Playoff Preview: Class 3A, 2A & 1A

Riverton and Caney Valley both prepare for playoff games. (by Sheri Montgomery)
By: Matt Gilmore & Conor Nicholl for
Oct 26, 2022

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Class 3A

VIEW: 3A Bracket


Highlighted Games:

D1-#3 Columbus (3-5) at D2-#2 Burlington (5-3) – Columbus

Columbus has won two straight contests and will now go on the road to take on Burlington. The Titans had high expectations this season, but struggled to a 1-5 start after six games. Those five losses were to quality opponents in Girard, Coffeyville, Galena, Frontenac, and Colgan who are a combined 31-9. The Titans then rallied to beat Baxter Springs and then handled Parsons, 30-6, last week. Senior quarterback Brett Hamilton is capable of taking over any game. Hamilton has passed for more than 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns and leads the team with 394 rushing yards and nine scores. Landin Midgett remains Hamilton’s primary target on offense with more than 400 receiving yards and three scores. Burlington is coming off of a 41-18 loss to Girard in a game that decided the District 2 title. Junior Cam Stadel leads the Wildcats with 632 rushing yards and three scores, while Zane Hoback has added 374 yards and five scores. Junior Hunter Reiling and sophomore Chance Hegg have both played behind center with Reiling passing for 791 yards and 11 scores and Hegg adding 206 passing yards and two scores.

D4-#3 Perry-Lecompton (3-5) at D3-#2 Bishop Ward (6-2) – Perry-Lecompton

Perry-Lecompton will travel to take on Bishop Ward in what should be a competitive first-round game. Perry-Lecompton enters this contest with a 3-5 record, but the Kaws have played a brutal schedule. The only unranked team that Perry-Lecompton has lost to this season is undefeated Atchison. The remaining losses by the Kaws have come to Sabetha (#4 in 2A), Nemaha Central (#2 in 2A), Holton (#2 in 3A), and Topeka Hayden (#4 in 3A). Senior quarterback Gunnar Ball has passed for 1,545 yards and 13 touchdowns this season and added 383 yards rushing with seven scores. Kael Gorski has 637 receiving yards with five touchdowns. Sophomore Tristan Gorden has rushed for a team-high 607 yards to go along with five scores. Bishop Ward will counter with standout back Brice Johnson, Jr. Johnson has rushed for 912 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. He’s also a threat as a receiver with a team-high 27 catches for 268 yards and two scores. Sophomore Aiden Milliren has passed for 1,093 yards and nine scores. Six different Cyclones have at least 100 yards receiving and four have more than 200 yards.  

Other first-round games:

D2-#4 Anderson County (3-5) at D1-#1 Galena (6-2) – Galena

D4-#4 Royal Valley (2-6) at D3-#1 Wellsville (8-0) – Wellsville

D3-#3 Baldwin (3-5) at D4-#2 Topeka Hayden (7-1) – Hayden

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

D2-#3 Iola (2-6) at D1-#2 Frontenac (5-3) – Frontenac

D3-#4 Santa Fe Trail (2-6) at D4-#1 Holton (7-1) – Holton


Highlighted Games:

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

This is one of the best Week 9 matchups of any class. Pratt has significantly improved its passing game in the second year of the single wing. The Greenbacks has averaged 38.5 points a game. Carson Hoeme and Max Younie have combined for 898 passing yards with 15 scores against eight interceptions. Younie has 685 rushing yards and 10 scores. Senior Johnny Martinez, who has played with two torn ligaments throughout the season, has 1,149 all-purpose yards. Seniors Drake Van Scoyoc and Easton Rector have anchored the line. Plus, senior Adrian Juarez has enjoyed a standout year kicking with 26 touchbacks, 17 of 18 on extra points and 2 of 2 on field goals. Pratt has averaged 7.6 yards per play, and Martinez is among the state’s top returners. Holcomb, long known for its passing offense under Kent Teeter, has averaged 34.5 points a game. Sophomore Keegan Johnson and junior Damon Mesa have switched off at quarterback. Mesa has 91 carries for 862 yards and 12 scores. Holcomb has 7.9 yards per play. A key could be field position/kicking. Holcomb has one touchback, is 18 of 29 on extra points and made one field goal. This should be a close game, but a slight edge to Pratt.

