Playoff Preview: 8M-I, 8M-II & 6-Man (Regionals)

Peabody-Burns freshman Dalton Philpott hauls in a TD pass earlier this year. (by Heidi Hittle)
By: Matt Gilmore & Conor Nicholl for
Nov 1, 2023

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Kpreps 2023 playoff coverage

Class 8-Man, Division I

VIEW: 8M-I Bracket


Highlighted Game:

D2-#2 Cair Paravel (7-2) at D3-#1 Central Burden (9-0)Cair Paravel

All four Regional round games on the East side have the potential to be special, but we’ll highlight Cair Paravel at unbeaten and No. 4 Central Burden.  

The Cair Paravel Lions picked up the schools’ first-ever KSHSAA playoff win with last week’s 62-12 decision over Sedan. In that game, junior quarterback Jace Pavlik passed for 187 yards and five touchdowns – two each to Evan Will and Ty Gossard. Jesiah Bonura added 164 yards on the ground with two scores. Bonura, Pavlik, and Will give the Lions three capable runners out of the backfield, while Bonura, Will, Gossard, and Simon Everhart have all been key pass catchers. Cair Paravel’s two losses have come to two of the top Eight-Man teams in the state in No. 2 Lyndon (58-30) and Division II’s No. 1 Axtell (60-44). The Lions hold quality wins over Burlingame, Madison, and Chase County in district play.

Central Burden is in the midst of a historic season in the final year for long-time successful Kansas coach Jeff Savage. The Raiders are unbeaten and have handed West Elk (48-28) and South Sumner County (72-40) each their only blemish of the season. The Raiders are led by standout senior Jace Wunderlich. A dual-threat quarterback, Wunderlich has passed for 1,245 yards and 20 touchdowns while adding 1,075 yards rushing and 22 scores. Xander Woods have provided a solid compliment in the backfield with nearly 400 yards and nine scores. Wunderlich has four solid receivers with Russ Smith, Ethan Boucher, Miles Easley, and Woods. Smith has a team high 28 receptions for 486 yards and 15 touchdowns, while Boucher has five touchdown catches.

Other second-round games:

D4-#2 Little River (7-2) at D1-#1 West Elk (8-1) – West Elk

D3-#2 South Sumner Co. (8-1) at D2-#1 Lyndon (9-0) – Lyndon

D2-#3 Chase County (6-3) at D4-#1 Moundridge (9-0) – Moundridge


Highlighted Game:

D8-#2 Meade (8-1) at D5-#1 Ell-Saline (8-1) – Meade

Meade makes the 187-mile drive to face Ell-Saline. Both teams have lost to an undefeated top-3 team. Ell-Saline, a Kpreps Potential Breakout Team in the preseason, has enjoyed a two-win improvement this fall. The Cardinals lost, 32-6, to Moundridge in Week 1. Meade fell, 66-32, at top-ranked Wichita County in Week 6.

Ell-Saline won District 5, while Meade was the District 8 runner-up. Ell-Saline has averaged 40.1 points per game and is eighth in the classification with 15.3 points permitted a contest. Meade is fourth in offense with 55 points a contest and is No. 14 in defense with 24 points allowed. Ell-Saline has not won a Week 10 game since 2014 when it finished as a Class 2-1A runner-up in 11-man football. Meade captured the 2021 state title with an undefeated record and posted a 9-2 mark last fall.

Brock Keith is an outstanding multi-sport athlete for Meade and has won state championships in several sports. Meade has enjoyed several big offensive performances. Senior Cade Cronister has completed 46 of 72 of 1,013 passing for 21 scores against six interceptions. Keith has 96 touches for 1,552 offensive yards and 21 scores. Senior Bradon Bird has 32 catches for 702 yards and four TDs. Meade’s offense is highly explosive with 11.1 yards per play. Cronister is in first year as the starter and elevated an offense that averaged 7.9 yards per play. Meade has great size, including senior lineman Cole Papay (6-5). Keith leads the team with 65 tackles.

Ell-Saline defeated Quinter, 48-0, last week. The Cardinals had a goal line stand early in the game. Ell-Saline has senior quarterback Marshall Johnson, senior running back Joe Hiechel and senior running back Ryder Dent. Last week, Dent recorded five touchdowns, including four rushing. Kas Kramer has been a strong all-purpose player. This will be a close matchup of differing strengths; Meade with the size and offense, Ell-Saline with defense and home field advantage. Keith is one of Kansas’ best players and gives Meade a slight edge.

