The Pick List - Week 3

Can Malik Bah (4) & Hays end Manhattan's 15-game win streak? (by Everett Royer,
By: Conor Nicholl & Matt Gilmore for
Sep 14, 2023

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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. 2 Wichita Northwest (2-0) at 5A No. 2 Kapaun Mt. Carmel (2-0)

The Wichita rivals match up Friday at Stryker Complex with significant City League ramifications at stake. Both teams were in 5A in 2021. KMC beat Northwest, 34-17, in the regular season and 38-35 in the playoffs. Last year, Northwest was in 6A and KMC in 5A. Northwest won, 41-14.

Kapaun features Omari Elias, possibly the state’s best running back with more than 400 rushing yards this season and 2,000-plus in each of the last two falls. The Crusaders’ offensive line has all seniors, except one player. In a 43-28 win against Wichita East last week, KMC trailed 7-0 early and then scored 36 of the game’s next 42 points. The Crusaders ran for 412 yards.

Northwest coach Steve Martin played a high percentage of non-seniors in an 8-3 season in 2022. Martin has been pleased with his team and all-around speed. Sophomore edge rusher Johnmichael Fountain has recent Iowa State and Kansas State offers. He had 13.5 tackles for loss as a freshman and a pick-six this fall.

Northwest has used two quarterbacks with senior Jayce Glasper and sophomore Jaylen Mason. Glasper, the starting holder, is at wide receiver when not playing quarterback. Mason has completed 19 of 30 passes for 249 yards. Northwest has led its classification in scoring offense every year from ’17-22 and is currently second. Sophomore Aaron Bohannon has 254 rushing yards, Thompson with 227.

In 2021, KMC delivered more than 450 yards of total offense in both wins against Northwest – and made key defensive plays. That will likely be the key for Kapaun to win this week.

Our Pick: Northwest 37, Kapaun 27 (Nicholl)

5A No. 3 Hays (2-0) at 6A No. 3 Manhattan (2-0)

Both teams enjoyed the best seasons in respective school histories last fall. Hays High finished 10-2, lost 31-21 to Manhattan at home in Week 3, and eventually reached the 5A semifinals. Manhattan went 13-0 and won the 6A state championship.

Manhattan added a Week 1 win versus Derby and carries a 15-game winning streak, longest in school history. Hays High has won two remarkable contests.

Hays picked up a 20-14 road overtime victory in Week 1, and won a wild 28-27 home rivalry contest versus Great Bend last Friday. Star running back Malik Bah has more than 500 all-purpose yards and thrown a passing touchdown in both games. That included the game-winner on HHS’ final offensive play against Great Bend.

Hays High has 11 new defensive starters and forced five turnovers in two games. Dalton Meyers, Cooper Lindenmeyer and Slade Salmans are among those with big Indian defensive starts.

Last year, Manhattan beat Hays High, 31-21. Bah scored on an 80-yard run for a 6-0 lead. He also tallied a 73-yard receiving score on the game’s final play. In between, Manhattan outscored Hays 31-8 and limited the Indians to 1 of 9 passing with an interception. Manhattan was balanced with 207 passing and 199 rushing yards. Hays is 5-1 in one-score games since the start of ’21. Manhattan was 4-0 with two overtime victories last year.

Manhattan junior Carter Aslin has completed 19 of 30 pass attempts for 264 yards with three touchdowns against one interception in his first games as the starter. He has 30 carries for 224 yards and three scores. His dad, Lucas, has coached at several levels in Kansas. The Indians have 8.5 yards per pass and 6.7 yards per rush. Four players have at least 10 tackles, led by 16 from junior Colby Altevogt. Senior Max Stanard has played on both sides of the ball.

Bah might be Kansas’ best player in 2023, but Manhattan might have the edge in depth and passing game.

Our Pick: Manhattan 28, Hays 20 (Nicholl)

Spring Hill (2-0) at 4A No. 3 Eudora (2-0)

A key game in the Frontier League will take place in Eudora on Friday night as the visiting Spring Hill Broncos will come in to take on the third-ranked host Cardinals.

Spring Hill enters 2-0 after home victories over Bonner Springs (57-14) and Tonganoxie (36-29). The Broncos have started fast in each of the firs two weeks, having outscored their two opponents by a combined score of 71-10 in the first half.

In last week’s wild win over Tonganoxie, the Broncos scored first on a touchdown by Noah Anderton. Tonganoxie responded with a long touchdown pass to grab a 7-6 lead. Spring Hill then outscored the Chieftains 22-3 the remainder of the first half to lead 28-10 at the break. The Broncos forced two Tonganoxie turnovers that led to a touchdown by Colton McKanna and scoring pass from Tyson Beashore to Cooper D’Albini. Later in the half, Jackson Torrez broke free for a long scoring run for the Broncos.

Tonganoxie would respond with three touchdowns to take a 29-28 lead in the fourth quarter. Spring Hill didn’t panic, and McKanna’s 37-yard touchdown with around three minutes left proved to be the game-winning score.

