Sideline Pass: Jim Bradford 11/5
By Jim Bradford PrepsKC Senior Writer
A couple of weeks ago, it looked like a two-horse race in Kansas Class 6A.
Yeah, not so much anymore.
What a difference a couple of weeks can make.
When week 1 of the district playoffs unfolded, it looked like it was going to be a battle between Shawnee Mission East and Lawrence.
The Lions had been running roughshod over their competition, and all East had done was lose a lone game to a pesky Free State team. Those two were supposed to be on a collision course, much like Olathe North and Shawnee Mission East were a year ago.
But something happened on the way to happily ever after, so to speak.
Another undefeated team – Olathe North – had been playing under the radar and just about took down the mighty Lions. The Eagles battled back from a 24-7 deficit, took a 28-24 lead with a minute to play before losing on a touchdown pass with four seconds to play.
The Eagles showed that night a week and a half ago that no one is going to simply waltz into the state championship game.
Far from it.
Just this past week, upstart Blue Valley North knocked off Shawnee Mission West and won a district title, for the first time in more than a decade.
Shawnee Mission East continues to roll, and let’s not forget about Blue Valley.
Eight teams are in the playoffs on the eastern side of the state, and the top six have just six losses. Six.
Olathe North, a one-loss team that earned the second seed out of District 4, gets an 8-1 Blue Valley North team that hasn’t been to the party with the big boys since they were a mainstay in the early 2000s.
Blue Valley gets the unenviable task of facing Shawnee Mission West, a talented 7-2 team, in week one of the playoffs.
While top-seeded Lawrence and defending state champ Shawnee Mission East have relatively easy first-round games, it won’t be a cakewalk.
It never is, but this year, it seems tougher than ever to pick a favorite. Or two. Or three.
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