Playoff Preview: Class 3A & 2A

Can Columbus upset Frontenac after losing 20-0 to the Raiders in Week 1. (by Carolyn Eddington)
By: Conor Nicholl & Matt Gilmore for
Oct 28, 2021

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Kpreps 2021 playoff coverage is presented by BTI – “Proud Supporter of Kansas High School Athletics”

Class 3A

VIEW: 3A Bracket


Highlighted Games:

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

These two CNC League rivals met to open the regular season with Frontenac winning 20-0 in a game delayed until Saturday morning by weather. The first meeting was a defensive slugfest with both teams featuring good line play. After the win over Columbus, Frontenac then dropped its next game at 5A-ranked Coweta (Okla.) before stringing together five consecutive wins. The Raiders streak ended last week in the district title game at Girard where Frontenac score on the opening play of the game, but not again in a 13-6 loss. Columbus was beaten up after that initial meeting and has started to get healthier as of late. The Titans beat Caney Valley last week, 30-8. Gabe Martin has followed up a 1200-yard rushing season in 2020 with 830 yards and nine scores this year. Twice in the past five seasons, Columbus has defeated an opponent during the regular season and lost the first-round playoff rematch in which they were heavily favored. In both those seasons (2020 & 2016) Columbus was upset by Girard in the playoffs. The Titans will try and flip that script this week against Frontenac.

D3-#3 Bishop Ward (4-4) at D4-#2 Rock Creek (5-3) – Rock Creek

Greg Duggins has done an incredible job since returning to the sidelines at Bishop Ward. Duggins coached the Cyclones for seven seasons ending in 2009 and led the program to a 37-31 record with five playoff appearances. From 2010-2019, Ward posted an overall record of 2-80, suffered losing streaks of 33 and 57 games, and went through four head coaches. Since 2010, Bishop Ward is was 4-94 entering this year. But the Cyclones have posted a 4-4 mark this season and qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2013. The Cyclones had a pair of close district losses to Perry-Lecompton (42-35) and Topeka Hayden (31-28). Quarterback Christian Stein has passed for more than 1,000 yards and James Jarrett, III has developed into one of the classifications top backs. They’ll face a tough challenge in the air attack of Rock Creek. The Mustangs graduated talented seniors from their 2020 roster including quarterback Charlie Killingsworth and receiver Brooks Whaley. The Mustangs have had Dalton Whitworth emerge in passing for more than 2,100 yards, while Ethan Burgess and Yanci Spiller have picked up the receiving slack. Burgess leads the team with 767 yards, while Spiller has added 445 yards.

Other first-round games:

D2-#4 Burlington (4-4) at D1-#1 Galena (7-1) – Galena        

D4-#4 Hiawatha (4-4) at D3-#1 Topeka Hayden (7-1) – Hayden

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

D2-#3 Prairie View (6-2) at D1-#2 Parsons (6-2) – Prairie View

D3-#4 Santa Fe Trail (2-6) at D4-#1 Holton (8-0) – Holton

D4-#3 Sabetha (4-4) at D3-#2 Perry-Lecompton (5-3) – Perry-Lecompton



Highlighted Games:

D6-#3 Smoky Valley (5-3) at D5-#2 Chapman (6-2) – Chapman

Smoky Valley and Chapman are similar teams with run-heavy offenses. Smoky Valley, with veteran coach Tim Lambert, has long used the Smith Center Barta Bone offense. Chapman has the flexbone. Smoky Valley is 5-3 and has averaged 19.6 points a contest after a 3-6 mark last fall. Chapman is 6-2 and has a two-win improvement from last year. The Irish have averaged 34.4 points a game. The squads have played 14 times, including splitting a pair of meetings in ’18 and ’19. Smoky Valley also won in ’16-17 after a Chapman victory in ’15. Viking junior Justice Autry has 132 carries for 767 yards and seven TDs. Junior Trystan Stambaugh has 138 carries for 637 yards and eight scores. Senior Haven Lysell has 78 tackles, six for loss. Chapman running back Eli Riegel has enjoyed a breakout year after an injury-plagued 2020. He has become Chapman’s second-best single season rushing record holder with 195 carries for 1,503 yards and 21 scores. Riegel trails Tyler Paul, who rushed for 2,171 yards in 1999. Chapman’s experienced line included 6-foot-1, 275-pound Colt Sell, who just committed to Bethel College. Chapman has competitive losses to undefeated Holton and Riley County.

D8-#3 Pratt (6-2) at D7-#2 Wichita Collegiate (7-1) – Collegiate

Pratt has its well-publicized turnaround from 3-6 to 6-2 in its change to the single wing this year. A key moment in the shift came in the 50-0 road Week 9 loss to Wichita Collegiate last year. Pratt pulled a guard, ran a jet sweep and believed it would have big yards, but the Spartans’ outside linebacker retraced his steps and made the tackle after a short gain. This offseason, Pratt looked at its personnel and determined smashmouth single wing behind its big, physical offensive line would be a strong fit. Pratt has averaged 44.6 points a contest after 20.7 last season. Senior Enoch Walton, with multiple KCAC offers and a state powerlifting title, has 101 carries for 682 yards and 12 scores. Sophomore Max Younie has delivered 68 rushes for 727 yards and 11 TDs. Pratt does have 14 turnovers and is plus-four in turnover margin. The Greenbacks have averaged 8.1 yards per play. Collegiate has been ranked No. 2 in Class 3A throughout the year and took a competitive loss to Andale last week. Collegiate has won 17 straight versus non-Andale opponents. Collegiate junior quarterback Wesley Fair, who has FBS interest, is one of Kansas’ best quarterbacks. The dual threat signal caller has completed 56 of 88 passes for 814 yards with eight scores. He has 124 carries for 789 yards and 17 scores. Conner Gagnon and Drew Charbonneau have been key defensive players.


Other first-round games:

D6-#4 Russell (4-4) at D5-#1 Riley County (8-0) – Riley County

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

D8-#4 Hugoton (4-4) at D7-#1 Andale (8-0) – Andale

D7-#3 Hesston (4-4) at D8-#2 Holcomb (6-2) – Holcomb

D5-#4 Marysville (2-5) at D6-#1 Southeast of Saline (8-0) – SE Saline

D7-#4 Clearwater (3-5) at D8-#1 Cheney (8-0) – Cheney

Class 2A

VIEW: 2A Bracket


Highlighted Games:

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

Humboldt will visit Colgan on Thursday night in what may be the most even first-round matchup on paper. Humboldt enters this game having dropped consecutive games to district heavyweights Wellsville (40-0) and Osage City (42-30). The Cubs had won five straight games prior to that after suffering a season-opening loss to Ava (Mo.), 45-0. Senior quarterback Gavin Page leads the Cub offense with 828 passing yards and seven touchdowns. Page also has rushed for 925 yards and 11 scores. Junior Trey Sommer has added another 791 yards on the ground with 11 touchdowns. Dakota Slocum, Sam Hull, and Sommer have been Page’s primary receiving targets. Colgan will count with a relatively young roster that features only five seniors. Quarterback Aiden Fleming has passed for 712 yards and seven scores and added 375 yards on the ground with seven more touchdowns. Jalen VanBecelaere and sophomore Cooper Simmons lead the Panther ground game with each having rushed for more than 500 yards. Colgan’s four losses have come to opponents that are a combined 27-5 this season.

