Playoff Preview: Class 3A & 2A

Braxton Harrison looks to lead Cimarron past Minneapolis. (Everett Royer,
By: Conor Nicholl, Alex Hammeke, and Matt Gilmore for
Oct 30, 2020

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Class 3A

VIEW: 3A Bracket


D2-#4 Girard (3-5) at D1-#1 Columbus (8-0) – Columbus                               

These two CNC League rivals met back in Week 3 of the regular season with Columbus claiming a 26-7 victory. The Titans remain unbeaten on the season thanks to a stout defense and a ball-hawking secondary that is among the nation’s leaders in interception return yardage. The offense is led by junior back Gabe Martin who has rushed for 1,176 yards and 15 touchdowns. In the first meeting, Martin rushed for 171 yards and a score, while Jaxon Haraughty added 113 yards and three touchdowns. The Titans scored twice in the fourth quarter to break open what was a 14-7 game.  Girard is a much improved program under Neal Philpot. The Trojans have played a difficult schedule this season, dropping a pair of games by less than one score.

D1-#3 Caney Valley (6-2) at D2-#2 Prairie View (6-1) – Prairie View

Caney Valley travels to La Cygne to take on the Prairie View Buffaloes. Prairie View completed a 6-1 regular season that included a come-from-behind win over Frontenac a couple of weeks ago. Coach Kyle Littrell has instilled a physical brand of football that has benefitted the Prairie View program. Damien Kline is a shifty, capable quarterback and has options in the backfield with Otis Jacobs and Bodi Isenhower. Caney Valley has produced another six-win season, although their overall schedule may not be at the same level as Prairie View plays. These two schools met in the first round last season with Prairie View winning, 34-7.

D4-#4 Sabetha (6-2) at D3-#1 Topeka Hayden (7-1) – Hayden

Sabetha will travel to Topeka Hayden to open the playoffs for a second consecutive season. Last year the Wildcats won 35-0 ending the Blue Jays hopes of a third consecutive Class 3A state title. This year it’s Sabetha trying to play spoiler to a Hayden team that appears poised for a deep playoff run. Hayden is coming off of week off as Bishop Ward cancelled their Week 8 scheduled meeting. The Wildcats are led by Desmond Purnell – a talented back that they can use in a multitude of ways. Will DeVader provides a strong option at fullback. Sabetha is led by senior Drew Schmelzle who has rushed for 731 yards and three touchdowns. Three other backs, Josh Herrmann, Kaden Edelman, and Ross Duncan, have all eclipsed 300 rushing yards on the season.

D3-#3 Perry-Lecompton (7-1) at D4-#2 Rock Creek (5-2) – Perry-Lecompton

This is one of the more intriguing first-round match-ups. Perry-Lecompton finished third in District 3 by virtue of Baldwin not facing the Kaws or eventual district champion Topeka Hayden. A as result, Perry-Lecompton and Hayden could meet again next round. But first, the Kaws have to get past the passing exploits of Rock Creek’s Charlie Killingsworth who has thrown for 1,863 yards in seven games. Brooks Whaley is a returning all-stater for the Mustangs and is among the state leaders in receiving yards with 938. Perry-Lecompton is an experienced team that has played well despite the loss of quarterback Billy Welch to a season-ending injury.

D1-#4 Parsons (3-5) at D2#1 Burlington (7-1) – Burlington

Burlington, led by the 1,000-yard rusher Braden Sloyer, captured the District 2 championship. The Wildcats will now take on Parsons, which finished 3-5 in an independent schedule and finished fourth in District 1. Sloyer has 1,050 yards and eighteen touchdowns to his credit, with fellow senior Gage Price right behind him with 728 yards and ten touchdowns. Sloyer has also split time with Brady Rand at QB, and the duo have combined for 39/69 passing for 620 yards and four scores. Burlington comes in with their best record since 2006 when the Wildcats came in with a 7-2 record into the playoffs. The Wildcat defense has held opponents to sixteen points a game, including two shutouts. Parsons has the ability to stay in the game with its passing attack. Quarterback Ethan Houk has thrown for 2,005 yards and 23 touchdowns this season. Senior Tanner Barcus has 59 catches for 903 yards and 12 scores, while Dion Sylvester has added 45 receptions for 614 yards and 7 touchdowns.

D2-#3 Frontenac (4-4) at D1-#2 Galena (6-1) – Galena

While Frontenac enters the playoffs at 4-4 on the year, the Raiders have played tough schedule that includes some larger out-of-state competition. Coweta (Okla.) currently sits at 7-1 on the season, and it one of the top teams in Oklahoma’s 5A division. The Raiders also played McDonald County in week four, with Mac County sitting at 4-4 in Missouri’s Class 4. Frontenac is the only team to defeat 7-1 Burlington, who eventually captured the District 2 championship. Galena has built a stout defensive unit this season, allowing 10 points a game this season, with three shutouts. The Bulldogs also average 35 points a game, and have scored 93 points in the past two games after falling to undefeated Columbus in week six.

