Kansas big classes take center stage

Jeff Stead/PrepsKC

By Brian Spano PrepsKC Staff Writer
Posted: November 4, 2010 - 8:59 PM



Here we go. Are you ready? The Kansas playoffs gott underway this week. Several Kansas City Metro teams have a really good chance of making it to a state title game. But first, the playoff brackets have been set, and teams must get through the grind of high school football’s version of March Madness.

 

Here’s an amazing feat from Kansas Class 6A: four of the five Shawnee Mission high schools and three of the four Olathe high schools are headed for the postseason.

 

Olathe North is the defending state champion, but to this year’s team, last year is last year.

 

“The kids know that we’re the defending state champions and will do their best to try to defend it, but right now, it’s all about this year,” said Eagles head coach Pete Flood. “You have to play well and play hard because it’s a one-game season. If you get caught looking down the road, you could have a very disappointing outcome.”

 

The Eagles, 8-1, will face Shawnee Mission North in the first round of the playoffs on Friday. University of Kansas commit Adonis Saunders will lead a strong rushing attack, along with quarterback Victor Simmons.

 

Shawnee Mission East, 8-1 was the District 2 champion behind the quarterback play of John Schrock. Schrock is hurt and was replaced by Robby Moriarity who split time with Schrock last season. Moriarity played well last week and will need to continue to play well for the Lancers to keep moving on. East will take on Olathe South next Friday night. The Falcons, 5-3, will use a steady diet of Kendall Harland, Jake Crist and Nick Sands to grind out yards and touchdowns.

Shawnee Mission West finished 7-2 and second in the district on the legs of running back Will Livingston. They will battle Shawnee Mission Northwest, 5-4, who took the District 1 crown. Both teams met in week No. 2 with West getting the better of Northwest 37-13.

 

Austin Fulson and Brandon Willingham will lead a potent running attack into the playoffs for 8-1 Olathe East. The Hawks will play Lawrence Free State with a 5-4 record into the matchup. Olathe East will have to focus on do-everything Firebirds’ quarterback Dylan Perry. East already has a 17-0 victory this season over Free State in its hip pocket.

 

“I expect the same type of game next week,” Free State head coach Bob Lisher said. “They are a physical team and rank near the top of the league (Sunflower League) defensively. People haven’t had a lot of success against them this year.”

 

So, as this next season of high school football begins, the roller coaster ride that the regular season has been, will no doubt continue. Just remember to keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times, but feel free to get up and scream all you want.

 

Class 5A

The Gardner-Edgerton Trailblazers, a team that had a stellar debut season in the Eastern Kansas League, finished 9-0 and won its district outright. The Blazers, the No. 1 seed in Class 5A, will host Bonner Springs, 4-5, Friday night.

 

Last year, the Blazers went 12-1 and ended the season as sub-state champions, falling to Hutchinson. Could this be the year that Gardner-Edgerton wins it all? Hutchinson is a second seed in the lower half of the bracket, so the two schools are on a collision course again this year.

 

Bishop Miege, 6-3, is the defending Class 4A state champion. This year’s move to Class 5A has posed some challenges for the Stags; however, they were still able to seize their district championship and advance to the playoffs behind quarterback Max Shortell.

 

Miege will face Blue Valley at home on Friday. The Stags lost to Blue Valley earlier in the season 28-13; however, the two teams met in the 2006 playoffs with the Tigers taking that one as well. So, does a game of importance from four years ago still weigh on the minds of Bishop Miege players and coaches as the rematch awaits, or is revenge for this year’s game at the forefront?

 

The Blue Valley Tigers, 8-1, have prowled under the radar all season, overshadowed by the Gardner-Edgerton Trailblazers fine season and all-world quarterback Bubba Starling. But, the Tigers have playmakers of their own, including quarterback Kyle Zimmerman, running back Justin Fulks and wide receiver P.J. DeBey. The Tigers were undefeated going into Friday night’s game against the Blazers. Even with that loss, Blue Valley is a team to keep an eye on.

 

Mill Valley,6-3, will play at Shawnee Heights, 3-6, Friday night. In 2008, the Jaguars lost to Gardner-Edgerton in the state quarterfinals. If they can get past Shawnee Heights in the first round, a potential playoff rematch with Gardner-Edgerton sits in front of them.