Playoff Preview: Class 6A, 5A & 4A

Buhler's Tavian Gilliam goes up for the INT vs McPherson. (photo by Kristy Ehart)
By: Matt Gilmore & Conor Nicholl for
Oct 26, 2023

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Kpreps 2023 playoff coverage

Class 6A

VIEW: 6A Bracket


Highlighted Games:

#13 Shawnee Mission South (1-7) at #4 Olathe South (5-3) – Olathe South

Not too often you would select the 13-seed vs 4-seed match-up as a highlighted game, but this one is interesting given they played to a 1-point contest just two weeks ago. Olathe South beat Shawnee Mission South, 41-40, back in Week 7 behind a huge night from quarterback Bryce Noernberg. Noernberg passed for 215 yards and three touchdowns and added 191 yards rushing and three more scores in the game. Falcon standout Cooper Warren caught five Noernberg passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Shawnee Mission South was led by Grant Jennings who passed for nearly 200 yards and two scores and added 105 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Ben Johnson rused for 71 yards and three touchdowns for the Raiders, while Jake Johnson caught nine passes for 119 yards and two scores. Whichever team’s defense can step up on Friday, should move on to the next round.

Other first-round games:

#16 Blue Valley North (0-8) at #1 Gardner-Edgerton (7-1) – Gardner-Edgerton

#9 Shawnee Mission East (3-5) at #8 Shawnee Mission Northwest (3-5) – SM Northwest

#11 Olathe West (2-6) at #6 Blue Valley (4-4) – Blue Valley

Thursday night games:

(5) Blue Valley Northwest 48, (12) Olathe Northwest 10

(2) Olathe North 56, (15) Shawnee Mission West 10

(7) Blue Valley West 69, (10) Shawnee Mission North 35

(3) Olathe East 41, (14) KC Wyandotte 6



Highlighted Games:

#9 Wichita Heights (5-3) at #8 Junction City (5-3) – Junction City

Wichita Heights has quietly posted a winning season, including one-point losses to Garden City and Wichita West. The Falcons have lost to Wichita Northwest, Bishop Carroll and played 5A No. 1 Kapaun Mt. Carmel to just a 12-point margin last week. Junction City started slowly with a Week 1 overtime home loss to Hays High. The Blue Jays are 5-2 since with losses to Washburn Rural and Manhattan, both ranked in 6A. Junction City has permitted just 18 points per contest. Heights has run on 87 percent of possessions, including 709 rushing yards and five touchdowns from Jameson Holland. Junction City features athlete/linebacker Michael Boganowski, the state’s top recruit and a recent Oklahoma commit. Brock Bazan has enjoyed a solid year at quarterback for Junction City. MC Taylor and Griffin Bohanan are key in the backfield, too. Junction City has won four straight Week 9 contests and will be the favorite.

Other first-round games:

#16 Wichita North (0-8) at #1 Washburn Rural (8-0) – Washburn Rural

#13 Haysville Campus (2-6) at #4 Wichita Northwest (6-2) – Wichita Northwest

#12 Wichita South (2-6) at #5 Wichita East (6-2) – Wichita East

#15 Wichita Southeast (1-7) at #2 Manhattan (7-1) – Manhattan

#10 Garden City (5-3) at #7 Lawrence Free State (6-2) – Free State

#11 Topeka High (1-7) at #3 Derby (7-1) – Derby

#11 Dodge City (3-5) at #6 Lawrence (6-2) – Lawrence


Class 5A

VIEW: 5A Bracket


Highlighted Games:

#10 Lansing (4-4) at #7 Pittsburg (5-3) – Lansing

Lansing will make the trip to Hutchinson Field in Pittsburg to take on the Purple Dragons The Lions snapped a two-game losing streak with a dominant win over KC Turner last week. The Lions have played a difficult schedule with close losses to Shawnee Heights (26-25) and Basehor-Linwood (28-25) in addition to losses to ranked teams in De Soto and Manhattan. Lansing is led by quarterback Dalton Jorgensen who has passed for 1,751 yards and 13 touchdowns. Senior receiver Lexton Grafke is one of the state’s best and has 60 receptions for 1,058 yards and 10 touchdowns. When the Lions run, Tyrone Butler, Jr. has led the team with 692 yards and four touchdowns. Linebacker Luciano Riggi has been one of the state’s top tacklers with 111 stops in eight games. He’ll get more opporunities with Pittsburg’s multi-choice rushing attack that has averaged 250 yards per game on the ground. Senior Wyatt Rink has led the Purple Dragons with 683 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Conner Proffitt has added nearly 350 yards and a score. Webb Fern and Tucker Akins have both played some quarterback with each tossing three touchdown passes.

Other first-round games:

#16 KC Turner (0-8) at #1 De Soto (7-1) – De Soto

#9 Topeka Seaman (4-4) at #8 KC Washington (5-3) – Topeka Seaman

#13 Topeka West (1-7) at #4 Mill Valley (6-2) – Mill Valley          

#12 Leavenworth (2-6) at #5 Spring Hill (6-2) – Spring Hill           

#15 Emporia (0-8) at #2 Blue Valley Southwest (7-1) – Blue Valley Southwest

#14 KC Harmon (1-7) at #3 Topeka Highland Park (6-2) – Highland Park

#11 KC Sumner Academy (4-4) at #6 Shawnee Heights (6-2) – Shawnee Heights



Highlighted Games:

#9 Great Bend (5-3) at #8 Salina Central (6-2) – Salina Central

This is a rematch from a Round of 16 contest from last season that Salina Central won 40-35. Great Bend has significantly improved its defense from 23 points per game allowed, No. 10 in 5A. This year, the Panthers are second in the classification with 15.3 points permitted a contest. Salina Central is known for offense. Last year, the Mustangs had 39.5 points per game, fifth-best in 5A. This fall, Salina Central is basically identical at 39.3 points per game.

Junior Jack Gordon paces Salina Central with 133 of 221 passing for 1,725 yards with 17 scores against five interceptions. The Mustangs have averaged 6.5 yards per rush, and have got 1,197 rushing yards from Elijah Wilson. Seniors Ryker Grossner and Hunter Mowery have a combined 80 catches, 14 for receiving scores. Salina Central averages 7.3 yards per play.

Great Bend has three one-score losses. The Panthers have a defense to make a deep run and came back to beat Garden City, 35-21, at home last week. All three of Great Bend’s losses come on the road. The Panthers play many freshmen and sophomores, including at quarterback where sophomore Daxton Minton has thrown for 1,032 yards with 13 scores against five interceptions. Senior Cody Miller has 813 rushing yards. Freshman Cooper Ohnmacht had a game-turning pick-six in Week 1, and a big kickoff return for a TD last week. GB has 6.4 yards per play. The Panthers can certainly win behind its defense, though it will be challenging, similar to last year, to match Salina Central’s explosiveness.

Other first-round games:

#16 Salina South (0-8) at #1 Kapaun Mt. Carmel (7-1) – Kapaun

#13 Bishop Carroll (3-5) at #4 Maize South (6-2) – Maize South

#12 Wichita West (3-5) at #5 Hutchinson (6-2) – Hutchinson

#15 Andover (0-8) at #2 Goddard-Eisenhower (7-1) – Eisenhower

#10 Valley Center (5-3) at #7 Hays (6-2) – Hays

#14 Newton (3-5) at #3 Liberal (7-1) – Liberal

Thursday night games:

(11) Maize 31, (6) Goddard 22


Class 4A

VIEW: 4A Bracket


Highlighted Games:

#9 KC Piper (4-4) at #8 Eudora (4-4) -- Eudora

Eudora will host Piper in a match-up of 4-4 teams that should be a good one. Eudora was ranked in the top five early in the season before three consecutive close losses to Spring Hill (31-28), Ottawa (17-14), and Louisburg (13-7). The Cardinals other loss came to ranked Tonganoxie, 21-7 – their only loss by more than one score. The Cardinals feature one of the top playmakers in the state in receiver Adrion Seals. Eudora can also get it done in the run game with quarterback Kole Manley, standout back Errol Siemon, Braylen Hoobler, and Matthew Magette. Piper will counter with junior Jack Bakarich who has passed for 1,031 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Several different backs have carried the ball for the Pirates, while seniors J.J. Jarrett and Zane Pudenz have been Bakarish’s leading receivers. Jarrett has 14 catches for 358 yards, while Pudenz has added a team-high 30 catches for 333 yards and a touchdown.

Other first-round games:

#16 Bonner Springs (1-7) at #1 Atchison (8-0) – Atchison

#13 KC Schlagle (3-5) at #4 Chanute (7-1) – Chanute

#12 Ottawa (3-5) at #5 Tonganoxie (6-2) – Tonganoxie

#15 Labette County (1-7) at #2 Louisburg (8-0) – Louisburg

#10 Paola (4-4) at #7 Basehor-Linwood (5-3) – Basehor-Linwood

#14 St. James Academy (2-6) at #3 Bishop Miege (7-1) -- Miege

#11 Fort Scott (3-5) at #6 St. Thomas Aquinas (5-3) – St. Thomas Aquinas



Highlighted Games:

#13 Towanda-Circle (2-6) at #4 Wellington (6-2) – Wellington

This is a rematch from two weeks ago when Wellington won, 31-22, on the road. Wellington is 6-2 and has won some wild games, including victories by seven, two, nine and a 54-50 home victory versus Rose Hill last week. Circle is just 2-6, though has four losses within two scores. Both teams can deliver plenty of points. Wellington is sixth in 4A in scoring with 34.5 points per contest. Circle has 24.6 points a game. Circle senior quarterback Conner Chadwell has completed 79 of 161 passes for 981 yards with seven TDs, and has 565 rushing yards with nine scores. Senior Cannon McCormack has delivered another huge year with 120 tackles, 18 for loss.

Wellington quarterback Dusty Bannister by far set the single game school record with 472 passing yards last week against Rose Hill, per Sumner Newscow. His 20 TD passes and 1,979 passing yards this year is also a school mark. Skylar Branam and Brody Weir have enjoyed big offensive seasons for the Crusaders. Wellington’s explosive offense has a slight edge.

Other first-round games:

#16 El Dorado (0-8) at #1 Wamego (6-2) – Wamego

#9 Rose Hill (3-5) at #8 Winfield (4-4) – Rose Hill

#12 Augusta (2-6) at #5 Coffeyville (5-3) – Coffeyville

#15 Ulysses (0-8) at #2 Buhler (6-2) – Buhler

#10 Mulvane (3-5) at #7 McPherson (5-3) – McPherson

#14 Arkansas City (1-7) at #3 Abilene (6-2) – Ark City

#11 Independence (3-5) at #6 Andover Central (5-3) – Andover Central


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