The Pick List - Week 2

Dai'Mont Mucker (19) & Valley Center will try to top Goddard. (Everett Royer,
By: Conor Nicholl & Matt Gilmore for
Sep 7, 2023

Share This Story:

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. 5 Blue Valley Northwest (1-0) at 4A No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas (1-0)

There are a couple of key early-season games pitting ranked teams out of the Eastern Kansas League this week. The first has 6A No. 5 Blue Valley Northwest visiting 4A No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas.

Coach Clint Rider has built a consistent program at Northwest with high expectations. After graduating all-state quarterback Mikey Pauly from the 6A state title team in 2021, the Huskies were able to ride all-state running back Grant Stubblefield last season. Without Stubblefield, many question Northwest’s staying power among the elite in Class 6A, but the Huskies entered the rankings this week after a 30-21 victory over 4A-ranked St. James Academy. The game was tied at 21-21 in the fourth quarter before Northwest connected on a touchdown pass and registered a safety.

Quarterback Nate Livingston passed for 223 yards and a pair of touchdowns for Blue Valley Northwest. Livingston also added 100 yards rushing on the night. Trevor Garlington was exceptional in catching a touchdown pass, and returning a kickoff 97-yards for a score. When you add Garlington to one of the state’s best players in tight end Gavin Hoffman, the Huskies have the potential to put up big numbers on offense. The defense has its playmakers too, as all-state safety Trey Ridley picked off a pair of passes in the opener and held St. James Academy to 8 net rushing yards.

Aquinas will be an entirely different test. The Saints enter 2023 with experience along the offensive and defensive lines and an affinity to keep the ball on the ground. The Saints rushed for nearly 330 yards and seven rushing touchdowns in last week’s wild 49-42 win over Blue Valley West. The game was tight throughout, with the Saints and Jaguars having been tied at 21, 28, 35, and 42 before Gianni Rizzi’s short scoring run gave Aquinas the lead for good.

The Saints have beat Northwest in each of the last two seasons including handing the Huskies their only loss in their 12-1 state championship season in 2021. In fact, Northwest has lost six straight in the series with the Huskies last win over Aquinas coming back in the 2013 season-opener.

Our Pick: Aquinas 28, Northwest 24 (Gilmore)

Great Bend (1-0) at 5A No. 4 Hays High (1-0)

One of the state’s traditional rivalries occurs Friday at Fort Hays State University’s Lewis Field Stadium. Hays High has won three straight in the series by convincing margins, including a 33-7 win at Great Bend last year. That marked the final loss in Great Bend’s 19-game losing streak. Since then, the Panthers are 8-1. Remarkably, the Panthers have trailed in the last six games, including 16-14 in a 29-16 season-opening win versus McPherson.

Hays High went 10-2 last fall, the best year in school history. The Indians won 20-14 in overtime against Junction City to open 2023. Malik Bah enjoyed another stellar game with 40 carries for 220 yards and two rushing scores. He also passed for a 10-yard TD. Bah cleared 1,600 yards in 2022 despite missing time with injury. HHS has its veteran interior offensive line of center Henry Fitzthum and guards Kaiden Bunger and Will Linenberger. The Indians had to replace all 11 defensive starters from the No. 4 scoring defense in 5A. Dalton Meyers had a massive game with six tackles for loss and an interception. Cooper Lindenmeyer had two interceptions. The Indians finished plus-3 in turnover margin. Wyatt Kirkpatrick delivered 11 tackles.

Great Bend received 162 passing yards and three scores from sophomore quarterback Daxton Minton. Cody Miller rushed for 80 yards. Matthew Johnson and Trent Kern had big games at OL/LB with a combined 26 tackles. Freshman Cooper Ohnmacht recorded a pivotal 80-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Both staffs know each well, and it should be the closest game in years between the two teams. HHS is plus-20 in turnover margin since the start of 2022, a key number that could influence Friday. Bah will likely have 30-plus touches again and continually gained yards after contact versus Junction City.

Our Pick: Hays High 24, Great Bend 21 (Nicholl)

Valley Center (1-0) at Goddard (1-0)

Both AVCTL Division II teams enjoyed a five-win improvement in 2022. Valley Center went from 2-7 to 7-3, while Goddard improved from 0-9 to 5-4.

Each team primarily runs the ball. Goddard installed the single wing and ran on 87 percent of snaps, best in 5A, per the Sunflower Sports Solutions’ database. Valley Center was third in 5A in run rate at 81 percent. Goddard had 6.2 yards per play, Valley Center 5.6. The Lions scored 30 points a contest last season, while Valley Center scored 21. The Hornets were ninth in 5A with 22 points allowed a contest, while Goddard allowed 24. Goddard won this matchup, 30-7, last season in a wild AVCTL where every squad finished with at least two league losses.

