The Pick List - Week 4

Hayden Jay (2) looks to lead Mill Valley past Gardner-Edgerton. (by Lori Wood Habiger)
By: Conor Nicholl & Matt Gilmore for
Sep 21, 2022

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

Feature Games of the Week:

Washburn Rural (3-0) at 6A No. 1 Manhattan (3-0)

Through the first three weeks of the season, only five teams remain unbeaten in Class 6A. Three of those reside on the western half of the 6A bracket, and two of those will square off this week in a key Centennial League showdown.

Unbeaten Washburn Rural will make the trip down I-70 to take on 6A No. 1 Manhattan.

Washburn Rural returned several key players from last season’s 8-2 team that reached the second round of the 6A playoffs.

The Junior Blues opened with close victories at Wichita East (49-42) and at De Soto (28-21).  Washburn Rural outscored Wichita East behind more than 300 passing yards and four touchdowns from quarterback Branton DeWeese. Rural needed touchdowns on its final three possessions to top De Soto, 28-21.

Last week, Washburn Rural rolled to a 37-10 win over KC Piper.

Along with DeWeese, the Junior Blues feature Ma’Kentis Adams in the backfield, receiver Amr Sabbarini, and tight end Lukas Hanks.

The Rural defense includes one of the state’s top linebackers in senior Ty Weber. Weber has registered 46 total tackles in the first three weeks. Weber along with brothers JC and Jaren Heim and Wyatt Conklin make for a formidable group on the defensive side of the ball.

Top-ranked Manhattan has built an impressive resume to start the season. After winning at Derby in overtime to start the season, the Indians rolled past Topeka High, 59-7.

Last week, Manhattan won 31-21 at Hays, the No. 5 ranked team in Class 5A. Hays led 14-10 at halftime before Manhattan took control in the third quarter. Jason Sanchez rushed for a score and Keenan Schartz connected with Cole Coonrod on a 26-yard touchdown pass as Manhattan went up 24-14. DeAndre Aukland added a scoring run late in the game to extend the Manhattan lead to 31-14.

Schartz has passed for 373 yards and two scores this season while adding 268 rushing yards and three scores. Aukland has added 218 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, while Sanchez has 113 yards and three scores. Eleven different Indians have receptions this season.

Jaxon Vikander and Max Stanard lead the Manhattan defense with 19 and 18 tackles, respectively.

Washburn Rural defeated Manhattan 21-14 last season to stop a string of four straight wins by the Indians in the series. These two teams are expected to remain contenders in a loaded 6A West field.

Our Pick: Manhattan 34, Rural 27 (Gilmore)

5A No. 1 Mill Valley (3-0) at Gardner-Edgerton (3-0)

Top-ranked Mill Valley will go on the road for a Sunflower League test against unbeaten Gardner-Edgerton.

The Jaguars were dominant in a 51-0 win over a Shawnee Mission Northwest team that entered last week averaging nearly 40 points per game. The Mill Valley defense held the Cougars to 88 yards of total offense and forced three turnovers.

Mill Valley was efficient on offense having produced 195 yards rushing and 145 yards through the air. Quarterback Hayden Jay passed for 145yards and threw touchdown passes to Hayes Miller and Brody Brigham. Jay led the ground game with 83 yards and three rushing scores. Sidney Lockhart and Amarian Graves each added rushing scores.

Jay has passed for 419 yards and four touchdowns this season and added 133 yards and seven rushing scores. The Jaguars have three other backs that have more than 115 rushing yards this season. Miller is the team’s leading receiver with 156 yards and two scores on 12 receptions.

Gardner-Edgerton is off to a dominant start behind an offense that has averaged nearly 52 points per game. The Trailblazers beat Shawnee Mission East (63-32), Shawnee Mission South (56-6), and Olathe West (36-19).

Blazer quarterback Conner Elder has passed for 504 yards and five touchdowns thus far this season. Colton Hawkinson and Austin Buie have been Elder’s primary receiving targets. Hawkinson has 219 receiving yards and two scores, while Buie has 201 yards and two scores.

Dawson Kindler has been a workhorse on the ground for the Trailblazers. Kindler has rushed for 397 yards and 12 touchdowns through Gardner-Edgerton’s first three games. Syre Padilla has added 148 rushing yards and a score, while Dylan Butash has added 132 yards.

Our Pick: Mill Valley 35, Gardner-Edgerton 14 (Gilmore)

Humboldt (3-0) at Council Grove (3-0)

Class 2A, District 2 has enjoyed a 13-2 start with Council Grove, Humboldt and West Franklin undefeated. Eureka and preseason favorite Osage City are both 2-1.

Council Grove went 1-8 last year, returned nearly all of its starters for head coach Butch Hayes and defensive coordinator Derron Reddick, and dropped from 3A to 2A. The Braves allowed the most points per game in 3A last fall, though was expected to be much improved earned Kpreps Potential Breakout Team status.

Council Grove has posted three consecutive shutouts behind a variety of standouts. The Braves are the only Kansas team to not allow a point. Council Grove ties the most shutouts in a row by the school since ’74.

The Braves have averaged 7.5 yards per play. Sophomore quarterback Ace Monihen, who started as a freshman, has made big strides with 19 of 41 passing for 355 yards with four scores against zero interceptions. Senior speedster Ethan Burton, an Arkansas Tech commit, has scored six touchdowns on 12 offensive touches. Sophomore Holden Ziegler set a school mark for single game pancake blocks. Kicker Loup Charlier has broken several school records. In Week 1, Ziegler recovered three fumbles and junior Jay Johnson caused three fumbles, which set or tied school marks.

Humboldt was 10-8 in its last two seasons and returned standout tailback Trey Sommer. The Cubs have an average score of 40-6. Sophomore Blake Ellis has emerged at quarterback with 18 of 31 passing for 343 yards with five scores against no interceptions. He has 33 carries for 264 yards.

Sommer rushed for 1,097 yards and 14 scores in ’21. He is at 53 carries for 422 yards and eight scores. Humboldt has averaged 8.2 yards per play. Sommer paces the defense with 20 tackles, three more than sophomore Jacob Harrington.

Significant credit to Council Grove and the great turnaround. Sommer and Burton are both among 2A’s best players, and Humboldt statistically has been more dynamic. This is a game that could go either way, but Council Grove’s continued improvement, especially with Ziegler, gives the Braves a slight edge.

Our Pick: Council Grove 24, Humboldt 20 (Nicholl)

1A No. 4 Troy (3-0) at 1A No. 5 Centralia (3-0)

Unbeaten Twin Valley League rivals Troy and Centralia will square off in a ranked showdown of Class 1A teams.

Troy opened the season with a 28-22 win over a solid 1A contender in Wabaunsee. In that game, the Trojan defense forced several Wabaunsee turnovers, including an interception near the end zone on the game’s final play.

Troy quarterback Reagan Hartman tossed the go-ahead touchdown pass to Boden Benitz to overtake the Chargers.

The Trojans the followed with blowout wins over Valley Falls (63-0) and Valley Heights (55-6).

Hartman passed for 246 yards in the win over Valley Falls and 147 yards against Valley Heights. Once again, the Trojans were opportunistic in forcing five turnovers in last week’s win over Valley Heights.

Centralia has continued its strong tradition under new head coach Roger Holthaus – the schools’ long-time defensive coordinator. Holthaus took over the program when Larry Glatczak retired this past summer.

Under Holthaus, the Centralia defense continues to flourish having surrendered only 20 total points this season.

The Panthers defeated Valley Heights (34-14) to open the season in a game where quarterback Trenton Talley accounted for three total touchdowns. Drew Gibbs also rushed for a pair of touchdowns in that victory.

Talley and Gibbs are joined by experienced players in linemen Derek Ronnebaum and Nick Thompson along with ends Brock Reineke and Brody Grossnickle.

Centralia has won the last seven games in the series. Troy’s last win over Centralia was a 33-16 decision back in 2016.

Our Pick: Centralia 26, Troy 21 (Gilmore)

Bucklin (3-0) at Minneola (3-0)

District 8 features three undefeated squads: Bucklin, Minneola and No. 5 Dighton, and 2-1 Hodgeman County. Last year, Dighton defeated Bucklin for the district title. Bucklin beat Minneola, 68-22.

Last year, Bucklin finished 8-2, its best mark since 1996. Coach Trever Powell has done a nice job turning around the Red Aces. Sophomore Lucas Kirk has played well in his first year as the starter with 27 of 38 passing for 301 yards with eight TDs against zero interceptions. Kirk has 40 carries for 148 yards and two scores. Junior Andrew Bowman has delivered 37 carries for 163 yards and four scores.

Bucklin has 5.1 yards per play. Junior Izaiah Pearce has 26 tackles. Sophomore Kolson Cook has 24 stops with seven for loss. Bucklin has a remarkable 29 tackles for loss, nine turnovers and seven sacks. Bucklin has allowed 16 points a game, including a 24-20 win versus Spearville.

Minneola defeated Spearville, 40-20, in Week 2. Junior Eli Lang, a three-year starter, continues his prolific career. Lang has completed 37 of 61 passes for 624 yards with nine touchdowns against zero interceptions. Lang has 38 carries for 438 yards with nine rushing TDs. He accounted for more than 500 yards in Week 3. Junior James Littlewood has 25 rushes for 232 yards and two scores.

Minneola has been highly offensively dynamic with 10.4 yards per play. Senior Ryan Renner has 22 tackles. Minneola has forced six turnovers.

Bucklin has been highly opportunistic on defense, though Minneola, with Lang, is more electrifying offensively. When Bucklin has lost, it’s generally come against highly dynamic offenses, including Dighton and Wheatland-Grinnell last season.

Our Pick: Minneola 48, Bucklin 34 (Nicholl)

6M No. 1 Cunningham (3-0) at 6M No. 3 Tescott (3-0)

Cunningham is the reigning six-man state runner-up and has been No. 1 all season.

Tescott has been one of the state’s big surprises after years of struggle in the eight-man ranks. The Trojans have already defeated two teams, Peabody-Burns and Northern Valley, that were ranked at the time of meeting.

Cunningham has a one-score win against No. 2 Ashland in Week 1. The Wildcats returned all but one player from 2021. Cunningham again has its dual threat quarterback with junior Luke McGuire and senior Trey DeWeese. They have combined for 425 passing with eight scores against two interceptions. McGuire, a returning first team all-state player, has 14 carries for 187 yards and five scores. Senior Lane Halderson and sophomore Luke Albers have combined for six receiving TDs. Cunningham has delivered 9.3 yards per play.

Junior Jack Ruckle and Halderson – also another returning first team all-state player – led the defense with 18 tackles.

Tescott has been a great story after seven wins in the previous six seasons. Senior Blake Green has completed nine of 25 passes for 95 yards. Senior Nate Ehlers has 35 carries for 228 yards with two TDs. Junior Carter Peters has 28 rushes for 179 yards and nine scores. Ehlers has recorded 29 tackles.

Tescott is aggressive and physical, though has 5.5 yards per play. The winner of this game is likely the six-man favorite. Tescott is one of Kansas’ biggest surprises, but Cunningham has been atop the classification in the first year of KSHSAA sanctioned six-man football.

The Wildcats are deeper and more offensively dynamic.

Our Pick: Cunningham 32, Tescott 20 (Nicholl)

The Pick List:

5A No. 5 Hays (2-1) at Garden City (3-0) – Hays

5A No. 4 Hutchinson (3-0) at 6A No. 2 Derby (2-1) – Derby

Junction City (2-1) at 5A No. 3 Bishop Carroll (2-1) – Bishop Carroll

6A No. 4 Wichita Northwest (2-1) at Wichita East (2-1) – Wichita Northwest

Andover (2-1) at Salina Central (2-1) Andover

4A No. 5 Basehor-Linwood (3-0) at Shawnee Heights (2-1) – Basehor-Linwood

De Soto (2-1) at Leavenworth (2-1) – De Soto

St. James Academy (0-3) at 4A No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas (3-0) – Aquinas

Towanda-Circle (3-0) at McPherson (3-0) – McPherson

Baxter Springs (3-0) at Parsons (3-0) – Parsons

Clearwater (2-1) at 3A No. 2 Wichita Collegiate – Collegiate

Girard (3-0) at Frontenac (2-1) – Girard

2A No. 5 Silver Lake (2-1) at 3A No. 5 Rock Creek (2-1) – Rock Creek

Atchison County (3-0) at Rossville (1-2) – Rossville

1A No. 2 Smith Center (2-1) at Wabaunsee (2-1) – Smith Center

Argonia-Attica (3-0) at Central Burden (2-1) Argonia-Attica

Cair Paravel (2-1) at Lyndon (3-0) Lyndon

Clifton-Clyde (2-1) at Washington County (3-0) Clifton-Clyde

8M-II No. 5 Dighton (3-0) at Hodgeman County (2-1) – Dighton

6M No. 5 Cheylin (2-1) at 6M No. 4 Northern Valley – Northern Valley





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