D6-#3 Chapman (3-5) at D5-#2 Clay Center (5-3) – Chapman

Clay Center defeated Chapman, 24-0, in Week 2. Clay Center has quietly enjoyed a nice improvement after a 4-5 season last year. The Tigers started 3-1, though is 2-2 in the last month. Chapman is 2-1 and has tallied 124 points in the last three contests. Chapman has averaged 287 rushing yards and 6.1 yards per carry in its run-heavy offense under Kurt Webster. Junior Aiden Whitley has 221 carries for 1,361 yards and 14 scores. Chapman has leaned on Whitley much heavier since the Clay Center loss. Whitley had 14 carries for 62 yards in the loss. Chapman ran 49 plays in the first meeting, 18 more than the Tigers. Chapman was minus-3 in turnover margin in the game. Clay Center features juniors Brody Hayes and Carter Long with 534 and 531 rushing yards, and Hayes has 73 tackles. It is clear that Chapman has played much better in the last several weeks. Every year, several regular season results flip in playoff rematches. This is certainly a possibility here.

Other first-round games:

D6-#4 Clearwater (3-5) at D5-#1 Rock Creek (7-1) – Rock Creek

D5-#3 Marysville (3-5) at D6-#2 Hesston (5-3) – Hesston

D8-#4 Goodland (2-6) at D7-#1 Andale (8-0) – Andale

D5-#4 Concordia (2-6) at D6-#1 Wichita Collegiate (7-1) – Collegiate

D7-#4 Smoky Valley (4-4) at D8-#2 Scott City (7-1) – Scott City

D8-#3 Hugoton (6-2) at D7-#2 Cheney (6-2) – Cheney


Class 2A

VIEW: 2A Bracket


Highlighted Games:

D4-#4 Riley County (2-6) at D3-#1 Silver Lake (6-2) – Silver Lake

Mid-East League rivals Riley County and Silver Lake will meet up for the second time this season. Silver Lake won at Riley County, 28-21, back in the season-opener. In that contest, Silver Lake quarterback Tanner Martin rushed for nearly 100 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 164 yards and another score. Martin is a dual-threat quarterback and has multiple quality receivers that allow the Eagle offense to put pressure on opposing defenses. Riley County had success rushing the football in the first meeting with 220 yards on the ground led by Samson Waggoner’s 167 yards and two scores. Despite their 2-6 record, Riley County has played a brutal schedule that includes five teams that either are currently ranked or have been ranked this season. Silver Lake has won four straight games since starting the season 2-2 with losses to 3A ranked teams Topeka Hayden and Rock Creek. The Eagles trailed at halftime on the road at Atchison County last week before rallying for a 41-30 win.

D4-#3 Minneapolis (5-3) at D3-#2 Rossville (4-4) – Rossville

Minneapolis will travel to take on two-time defending-champion Rossville in another key first-round match-up. While Rossville was hit heavy by graduation and is 4-4 this season, the Bulldawgs have played a loaded schedule that includes losses to St. Marys, Topeka Hayden, Silver Lake, and Holton – four teams currently ranked in their respective classification. Camden Horak has passed for 978 yards and nine touchdowns and added 718 yards rushing with eight scores. Kade Perine and Braiden Hensley have each rushed for around 425 yards and combined for 12 scores. Minneapolis has played a similar schedule. The Lions’ three losses have also come to 2A ranked teams in No. 1 Southeast of Saline, No. 2 Nemaha Central, and No. 4 Sabetha. The Lions have a deep backfield with five players having rushed for more than 220 yards. Braylon Smith leads the team with 434 yards and six scores with senior Gabe Hueser adding 332 yards and two scores. Quarterback Ryan Parks has thrown for nearly 400 yards and fives scores.