The Lions started with a 46-8 road win versus Campus, and Valley Center beat Newton, 20-6. Valley Center’s Dai’Mont Mucker finished with 18 carries for 138 yards and a score. A ’22 transfer, Mucker rushed for 1,864 and 18 TDs last season. Goddard did not throw a pass in Week 1. Senior Micah Johnson had 13 carries for 151 yards with two TDs. Senior Mason Healy had six carries for 100 yards and two scores. Valley Center ran 45 plays for 277 yards; Goddard 37 plays for 309. Mucker is an exceptional player, but Goddard has a little more offensive depth and explosiveness.

Our Pick: Goddard 27, Valley Center 20 (Nicholl)

4A No. 1 Bishop Miege (1-0) at 5A No. 3 Blue Valley Southwest (1-0)

The other marquee game in the state’s best conference, the Eastern Kansas League, features 4A No. 1 Bishop Miege traveling to 5A No. 3 Blue Valley Southwest.

Bishop Miege capped off an 11-2 season in 2022 by winning the 4A state championship. It was the Stags’ seventh title in the past nine seasons. This year, the pieces are certainly there for another title run.

The Stags return a bevy of experience up front in Baker North, Jeremy Schleicher, Dominic Werner, and Jalen Wilson. Marco Rodriguez has taken over for the graduated all-stater Mac Armstrong, and has several offensive weapons returning around him. David Garcia returns after rushing for nearly 775 yards and 12 scores a year ago. Teryn Jackson had 875 yards receiving and eight scores last season.

Rodriguez threw four touchdown passes in the season-opening 54-14 win over Blue Valley North. Garcia produced three rushing scores and caught a touchdown pass in the win.

Like Miege, Blue Valley Southwest returns an experienced roster from a deep playoff run. The Timberwolves finished 6-6 in 2022, but reached the 5A state semifinals before falling to eventual champion Mill Valley. Southwest returns quarterback Dylan Dunn, who passed for 2,784 yards and 28 touchdowns last season.

Dunn returns several talented receivers in Tate Everard, Emmitt Peters, and Alex Parks who combined for nearly 1,500 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns last season.  

Blue Valley Southwest opened the season with a 33-19 win over Blue Valley – their first win over the Tigers in 14 meetings. Dunn passed for 316 yards and four touchdowns in the opener. Parks had 11 receptions for 144 yards and two scores, while Everard caught six passes for 114 yards. Everard and Peters each caught touchdown passes. Luke Falkner rushed for 80 yards and Landon Christiansen rushed for a score.

This may be Blue Valley Southwest’s most talented team in this, the schools’ 14th season. Last year, Miege shut out the Timberwolves 42-0 in Week 2. It was the first meeting in the series since 2015. The Timberwolves are 1-6 all-time against Miege, with that lone victory coming 24-21 back in 2012.

Our Pick: Bishop Miege 34, Blue Valley Southwest 27 (Gilmore)

4A No. 5 Andover Central (1-0) at 5A No. 5 Maize (1-0)

Maize took major graduation hits after back-to-back 5A state runner-up finishes to Mill Valley. The Eagles notably lost two-time 5A Offensive Player of the Year in QB Avery Johnson, who saw time in Kansas State’s opener. Maize set a school record for scoring offense in 2022. The Eagles still return junior Bryson Hayes, possibly the state’s fastest player. He has several Power 5 offers and delivered 19 carries for 582 yards and eight scores.

Maize pulled away in the second half with 22 unanswered points and delivered a 42-14 victory at Andover Central last season. Andover Central returned a kick for a score, though Maize outgained the Jags, 553-165. It was the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

Both teams have a new quarterback this season. Maize junior Drew Kemp completed 20 of 23 passes for 194 yards with three scores against no interceptions. Sophomore Shannon Jones had 13 carries for 108 yards and two rushing TDs. Hayes led with six catches for 71 yards in last week’s 43-0 win versus Topeka High.

Andover Central opened with a quality 20-14 win versus Buhler. The Jags ran 55 plays for 304 yards. Junior Jace Jefferson was 14 of 33 passing for 184 yards with a score against an interception. Junior Maddox Archibald had 20 carries for 126 yards and a score. Junior Jace Alder finished with 17 tackles, top-10 for all classes. Senior Drew Wilborn was fantastic kicking with two of two extra points and two of two on field goals with a long of 35. Andover Central is extremely well-coached and generally has excellent special teams. However, Hayes will likely be the most dynamic player on the field.

Our Pick: Maize 28, Andover Central 20 (Nicholl)

2A No. 4 Silver Lake (1-0) at 3A No. 3 Topeka Hayden (1-0)

Another ranked showdown between traditional contenders takes place in Topeka as the Hayden Wildcats host Silver Lake. Topeka Hayden enters ranked third in Class 3A and Silver Lake is No. 4 in Class 2A.

Both teams are coming off of victories last week with Silver Lake edging Mid-East League rival Riley County 40-28, and Hayden besting 1A contender Olpe, 41-7. The Hayden victory was the 200th career victory for coach Bill Arnold.

