The Pick List - Week 7

Matthew Patterson (42) & the Hodgeman County defense looks to slow Minneola. (by Jennifer Shiew)
By: Conor Nicholl & Matt Gilmore for
Oct 13, 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:

5A No. 2 Mill Valley (5-1) at 6A No. 2 Olathe North (5-1)

Two of the top teams in the Sunflower League will square off with hopes of keeping the league title in sight. Both Mill Valley and Olathe North have one league loss – both to 6A No. 1 Gardner-Edgerton in consecutive weeks. The Trailblazers and Lawrence Free State remain unbeaten in Sunflower League play.

More importantly, the Jaguars and Eagles remain in the mix for a top seed on the eastern half of their respective classifications. Mill Valley is chasing a fifth consecutive Class 5A state title.

Since Mill Valley’s 49-10 loss to Gardner-Edgerton back in Week 4, the Jaguars have posted impressive victories over Olathe South (77-21) and Shawnee Mission South (35-0). The Jaguars have relied heavily on the run game this fall and are averaging nearly 320 yards per game on the ground.

Senior Tristan Baker leads the Mill Valley rushing attack and benefits from running behind a big and talented offensive line. Baker has rushed for 738 yards and nine touchdowns this season, while quarterback Daniel Blaine has added 406 yards and four scores on the ground. Jaden Scoobe and Connor Bohon have each rushed for more than 240 yards and Bohon has scored five touchdowns.

Blaine has provided some balance in passing for 340 yards and three scores. Senior Davion Harris, who had a breakout performance in last year’s state title game, leads the team with eight receptions for 105 yards and a score.

Defensively, Mill Valley is led by junior standout Jayden Woods who has 26 tackles, including seven for loss. Evan Seifert leads the Jaguar defense with 28 tackles.

Similarly, Olathe North rebounded from its close loss to Gardner-Edgerton (21-14) with a shutout victory over Shawnee Mission West last week. The Eagles are led by senior back T.J. Porter who rushed for 483 yards and 11 touchdowns in North’s first four games. Porter does not show up in the box score in each of the past two weeks.

Aiden Bruce has rushed for 230 yards and seven touchdowns and produced 277 receiving yards and two more scores. Miller Jones also provides an option in the backfield.

Quarterback Jamison Sarver has passed for 612 yards and four touchdowns and added more than 200 yards rushing on the season. Braden Hales, a recent Colorado State commit, leads an experienced offensive line.

Our Pick: Mill Valley 24, Olathe North 21 (Gilmore)

Maize South (5-1) at Derby (5-1)

Maize South will travel across the Wichita metro for a key AVCTL showdown against Derby. These two teams have quite a bit to play for in this contest.

Derby has won five consecutive games after a season-opening loss to defending 6A champion Manhattan. The Panthers sit just outside the top five in Class 6A.

Maize South is also just outside the top five in Class 5A. The Mavericks have won three straight games since a 28-23 loss to Hutchinson back in Week 3. Last week, Maize South posted an impressive 42-21 win over Goddard. Prior to that, the Mavericks shut out rival Maize, 47-0, at Riverfront Stadium.

Maize South averages nearly 42 points per game under the direction of junior quarterback Tate McNew. McNew (6-1, 185) has passed for 1,018 yards while completing an efficient 70 percent of his attempts. He has a talented group of receivers including Sammy Dresie and Jeron Askren. Sammy Dresie (6-3, 180) has 32 receptions for 508 yards this season. Braxton Bigley has returned from injury to rush for 138 yards in his debut.

The Maverick defense has allowed just 16 points per game led by Christian McDonald and Brady Rapp. Maize South has one of the state’s top kickers in senior Sam Parks.

Derby has posted five straight wins while overcoming some adversity. Senior quarterback Braxton Clark was injured in the Hutchinson game. The Panthers used three different quarterbacks in a blowout win over Campus two weeks ago, but junior Easton Splane appears to have emerged. Splane completed all six of his passes for 191 yards and three scores in the win over Campus. In last week’s 35-21 win over Maize, Splane passed for 175 yards and three touchdowns, but was intercepted three times.

