The Pick List - Week 8

Nemaha Central QB Brayden Uphaus (24) runs earlier this season. (by Dari Hilbert)
By: Conor Nicholl & Matt Gilmore for
Oct 20, 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:

6A No. 4 Wichita Northwest (6-1) at 6A No. 1 Manhattan (7-0)

Fourth-ranked Wichita Northwest will travel to No. 1 Manhattan in perhaps a preview of a late-round playoff showdown on the western half of Class 6A.

While Manhattan has been the lead storyline in Class 6A this season, Wichita Northwest has quietly done what the Grizzlies do seemingly every year. Northwest has dominated the competition since a season-opening loss to Bishop Carroll. The Grizzlies’ six wins have come by an average margin of 52 points per game.

Northwest averages 338 yards rushing per game with their talented backfield of L. J. Phillips, Cencere Thompson, and quarterback Jayce Glasper. Phillips has eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for the second consecutive season and has more than 3,600 yards in his career. Meanwhile, Thompson has added 700 yards on the ground on just 86 carries. Phillips is averaging 10.1 yards per carry, while Thompson averages 8.1 yards per rush. Phillips has 15 touchdowns and Thompson 12.

Glasper has been effective in completing 62 percent of his passes for 1,291 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s added 285 yards on the ground with four rushing scores. Freshman Aaron Bohannon, Jr. has added 277 yards rushing and eight scores.

Micahel Lopez, Jr. has had a great season with 34 catches for 717 yards and ten touchdowns.

Northwest will try and have similar offensive success against a Manhattan team that has been battle tested. The Indians have wins over ranked teams in Derby, Hays High, and Junction City. Manhattan also topped Washburn Rural – a team just outside the 6A ranks.

Manhattan allows only 12.8 points per game. The Indian defense is paced by Jaxon Vikander (38 tackles, 9 TFL) and Max Stanard (37 tackles, 3 INT).

Offensively, senior quarterback Keenan Schartz continues to put together a solid season. Schartz has completed 68 percent of his passes for 894 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s also added 507 yards rushing and nine more scores.

DeAndre Aukland leads the Indians with 624 yards on the ground and ten scores, while Jason Sanchez has contributed nearly 300 yards and six rushing scores.

Manhattan has put together one of the more impressive resumes in recent history given their strength of schedule and performance. The Indians have played as well as anyone over the past two weeks in hammering rival Junction City (44-7) and shutting out Lansing (65-0).

Northwest’s explosiveness creates a challenge and this game may provide some clarity about the favorites on the western half of Class 6A.

Our Pick: Manhattan 31, Northwest 28 (Gilmore)

5A No. 5 De Soto (6-1) at Basehor-Linwood (6-1)

The United Kansas Conference title will be on the line this week when Class 5A No. 5 De Soto travels to Basehor-Linwood.

The Wildcats moved into the 5A rankings last week with Hutchinson’s loss to Maize. De Soto has won five consecutive games since their lone loss – a 28-21 decision to 6A contender Washburn Rural. The Wildcats led that game 21-7 before Rural scored on its final three possessions to win.

De Soto averages nearly 40 points per game but is backed by a defense that has allowed only 22 total points over the past four weeks. That includes shutout victories over Shawnee Heights and KC Piper. Basehor-Linwood’s lone loss of the season came 27-0 at Shawnee Heights in Week 4.

Carson Miller has been effective as a dual threat quarterback for De Soto. Miller has rushed for nine touchdowns this season and added a handful of passing scores. Miller led the Wildcats with 127 yards and three scores in the win over Shawnee Heights.

Junior running back Bennet Hutchinson leads the team with 11 rushing touchdowns, while Jayden Lang has found the end zone several time in the past few games.  

While De Soto will typically try to keep the ball on the ground, Basehor-Linwood has the ability to air it out with junior quarterback Brady VanDonge. VanDonge has passed for 1,350 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, including a 294-yard, 4-touchdown performance in last week’s 47-32 win over Topeka Seaman.

VanDonge has the luxury of four receivers with double-digit receptions, three of which have more than 225 yards receiving on the season. Brant Wilson leads the team with 27 catches for 529 yards and three scores. Sophomore Austin Adair has 226 yards and three scores, while junior Mile Hinkle has 226 yards and two scores.

Jekai Harris leads the Bobcat ground game with 565 yards and seven touchdowns.

Defensively, Basehor-Linwood has allowed nearly 26 points per game. Gage Greer leads the unit with 75 tackles including 7.5 for loss.

VanDonge and Basehor-Linwood will need to hit some big plays as De Soto has the ability to possess the ball on offense, shorten the game, and rely on its stout defense.

Our Pick: De Soto 26, Basehor-Linwood 21 (Gilmore)

2A No. 5 Ellsworth (7-0) at 2A No. 1 Southeast of Saline (7-0)

This showdown of unbeaten teams will decide the District 5 championship. Southeast of Saline, a 3A semifinalist last fall, dropped down to 2A this season. The Trojans had two quality wins to open the year: 38-26 against Rock Creek and 43-6 versus Beloit. Rock Creek is ranked No. 3 in 3A, and Beloit, the 3A state runner-up, is 5-2. Southeast of Saline has been the No. 1 team all fall.