D3-#4 Santa Fe Trail (2-6) at D4-#1 Holton (6-1) – Holton

Holton will host Santa Fe Trial to open the playoffs for the second straight year. After falling to Perry-Lecompton in week three, the Holton Wildcats have been on a roll. The Wildcats have won the past four games by an average of forty points. Had the Wildcats gone up against Jeff West (2-4) in the final game of the regular season, that number might be larger. Canon Karn has led the charge for the Wildcarts this season, with 799 yards and ten touchdowns on eighty-six carries. Konnor Tannahill and Addison Hundley have 437 and 392 yards on the season, respectively. Santa Fe Trail will have the rushing power from McClain Weekley, who has 1,104 yards and twelve touchdowns on the season.

D4-#3 Jefferson West (2-4) at D3-#2 Baldwin (2-4) – Baldwin

After all of 3A plays on Friday night, Jeff West and Baldwin play in a rare Saturday playoff game. Jeff West had to cancel the last two games of the season due to quarantine. Baldwin previously had to quarantine early in the season against 3A powers Topeka Hayden and Perry-Lecompton, while Jeff West quarantined against Sabetha and Holton. Both sets of cancellations likely aided their team’s playoff seed and maybe even qualification. Jeff West has been outscored by 86 points while Baldwin has been outscored by 52.


D6-#4 Smoky Valley (3-5) at D5-#1 Riley County (6-0) – Riley County

Riley County has only a one-point loss to Mid-East League rival Silver Lake. RC’s Nic Allen has returned from a major injury and led an offense that has delivered 155 passing and 233 rushing yards a contest. Senior Conner Halle has 1,073 passing yards with a 13/2 TD/INT ratio. Allen has rushed 143 times for 1,095 yards and 21 scores and returned a kickoff for a TD. SV coach Tim Lambert and Riley County coach Steve Wagner have been head coaches more than 55 combined years. Smoky Valley is known for its run-heavy offense.

D5-#3 Concordia (3-2) at D6-#2 Scott City (5-3) – Scott City

This has the potential to be a very close game, though SC gets a slight edge being at home and with a slightly stronger defense. Scott City has a total margin of 146-114, and Concordia is at 254-186. Concordia has 292 rushing yards and 108 passing yards a game. Senior Wyatt Trost has passed for 847 yards with a 9/4 TD/INT ratio. He has delivered 131 carries for 1,057 yards and 14 scores. Concordia has 292 rushing yards and 7.1 yards per carry. SC quarterback Harrison King has led the offense.

D8-#4 Larned (3-5) at D7-#1 Andale (7-0) – Andale

Andale, the defending state champions, has won 20 straight contests. The Indians lead 3A in scoring offense with 377 points. Andale has great depth, led by quarterback Eli Rowland. Larned has featured quarterback Dillon Smith.

D7-#3 Clearwater (6-2) at D8-#2 Holcomb (7-1) – Holcomb

Arguably the best Week 9 game of any class in Kansas, and one that could easily go either way. Clearwater features dual threat quarterback Tanner Cash, a school record holder in multiple categories. Holcomb has a total margin of 285-156, while Clearwater is at 312-184. Holcomb won two titles in three seasons and then went 4-5 the last two falls before the improvement. Holcomb has a balanced offense with 181 passing and 174 rushing yards a game. Junior Kaden Johnson has completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,449 yards with a 19/3 TD/INT ratio.

D5-#4 Clay Center (4-4) at D6-#1 Southeast of Saline (8-0) – SE Saline

SES has been more dominant down the stretch, including a nice 40-6 win versus Scott City last week en route to its first district title since 2011. SES has the No. 1 scoring defense in 3A. Senior Jaxson Gebhardt has passed for 940, rushed for 600 and accounted for 20 touchdowns. Junior Matthew Rodriguez has 63 tackles, 14 for loss. Sterling Harp has 37 stops, 15 for loss.

D6-#3 Colby (6-2) at D5-#2 Marysville (3-4) – Colby

Marysville graduated a large class last season. Senior Ayden Price has thrown for 673 yards with seven scores against two interceptions. Senior Caden Brinegar, the only key returning skill player, has 15 catches for 236 yards and two TDs. Colby is known for defense and its running game with quarterback Ryan Myers and fullback Hagan Booi. Last week, Colby beat rival Goodland, 48-8. Booi and Myers each rushed for 183 yards.

D7-#4 Halstead (4-4) at D8-#1 Cheney (8-0) – Cheney

This could be much closer than a usual district champion against fourth-place district squad. Halstead running back Lakin Farmer is the No. 2 rusher in Kansas with 1,816 yards. He had the second-most yards in a single game in state history earlier this year. Harrison Voth has passed for more than 1,650 yards for Cheney and Logan Bartlett has more than 900 receiving yards and contributed in all three phases. Cheney is 18-0 against non-Andale teams since the start of last year.

D8-#3 Pratt (2-3) at D7-#2 Wichita Collegiate (7-1) – Collegiate

Collegiate will be favored behind brothers Michael and Wesley Fair. Collegiate has also played well up front. Twins Nick and Jack Herrman have paved the way, while Drew Charbonneau has also played well.


Class 2A

VIEW: 2A Bracket


D2-#4 Eureka (5-3) at D1-#1 St. Mary’s Colgan (5-2) – Colgan

After battling through several injuries this season, Colgan finally returned to near full strength last week and it showed in a dominant first half in the winner-take-all district championship against Riverton. The Panthers led 38-0 at halftime and forced five turnovers – six for the game. Colgan is led by the backfield duo of seniors Dom Bevilacqua and Blaise Dawson. Bevilacqua has rushed for 888 yards and 12 scores with Dawson adding 544 yards and ten touchdowns. Quarterback Jake Wright has passed for 867 yards and nine touchdowns. Eureka was a team that many favored as the District 2 favorite early in the season. The Tornadoes struggled through a three-game losing streak to the likes of Wellsville, West Franklin, and Osage City. Braden Rucker (6-3, 245) is force on both sides of the Eureka line.

D1-#3 Riverton (4-3) at D2-#3 Wellsville (3-4) – Wellsville

This could be one of the better first-round matchups in 2A. Riverton continues to gain consistency as a program under veteran coach Johnny Mallatt. The Rams will have to rebound from getting shell shocked in the first half at Colgan last week. Riverton will need to play their ball-control offense and keep Wellsville off the field. The Eagles are led by sophomore quarterback Dylan McCarty who has passed for 1,012 yards and seven touchdowns. Fellow sophomore Nash Money leads the Wellsville ground attack with 506 yards and eight scores, while sophomore David Signs and senior Ayden Kearney are McCarty’s primary receiving targets.

D4-#4 Riverside (4-4) at D3-#1 Rossville (8-0) – Rossville

Rossville has gone wire-to-wire as the classification’s top-ranked team. The Bulldawgs have several weapons on offense, but it starts with junior quarterback Torrey Horak. Horak has rushed for 1,027 yards and 23 touchdowns and passed for 773 yards and 14 more scores. Woodrow Rezac and Corey Catron have added 503 and 487 rushing yards, respectively. Bo Reeves is one of the top small-school receivers in the state and has 351 yards and 8 touchdowns catches. Riverside relies on the arm of junior quarterback Kobe Davis. The Cyclones have dropped consecutive games to district contenders Nemaha Central and Maur Hill.


D3-#3 Mission Valley (5-3) at D4-#2 Maur Hill-Mount Academy (7-0) – Maur Hill

Maur Hill may have as much to prove as any Class 2A team. The Ravens remain ranked 5th in the state, but missed their district showdown with defending champion Nemaha Central due to quarantine. Maur Hill returned a week later and defeated St. Marys before doubling-up Riverside last week. Andrew Schwinn leads the Raven attack with 1,482 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Drew Caudle has passed for 918 yards and 12 scores. Mission Valley has had a solid year with losses coming only to powers Rossville, Silver Lake, and Osage City – teams that are combined 21-2. The Vikings have four players with more than 335 yards rushing led by Justice Dunbar’s 575 yards and 7 touchdowns. Following Dunbar is Ashton McGinley (343), Joel Deters (339) and Carter Phillips (337). Phillips has also passed for 684 yards and eight scores.

D2-#1 Osage City 47, D1#4 Neodesha 7 – Osage City advanced with a 47-7 home win over Neodesha on Thursday night. The Indians scored three touchdowns in the first quarter and extended that lead to 41-0 at halftime.

D1-#2 Fredonia 47, D2-#3 West Franklin 20 – Fredonia advanced to the second round with a 47-20 win over West Franklin on Thursday night. The Yellow Jackets led 26-0 at halftime and 40-0 in the third quarter before West Franklin returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

D3-#4 Pleasant Ridge (2-4) at D4-#1 Nemaha Central (5-2) – Nemaha Central

After falling to 1-2 on the young season, Nemaha Central rallied to win four straight and could have made it five if it weren’t for Republic County being thrown into quarantine. The Thunder have built an impressive stretch, outscoring opponents 241-66 in seven games. In their last regular season game over Riverside, the defending champions put up 408 yards on the Cyclones. Pleasant Ridge went through an early-season quarantine, and gave up over 30 points a game.