Derby is explosive in the run game with senior Derek Hubbard and electric freshman Arieus Finley. Hubbard has rushed for 545 yards and six scores, while Finley has added 307 yards and six touchdowns.

Da’Saahn Brame and Colton Ruedy have been the Panthers’ top receiving targets. Brame has 18 catches for 375 yards and eight touchdowns, while Ruedy has 22 receptions for 265 yards.

Both teams remain in the running for a high seed in their respective classifications. Maize South is playing really well, but Derby gets the slight edge at home.

Our Pick: Derby 27, Maize South 24 (Gilmore)

3A No. 1 Andale (6-0) at 3A No. 2 Cheney (6-0)

One of the state’s marquee contests for all classes this year, Class 3A No. 1 Andale travels to 3A No. 2 Cheney. This will decide District 7.

One of the major arching questions for the 2023 season was whether a team, headlined by Cheney, could end Andale’s winning streak. This could be the first of two meetings. Andale has won 57 straight games, the nation’s longest current streak

Andale by far leads 3A with 67 points per game. Cheney is third with 47 points a contest. The Indians have permitted nine points per game, while the Cardinals lead 3A with 3.5 points a contest. Cheney has perhaps the best QB/WR combination in Kansas with junior Josh Burdick and receiver Jackson Voth. Plus, senior, Kason Messenger is a dominating end, and Colter McDaniel is an experienced defensive back.

Andale started with five straight wins, including two with a running clock in the first quarter. Last week, the Indians controlled top-5 Wichita Collegiate, 28-7. Andale ran 71 plays for 432 yards, including 369 rushing yards.

Cheney lost, 32-0, to Andale last season and took a close 29-22 regular season loss in 2019. The Cardinals have significantly upped their offense from last year when it averaged six yards per play and 4.3 yards per rush. Last week, Cheney beat Nickerson, 70-0, and held the Panthers with minus-5 total yards. Voth returned the opening kickoff 78 yards for a score, and Messenger had a 38-yard scoop-and-score.

In Week 1, Cheney flipped a result from last season with a 34-7 win versus Kingman, which has won five straight contests. In that game, Burdick completed 19 of 33 passes for 205 yards and four scores. Voth had nine touches for 143 yards and two TDs in the win. Cheney also has big wins against solid teams Garden Plain and Pratt.

However, Andale counters with its significant depth and great backfield and offensive line. Owen Eck, Gage Spresser and Cooper Marx are among those carrying the ball. Henry Eck, Cody Engelbrecht, and Ian Aouad anchor the line. Carson Butts is impressive on both sides of the ball.

Cheney may have the two most talented players on the field. Still, Andale held another great quarterback, Collegiate’s Hudson Ferralez, to just one touchdown and an interception last week. Andale has the edge with its running game, line play and depth.

Our Pick: Andale 32, Cheney 20 (Nicholl)

8M-II No. 1 Axtell (6-0) at 8M-II No. 4 Frankfort (5-1)

This Twin Valley League showdown will decide the champion in Eight-Man, Division II, District 3. Axtell enters this contest as the top-ranked team in the classification having won consecutive state championships and 32 consecutive games. Frankfort enters ranked No. 4 in the classification and has played at a high level all season.

Axtell is coming off a dominant 56-0 win over rival Hanover last week. Eagle all-stater Brandon Schmelzle completed eight of his nine passes in the contest for more than 130 yards and five touchdowns. Schmelzle has thrown five touchdown passes in each of his past two games.

For the season, Schmelzle’s primary targets have been Grady Buessing, Eli Broxterman, and Landon Schmitz. When the Eagles want to run the football, it has been Schmelzle and Broxterman carrying the bulk of the load. But Axtell is so athletic and opportunistic on defense that often they are set up in short fields or get a special teams score.

Frankfort has a talented group of skill players that can challenge Axtell. The Wildcats have been led by quarterback Wes Anderson – the son of coach Nick Anderson. Wes Anderson has passed for 1,222 yards and 23 touchdowns this season with only one interceptions.