D4-#3 Atchison County (6-2) at D3-#2 Silver Lake (6-2) – Silver Lake

Silver Lake will host Atchison County in a matchup of 6-2 teams. Atchison County’s six wins may have been a big unexpected given the Tigers had won eight total games over the previous five seasons. First-year coach Alex Thornburgh led the Tigers to the Northeast Kansas League title. Atchison County dropped district games to Nemaha Central (20-0) and St. Marys (46-12). Junior quarterback Bricen Lee has produced more than 1,000 yards of total offense and 13 combined touchdowns. Kieran Courter has been the Tigers primary threat both on the ground and catching the ball. Silver Lake is led by quarterback Daigan Kruger who has thrown for 1,592 yards and 21 touchdowns. Kruger is also the Eagles’ leading rusher with 366 yards. Gannon Remer, Troy Heiman, and Kamryn Kaniper are Silver Lake’s leading receivers. Remer has 425 yards and seven touchdowns, while Kaniper also has seven touchdown receptions.

Other first-round games:

D2-#4 Eureka (5-3) at D1-#1 Riverton (6-2) – Riverton

D1-#3 Southeast-Cherokee (5-3) at D2-#2 Osage City (7-1) – Osage City

D4-#4 Republic County (3-4) at D3-#1 Rossville (8-0) – Rossville

D3-#3 Pleasant Ridge (5-3) at D4-#2 Nemaha Central (6-2) – Nemaha Central

D1-#4 Erie (3-5) at D2-#1 Wellsville (8-0) – Wellsville

D3-#4 Mission Valley (2-6) at D4-#1 St. Marys (4-3) – St. Marys


Highlighted Games:

D8-#4 Norton (4-4) at D7-#1 Cimarron (6-2) – Norton

Norton has allowed 21.3 points per game and is 2-1 in one-score games. Cimarron has historically struggled against Mid-Continent League teams. Cimarron is 0-2 against Norton, including a 34-6 loss in 2019. Cimarron is 1-1 in the last two years versus Ellis, including a 15-14 road loss to the Railroaders last week. Ellis converted a long fourth-down play and kicked a field goal inside the final minute. Cimarron had a turnover on its final possession. Cimarron is 1-1 versus Thomas More Prep-Marian in the last two years. Cimarron has senior Braxton Harrison, who has delivered a huge season in all three phases. Harrison has 924 passing yards with 10 scores against six interceptions. He has 89 carries for 724 yards and 13 TDs. Harrison has 75 tackles and also serves as the main specialist. Like Harrison, Norton junior quarterback Sean Anderson has performed well in multiple phases. He has 679 passing yards with seven touchdowns against four interceptions in the first six games. Anderson has cleared 100 tackles in the last two years. Norton has played a slightly more challenging strength of schedule. Cimarron has not played past Week 10 since 1998.

D8-#3 Minneapolis (4-4) at D7-#2 Thomas More Prep (6-2) – TMP

This would be a big win for both programs. Minneapolis has posted six straight losing seasons before this fall and has not advanced to Week 10 since 2014. Thomas More Prep-Marian posted a 7-2 record last season, though took a 55-14 home loss in Week 9 to Beloit, a game that has motivated the Monarchs all season. The score was put up in the Monarch weight room as a reminder. TMP has not played past Week 9 since 2002. These two teams split a pair of matchups in ’18 and ’19. TMP has enjoyed several superlatives this year, including most points in a single game, biggest margin of victory and consecutive shutouts (four), all the best for the program in at least 50 years. Junior quarterback Kade Harris has been banged up, but TMP is veteran-laden with a talented defensive line. Minneapolis has been outscored by 128 points this year, but has won a remarkable four games by one score. Senior Gannon Cleveland has 134 carries for 520 yards and five TDs.

Other first-round games:

D6-#4 Douglass (2-6) at D5-#1 Hillsboro (7-1) – Hillsboro

D5-#3 Marion (5-3) at D6-#2 Chaparral (7-1) – Chaparral

D7-#3 Lakin (5-3) at D8-#2 Beloit (5-3) – Beloit

D5-#4 Hutchinson Trinity (4-4) at D6-#1 Kingman (7-1) – Kingman

D6-#3 Garden Plain (5-3) at D5-#2 Haven (3-5) – Garden Plain

D7-#4 Ellis (3-4) at D8-#1 Hoisington (7-1) – Hoisington


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