The Pick List - Week 4

Max Younie (24) will try to lead Pratt past Cheney. (Everett Royer,
By: Conor Nicholl & Matt Gilmore for
Sep 21, 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. 3 Manhattan (3-0) at 6A No. 5 Washburn Rural (3-0)

Defending 6A champion Manhattan will travel to take on Washburn Rural in a key Centennial League matchup. The No. 3 ranked Indians and No. 5 ranked Junior Blues are two of the seven remaining unbeaten teams in Class 6A.

Manhattan captured its 16th consecutive victory with last week’s 49-7 dominating win over Hays. Hays High entered as the No. 3 team in Class 5A. Manhattan controlled the game up front and rushed for 413 yards on the night including seven rushing touchdowns. Junior quarterback Carter Aslin continues to play at a high level. Aslin rushed for 189 yards and two touchdowns and added 89 yards through the air.

For the season, Aslin has rushed for 413 yards and five scores. Senior Charles Morgan in second on the team in rushing with 236 yards and six touchdowns. Morgan rushed for 103 yards and scored three times in last week’s win over Hays. He also had 63 yards receiving.

Junior Jaydin Hudley and sophomores Khamario Davis and Jackson Goos have each rushed for 100 yards thus far this season. Morgan and Dewayne Newby, Jr. have been Aslin’s primary receiving targets.

Manhattan’s defense has been exceptional in allowing only 15 points per game in wins over Derby, Topeka High, and Hays. The Indians’ secondary has picked off six passes with Jonathan Willie already registering three interceptions and Elijah McFadden with two. Chris Dunnigan leads the defensive front with five tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.

Washburn Rural will counter with an offense that has helped the Junior Blues score 35 points per game. Rural opened with a narrow 26-25 win over Wichita East, then defeated a strong 5A contender in De Soto, 28-14. Last week, Washburn Rural ran away from KC Piper, 51-15.

Senior quarterback Branton DeWeese was excellent in the win over Piper. DeWeese passed for 275 yards and five touchdowns – including three touchdown passes in the second half to turn a 30-15 lead into a 36-point win. DeWeese connected with Titan Osburn on three touchdown passes on the night.

Defensively, JC and Jaren Heim have terrorized opposing offenses. Jaren Heim had a pair of interceptions and returned a fumble for a score in the win over Piper.

Last season, Manhattan held off Washburn Rural, 28-25. The Indians have now won five of the past six meetings in the series.

Our Pick: Manhattan 30, Washburn Rural 23 (Nicholl)

4A No. 3 Andover Central (3-0) at 5A No. 4 Goddard-Eisenhower (3-0)

Both teams were unranked to start the season, though have pulled off multiple close quality wins, including at least one versus a ranked team.

Andover Central defeated Buhler, 20-14, and then held off two-time defending 5A state runner-up Maize, 24-21. In both contests, the Jaguars thwarted late scoring drives. Last week, Andover Central defeated Arkansas City, 25-6.

Eisenhower opened with a 7-3 victory versus then-5A No. 4 Hutchinson. The Tigers’ lone score came on a blocked punt. The Tigers then defeated Salina Central (44-28) and beat Valley Center, 21-7. Eisenhower’s three opponents are a combined 6-0 when not playing the Tigers.

Eisenhower is 2-0 and now 3-0 for the first time in school annals and has already matched last year’s win total. The Tigers finished 3-6 last season with five of their six losses coming by a touchdown or less. Eisenhower’s lone loss last season greater than seven points, came to Andover Central 24-7.

For Eisenhower, senior Lucas Dickman has cleared 100 rushing yards in each contest and tallied 434 this fall. Quarterback Derek Morgan has tallied more than 450 yards of total offense.

Andover Central is one of the state’s more consistent 4A/5A programs in the last decade with three state runner-up showings. Maddox Archibald has emerged as another solid Jaguar back with 469 rushing yards. Jace Jefferson has passed for 357 yards. Plus, Andover Central is excellent in the kicking game. Senior Drew Wilborn is six of nine on extra points and three of four on field goals. The Jags have averaged 6.2 yards per play, while Eisenhower is at 5.8.