McKanna is a standout player out of the backfield and has rushed for 273 yards and five touchdowns through two weeks. Quarterback Tyson Beashore has passed for 226 yards and three scores. D’Albini (6-5, 205), Torrez (6-2, 210), Ryan Jackson (6-1, 160), and freshman Cory Kirchner (6-3, 165) give Beashore big, capable targets in the passing game. Kirchner had more than 100 yards and two scores in the season-opener.

While Anderton has scored a pair of touchdowns on offense, he is also the Broncos leading tackler and had a key interception late in the first half last week that led to a touchdown.

Eudora has climbed to the No. 3 ranking in 4A with blowout wins over Baldwin (48-7) and Bonner Springs (55-8). The Cardinals bring back quite a bit of experience from last year’s 8-2 team that reached the second round of the 4A playoffs before falling to eventual-champion Bishop Miege, 33-26.

Eudora features a strong group of skill players headlined by receiver Adrion Seals. Seals has eight catches for 280 yards and four touchdowns through two weeks. Quarterback Kole Manley has been efficient in getting the ball to Seals and the Cardinals other weapons including Braylen Hoobler, and Matt Magette. Manley has passed for 376 yards and four touchdowns this season.

The Cardinals have been effective running the ball as well thanks to a strong offensive line and Errol Siemon in the backfield. Siemon has rushed for 205 yards and four touchdowns through the first two games after rushing for more than 700 yards and eight scores last season.

The Cardinal defense has been stout thus far, but will have to play well against a talented Spring Hill team. Eudora has forced four turnovers in the first two weeks. Last season, Eudora won at Spring Hill, 37-10, thanks to a big night on the ground. The Cardinals also forced a pair of turnovers and blocked a field goal.

Our Pick: Eudora 27, Spring Hill 21 (Gilmore)

8M-I No. 1 Leoti-Wichita Co. (2-0) at Hoxie (2-0)

A couple of contenders in Eight-Man, Division I that are very familiar with one another will meet in Hoxie this week. The host Indians will take on the defending state champion and top-ranked Wichita County Indians.

This will be the ninth meeting between the two teams since 2018. They have met twice in each of the past three seasons. Wichita County holds a 6-2 advantage over that span.

Wichita County enters the contest ranked No. 1 after a pair of blowout victories over Wheatland-Grinnell (54-0) and Elkhart (88-0). Incredibly, the Indians scored 88 points in the first half of last week’s game, aided by four defensive scores including three fumble returns for touchdowns and a pick-six.

While Wichita County graduated all-state quarterback Ehrik Hermosillo off of last year’s state title team, several key pieces return including his brother Khris Hermosillo. Khris has rushed for 219 yards and six touchdowns on only ten carries so far this season. He has also returned a fumble and an interception for touchdowns. Hermosillo rushed for 1,251 yards and 23 touchdowns last season.

Standout athlete Wyatt Gardner has transitioned to quarterback where he has passed for 98 yards and two scores in limited action. Both of Garnder’s touchdown passes have gone to Colton Harbin, who was also the team’s leading receiver last season.

Hoxie has opened with shutout victories over WaKeeney-Trego (47-0) and Wheatland-Grinnell (56-0). The Hoxie Indians are led by quarterback Duncan Bell. Bell, who gained some experience last season as a sophomore behind starter Brady Jones, has thrown a pair of touchdown passes and rushed for a score. He passed for 214 yards and two scores last season, while adding 280 yards and seven touchdowns.

Braydon Scheetz appears to have emerged as Hoxie’s primary ball carrier along with Jonathan Mader. Scheetz has rushed for 211 yards and five touchdowns, while Mader has contributed two scores and 92 yards in limited carries.   

Hoxie’s last win in this series came back in the 2021 playoffs. That is when Hoxie pulled off a surprising 66-58 victory after having lost the season-opener to Wichita County, 56-6. Once again, this could be the first of two meetings this fall as it has the past three years.

Our Pick: Wichita County 56, Hoxie 26 (Gilmore)


Clifton-Clyde (2-0) at 8M-II No. 1 Axtell (2-0)

This is a key Twin Valley League battle between the Clifton-Clyde Eagles and the Axtell Eagles. Axtell, the two-time defending Eight-Man, Division II champion, carries a 28-game winning streak into this contest. Clifton-Clyde is 2-0 after big victories over Hanover (50-8) and Blue Valley Randolph (46-0).

This contest was the Kpreps Game of the Week for Week 3 as voted on by the fans last season. Axtell jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead in a competitive first half that saw them lead 28-12. In the second half, Brandon Schmelzle took over – scoring four of his five touchdowns on the night as Axtell pulled away for a 58-12 victory.

After the loss to Axtell, Clifton-Clyde rebounded with five straight victories before being upset 28-22 by Quinter in the first-round of the 8M-I playoffs. This season, Clifton-Clyde returns a talented group of skill players led by Trent Long, Payton Fahey, and Drayden Reed.