This is the second straight year for this meeting with Hayden rolling to a 43-10 victory last season. The Wildcats led 21-3 at halftime and scored on the opening play of the second half to take a commanding 28-3 lead.

Hayden returns several key players from last season’s 10-2 team that reached the state semifinals before losing to Holton. Both Hayden losses last season were to Holton. Returning this season is quarterback Jett Wahlmeier who passed for 1,381 yards last season and threw three touchdown passes in last week’s win over Olpe. IN the backfield, the Wildcats feature the speedy Finn Dunshee who rushed for 1,150 yards with 12 touchdowns while averaging more than 10 yards per carry. Dunshee rushed for a pair of touchdowns in the win over Olpe last week. At wide out, the Wildcats can stretch the field with Jensen Schrickel who caught two touchdown passes from Wahlmeier last week.

Silver Lake couldn’t have started off any better against Riley County as Blake Redmond returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. Redmond would later add a rushing score and a touchdown reception from Tanner Martin in the first half as the Eagles led 26-18. After Riley County pulled to within 26-24 in the third quarter, Silver Lake pulled away with Redmond’s fourth touchdown and another one from Martin.

Martin is an explosive dual-threat quarterback and is coming off of a breakout junior season in which he passed for 2,175 yards, rushed for 542 yards, and scored a combined 24 touchdowns. He opened last week with a 125-yard rushing effort and added more than 130 yards through the air. He will need to be equally effective against a stout Hayden defense.

Our Pick: Hayden 31, Silver Lake 20 (Gilmore)

8M-II No. 3 Dighton (1-0) at Atwood-Rawlins County (1-0)

Dighton, with the highest preseason ranking in the 13-year Ken Simon era, started with a 52-16 home win versus Oberlin-Decatur Community. The Hornets are young and inexperienced at multiple positions, though have probably the classification’s best QB/WR combination with senior Carson Shimer and junior Daniel Cramer.

Shimer completed nine of 13 passes for 84 yards with three scores against no interceptions. He had 26 carries for 166 yards with three TDs. Junior Ryland Price had 12 carries for 122 yards and a score. All the passing yards went to Cramer, who enjoyed an explosive 2022 before he suffered a late season injury. The 6-foot-4 Shimer, who opened his career at Sterling, is highly efficient. At Dighton, he has completed 66.4 percent of his passes with 24 scores against three interceptions.

Dighton won this matchup, 38-12, en route to a 10-1 season. Rawlins County finished 8-3.

Rawlins County opened with a 42-0 win against an expected improved St. Francis squad. Senior Braxton Dixson posted a five of nine passing mark for 99 yards with two touchdowns against no interceptions. Junior Ryan Sramek finished with 17 carries for 89 yards and two scores, along with a 47-yard TD reception. Dighton was at 6.7 yards per play, Atwood at 6.5. This game should be much closer than last year, though Shimer/Cramer is likely the difference.

Our Pick: Dighton 32, Rawlins County 22 (Nicholl)

The Pick List:

Blue Valley (0-1) at 4A No. 3 St. James Academy (0-1) – St. James Academy

5A No. 2 Kapaun Mt. Carmel (1-0) at Wichita East (0-1) – Kapaun Mt. Carmel

Lawrence Free State (1-0) at Olathe Northwest (0-1) – Free State

Olathe West (0-1) at Lawrence (1-0) – Lawrence

5A No. 2 Wichita Northwest (1-0) at Wichita Heights (1-0) Wichita Northwest

Chanute (1-0) at Pittsburg (1-0) – Pittsburg

Tonganoxie (1-0) at Spring Hill (1-0) – Tonganoxie

Labette County (1-0) at Parsons (1-0) – Parsons

Chapman (1-0) at 3A No. 5 Clay Center (1-0) – Clay Center

Garden Plain (1-0) at 3A No. 2 Cheney (1-0) – Cheney

Holton (0-1) at 2A No. 2 Sabetha (1-0) – Sabetha

Wellsville (1-0) at Iola (1-0) – Wellsville

2A No. 3 Hoisington (1-0) at Halstead (1-0) -- Hoisington

Jefferson Co. North (1-0) at Atchison County (1-0) – Jeff Co. North

Humboldt (1-0) at Caney Valley (1-0) – Humboldt

Kingman (0-1) at Conway Springs (0-1) Kingman

Beloit (0-1) at Southeast of Saline (1-0) SE of Saline

Inman (0-1) at 1A No. 4 Sedgwick (1-0) Sedgwick

Marion (1-0) at Sterling (1-0) – Marion

Hodgeman County (1-0) at 8M-I No. 3 Meade (1-0) – Meade

Washington County (1-0) at Frankfort (1-0) – Frankfort

Tescott (1-0) at 6M No. 3 Northern Valley (1-0) – Northern Valley



Use your Facebook account to add a comment or start a discussion. Posts are subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment.