The Pick List - Week 8

Wesley Edison (7) & Free State will try and beat Olathe North. (by Landon Cory)
By: Conor Nicholl & Matt Gilmore for
Oct 20, 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. 5 Manhattan (6-1) at 6A No. 4 Wichita Northwest (6-1)

This game has major implications in the seeding of the 6A West bracket. The Indians and Grizzlies met twice last season, with Manhattan winning 56-28 in Week 8, and then 27-18 in the state quarterfinals of the playoffs a few weeks later.

A key match-up will be Manhattan’s stingy defense against the explosive Northwest offense that features quarterback Jaylen Mason, backs Cencere Thompson and Deuce Bohannon, and receivers in Jace Glasper and Michael Lopez. Mason has passed for 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns, while Bohannon and Thompson have combined for more than 1,400 yards and 26 scores.

Manhattan allows only 13.4 per game. The Indians also counter with a good offense led by quarterback Carter Aslin. Aslin has rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and passed for nearly 700 more yards.

Northwest has a seven-point comeback win versus 5A No. 1 Kapaun Mt. Carmel and lost on a last second touchdown to Wichita East. Manhattan has faced a tougher schedule with wins versus Derby, Hays High and Junction City and a loss to Washburn Rural.

Our Pick: Manhattan 35, Northwest 28 (Nicholl)

6A No. 3 Olathe North (6-1) at Lawrence Free State (6-1)

The winner of this game gets at least a share of the Sunflower League title, but there is even more on the line when you consider both teams are in-line for a top seed in their respective bracket. Olathe North is at least the No. 2 seed in 6A-East with a win, and the Eagle could vault to No. 1 if Gardner-Edgerton loses to Olathe South.

Similarly, Free State can clinch a top-3 seed on the 6A-West with a win. The Firebirds will look to rebound from their only loss of the season – a 31-24 overtime decision to crosstown rival Lawrence last week. Wesley Edison has been exceptional for the Firebirds having accumulated more than 1,900 yards of total offense and 28 total touchdowns.

Olathe North delivered a strong 28-14 win over Mill Valley last week as senior back T.J. Porter returned after missing two games. Porter rushed for nearly 200 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Mill Valley.

Our Pick: Olathe North 28, Free State 24 (Gilmore)

5A No. 3 Goddard-Eisenhower (7-0) at Goddard (5-2)

Eisenhower has won the last two in its crosstown series. The Tigers are by far off to the best start in program history.

Junior Derek Morgan has had a big year for Eisenhower with 990 passing yards with 16 scores against four interceptions. Senior Lucas Dickman has 171 carries for 1,238 yards and 11 scores. Eisenhower has ran the ball on 65 percent of snaps. Seniors Nicholas Giffin (69 tackles) and senior Hunter House (13 tackles for loss) has paced the defense.

Goddard’s single-wing offense has run the ball on 93 percent of snaps. Seniors Micah Johnson and Tyson Wallace have each rushed for 700 yards. Eisenhower is the last remaining undefeated squad in 5A.

Our Pick: Eisenhower 35, Goddard 24 (Nicholl)

Basehor-Linwood (5-2) at 5A No. 5 De Soto (6-1)

The outright United Kansas Conference title is on the line when Basehor-Linwood visits De Soto. The Wildcats have already clinched a share of the title with a 6-0 league mark, while Basehor-Linwood can grab a share by beating De Soto.

Both teams in the midst of five-game win streaks. De Soto has won five in a row since its lone loss of the season, to 6A No. 1 Washburn Rural (28-14) back in Week 2.

Similarly, Basehor-Linwood has won five straight since opening the season with consecutive losses to Tonganoxie (34-20) and Piper (34-31). The Bobcats are led by quarterback Brady VanDonge who has passed for nearly 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns. Kaleb Scott is his top receiver with 600 yards and seven scores.

De Soto will counter with a deep, talented backfield that includes Carson Miller and Bennett Hutchinson.

Our Pick: De Soto 34, Basehor-Linwood 21 (Gilmore)

4A No. 3 Louisburg (7-0) at Spring Hill (6-1)

The Frontier League title is on the line when unbeaten Louisburg travels to Spring Hill. The Wildcats remain at No. 3 in the Class 4A rankings and can earn the No. 1 seed on the 4A-East bracket with a win and either an Atchison loss or a close Phoenix victory (within 9 points).

Quarterback Declan Battle leads the Wildcat offense having passed for 759 yards and 10 touchdowns and added a team-high 785 yards rushing with 13 scores. Ashton Moore is second on the team with 761 yards on the ground and ten touchdowns.

Spring Hill will again look to rely on Colton McKanna in the backfield. McKanna has put together an all-state senior season with more than 1,400 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns.

The Broncos sit in a 4-way tie atop the 5A-East district standings along with De Soto, Blue Valley Southwest, and Topeka Highland Park. Each of those teams also have challenging games this week.

Our Pick: Spring Hill 28, Louisburg 27 (Gilmore)

4A No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas (5-2) at 5A No. 2 Blue Valley Southwest (6-1)

A showdown of state-ranked teams with Aquinas, No. 2 in 4A, taking on Blue Valley Southwest which just climbed to No. 2 in Class 5A. The winner finishes second in the Eastern Kansas League.

It has been well-documented that St. Thomas Aquinas suffered some key injuries in the backfield a couple of weeks ago. Since that heartbreaking 45-44 loss to Rockhurst, in which the Saints squandered a big lead, Aquinas has scored a total of 17 points the past two weeks. The Saints are excellent defensively, but can they score enough points to keep up with Southwest?

Meanwhile, Blue Valley Southwest continues to excel with the passing game of Dylan Dunn and his cast of outstanding receivers. Dunn has passed for nearly 2,100 yards and 28 touchdowns. Alex Pakrs has 877 receiving yards with 11 scores, Tate Everard has more than 650 receiving yards and eight touchdonws, and Emmitt Peters has added six touchdown catches. The emergence of Drake Dombrosky and Luke Falkner in the rushing attack will be a welcome sign come playoff time.

Our Pick: Blue Valley Southwest 27, Aquinas 17 (Gilmore)


Wamego (5-2) at Abilene (6-1)

Class 4A West is highly close with no undefeated squads. Abilene is the only one-loss team. Wamego is the defending state runner-up. Abilene has its most wins since 2016. Wamego has allowed the fewest points in 4A.

Abilene’s big turnaround has pivoted behind senior quarterback Stocton Timbrook. Wamego is known for its depth, including quarterback Pruitt Nowlin, running back Porter Smith, running back Thomas McIntyre, linebacker Gannon Couture and a veteran offensive line.

Wamego has won four straight in the series. The winner will clinch a top-two finish in Class 4A.

Our Pick: Wamego 34, Abilene 17 (Nicholl)


Kingman (6-1) at Garden Plain (6-1)

Both teams are 6-1, 3-0 with their lone loss coming to Cheney. This game will decide District 6 and second place in the Central Plains League.

Garden Plain has ran the ball on 90 percent of snaps. Senior Gage Lee has 101 carries for 1,115 yards for seven TDs and set the schools’ single-game rushing yard mark earlier this season. Kingman has won three in a row in what is historically a close series. Senior Carter Helm is among the key players for the Eagles.

Our Pick: Kingman 17, Garden Plain 14 (Nicholl)


2A No. 1 Nemaha Central (7-0) at 2A No. 2 Sabetha (7-0)

This one has been circled on the Class 2A calendar all season. No. 1 versus No. 2 for the league championship in the Big 7 Conference’s final season. Home playoff advantage throughout the playoffs is also on the line.

Both teams feature dominant offensive lines and stingy defenses. Nemaha Central revolves around sophomore Carter Hajek offensively. Hajek has rushed for 1,264 yards and 25 touchdowns this season. He has also added 514 yards through the air and five scores.

Sabetha spreads the ball around to a few more players on offense thanks to the backfield duo of Colin Menold and Chase Frey. Those two have combined for 1,225 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns this season. Quarterback Mitchell Kramer has not played in the past couple of weeks, but senior Marcus Bauman has stepped in and passed for 183 yards and five touchdowns of the past two games.

Nemaha Central has allowed a total of six points all season and has posted six consecutive shutouts. Sabetha has allowed 43 total points all year.

Our Pick: Nemaha Central 20, Sabetha 14 (Gilmore)


2A No. 4 Southeast of Saline (7-0) at 2A No. 5 Ellsworth (7-0)

A highlighted matchup all season, both teams come into Week 8 undefeated for a second straight year. This will decide Class 2A, District 5 and the NCAA title.

Southeast of Saline won 46-7 in this matchup last fall, and has not lost a regular season game since 2019. Senior Daniel Kejr has completed 64 of 94 passes for 801 yards with seven scores against three INTs for the Trojans. The Trojans have 6.5 yards per rush.

Senior Will Cravens leads Ellsworth with 684 passing yards with 11 scores against two interceptions.

Our Pick: SE Saline 24, Ellsworth 21 (Nicholl)


Sedgwick (6-1) at 1A No. 2 Marion (7-0)

This contest will decide Class 1A, District 6 and the Heart of America League title.

Sedgwick is 6-1, 3-0 with a loss to Sterling in bad weather and an impressive 46-40 home win versus Osage City two weeks ago. Marion is 7-0 overall and 5-0 in road games, including close victories versus Hutchinson Trinity and Council Grove. The Warriors have allowed just 14.9 points per game.

Sedgwick and its high-flying passing offense has put up 40.4 points a game. Corey Crumrine continues to rank among the state leaders in passing. Sedgwick won this contest, 35-32, last season. Marion is known for its physical, aggressive play on defense, especially in pass coverage.

Our Pick: Sedgwick 42, Marion 40 (Nicholl)


1A No. 5 Smith Center (6-1) at Valley Heights (6-1)

Two run-heavy teams match up for the Class 1A, District 5 title. Smith Center won 56-12 in this matchup last year, though Valley Heights is much stronger with the addition of Carson Spoonts.

Spoonts has 801 rushing yards and 13 scores, while Jayden DeWalt has 709 rushing yards and 10 TDs. The Mustangs had a big win against Wabaunsee last week, while Smith Center narrowly won against the same opponent.

Senior Luke Franklin has 88 carries for 859 yards and eight scores.

Our Pick: Valley Heights 21, Smith Center 14 (Nicholl)

South Sumner County (7-0) at 8M-I No. 5 Central Burden (7-0)

This will decide Eight-Man, Division I, District 3 and the South Central Border League title.

South Sumner County has not lost a regular season contest since South Haven and Caldwell formed a co-operative agreement for high school football before last season. South Sumner County freshman Mak Blosser has stepped in at quarterback. Senior Alex Smith has 818 rushing yards and 20 scores, while Jackson Risley is a great two-way player.

Central Burden counters with senior quarterback Jace Wunderlich (26 TDs accounted for). Central Burden coach Jeff Savage is in his last year before retiring.

Our Pick: South Sumner 38, Central Burden 32 (Nicholl)

Hoxie (6-1) at 8M-I No. 4 Atwood-Rawlins Co. (7-0)

This will decide the Northwest Kansas League and Eight-Man, Division I, District 6.

Hoxie coach Lance Baar picked up career win No. 100 last week. Junior Duncan Bell has completed 61 of 97 passes for 869 yards with 13 scores against no interceptions for the Indians. Hoxie has one turnover and its balanced offense as 7.2 yards per carry.

Atwood-Rawlins County has enjoyed a huge year with 1,086 rushing yards and 20 rushing scores from junior Ryan Sramek. Plus, the Buffs have averaged 11 yards per pass attempt with senior Braxton Dixson as a first-year starting quarterback.

Our Pick: Rawlins County 32, Hoxie 26 (Gilmore)

The Pick List:

Blue Valley West (3-4) at Blue Valley (3-4) – Blue Valley West

5A No. 1 Kapaun Mt. Carmel (6-1) at Wichita Heights (5-2) – Kapaun

Olathe South (5-2) at 6A No. 2 Gardner-Edgerton (6-1) – Gardner-Edgerton

Wichita East (5-2) at Bishop Carroll (3-4) – Wichita East

Andover Central (4-3) at Valley Center (5-2) – Valley Center

Blue Valley Northwest (4-3) at 4A No. 1 Bishop Miege (6-1) – Miege

Hesston (4-3) at 3A No. 5 Wichita Collegiate (6-1) – Collegiate

Osage City (6-1) at Council Grove (5-2) – Osage City

Riverton (4-3) at Caney Valley (5-2) -- Riverton

8M-I No. 2 Lyndon (7-0) at Burlingame (5-2) – Lyndon

Lincoln (5-2) at Ell-Saline (6-1) – Ell-Saline

Dighton (4-3) at 8M-II No. 4 Minneola (7-0) – Minneola

Frankfort (5-2) at Hanover (4-3) -- Frankfort

Hodgeman County (5-2) at South Barber (6-1) – Hodgeman County

St. Paul (5-2) at Marmaton Valley (5-2) – Marmaton Valley

Thunder Ridge (5-2) at Sharon Springs-Wallace Co. (4-3) – Thunder Ridge

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

Ingalls (5-2) at Deerfield (5-1) -- Ingalls


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