Playoff Preview: Class 3A, 2A & 1A

Cherryvale's Gram Putman (9) tries to avoid Caney Valley's Jake Ellis (12). (by Sheri Montgomery)
By: Matt Gilmore & Conor Nicholl for
Oct 25, 2023

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Kpreps 2023 playoff coverage

Class 3A

VIEW: 3A Bracket


Highlighted Games:

D4-#3 Royal Valley (3-5) at D3-#2 Santa Fe Trail (6-2) – Santa Fe Trail

Royal Valley and Santa Fe Trail will meet in a match-up of run-heavy teams in the first round. Royal Valley’s three wins during the regular season are the program’s most since 2017. The Panthers enter this contest coming off of consecutive wins over Jefferson West (24-14) and Perry-Lecompton (23-14). The Panthers have been led on the ground by junior Jaxson Stevens’ 662 rushing yards with six touchdowns and sophomore Nolan Bausch’s 510 yards and four scores. Santa Fe Trail averages 153 yards per game on the ground, although the Chargers have shown more balance. Senior Luke Edwards has thrown for 1,216 yards and 13 touchdowns and added eight rushing scores. Senior Colton Warthen leads the team with 772 yards and 11 scores on the ground. Seniors Trent Sleichter and Kyle Strother have combined for nearly 800 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. After a 50-44 loss to Burlington to open the season, the Chargers won five straight before a lopsided loss to unbeaten Wellsville. Santa Fe Trail rebounded with a 44-34 win at Iola last week.

Other first-round games:

D2-#4 Girard (3-5) at D1-#1 Frontenac (7-1) – Frontenac

D1-#3 Columbus (2-6) at D2-#2 Burlington (5-3) -- Burlington

D4-#4 Perry-Lecompton (2-6) at D3-#1 Wellsville (8-0) – Wellsville

D3-#3 Bishop Ward (3-5) at D4-#2 Holton (4-4) – Holton

D1-#4 Baxter Springs (4-4) at D2-#1 Prairie View (4-4) – Prairie View

D2-#3 Iola (4-4) at D1-#2 Parsons (7-1) – Parsons

D3-#4 Baldwin (2-6) at D4-#1 Topeka Hayden (8-0) – Topeka Hayden


Highlighted Games:

D7-#3 Pratt (4-4) at D8-#2 Holcomb (6-2) – Pratt

These teams know each other well. They have met every year since 2014 and have split the last eight meetings. Those eight contests include margins of 13, 13, seven, five and seven points.

Holcomb is No. 8 in 3A with 320 points, while Pratt is No. 12 in 3A in scoring offense with 268 points. Holcomb has the defensive edge with 131 points allowed. However, Pratt has played a harder strength of schedule with losses to Andale and Cheney. Holcomb has two one-score losses to 5A Liberal (7-1) and 3A Scott City (7-1). Junior Keegan Johnson has completed 57 of 85 passes for 1,105 yards with 15 touchdowns against four interceptions. Senior Damon Mesa has moved to running back and has 100 carries for 856 yards and 12 scores. He rushed for 1,017 yards last year after he split time at quarterback. Holcomb has delivered 7.7 yards per play this fall under first-year head coach Trey Teeter, a former first team all-state Holcomb quarterback and HHS assistant. Pratt senior quarterback Max Younie has enjoyed a big year as a dual threat quarterback in the single wing. Younie has 160 carries for 1,359 yards and 22 rushing scores, along with five passing TDs. Pratt has seven yards per play. This should be a close game. Pratt won 47-34 at Holcomb in Week 9 last year. This season could be similar, though Pratt, with Younie, has the likely best player on the field.

Other first-round games:

D6-#4 Clearwater (2-6) at D5-#1 Clay Center (7-1) – Clay Center

D5-#3 Marysville (3-5) at D6-#2 Hesston (4-4) – Hesston

D8-#4 Colby (4-4) at D7-#1 Cheney (8-0) – Cheney

D5-#4 Concordia (2-6) at D6-#1 Wichita Collegiate (7-1) – Collegiate

D6-#3 Chapman (3-5) at D5-#2 Rock Creek (5-3) – Rock Creek

D7-#4 Smoky Valley (1-7) at D8-#1 Scott City (7-1) – Scott City

D8-#3 Hugoton (6-2) at D7-#2 Andale (7-1) – Andale


Class 2A

VIEW: 2A Bracket


Highlighted Games:

D4-#3 Riley County (4-4) at D3-#2 Rossville (5-3) – Rossville

These two Mid-East League rivals will meet for a second time this season. Back in Week 2, Riley County scored on a touchdown pass from Eli Harmison to Jace Woodard in the fourth quarter to lift the Falcons to a 26-20 win at Rossville. The Falcons have alternated wins and losses this season having dropped games to Silver Lake, Rock Creek, Sabetha, and Nemaha Central – teams that have combined for a 27-5 record. Rossville has won three straight since a 42-28 loss to rival Silver Lake. The Bulldawgs have quality wins over St. Marys and Holton. Senior Camden Horak leads Rossville with 1,421 passing yards and 16 touchdowns. Junior Tayson Horak has rushed for team-bests 427 yards and five scores and has 428 receiving yards and six scores. Harmison, Brett Hopper and Sam Allen have led the Riley County offense. In the first meeting, Riley County had success passing as Harmison threw for nearly 270 yards and three scores.

Other first-round games:

D2-#4 West Franklin (3-5) at D1-#1 Riverton (5-3) – Riverton

D1-#3 Cherryvale (4-4) at D2-#2 Humboldt (7-1) – Humboldt

D4-#4 Minneapolis (4-4) at D3-#1 Silver Lake (7-1) – Silver Lake  

D3-#3 Atchison County (4-4) at D4-#2 Sabetha (7-1) – Sabetha   

D1-#4 Neodesha (3-5) at D2-#1 Osage City (7-1) – Osage City      

D2-#3 Council Grove (5-3) at D1-#2 Caney Valley (5-3) – Council Grove

D3-#4 Pleasant Ridge (2-6) at D4-#1 Nemaha Central (8-0) – Nemaha Central



Highlighted Games:

D8-#3 Thomas More Prep (4-4) at D7-#2 Larned (6-2) – TMP

Both teams have had solid years with first-year head coaches. Brady Keith took over Larned and led the Indians to a 6-2 mark and District 7 runner-up. Thomas More Prep-Marian is 4-4 and finished third in District 8 after a highly close tiebreaker. TMP, Phillipsburg and Russell all finished 1-3 in District 8. They finished a respective minus-28, minus-29 and minus-30 in district points.

Larned has doubled its wins total from last fall. The Indians have its most wins since 2017. A seventh win would tie the most for Larned since at least the mid-90s. TMP has went through significant injuries with first-year head coach Grant Stephenson and veteran defensive coordinator T.J. Gottschalk. TMP again has been strong defensively and ranks No. 14 in the classification. Larned is No. 18 in the classification in defense.

Larned has run the ball on 89 percent of snaps. Senior Luke Fischer has 154 carries for 1,063 yards and 19 scores. TMP has enjoyed a big all-purpose season from Griffin Schumacher and has its experienced line. Schumacher has 1,082 all-purpose yards. TMP has forced 19 turnovers. The Monarchs have played a much harder strength of schedule. Nationally recognized Massey Ratings gives TMP a touchdown advantage because of the strength of schedule. The Monarchs have the slight edge if healthy in the backfield.


Other first-round games:

D6-#4 Chaparral (1-6) at D5-#1 Southeast of Saline (8-0) – SE Saline

D5-#3 Hillsboro (4-4) at D6-#2 Kingman (6-2) – Kingman

D8-#4 Phillipsburg (4-4) at D7-#1 Hoisington (8-0) – Hoisington

D7-#3 Lakin (4-4) at D8-#2 Beloit (4-4) – Beloit

D5-#4 Halstead (3-5) at D6-#1 Garden Plain (7-1) – Garden Plain

D6-#3 Haven (5-3) at D5-#2 Ellsworth (7-1) – Ellsworth

D7-#4 Cimarron (1-7) at D8-#1 Norton (8-0) – Norton


Class 1A

VIEW: Class 1A Bracket


Highlighted Games:

D2-#3 Central Heights (4-4) at D1-#2 Erie (4-4) – Central Heights

Central Heights will travel to Erie to take on the Red Devils in a first-round game. Erie finished as the District 1 runner-up with wins over Northeast-Arma, Uniontown, and Southeast-Cherokee. The Red Devils enter this game having dropped consecutive games to No. 1 Colgan and Jayhawk-Linn. Erie features a pair of big targets at receiver in Ethan Dillinger and junior Jaden Daniels. Central Heights has won four of six after an 0-2 start to the season. The Vikings finished third in District 2 behind Olpe and Jayhawk-Linn. Senior Brycean Velez leads the team with more than 800 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. Junior Brody Roullett has passed for nearly 500 yards and six scores.

Other first-round games:

D2-#4 Pleasanton (5-3) at D1-#1 St. Mary’s Colgan (8-0) – Colgan

D1-#3 Uniontown (2-6) at D2-#2 Jayhawk-Linn (7-1) – Jayhawk-Linn

D4-#4 Riverside (2-6) at D3-#1 St. Marys (5-3) – St. Marys

D3-#3 Mission Valley (3-5) at D4-#2 Jackson Heights (7-1) – Jackson Heights

D1-#4 Northeast-Arma (2-6) at D2-#1 Olpe (6-2) – Olpe

D3-#4 Oskaloosa (3-5) at D4-#1 Centralia (7-1) – Centralia

D4-#3 Troy (4-4) at D3-#2 Jefferson Co. North (7-1) – Jeff Co. North



Highlighted Games:

D7-#3 Sterling (5-3) at D8-#2 Ellis (4-4) – Ellis

Sterling finished third in highly competitive District 7, while Ellis was the clear runner-up to Plainville in District 8. Both teams have enjoyed the best seasons in some time and nice improvements. Plus, Sterling has enjoyed a great season running the ball with sophomore Zane Farney. Ellis counters with its superb passing attack behind quarterback Logan Russell and wide receivers Caleb Noble and Mason Younger. Notably, Younger has excelled in all three phases and put together a huge year. Sterling has won games by 17 points, in double overtime and lost by one. Ellis is No. 12 in 1A with 35 points per game, per the Sunflower Sports Solutions (S3) database. Sterling has scored 24 points, though is much stronger defensively with just 16.6 points permitted a contest, ninth-best in the classification.

Sterling, a Kpreps Potential Breakout Team in the summer, has a plus-one win improvement over last season and has the first winning record in six years. Ellis has not won a playoff game since 2009. Younger has set the school record for single-season receiving yards at 894, while Logan Russell has the single season passing record with 2,018. Ellis has not won at least five games in a year since 2015. Russell has completed 136 of 254 passes with 25 scores against eight interceptions. Younger has 1,494 all-purpose yards.

Junior Caleb Noble is close to the school mark with 657 receiving yards. Both have 10 receiving scores, three off the school record. Ellis has thrown on 58.4 percent of snaps. Farney has 171 carries for 1,085 yards and 12 scores. Sterling has run on 89 percent of snaps. This should be a very close game with the highly contrasting styles. The Mid-Continent League, which includes Ellis, is historically strong in Week 9 games and went 9-3 in such contests last season. Ellis has a slight edge, especially if the key players are healthy.

Other first-round games:

D6-#4 Belle Plaine (2-6) at D5-#1 Smith Center (7-1) – Smith Center

D5-#3 Wabaunsee (5-3) at D6-#2 Marion (7-1) – Marion

D8-#4 Stanton County (2-5) at D7-#1 Conway Springs (6-2) – Conway Springs

D5-#4 Sacred Heart (2-6) at D6-#1 Sedgwick (7-1) – Sedgwick

D6-#3 Whitewater-Remington (2-6) at D5-#2 Valley Heights (6-2) – Valley Heights

D7-#4 Hutchinson Trinity (3-5) at D8-#1 Plainville (4-4) – Plainville

D8-#3 Oakley (2-6) at D7-#2 Medicine Lodge (6-2) – Oakley


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