Other second-round games:

D7#2 La Crosse (6-3) at D6-#1 Hoxie (8-1) – Hoxie

D6-#2 Atwood-Rawlins Co. (8-1) at D7-#1 WaKeeney-Trego (7-2) – Rawlins County

D5-#2 Clifton-Clyde (7-2) at D8-#1 Leoti-Wichita Co. (9-0) – Wichita County


Class 8-Man, Division II

VIEW: 8M-II Bracket


Highlighted Game:

D3-#2 Frankfort (7-2) at D2-#1 Canton-Galva (8-1)Canton-Galva

A pair of strong contenders in the East, Canton-Galva has won eight consecutive games since a season-opening 42-40 defeat to Little River. Each of the Eagles’ eight consecutive wins have come by the 45-point mercy rule as they have scored 500 total points during that stretch for an average of 62.5. per game. The Eagles have surrendered just 16.2 points per contest. In last week’s 56-8 first-round win over Colony-Crest, standout back Lane McMannis broke free for an early 78-yard touchdown run to get the scoring started. McMannis finished with 168 yards on the ground and six touchdowns to push his season total to 1,369 yards.

Frankfort has won two straight games since a 46-0 loss to top-ranked Axtell. The Wildcats’ other loss came to Lyndon, the No. 2 ranked team in Eight-Man, Division I. Frankfort holds impressive victories over Chase County (38-20) and Hanover (62-14). The Wildcats are multi-dimensional on offense with quarterback Wesley Anderson having passed for 1,547 yards and 27 touchdowns through the regular season. Anderson did not show up in the box score of last week’s opening-round win over Beloit St. John’s-Tipton and his status for this week is unknown. The Wildcats relied on Lane Loiseau who rushed for 141 yards and four scores last week.

For the season, Loiseau has nearly 450 yards rushing and nearly 500 yards receiving with a combined 22 offensive touchdowns. Carter Olson is the teams’ leading receiver with 581 yards and 13 scores, while Trent Hardin has more than 300 yards receiving. Brock Armstrong provides another option in the backfield with 340 rushing yards and nine scores.  

Other second-round games:

D3-#3 Hanover (5-4) at D1-#1 Lebo (6-3) – Hanover

D2-#2 Hutchinson Central Christian (6-3) at D3-#1 Axtell (9-0) – Axtell

D2-#3 Rural Vista (5-4) at D4-#1 Osborne (8-1) – Osborne



Highlighted Game:

D7-#3 South Barber (8-1) at D5-#1 Victoria (7-1) – Victoria

Two of the state’s most well-known eight-man coaches, South Barber’s Matt Cantrell and Victoria’s Doug Oberle, match up with another strong season from both programs. Both are state championship winning coaches and have spent more than 20 years at their respective schools. Somewhat surprisingly, this is the first matchup between the squads since 2009, though the teams have multiple common opponents, including Kinsley this season.

Victoria won the 2009 playoff game, 38-36, in Kiowa, a contest that came down to the final seconds. Other than that, the only other matchup in the last 19 years was a 2004 playoff game that Victoria won 14-6. This is South Barber’s last season before it moves to six-man football.

In Week 1, Victoria lost to Kinsley, 20-14. Kinsley, which eventually rose to No. 2 in the Eight-Man, Division II rankings before injuries derailed their season, defeated South Barber, 56-30, in district play. That game was much closer than the final score. In both games, Kinsley took advantage of big plays, notably on special teams.

South Barber is long known for its prolific offense and is sixth in Division II with 49 points per contest. Victoria is tied for first in scoring defense at 7.8 points per game and has scored 46 points a contest. South Barber has nine straight winning seasons. Victoria has posted a winning record in every year since 1999.

Senior Briggs Jewell is another in a long list of South Barber dual-threat quarterbacks. He has completed 109 for 167 passes for 1,419 yards with 25 scores against five interceptions. Senior Bryson Rathgeber has 89 carries for 741 yards and 14 TDs. Four players have between 26 and 30 receiving scores.

Victoria has enjoyed an impressive season from senior quarterback Landon Schmidtberger and has its great line with Kyle Huser, Seth Schwien, Ethan VonLintel, Jeb Miller, Will Scherrer and Cale Braun. The Knights have rolled in recent weeks, including wins against La Crosse (44-22), Central Plains (48-0), Wallace County (46-0) and Sylvan-Lucas (46-12), all teams still alive in the playoffs. South Barber will move the ball, but Victoria looks like the team to beat in Division II West.

Other second-round games:

D8-#3 Dighton (5-4) at D6-#1 Sharon Springs-Wallace Co. (6-3) – Wallace County

D5-#3 Central Plains (7-2) at D7-#1 South Central (6-3) – South Central

D5-#2 Sylvan-Lucas Unified (7-1) at D8-#1 Minneola (9-0) – Minneola


Class 6-Man

VIEW: 6-Man Bracket

6-Man EAST

Highlighted Game:

D1-#3 Peabody-Burns (5-3) at D2-#2 Tescott (5-2) Tescott

This is a rematch of the season-opener won by Tescott, 45-26. The Trojans then alternated wins and losses dropping a pair of road games against ranked opponents in Northern Valley (40-7) and Cunningham (50-0). Peabody-Burns lost its first two games of the season before posting four consecutive victories. The Warriors other loss was a 52-7 decision to unbeaten Waverly. Peabody-Burns closed out the regular season with a 48-40 win over Centre-Lost Springs.

In the first meeting, Tescott senior Carter Peters broke loose for 173 yards rushing and six touchdowns. He has 408 yards and ten scores through six games this season. In 11 games last fall, Peters rushed for 915 yards and 16 scores. Freshman quarterback Aiden Hurst threw a pair of touchdown passes and rushed for a team-high 68 yards in the first meeting. Since then, he’s had a breakout freshman campaign with 1,717 passing yards and 29 touchdowns. Hurst has also rushed for 734 yards and seven scores.

Tescott hasn’t played in a month. The Trojans last game was a 50-0 blanking of Southern Cloud on October 6th. Since then, Tescott has had an open date, received a forfeit victory over Chase, and had a first-round playoff bye. The key to this came may be how sharp the Trojans can be after the long layoff, and whether or not they can contain a now “experienced” Hurst.

Other second-round games:

D1-#5 Altoona-Midway (3-6) at D1-#1 Waverly (7-0) – Waverly

D1-#4 Centre-Lost Springs (4-4) at D2-#1 Cunningham (7-1) – Cunningham

D2-#3 Pawnee Heights (5-4) at D1-#2 Chetopa (5-2) – Chetopa


6-Man WEST

Highlighted Game:

D3-#3 Deerfield (6-2) at D4-#2 Northern Valley (7-1) Northern Valley

The hegemony in six-man football has featured the same five teams in the rankings every week: Cheylin, Ashland, Cunningham, Waverly and Northern Valley. While they have been in different positions, those teams have dominated non-ranked competition. A couple squads have emerged as possible contenders, namely Ingalls and Deerfield, both 6-2.

In Week 3, Northern Valley required a comeback to beat Ingalls, 30-25. After a 48-point loss to Cheylin in Week 4, Northern Valley has cruised to four big wins, the last three via shutout. Deerfield’s lone two defeats have come against Ashland (58-6) and Ingalls (56-6). Both schools have tremendously benefited from a move to six-man. In 2022, Deerfield posted a five-win improvement after a winless season. This year marks the Spartans’ most victories since 2008. Northern Valley is 20-7 in the last three falls.

Northern Valley has featured its strong depth, including running back Jeremiah Hansen. He is at 2,527 rushing yards and 51 total scores. Nolan Kinderknecht has delivered a nice all-purpose season after he transferred back from WaKeeney-Trego, including 116 total yards last week. Kenton and Gavin Thalheim, Jason Cox, Brody Preston and Peyton David are part of the Huskies’ strong depth. Northern Valley is fourth in six-man scoring defense with 12.4 points allowed a contest. Deerfield has allowed 25 points per game. Yulexis Quintero-Robles and Maverick Najera have paced the offense that has nearly 90 percent of its offense from non-seniors. Northern Valley is the favorite behind its senior depth, but Deerfield is an up-and-coming team that is in the top-10.

Other second-round games:

D4-#4 Triplains-Brewster (3-5) at D3-#1 Ashland (7-1) – Ashland

D4-#5 Tribune-Greeley Co. (4-5) at D4-#1 Cheylin (8-0) – Cheylin

D4-#3 Golden Plains (2-6) at D3-#2 Ingalls (6-2) – Ingalls


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