D4-#3 Republic County (4-2) at D3-#2 Silver Lake (5-1) – Silver Lake

Silver Lake started out the season with a quarantine, while Republic County ended the regular season with a quarantine. The Eagles have been able to score 52 points a game, while Republic County has held their own, only allowing 15 points a game. Daigen Kruger leads Silver Lake in yardage with 262 yards a game, while Jared Baxa has helped the Republic County Buffaloes with their best regular season in school history.


D6-#4 Chaparral (2-5) at D5-#1 Hutchinson Trinity (7-1) – Hutch Trinity

This is a rematch of a Week 2 game where Hutch Trinity cruised to a 42-18 win over Chaparral. The Celtics won their first six games this season before a 20-18 district loss to Haven. Trinity features strong quarterback play with senior Lucas Hammeke. The Celtic defense has been solid in allowing less than 10 points per game. Chaparral’s two wins came in consecutive week against Sterling and Bluestem. The Roadrunners have managed only two total points in the last three games.

D5-#3 Haven (6-2) at D6-#2 Kingman (6-2) – Kingman

Haven has already had its first winning season since ’01, and Kingman has its first winning record since ’14. Both coaching staffs have led nice turnarounds. Drew Thaalman and Thomas Cooprider share the coaching duties for Haven. Tanner Hageman, a former Fort Hays wide receiver, is in his second season. He, along with defensive coordinator/strength coach Dustin Beam, have turned around Kingman. Haven features dual threat quarterback Darby Roper, and four-year starting lineman Hunter Barlow. Seth Krehbiel has rushed 96 times for 587 yards and seven touchdowns for Kingman. Defensively, he, Ty Birkenbaugh, Kael McBeth, Nick Molitory and Aaron Seimans have been among the key players.

D8-#4 Beloit (2-6) at D7-#1 Thomas More Prep (7-1) – Thomas More Prep

Beloit graduated a large senior class, and junior Owen Eilert (563 passing), along with sophomore Benson Berndt and senior Anthony Henke have stepped up. The Trojans played undefeated Hoisington to 26-20 last week. Beloit has lost four in a row. TMP has its best season since ’02 behind coach Jay Harris. Kade Harris has completed 55 percent of his passes for 1,133 yards with 14 scores against four interceptions. He leads with 126 carries for 716 yards and nine scores. Jace Wentling has enjoyed a big season at receiver with 17 catches for 401 yards and six TDs. Bryce Seib leads with 57 tackles and has a pick-six. Harris has 41 stops. The offensive line has played well, and freshman Kolton Hagans has emerged up front.

D7-#3 Lakin (4-4) at D8-#2 Phillipsburg (4-4) – Phillipsburg

Lakin took heavy graduation losses, notably with Shrine Bowler Hadley Panzer. However, Servando Gonzalez has paced the offense. Phillipsburg, with senior Ty Sides, is 3-1 after a 1-3 start. In ’18, Phillipsburg beat Lakin, 41-0, in the playoffs en route to the state title. Phillipsburg dropped to 3-6 last season before the improvement.

D6-#1 Garden Plain 52, D7-#4 Marion 6 – Garden Plain rolled to a 52-6 win over Marion on Thursday night. The Owls scored 16 points in the first and second quarters to take control. Reed Adelhardt rushed for 193 yards and three touchdowns for Garden Plain, while Tranden Daerr added a rushing touchdown and threw a touchdown pass to Colby Haukap. Garden Plain forced four Warrior turnovers, but turned the ball over three times themselves.

D6-#3 Belle Plaine (4-4) at D5-#2 Hillsboro (5-3) – Hillsboro

Belle Plaine enters the playoffs having won three of its past four games. Those three district wins propelled the Dragons to the 3-seed out of District 6. The Dragons four losses have come to opponents that are a combined 29-4 this season (Cheney, Hutch Trinity, Garden Plain, Kingman). Hillsboro is led by talented junior quarterback Matthew Potucek. Potucek has passed for 951 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 484 more yards and a score. Jamari Harris leads the Trojan ground game with eight rushing scores.

D7-#4 Ellis (3-5) at D8-#1 Hoisington (8-0) – Hoisington

Ellis has been banged up with coronavirus and injury issues throughout the year. Running back Mason Gottschalk has posted a strong season. Hoisington, 19-1 since the start of last season, is the likely 2A West favorite. The Cardinals have their backfield depth with quarterback Mason Haxton and running backs Holt Hanzlick, Hunter Morris, Cole Steinert, Cade Mason and Josh Ball. All six players have between 31 and 87 carries and 234 to 656 rushing yards.

D8-#3 Minneapolis (4-4) at D7-#2 Cimarron (5-3) – Cimarron

Both teams have shown dual threat quarterbacks with Minneapolis’ Trent Moeckel and Cimarron’s Braxton Harrison. As well, each squad has an outstanding lineman with Keyon Baccus for Minneapolis, and Cimarron’s Hunter Renick. Cimarron running back Tate Seabolt is out for the season with injury.



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