Anderson’s trio of top receiving targets include Carter Olson, who has a team high 447 yards and 11 touchdowns. Trent Hardin is second on the team with 310 yards and three scores, while Lane Loiseau has 301 yards and seven scores. Loiseau and Brock Armstrong are the Wildcats’ primary ball carriers. Armstrong leads the team with 259 yards with five touchdowns, while Loiseau has 243 yards on the ground and six touchdowns.

Frankfort’s lone loss came to Lyndon 70-24 back in Week 3. The Tigers are ranked second in Eight-Man, Division I. Frankfort does own a quality victory over Division I contender Chase County (38-20) in the season-opener.

Frankfort and Axtell have split their past four meetings with Axtell winning the last two. This game will go a long way in determining how serious of a contender the Wildcats are on the East side of Division II.

Our Pick: Axtell 42, Frankfort 26 (Gilmore)


8M-II No. 5 Minneola (6-0) at Hodgeman County (5-1)

These two high-scoring offenses will decide the District 8 title.

Minneola leads Division II in scoring offense with 63.2 points per game. For the second straight year, the Wildcats had a forfeit win against Pike Valley. Hodgeman County is ninth with 49 points a contest. Minneola is eighth in defense, while Hodgeman County is No. 16.

These teams likely feature the top quarterbacks in Eight-Man, Division II West with Minneola left-hander Eli Lang and Hodgeman’s Owen Reece, also one of Kansas’ best basketball players. Last year, Reece suffered an early season injury. Hodgeman County finished 6-4 and struggled offensively without Reece. In the first two games, the Longhorns averaged 52 points a contest. In the last eight, the Longhorns had 25.8 points per game, including a 44-30 loss to Minneola.

Reece has enjoyed a huge year with 136 of 139 passing for 1,590 yards with 23 scores against two interceptions. He is by far Hodgeman County’s leading rusher with 96 carries for 535 yards and 16 TDs. Junior Hazen Rydquist has 75 catches for 778 yards and eight TDs. Hodgeman County has 6.9 yards per play. Last season, the Longhorns were at 5.5 yards play.

Lang has enjoyed another big year with 36 of 51 passing for 702 yards with nine scores against two interceptions. He has 40 carries for 556 yards and 13 scores. Senior James Littlewood has 39 rushes for 500 yards and 10 TDs.

Minneola has run the ball on 62 percent of snaps and averaged 11.9 yards per play, including 12.2 yards per rush. Last year, the Wildcats had 8.7 yards per play and ran on just 46 percent of snaps, second-fewest in Division II.

Hodgeman County fell behind 40-6 after three quarters and lost, 54-34, to Meade in Week 2. Meade was ranked third in Division I at that time. Two weeks ago, Hodgeman County beat Bucklin, 40-38. Minneola beat Bucklin, 60-32, when the Wildcats rolled up 574 yards of total offense, including 413 rushing yards. Hodgeman County had 503 yards of total offense versus Bucklin.

Seeing Lang and Reece at full strength should yield possibly more than 800 combined yards of offense and 80 points. Hodgeman County has a great chance to pull the upset at home and win District 8.

Our Pick: Hodgeman County 46, Minneola 42 (Nicholl)


8M-II No. 2 Victoria (4-1) at Sylvan-Lucas Unified (5-0)

This will decide the District 5 title between two coaches who have known each other more than 15 years in Victoria’s Doug Oberle and Sylvan-Lucas’ Ben Labertew. Oberle is 11-0 all-time versus Labertew in his tenure at Natoma and Sylvan-Lucas. However, the past two years, specifically 2021, have been very competitive games. Sylvan-Lucas has 37 players on the roster, highly rare for an eight-man roster. When nearby Wilson closed after last May, at least nine players went to Sylvan-Lucas.

Sylvan-Lucas returned senior quarterback Lane Homewood. The Wilson players include Taegan Thrasher, Connor Charvat, and Cade Brokes. Sylvan-Lucas has no player over 219 pounds. The Mustangs have three wins by 18 points or fewer, including a 26-14 victory versus Central Plains last week. Homewood tallied three scores, including a key 43-yard pick-six. Charvat scored a touchdown, too. Sylvan-Lucas has its first 5-0 start since 2017.

Both are outstanding statistical defensive teams. Victoria is first in the classification with 8.4 points allowed a contest. Sylvan-Lucas is third with 12.4 points permitted per game, per the Sunflower Sports Solutions database. Victoria has won four straight and risen back up to No. 2 in the Division II rankings. The Knights have impressive wins against La Crosse, Central Plains and Sharon Springs, all teams above .500 when not playing Victoria.

The Knights have veteran personnel, especially up front with senior quarterback Landon Schmidtberger, senior end Seth Schwien, senior lineman Will Scherrer and elite sophomore lineman Kyle Huser. Schwien is a four-year player and returning first team all-state pick with a Kansas Wesleyan offer. The 250-pound Huser, an interior player, was first team all-league as a sophomore. Plus, the defensive line includes Ethan VonLintel and Jeb Miller, the team’s fastest player.

After a Week 5 bye, Victoria had a sluggish start against Wallace County last week before it exploded for 48 points in a game called at halftime. Schwien had five catches for 111 yards and two TDs, all numbers that either set or tied a career high. Schwien and Miller each finished with at least one sack. VonLintel has contributed with touchdowns via receiving and on special teams in 2023. Schmidtberger, in his first full year as a starter, has 459 passing and 249 rushing yards. Victoria has three straight shutouts against Ness City, Central Plains and Wallace County.

Oberle has a high level of respect for Labertew, long known for his Xs and Os acumen and eight straight winning seasons with the Mustangs. The two major questions: Can Sylvan-Lucas match Victoria’s front and can the Mustangs hold down Schwien? This should be a close one, but Victoria has the edge at several key positions.

Our Pick: Victoria 34, Sylvan-Lucas 22 (Nicholl)

The Pick List:

Dodge City (2-4) at Garden City (4-2) – Garden City

Lawrence (4-2) at Lawrence Free State (6-0) – Free State

6A No. 5 Manhattan (5-1) at Lansing (3-3) – Manhattan

Olathe East (4-2) at 6A No. 1 Gardner-Edgerton (6-0) – Gardner-Edgerton

Goddard (4-2) at Salina Central (5-1) – Goddard

5A No. 1 Kapaun Mt. Carmel (5-1) at St. James Academy (1-5) – Kapaun

Topeka Seaman (3-3) at Basehor-Linwood (4-2) – Basehor-Linwood

Wichita Heights (5-1) at Bishop Carroll (2-4) – Bishop Carroll

Coffeyville (4-2) at Chanute (5-1) – Chanute

Eudora (3-3) at 4A No. 4 Tonganoxie (4-2) – Tonganoxie

Colby (3-3) at Lakin (4-2) – Colby

Holcomb (4-2) at Hugoton (5-1) – Holcomb

Holton (3-3) at 3A No. 3 Topeka Hayden (6-0) – Hayden

Rock Creek (4-2) at 3A No. 4 Clay Center (5-1) – Clay Center

Wellsville (6-0) at Santa Fe Trail (5-1) – Wellsville

2A No. 5 Ellsworth (6-0) at Halstead (3-3) – Ellsworth

Larned (5-1) at 2A No. 3 Hoisington (6-0) – Hoisington

Norton (6-0) at Thomas More Prep (4-2) – Norton

Riley County (3-3) at 2A No. 1 Nemaha Central (6-0) – Nemaha Central

Erie (4-2) at 1A No. 1 St. Mary’s Colgan (6-0) – Colgan

Jayhawk-Linn (6-0) at Olpe (4-2) – Olpe

Argonia-Attica (5-1) at South Sumner Co. (6-0) – South Sumner

Chase County (4-2) at Cair Paravel (4-2) – Chase County

Quinter (4-2) at Hoxie (5-1) – Hoxie

West Elk (5-1) at Oswego (3-3) – West Elk

6M No. 2 Ashland (5-1) at Ingalls (5-1) – Ashland

Peabody-Burns (4-2) at 6M No. 4 Waverly (5-0) – Waverly


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.