Other first-round games:

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

D1-#3 Fredonia (4-4) at D2-#2 Council Grove (6-2) – Council Grove

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

D1-#4 Riverton (1-7) at D2-#1 Osage City (7-1) – Osage City        

D2-#3 Humboldt (6-2) at D1-#2 Cherryvale (5-3) – Humboldt

D3-#4 Pleasant Ridge (2-6) at D4-#1 Nemaha Central (8-0) – Nemaha Central



Highlighted Games:

D7-#3 Cimarron (2-6) at D8-#2 Russell (5-3) – Russell

Russell, a Kpreps Potential Breakout Team in the summer, was projected to have its first winning season since 2003. That has occurred after a 42-19 road win at Norton last week. Russell has enjoyed a huge turnaround under coach Christien Ozores. A win Friday gives Russell its first playoff victory since 1979. Russell will have its best scoring defense in well over 10 years and has permitted just 15.5 points a contest. Cimarron opened 0-4, including a 2-0 loss to rival Lakin in Week 4. Cimarron is 2-2 in the last month. Senior Wyatt Middleton has completed 115 of 197 passes for 1,475 yards with 14 scores against four interceptions. Senior Jacob Ney has rushed for 497 yards and has 64 tackles. Junior Roman Hernandez has 15 tackles for loss.

D6-#3 Garden Plain (4-4) at D5-#2 Ellsworth (7-1) – Garden Plain

Ellsworth opened with a 7-0 mark, its best season since 1984. Last week, Ellsworth lost, 46-7, to No. 1 Southeast of Saline. Garden Plain has alternated wins and losses throughout the season. The Owls have a 6-0 win against Conway Springs and three wins by at least 27 points. Garden Plain lost to 2A No. 3 Kingman, 40-7, last week for the district title. Garden Plain has not had a losing season since 2014, per Kansas Football History. The Owls have a balanced rushing attack with 196 yards a game. Junior Aden Stuhlsatz has 55 tackles, and senior Luke Hillman has six TFLs. While Ellsworth is the higher ranked team, Garden Plain is significantly more battle-tested. Ellsworth has zero seniors among skill players. Junior quarterback Will Cravens has passed for 12 scores.

Other first-round games:

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

D5-#3 Halstead (3-5) at D6-#2 Chaparral (6-1) – Chaparral

D8-#4 Phillipsburg (3-5) at D7-#1 Hoisington (6-2) – Hoisington

D5-#4 Hillsboro (2-6) at D6-#1 Kingman (8-0) – Kingman

D7-#4 Larned (3-5) at D8-#1 Beloit (6-2) – Beloit

D8-#3 Norton (5-3) at D7-#2 Lakin (6-2) – Norton


Class 1A

VIEW: Class 1A Bracket


Highlighted Games:

D1-#3 Northeast-Arma (3-5) at D2-#2 Jayhawk-Linn (7-1) – Jayhawk-Linn

Northeast-Arma will travel to Mound City to take on Jayhawk-Linn for the second time this season. This is the only rematch in the 1A bracket from the regular season. The Jayhawks earned a 62-6 win back in the season-opening meeting. Jayhawk-Linn has produced a 7-1 regular season behind an explosive offense that averages 39.3 points per game. Quarterback Dylan Nickelson along with playmakers Garrett Seely, Trevor Brownback, and Braeden Nation all highlight the Jayhawks’ offensive weapons. Meanwhile, Northeast has won three straight games to earn just their second playoff appearance in the past 19 years (2014). The Vikings also made the Class 1A bracket in 2020 which included all 1A teams and received a COVID-forfeit victory over a ranked Valley Heights team in the first round. The Vikings are not very deep, but have shown toughness in playing at least one game with only 11 players suited up. Dawson Troth has passed for 443 yards and three touchdowns and added 339 yards rushing with two more scores. Tayshawn Gaynor leads the team with 477 yards and three scores on the ground. Defensively, Brayden Young paces the team with 115 stops.

D4-#3 Riverside (3-5) at D3-#2 Jefferson Co. North (5-3) – Jeff Co. North

Perhaps the most intriguing first round game on the eastern half of Class 1A pits Riverside at Jefferson County North. The Cyclones have had a perplexing last few weeks of the season. First, Riverside was shut out 56-0 by 2A-ranked Sabetha, and the following fell 26-20 to 1A No. 1 Centralia when the Panthers threw a long touchdown pass on in the final seconds. Last week, Riverside was completely dominated by Troy, 65-0. Quarterback Becham Griffin leads the Cyclone offense along with Percy Duncan, Elijah Moore, and Ryder Davis. The Cyclones have been hurt by turnovers in multiple games this season and will have to take care of the ball to advance. Jeff Co. North’s three losses have come to teams that are a combined 19-5 in Atchison County, Wabaunsee, and St. Marys. In last week’s win over Mission Valley, Grady Noll rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown while Conner Keirns added 100 yards and two scores. Keirns also added three interceptions on defense and the Chargers shut down the Mission Valley run game.

Other first-round games:

D2-#4 Central Heights (3-5) at D1-#1 St. Mary’s Colgan (7-1) – Colgan

D4-#4 Jackson Heights (4-4) at D3-#1 St. Marys (6-2) – St. Marys

D3-#3 Mission Valley (3-5) at D4-#2 Troy (7-1) – Troy

D1-#4 Uniontown (1-7) at D2-#1 Olpe (6-2) – Olpe

D2-#3 Pleasanton (6-2) at D1-#2 Erie (3-5) – Pleasanton

D3-#4 McLouth (2-6) at D4-#1 Centralia (8-0) – Centralia



Highlighted Games:

D7-#3 Hutchinson Trinity (6-2) at D8-#2 Plainville (3-5) – Trinity Catholic

Trinity Catholic is the favorite, though Plainville should keep this game low scoring with its strong defense. Plainville was expected to go through a year of growing pains, but its veteran staff of Grant Stephenson, Justin Casey and Ryan Becker has kept the Cardinals competitive. In its last seven games, Plainville is 3-4 and allowed 21 points a contest. Since Week 2, Trinity is 4-2 and scored 20.7 points per game. Junior dual threat Eric Armour and senior receiver Blake Hammeke have paced the offense. Senior Kyle Werner has paced Plainville’s run attack the last several years.

D7-#4 Medicine Lodge (3-5) at D8-#1 Oakley (5-3) – Oakley

Oakley has went through a bizarre last two weeks after Syracuse and Stanton County both forfeited district games. Oakley won District 8, its first district title since 2015. The Plainsmen have three on-field wins, all by 15 points or fewer. Oakley has averaged 21.3 points a game against primarily 2A/3A Mid-Continent League opponents. Senior Will Schmidt has enjoyed an impressive dual threat season with 510 passing yards with five scores against one interception. He has 451 rushing yards and six scores. Medicine Lodge, an eight-man team last year, has scored 13.9 points a contest. The Indians have averaged 2.7 yards per rush and their two quarterbacks have combined for a 7/10 TD/INT ratio. Junior Carter Cunningham has 69 tackles.

Other first-round games:

D6-#4 Belle Plaine (1-7) at D5-#1 Wabaunsee (7-1) – Wabaunsee

D5-#3 Sacred Heart (4-4) at D6-#2 Marion (5-3) – Marion

D5-#4 Valley Heights (2-6) at D6-#1 Sedgwick (4-4) – Sedgwick

D6-#3 Whitewater-Remington (2-6) at D5-#2 Smith Center (6-2) – Smith Center

D8-#3 Ellis (3-5) at D7-#2 Inman (7-1) – Inman

Teams with a first-round BYE:
D7-#1 Conway Springs (5-3) – (potential opponents, District 8 fourth-place finishers, Syracuse & Stanton County are ineligible for postseason play due to district forfeitures)


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