins bounced back from a tough game versus St. James with more than 150 rushing yards.

Both teams have high-octane offenses, though the game will likely come down to Blue Valley’s ability to corral Jackson. Against Mill Valley in Week 3, Jackson returned a kickoff for a score to break a 35-all tie. This should be a very close, likely higher scoring game.

Our Pick: Blue Valley 34, Bishop Miege 28 (Nicholl)

Goddard-Eisenhower (4-1) at Maize South (5-0)

Maize South has completely flipped from its 0-3 start in 2018. Since then, the Mavericks are 11-1, including 5-0 this year and just outside the Class 5A rankings. Both squads rank in the top-10 in 5A in scoring defense. Eisenhower has allowed 81 points, and Maize South is at 82.

The Mavericks, though, have scored 138, and Eisenhower is at 83 against virtually the exact same schedule. Colin Shields has completed 61 of 124 passes for 621 yards with four touchdowns against four interceptions. Maize South has battled through massive injury problems, though has consistently had players step up.

The Mavericks have had 13 defensive injuries, including three starters. Coach Brent Pfeifer, the only coach in Maize South history, said he has never had this many injuries in a season in his 10-year tenure.

Hunter Niemann has 100 carries for 593 yards and seven scores. Mason Edwards has 62 carries for 260 yards. Edwards has been out or limited in the last three weeks.

Pfeifer said junior offensive lineman Logan Bolinger (6-foot-5, 315) was having an all-state caliber year, though is also out for the year.

The defense has continued to play well, notably key turnover creation in a win versus Andover Central last week that clinched the AVCTL Division II title. Maize South has eight interceptions with 213 yards and three pick-sixes.

Senior Trevion Mitchell had a pick-six last year, along with a pick-six and a scoop-and-score fumble recovery for a touchdown in ‘19. Dominic Castelli, a returning starter at safety, broke his leg in Week 2, and senior Ryan Hays broke his hand.

Drew Wolf came through with two INTs last week. Sophomore Ladislao Jaimes III has also stepped in with three passes defended and two forced fumbles. Tysaac Noland is a second-year starter.

Brandon Bowles leads Maize South with 45 tackles. Maize South has come back in multiple games, including Wichita Heights in Week 1, and Andover Central last week. Maize South and Eisenhower have split six all-time meetings, though the Mavericks won 28-7 last year.

Eisenhower has had a rare coaching change that has benefited both parties. Former Eisenhower coach Marc Marinelli is now flourishing as Wichita Northwest’s defensive coordinator. Former Goddard assistant Darrin Fisher has done a nice job with a 4-1 start. Eisenhower lost 33-2 to Andover Central in Week 2, while Maize South defeated Andover Central, 24-17, last week. Eisenhower finished 3-6 last year.

The Tigers have three players who have thrown at least 31 passes. They have combined for 748 passing yards, 52 percent completion and an 8/11 TD/INT ratio. Junior Dakota Cook and senior Parker Wenzel both have at least 162 yards. Three of Eisenhower’s top-four tacklers are non-seniors.

Sophomore Cody Hawks has 41 tackles, while junior Ryan George has 10 TFLs, both team-highs. Eisenhower has been a nice turnaround, notably with a win versus rival Goddard. However, Maize South is more senior-laden, more offensively potent and is the favorite here.

Our Pick: Maize South 28, Eisenhower 14 (Nicholl)

3A No. 4 Sabetha (4-1) at Holton (4-1)

Sabetha will visit Holton in a game that has big implications in the Big 7 Conference race, but more importantly in the Class 3A, District 4 standings.

Both the Blue Jays and Wildcats enter the contest with identical 4-1 records, but Holton is 2-0 in district play while Sabetha is 1-1 after a 40-32 loss to Marysville a couple of weeks ago.

The Blue Jays rebounded from the Marysville loss with a 53-0 shutout of Hiawatha last week. Sabetha rushed for 464 yards and seven rushing touchdowns in the win over the Redhawks. Michael Gugelman led the attack with 155 yards and three scores, while Andrew Frazee added 128 yards on eight carries.

Frazee leads the Sabetha ground game on the year with 440 yards and two scores. Gugelman has added 294 yards and four touchdowns.

Gabe Garber has been his usual steady self with 401 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. He’s also completed 69 percent of his passes for 547 yards and three scores.

In last year’s meeting Garber passed for more than 100 yards as the Blue Jays blanked Holton, 31-0.

Holton has already surpassed last season’s win total from an uncharacteristic 3-6 season. The Wildcats have won four consecutive games since dropping their opener, 7-0, to Jefferson West.

Holton has played three games this season decided by 14 points or less, including victories over Perry-Lecompton (14-7) and Nemaha Central (28-14).

As you would expect, Holton likes to keep things on the ground. The Wildcats run the ball on 97 percent of their snaps and average 288 yards per game on the ground.

Canon Karn and Konnor Tannahill are tied for the team lead with each having rushed for 346 yards through five games. Karn has six touchdowns, while Tannahill has scored four times. Taygen Fletcher and Trey Wright have each contributed more than 240 yards on the ground.

Statistically, the Wildcat defense has been the more difficult unit to score on as they have allowed only 42 total points. Sabetha has allowed 74 points.

Last season, Sabetha rolled to a 31-0 shutout of the Wildcats. It was the Blue Jays second consecutive shutout of Holton after a 21-0 win in 2017.  The two meetings prior were close. Sabetha won 25-22 in 2016, while Holton edged the Blue Jays 14-13 in 2015.

Expect another close game on Friday.

Our Pick: Sabetha 20, Holton 13 (Gilmore)

3A No. 1 Andale (5-0) at Wichita Collegiate (4-1)

Wichita Collegiate looks to make up ground in a crucial 3A District 6 game versus undefeated, top-ranked Andale. With an Andale victory, they take another step towards clinching another AVCTL-IV championship. If Collegiate wins, they can break the league race wide open between Andale, Clearwater, and Collegiate. Collegiate plays at Clearwater for the regular season finale, and Clearwater travels to Andale in Week 7.

In order to find a year when Collegiate last beat Andale, you would have to go back to 2015. Collegiate defeated the Indians 46-45 in overtime. Since then, this series has been all Andale, including last year’s 55-0 shutout victory. The Indians defeated the Spartans 35-7 in ’17; 32-21 in ’16; and 34-28 in ’14.

The Andale defense has been stifling so far. They are giving up an average of 4 points per game. That also includes shut outs against Rose Hill and Wichita Trinity.

Offensively, the Indians have been an unstoppable force averaging 54.2 points per game. Scotti Easter has been a big offensive threat. In their Week 3 matchup versus Rose Hill, Easter ran in three scores for the Indians. Mac Brand had a 42-yd fumble recovery touchdown alongside a rushing score of his own.

Wichita Collegiate is looking to rebound off their first loss of the season. The Spartans lost to Cheney, 46-21 in a game where the Spartans put up 444 yards but gave up Cheney’s 625 yards of offense. Nate Vogeli, Jacob Chugg, and Kobe Turner scored touchdowns in the contest.

Collegiate has only allowed 14.8 points per game this season, including one shutout against Wichita Trinity. In the Week 2 win over Rose Hill, Chugg had two touchdowns and 112 yards on ten carries.

Andale has the edge this year, but it won’t be the type of matchup that happened last year. The Indians should take the AVCTL-IV Championship for the fourth straight year and take the driver’s seat in 3A District 6.

Our Pick: Andale 42, Collegiate 14 (Hammeke)

8M-II No. 2 Axtell (5-0) at 8M-II No. 1 Hanover (5-0)

One of the most anticipated matchups since the summer, Axtell and Hanover meet up in possibly the first of two matchups. Last season, Axtell led Hanover but the Wildcats made a second half comeback for a 50-42 victory.

In the sub-state semifinal game, Hanover and Axtell had a small disparity in total yards, but Hanover’s defense had a “bend don’t break” mentality and stiffened when the Eagles drew close to the goal line. Hanover won 60-14 and captured its third straight undefeated state title.

Hanover carries a 43-game winning streak, the longest current run in eight-man KSHSAA football history. Axtell is 15-2 since the start of 2018, 15-0 when not playing Hanover. Axtell senior quarterback Quinn Buessing is a four-year starter and on pace to break multiple all-time career eight-man marks.

This season, Buessing has 1,204 passing yards with a 25/1 TD/INT ratio, with 226 rushing yards and nine scores. Buessing has thrown for 118 touchdowns in his career. The all-time record is 143 passes. He has thrown for 6,754 yards. The all-time mark is 8,320 yards.

Three receivers have more than 250 yards with Isaac Detweiler, Mitchell Buessing and Derek Buessing.

Hanover returned just one starter in lineman Jonah Weber. However, the Wildcats again have plenty of weapons, including all-purpose threat Colin Jueneman, quarterback Jacob Jueneman and running back Taegan Schwartz. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Weber is Hanover’s lone player above 190 pounds, though Hanover has eight other players at 6-foot, 160-pounds or bigger. Hanover carries 22 players on its roster.

Axtell has just 15 players, and junior Kolby Talbot is the biggest player at 6-foot, 230 pounds. Axtell has just six players at 6-0 or above.

Buessing is one of the all-time greats, and Axtell has a sizable advantage at quarterback. Axtell is possibly a slight favorite – and probably has its best chance to beat the Wildcats in many years. Hanover is 14-1 in the last 15 meetings with Axtell’s only victory a 22-16 win on Sept. 23, 2005.

However, Hanover has more roster depth. As well, Hanover, when tested, as always risen to the challenge.

Our Pick: Hanover 46, Axtell 44 (Nicholl)

The Pick List:

Garden City (2-3) at 5A No. 2 Wichita Northwest (5-0) – Wichita Northwest

Hays (2-3) at Dodge City (5-0) – Dodge City

5A No. 4 De Soto (5-0) at Basehor-Linwood (3-2) – De Soto

Great Bend (2-3) at 4A No. 5 Andover Central (4-1) – Andover Central

Kapaun Mt. Carmel (1-4) at 5A No. 5 Bishop Carroll (3-2) – Bishop Carroll

Pittsburg (4-1) at Mill Valley (2-3) – Mill Valley

St. James Academy (3-2) at 5A No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas (5-0) – Aquinas

KC Piper (3-2) at 4A No. 3 Paola (5-0) – Paola

Spring Hill (2-3) at 4A No. 4 Tonganoxie (5-0) – Tonganoxie

Beloit (3-2) at 3A No. 5 Scott City (5-0) – Scott City

Frontenac (5-0) at Caney Valley (3-2) – Frontenac

Perry-Lecompton (3-2) at Jefferson West (4-1) – Jeff West

Ellsworth (4-1) at Phillipsburg (2-3) – Phillipsburg

Lakin (5-0) at Cimarron (5-0) – Cimarron

Nemaha Central (3-2) at Riverside (4-1) – Nemaha Central

Riverton (3-2) at 2A No. 4 Humboldt (5-0) – Humboldt

Jeff Co. North (4-1) at Lyndon (5-0) – Lyndon

La Crosse (5-0) at 1A No. 3 Plainville (4-1) – Plainville

Northern Heights (4-1) at 1A No. 4 Centralia (4-1) – Centralia

Maranatha Academy (4-1) at Burlingame (4-1) – Maranatha Academy

8M-I No. 3 South Central (5-0) at Caldwell (4-1) – South Central

Spearville (4-1) at Ness City (5-0) – Ness City

Victoria (4-1) at Washington County (4-1) – Victoria

Cedar Vale-Dexter (4-1) at West Elk (3-2) – Cedar Vale-Dexter

Frankfort (5-0) at Beloit St. John’s-Tipton (4-1) – Frankfort

Otis-Bison (3-2) at South Barber (4-1) – South Barber



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