Senior Nicholas Giffin paces Eisenhower with 38 tackles. Junior Jace Adler has 27 stops to lead Andover Central. Andover Central has thrown on 43 percent of snaps, Eisenhower on 35 percent.

These are both very well-coached squads where yards will be hard to come by, and special teams should make a key difference.

Our Pick: Andover Central 17, Eisenhower 14 (Nicholl)

Spring Hill (3-0) at 5A No. 3 Blue Valley Southwest (2-1)

Spring Hill will visit Blue Valley Southwest in a key game that will help clarify the picture on the eastern side of Class 5A.

Spring Hill passed a huge Frontier League test last week with a 31-28 road victory over Eudora. The Broncos have built a strong resume including a 36-29 win over Tonganoxie in Week 2.

Last week, the Broncos and Eudora were tied 21-21 when Colton McKanna scored one of his four rushing touchdowns to put Spring Hill on top. The Broncos later added a field goal from Ryan Jackson for a 31-21 lead and then held off Eudora late.

McKanna surpassed the 2,000-yard mark for his career with his 326-yard, four-touchdown performance against Eudora. The senior has now rushed for 599 yards and nine scores in three games this season. Quarterback Tyson Beashore has passed for 226 yards and three scores on the season, but completed only one pass for three yards in last week’s game.

Beau Gardner, Keanu Tiafau, Noah Anderton, and Kendall Heiss are the Broncos leading tacklers on defense.

Blue Valley Southwest is coming off of a 38-28 win over a solid Blue Valley West team. Senior quarterback Dylan Dunn continues to be effective in the passing game. In the win over Blue Valley West, Dunn passed for 321 yards and a pair of touchdowns and added a rushing score.

The Timberwolves were limited in the run game against Blue Valley West, producing 65 rush yards on 26 attempts. Drake Dombrosky led the team with 48 yads and a pair of rushing scores. For the season, Dombrosky and Luke Faulkner lead the team with more than 100 yards on the ground, but Southwest averages 81 rush yards per game.

Dunn, however, is comfortable controlling the offense with the pass game. He has thrown for 969 yards and nine touchdowns already this season and more than 6,300 yards and 56 touchdowns for his career. He is helped by a talented group of receivers including Alex Parks, Tate Everard, Emmitt Peters, and Gage Ilges. Parks leads that group with 487 yards and five scores, while Everard has 247 yards and two scores.

Defensively, Jackson Ready is the Timberwolves’ leading tackler and is among four players with at least 20 stops. But the strength of the defense may be in the secondary where Everard, Ilges, Peters, and Parker Lindman have all grabbed interceptions. Standout defensive back Trey Thomas has six pass break-ups and is receiving interest from several D1 programs.

Last season, Southwest pulled away from Spring Hill for a 49-26 victory. Dunn passed for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns and Thomas returned an interception 88 yards for a score. This should be a great game between two of the top teams on the east side of Class 5A.

Our Pick: Blue Valley Southwest 34, Spring Hill 27 (Gilmore)

3A No. 2 Cheney (3-0) at Pratt (2-1)

The Cheney Cardinals will make the trip to Pratt to take on the Greenbacks in what is likely the most important Class 3A district game this week. These two teams share a district with top-ranked and four-time defending champion Andale which has won 54 consecutive games.

Cheney has defeated Pratt in each of the past three seasons, including 43-21 last season.

The Cardinals feature some of the most dynamic playmakers in the classification with quarterback Josh Burdick and receiver Jackson Voth. Voth has committed to New Mexico State.

Cheney opened with impressive wins over Central Plains League rivals Kingman (34-7) and Garden Plain (41-14) before cruising past Douglass last week, 41-0.

Burdick has passed for 636 yards and eight touchdowns thus far this season. Maximus Miller, Tre Black, and Levi Self do a lot of the work out of the backfield along with Burdick and Voth. Drew Tolar, Colter McDaniel, and Kasen Messenger are also capable receiving targets.

Pratt will counter with Max Younie. The senior has rushed for 703 yards and 12 touchdowns and has passed for 311 yards and five scores. Noah Riley and Taye Wilson have emerged as Pratt’s primary receivers.

