Through the Uprights: Mike Lavieri 10/2

Mike Lavieri

By Mike Lavieri PrepsKC columnist
Posted: October 3, 2018 - 7:47 AM

Imagine this for a moment: The winner of the Sunflower League isn’t one of Free State, Olathe North or Shawnee Mission East.

One of these schools has at least won a share of the Sunflower League title every year since the 2013 season. In those five seasons, Shawnee Mission East has won four league titles, Free State has won three and Olathe North with two.

You have to go back to 2012 when Shawnee Mission West went 7-0 to win the Sunflower League while Free State went 6-1 that year. However, the Firebirds will probably contest that league championship as the Vikings suffered their only loss of the season to Free State 28-14 in Week 2, which counted as a "non-league” game. 

Things have changed since 2012. Now all games, regardless of week, against league opponents count toward the league record. Yet, with 13 teams and only eight games, this is where it’s tricky.

Among the top four teams currently in the league – Gardner-Edgerton, Free State, Olathe North and Shawnee Mission East – Shawnee Mission East is the only team to play the other three. Gardner-Edgerton doesn’t see Free State or Olathe North, who doesn’t see Free State.

Looking at the rest of the schedule, Gardner-Edgerton (5-0 overall, 5-0 SFL) is in the driver’s seat with games against Shawnee Mission North (2-3, 2-3), Shawnee Mission Northwest (4-1, 3-1) and Shawnee Mission West (0-5, 0-5).

Having already taken care of Shawnee Mission East (4-1, 4-1) in Week 1, the Trailblazers control their own destiny and the last real test will be against Shawnee Mission Northwest.

The Lancers face Olathe North (4-1, 4-0) and then Free State (5-0, 4-0) and Olathe West (1-4, 1-4). After facing Shawnee Mission East, the Eagles will see Lawrence (1-4, 1-4) and Olathe Northwest (0-5, 0-4).

While I think Free State is far and away the best team in the league – it has outscored its opponents 230-14 this season – for this exercise, we’re looking at what it would take for the Firebirds, Eagles or Lancers to not win the Sunflower League.

For one, Gardner-Edgerton needs to win out and go 8-0. Should Free State or Olathe North win out and go 7-0 in league play, they’ll also claim the league title. But we’re not here for ties.

Gardner-Edgerton will be rooting for chaos and also Shawnee Mission East. The Trailblazers will need the Lancers to know off both Olathe North and Free State. I just don’t see Olathe South or Lawrence topping the Firebirds. The same can be said for Lawrence and Olathe Northwest against Olathe North.

Regardless of what happens these next three weeks, Gardner-Edgerton has put teams on notice as it tries to win its first Sunflower League title in its first season in the league.