Long rushed for a score and threw a touchdown pass to Reed in last years game. He rushed for 850 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, while passing for 475 yards and seven scores.

Clifton-Clyde is trying to develop depth and gain experience up front. The Eagles graduated standout players in Kansas Damman and Seth LeClair from last year’s team. The younger players have performed well through two games, but Axtell has some size which may present a challenge.

Despite the graduation of all-state quarterback Isaac Detweiler, Axtell has continued wining with a talented roster. Schmelzle has moved behind center at quarterback and impacts the game in so many ways. Through two weeks, Schmelzle has passed for 127 yards and three touchdowns, rushed for 92 yards and two scores, and returned a kickoff and punt for touchdowns.

Eli Broxterman rushed for 95 yards and three scores in Axtell’s season-opener – a challenging 60-44 win over Cair Paravel. Rilyn Buessing has a couple of touchdown receptions thus far, and Landon Schmitz and Grady Buessing continue to be options on offense as well.

Up front, Axtell features some size in Grant Buessing (6-1, 220) and Sawyer Deters (6-2, 270).

Our Pick: Axtell 36, Clifton-Clyde 20 (Gilmore)

6M No. 4 Cheylin (2-0) at 6M No. 1 Ashland (2-0)

Ashland is 3-0 against Cheylin in the last two seasons. The two six-man powers have many of the state’s most well-known names, including the Cougars’ Logan McCarty, Pablo Bermudez and Brady Ketzner. Ashland has its quartet of Britt Grigsby, Landen and Lathan McPhail and Kade Harris.

Ashland won, 43-32, in 2021, and 50-28 and 78-34 last fall. The latter came in the state semifinals. Cheylin had 402 yards in the state semifinals, but Landen McPhail rushed for 276 yards and Harris had 275.

Cheylin has outscored opponents 97-0 and is the only six-man team to not allow a point. Of the eight undefeated six-man squads, Ashland and Chetopa are the lone two that have played both games on the road. Both teams rank in the top-nine in scoring offense this season.

In 2022, Ashland and Cheylin virtually tied for the six-man lead in yards per play, both at 10.3. Cheylin passed on 45 percent of snaps, second-most in the classification, per the Sunflower Sports Solutions database. Ashland finished first and Cheylin third in 2022 six-man scoring offense at 57 and 50 points per game, respectively.

McCarty has enjoyed another efficient season with 290 passing, 233 rushing and eight offensive scores. Bermudez has nine offensive TDs on 18 touches. Ashland held defending state champion Cunningham to negative rushing yards in Week 1. Harris rushed for 157 yards and a score. Both teams have multiple first team all-state players in possibly the first of two meetings. Harris, though, has continually proven the difference for Ashland in the last two years.

Our Pick: Ashland 44, Cheylin 34 (Nicholl)

The Pick List:

Bishop Carroll (1-1) at Derby (1-1) – Derby

Junction City (1-1) at McPherson (1-1) – Junction City

5A No. 1 Mill Valley (2-0) at Shawnee Mission Northwest – Mill Valley

6A No. 5 Washburn Rural (2-0) at KC Piper (1-1) – Washburn Rural

5A No. 5 Goddard-Eisenhower (2-0) at Valley Center (2-0) Eisenhower

Great Bend (1-1) at Buhler (1-1) – Great Bend

Topeka Seaman (2-0) at Shawnee Heights (2-0) – Shawnee Heights

St. James Academy (0-2) at 4A No. 1 Bishop Miege (2-0) – Bishop Miege

Chanute (2-0) at Tonganoxie (1-1) – Chanute

3A No. 5 Clay Center (2-0) at Abilene (2-0) – Clay Center

Kingman (1-1) at Wichita Trinity (2-0) – Kingman

3A No. 3 Topeka Hayden (2-0) at Rossville (1-1) – Topeka Hayden

Olpe (1-1) at Osage City (2-0) – Olpe

Minneapolis (2-0) at 2A No. 4 Southeast of Saline – SE Saline

Garden Plain (1-1) at Medicine Lodge (2-0) – Garden Plain

Smith Center (1-1) at Russell (2-0) – Russell

1A No. 5 Jefferson Co. North (2-0) at 1A No. 4 Wabaunsee (2-0) – Wabaunsee

1A No. 2 Sedgwick (2-0) at Sterling (1-1) – Sedgwick

Valley Heights (1-1) at Troy (1-1) – Valley Heights

Atwood-Rawlins Co. (1-1) at Sharon Springs-Wallace Co. (1-1) – Rawlins Co.

Dighton (1-1) at Quinter (1-1) – Quinter

8M-I No. 2 Lyndon (2-0) at Frankfort (2-0) – Lyndon

Moundridge (2-0) at Wichita Independent (2-0) – Moundridge

Thunder Ridge (1-1) at Hill City (1-1) – Hill City

Ingalls (2-0) at 6M No. 3 Northern Valley (2-0) – Northern Valley





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