The Greenbacks will be looking to rebound after squandering a 24-0 lead at Halstead last week. Pratt led 24-0 and 31-13 before Halstead rallied for a 42-38 win. The Dragons outscored Pratt 29-8 in the second half. The Pratt defense surrendered 189 yards on the ground and 179 yards through the air in the game. Special Teams also played a big role as Halstead returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

In last year’s meeting, Cheney built a 21-0 halftime lead and forced three Greenback interceptions. The turnover battle will likely be key again this week.

The winner has the inside shot at a top two finish in the district and a home playoff game.

Our Pick: Cheney 24, Pratt 16 (Gilmore)


South Barber (3-0) at 8M-II No. 2 Kinsley (3-0)

This is the Eight-Man, Division II, District 7 opener – and could decide the district title. Last year, District 7 was won by Stafford, though was full of high-scoring close games. Four key district contests were decided by 16 points or fewer. Four teams averaged at least 30 points per game. None were top-10 in Division II scoring defense. This year, the defenses are much stronger statistically.

Kinsley, a Kpreps Potential Breakout Team in the preseason, has become one of the top storylines through three weeks. Kinsley has a strong chance for its first season with more than five wins since the ‘90s. Kinsley opened with its milestone 20-14 home victory versus then-No. 2 Victoria. Led by coach Corey Dunlap and its strong senior class, Kinsley has posted shutouts the last two weeks.

Kinsley leads Division II with 4.7 points allowed a contest, South Barber is second at 11.3. Coldwater-South Central is eighth at 16.7. Kinsley allowed 32.3 points per game last season. The Coyotes made defense a major focus. The passing defense numbers have massively improved. Kinsley has allowed 64 rushing yards and 2.4 yards per carry. Opponents have completed 18 of 41 passes for 187 yards with one score against five interceptions. Last year, Kinsley’s pass defense permitted 63 of 117 passing for 984 yards with 16 scores against five interceptions.

Kinsley has plenty of depth with its experienced corps of quarterback Peyton Schmidt, all-purpose threat Conner Chamberlain, and lineman Efrain Holguin. Plus, Kaden Arensman had the game-winning fumble recovery for a score against Victoria. Freshman Woodrow Lancaster has stepped up, including a receiving TD versus Victoria. Chamberlain leads with 361 rushing yards and 25 tackles. Kinsley has averaged 8.1 yards per play and ran the ball on 85 percent of snaps.

Matt Cantrell has eight straight winning seasons with South Barber. The Chieftains are long known for dual-threat quarterbacks and have ranked sixth, 11th, 11th and ninth in Division II in scoring offense the last four years, per the Sunflower Sports Solutions database. South Barber won, 60-30, in this matchup last year.

South Barber’s Briggs Jewell is an excellent player with 32 of 48 passing for 435 yards with nine scores against two interceptions. Senior Bryson Rathgeber leads with 30 carries for 304 yards and six scores. South Barber averages 7.4 yards per play.

Cantrell is a great coach and offensive mind, but Kinsley’s senior depth and much improved defense could yield another win.

Our Pick: Kinsley 26, South Barber 20 (Nicholl)

6M No. 2 Northern Valley (3-0) at 6M No. 1 Cheylin (3-0)

This is another colossal six-man matchup between the top-two teams in the classification. Both teams opened in the top-four and have steadily moved up. Each squad is extremely senior-heavy. Cheylin has its decorated senior trio of Logan McCarty, Pablo Bermudez and Brady Ketzner. Half of Northern Valley’s roster is seniors. The Western Kansas Liberty League foes have developed a rivalry since the seniors were in sixth grade.

Northern Valley came back to win, 30-25, with a fourth quarter touchdown to beat Ingalls last Friday. Cheylin, helped by three defensive touchdowns, pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat then-No. 1 Ashland, 62-32.

This is the District 4 opener, and likely for the district title. Cheylin was 10-2 last season, Northern Valley 7-3. Cheylin won last year’s meeting, 49-48, in a back-and-forth contest. The teams accounted for more than 1,000 yards of total offense, and Cheylin finished plus 4 in turnover margin.