Southeast of Saline, which defeated Lyons 94-0 last week, has enjoyed great success under longtime coach Mitch Gebhardt. The Trojans have an average score of 50-10.

Ellsworth has its well-publicized big turnaround under coach Josh Homolka, who had a long stint at the college coaching ranks. Ellsworth opened with a 14-6 victory against Beloit, and then had four straight shutouts. The Bearcats have their best start since 1984. Ellsworth has an average score of 34-6.

At times, SE Saline has struggled with turnovers (11), though has moved the ball at an extremely high rate. Senior Luke Gebhardt has completed 114 of 163 passes for 1,437 yards with 13 scores against nine interceptions. He has 96 carries for 560 yards and 10 scores. Junior Nathan Friesen has 92 rushes for 555 yards and 10 scores. SES has 7.2 yards per play.

The Trojans have a deep receiving corps with seniors Michael Murray, Landen Allen and Jake Gebhardt.  The trio has combined for 98 catches with 13 touchdowns. Defensively, senior Caden Isaacson has 49 stops, while senior Slade Johnson has 10 tackles for loss. Jake Gebhardt has picked off three passes. The Trojans have excellent historical home field advantage.

Ellsworth has 6.5 yards per play. Junior Will Cravens has completed 58 of 96 passes for 846 yards with 12 touchdowns against one interception. Homolka has built the turnaround mainly on non-seniors. Junior Loden West has 78 carries for 384 yards and nine scores. Layton Leiker and Cole Webber has 44 catches for 10 scores. West has 46 tackles.

Southeast has a significant edge in offense (No. 26 to No. 126 in Kansas) and the strength of schedule edge (No. 89 to No. 166), per the nationally recognized statistical Massey Ratings.

This has been a dream season for Ellsworth. SE Saline and No. 3-ranked Kingman have been the top-two 2A West teams all year. The Trojans are the favorite, but Ellsworth can show close it is to the top of 2A this Friday.

Our Pick: Southeast of Saline 36, Ellsworth 20 (Nicholl)

2A No. 4 Sabetha (6-1) at 2A No. 2 Nemaha Central (7-0)

One of two highly-anticipated ranked match-ups in Class 2A pits No. 4 Sabetha traveling to No. 2 Nemaha Central. Aside from establishing a clear favorite from the eastern half of 2A, the game will also provide some clarity on the Big 7 Conference championship. Nemaha Central is currently unbeaten in Big 7 play, while Holton and Sabetha have one loss.

Sabetha’s lone loss came at Holton, 35-14, back in Week 2. Like most opponents, Sabetha struggled to contain Holton’s diverse ground game and stable of backs. Holton rushed for 438 yards in the contest and led 21-0 at halftime.

Sabetha has responded with five consecutive wins by an average of 47 points. The Blue Jay defense has been exceptional during that run allowing 14 total points and posting three shutouts in the past five weeks.

Offensively, quarterback Matthew Garber has completed nearly 75 percent of his passes for 522 yards and 12 touchdowns against only three interceptions. Josh Herrmann leads the Sabetha ground game with 784 yards and 11 scores on 103 carries. He is averaging 7.6 yards per carry. Jonathan Renyer has added 349 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

On the other sideline is a Nemaha Central team that has dominated the competition this fall. The Thunder’s average margin of victory is nearly 45 points per game.

Standout senior Cooper Hajek has rushed for 1,338 yards and 28 touchdowns on the season. In last week’s 34-12 win over Riley County, Hajek carried 38 times for 332 yards and four touchdowns. He also added nine tackles on the defensive side of the ball.

Brayden Uphaus has been effective at quarterback and Gavin Cain and Blake Stallbaumer lead a balance receiving corps.

The winner of this contest will be crowned the District 4 champion with the loser qualifying as the runner-up.

Our Pick: Nemaha Central 26, Sabetha 20 (Gilmore)


Minneola (7-0) at 8M-II No. 5 Dighton (7-0)

Minneola will travel to Dighton in an unbeaten showdown which will decide the District 8 championship and likely a top-5 ranking in Eight-Man, Division II.

Both teams have an exceptional dual threat quarterback. Minneola has junior Eli Lang, and Dighton with senior Max Neeley, also a two-time state pole vault champion and a Pittsburg State track commit. Dighton went 9-2, 5-0 in district play last season, another quality season under veteran Ken Simon, a two-time classification coach of the year. Dighton defeated Minneola in 2021.

Dighton has outscored teams, 314-62. Neeley has completed 66 percent of his passes for 721 yards with eight scores against two interceptions. He has 660 rushing yards and 15 rushing scores. Minneola has 9.8 yards per play, while Dighton is at 8.0.

Junior Carson Shimer has stepped in with five passing and four rushing touchdowns. He has also delivered 17 catches for 305 yards and four TDs. Sophomore David Cramer has 32 catches for 583 yards with six touchdowns. Senior Eli Wilkinson has 67 tackles, 10 for loss. Junior Coltin King has 37 tackles, 11 for loss. In a key 54-6 win against Bucklin, Dighton held the Red Aces to 26 plays for 124 yards.

Minneola was a 4-4 squad last season that scored 36.3 points a game and allowed 34.8. The Wildcats had a 36-28 playoff loss to Quinter. This season, the Wildcats, in six on-field games, has scored 55.7 points a game and permitted 26.7 a game. Lang has improved as a passer.

Minneola has been a long time run-heavy squad and has significantly upped its passing game. He has completed 96 of 156 passes for 1,483 yards with 20 scores against three interceptions. Lang has 72 carries for 763 yards with 15 scores. Receiving-wise, senior Noah Deibert has 32 catches, seven for scores. Freshman Tyson Klotz has 30 catches for 552 yards and five TDs. Sophomore Jesse Smith has six touchdowns. Last year, Lang passed for 740 yards with six touchdowns against six interceptions. Minneola defeated Bucklin, 46-34, and allowed 346 yards of total offense.

Both teams have enjoyed an impressive year. However, Dighton has a slight edge on defense and is playing at home.

Our Pick: Dighton 42, Minneola 36 (Nicholl)

Colony-Crest (6-1) at Lebo (5-2)

Colony-Crest will take on Lebo in a game that will decide the District 1 title. Lebo opened the year No. 5 in Eight-Man, Division II, but both squads currently sit just outside the top-5 in the rankings.

Crest has averaged 58.3 points a game. Senior Holden Barker, who cleared 2,000 rushing yards last fall, has 73 rushes for 795 yards and 18 touchdowns. He missed the last two games with a hand injury. Senior quarterback Ethan Godderz has significantly improved. He has 691 passing yards with 15 scores against two interceptions. Godderz has 63 carries for 797 yards and 14 scores.

Crest has 11 seniors on a 22-player roster. The top-eight tacklers are all seniors, including Barker (57), Avery Blaufuss, Karter Mille and Stetson Setter.

Lebo has five seniors on a 17-player team.

Lebo returned six starters from last year’s 9-2 team. Senior Landon Grimmett, the team’s top receiver in 2021, first moved to quarterback. Grimmett and sophomore Drew Konrade have combined for 722 yards with 12 scores against eight interceptions. Just before the Madison game, Konrade went to quarterback, and Grimmett to receiver.

Corey Reese, Luke Davis and Addison Smith all return after big seasons on defense. Reese returned at running back. He leads with 72 carries for 541 yards and seven scores. Konrade has 44 carries for 384 yards with five TDs.

Lebo returned all three starters across the line with seniors Austin Bailey, Isaac Durst and sophomore Zach Oswald. Lebo’s line averages 230 pounds. Bailey was unanimous first team all-league. Junior Grayson Shoemaker is out for the season after he suffered a knee injury in basketball.

On defense, Reese has 49 tackles, 10 for loss. Bailey has 9.5 TFLs, Oswald has four. Durst has missed two contests.

Lebo opened with two losses to Division I foes: a 20-14 defeat to Lyndon and a 54-6 loss to Burlingame, currently ranked No. 2 in Eight-Man, Division I. In Week 3, Lebo won at Madison, 30-26, to hand the Bulldogs one of only two losses this season. Since then, Lebo has four wins by the 45-point margin.

This is the first matchup between the squads since 2017, a 50-44 Lebo win. Lebo has won four straight in the series dating back to ’08.

Crest’s only loss came in a 70-54 game versus Chase County. Godderz recorded 247 total yards, and Barker rushed for 160. Much of this game relies on Barker’s health. However, Lebo is a little more battle tested and stronger defensively.

Our Pick: Lebo 40, Crest 36 (Nicholl)


The Pick List:

6A No. 5 Gardner-Edgerton (5-2) at Olathe South (5-2) – Gardner-Edgerton

5A No. 4 Bishop Carroll (5-2) at Wichita East (5-2) – Carroll

4A No. 1 Bishop Miege (6-1) at Blue Valley Northwest (4-3) – Bishop Miege

Spring Hill (4-3) at Louisburg (6-1) – Louisburg

3A No. 1 Andale (7-0) at Pratt (6-1) Andale

Burlington (5-2) at 3A No. 5 Girard (7-0) – Girard

Wichita Collegiate (6-1) at Hesston (5-2) – Collegiate

Garden Plain (4-3) at 2A No. 3 Kingman (7-0) – Kingman

Conway Springs (4-3) at Hutchinson Trinity (6-1) – Conway Springs

Atwood-Rawlins Co. (5-2) at 8M-I No. 1 Hoxie (6-1) – Hoxie

8M-I No. 2 Burlingame (7-0) at Lyndon (5-2) – Burlingame

Central Burden (5-2) at 8M-I No. 4 South Sumner Co. (7-0) – South Sumner Co.

Chase County (6-1) at Madison (5-2) – Chase County

Sharon Springs-Wallace Co. (5-2) at 8M-II No. 4 Thunder Ridge (6-1) – Thunder Ridge

Deerfield (4-2) at Ingalls (4-2) – Ingalls



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