Cheylin coach Chris Walden has been highly pleased with his improved defense. The Cougars are third in six-man with 10.7 points allowed a contest, per the Sunflower Sports Solutions database. McCarty has again been terrific with 606 passing yards and 11 scores against no interceptions. He leads with 30 carries for 289 yards. Bermudez has 14 scores, 12 offensive and two defensive. Ketzner, the defensive captain, leads in receptions and tackles. Juniors John Paul Sabatka and Harley McPherson have emerged. Cheylin has no turnovers, is plus 9 in turnover margin and has averaged 10.7 yards per play.

Six-man coaches have agreed that Cheylin has the top two or three players, while Northern Valley has more depth. A key question has been: What is Northern Valley’s ceiling when they are healthy? The Huskies significantly fought injuries last season and lost a pair of one-point games. Northern Valley is healthy entering Friday. Jeremiah Hansen has cleared 400 rushing yards so far this season. He did not play in the fourth quarter versus Cheylin. Brothers Kenton and Gavin Thalheim have more than 100 offensive yards.

Northern Valley has upped its production to 9.4 yards per play and is plus 7 in turnover margin. Plus, senior Nolan Kinderknecht transferred back to Northern Valley after he played at WaKeeney-Trego. He has more than 250 offensive yards and made a huge impact. Senior lineman Jason Cox is key in the passing game and caught the game-winner versus Ingalls.

This should be a great contest and could be the first of two matchups. Northern Valley is healthy and the addition of Kinderknecht is key. It could come down to which squad converts more extra points and who wins turnover battle. It is a game that could go either way.

Our Pick: Northern Valley 52, Cheylin 50 (Nicholl)

The Pick List:

Bishop Carroll (1-2) at Junction City (2-1) – Junction City

Derby (2-1) at 5A No. 5 Hutchinson (2-1) – Derby

Shawnee Mission Northwest (1-2) at Lawrence Free State (3-0) – SM Northwest

Garden City (2-1) at Hays (2-1) – Hays

Liberal (3-0) at Dodge City (2-1) -- Liberal

Wichita East (1-2) at 6A No. 2 Wichita Northwest (3-0) – Wichita Northwest

Fort Scott (2-1) at Pittsburg (2-1) Pittsburg

KC Washington (3-0) at Wamego (2-1) – Wamego

Atchison (3-0) at KC Schlagle (2-1) – Atchison

Tonganoxie (2-1) at Paola (2-1) – Tonganoxie

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

Hugoton (3-0) at Colby (2-1) – Hugoton

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

Rock Creek (2-1) at Silver Lake (2-1) – Rock Creek

Thomas More Prep (3-0) at Scott City (2-1) – Scott City

Caney Valley (2-1) at Cherryvale (2-1) – Caney Valley

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

2A No. 5 Ellsworth (3-0) at Hillsboro (2-1) – Ellsworth

Halstead (2-1) at 2A No. 4 Southeast of Saline (3-0) – SE Saline

Phillipsburg (2-1) at Norton (3-0) – Norton

McLouth (3-0) at 1A No. 3 Jefferson Co. North (3-0) – Jeff Co. North

Hutchinson Trinity (1-2) at Ellinwood (3-0) – Hutch Trinity

Olpe (1-2) at Pleasanton (3-0) -- Olpe

1A No. 5 Wabaunsee (2-1) at Smith Center (2-1) – Smith Center

Central Burden (3-0) at Argonia-Attica (3-0) – Central Burden

Chase County (2-1) at 8M-I No. 4 Burlingame (3-0) – Burlingame

Hill City (2-1) at Atwood-Rawlins Co. (3-0) – Rawlins County

8M-I No. 2 Lyndon (3-0) at Cair Paravel (2-1) – Lyndon

8M-I No. 3 Meade (3-0) at Sublette (3-0) – Meade

8M-II No. 5 Minneola (3-0) at Bucklin (2-1) – Minneola

8M-II No. 3 Victoria (2-1) at Central Plains (3-0) – Victoria

Deerfield (3-0) at 6M No. 3 Ashland (2-1) – Ashland

Tescott (2-1) at 6M No. 4 Cunningham (2-1) -- Cunningham





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