The past four weeks feel like they’ve gone by in a flash, but we’ve already reached the midpoint of the season of Kansas high school football. There are still seven teams in Classes 4A-6A on the east side of the Sunflower State that are undefeated, and five of them are in the PrepsKC coverage area. Let’s look at those 4-0 teams and their keys to success in the first half of the season.
6A East Unbeatens
I got to cover Olathe North’s 49-35 win over Shawnee Mission Northwest in Week 2. Normally, I’d watch the game from the press box, but with there not being much room in the press box, I sat in one of the back rows with my laptop and took play-by-play video highlights. Sitting next to me for the first half was Olathe North assistant track and field coach Aaron Hannon, who was one of my track and field teammates at Baker University. Now you might be wondering, how does that have anything to do with a football game between the Eagles and Cougars?
Well, a few of the top players on the Olathe North football team also happen to be members of the Eagles 2022 6A track and field state championship team. You don’t have to be a track and field fan, expert or coach to see how some of the success from the track and field is carrying right back over to the gridiron.
It was well-documented state-wide and in the greater Kansas City area that twins Josh and Jason Parrish and their older brother, Jacob, scored enough points to win the state meet by themselves. Jacob is now a freshman on the Kansas State football team, but Josh and Jason have played big roles in Olathe North’s 4-0 start this season.
In the win over the Cougars, Josh hauled in five receptions for 183 yards and three touchdowns on offense and had a pick six and five tackles on defense. Jason also had an interception to help the Eagles seal the victory and recorded six tackles.
The Parrish brothers had plenty of help with powering the Eagles past the Cougars. Quarterback Jason Scoma completed 10 of 17 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns and rushed 101 yards and another score on just 10 carries. Running back TJ Porter added 100 yards and two touchdowns on 24 totes. Porter has rushed for 592 yards and seven touchdowns on the season.
Alex Gunderson paced the Eagles in tackles with 14. He’s averaging 13 tackles per game this season and leads Olathe North with two interceptions.
After earning wins over Olathe East, Shawnee Mission Northwest, SM North and SM South, the Eagles will put their perfect record on the line next when they play host to Gardner-Edgerton tonight at the Olathe District Activity Center.
5A East Unbeatens
Mill Valley and Topeka-Highland Park
Gardner-Edgerton was undefeated until falling to Mill Valley, 35-14, in Week 4. The Jaguars found themselves in a 14-0 hole following a pair of Dawson Kindler touchdowns, but a 28-point second quarter quickly turned a 14-point deficit to a 14-point lead. That was plenty for a defense that had only allowed seven points in the Jaguars’ first three games.
Prior to upending the Trailblazers, Mill Valley coasted past Olathe Northwest, Shawnee Mission West and Shawnee Mission Northwest.
Hayden Jay has led the way for Mill Valley, completing 37 of 54 passes for 582 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception and rushing for 212 yards and eight scores.
Jay and Tristan Baker have done a bulk of the damage in the Mill Valley run game. Baker has racked up 222 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Hayes Miller has been Jay’s top target with 15 catches for 190 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, Broc Worcester has paced the Jaguars in tackles with 28 and James Woods has tallied three sacks.
Mill Valley will play host to Olathe South at 7 p.m.
While Highland Park technically doesn’t fall within the PrepsKC coverage area, I’d be remiss to not mention the numbers running back Tre Richardson has been putting up for the Scots. Richardson has already amassed nearly 1,500 all-purpose yards and 24 touchdowns in Highland Park’s wins over Wyandotte, Schlagle, Sumner and Harmon. He has 896 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground, caught 13 balls for 453 yards and eight scores and thrown a 44-yard touchdown pass.
Richardson and the Scots will try to improve to 5-0 tonight against Lincoln College Prep.
4A East Unbeatens
Bishop Miege, Eudora, Chanute and Atchison
When I interviewed PJ McCallop and Aidan Wing after Miege’s convincing 52-14 win over St. James in Week 3, they closed their respective interviews with the same three words: Stags are back. The Stags won six straight 4A state titles from 2014-2019 until St. James ended their run in 2020 in a 36-35 overtime thriller in the sub-state title game. The Thunder have knocked the Stags out of the playoffs in back-to-back seasons en route to winning the 2020 and 2021 4A state crowns. So, you can probably understand why McCallop, Wing and the rest of the Stags had a little extra motivation going into the Week 3 showdown against St. James.
The Miege defense set the tone in the win over Thunder by forcing six turnovers. McCallop had one of Miege’s three fumble recoveries and came away with a scoop and score. Wing and Lonnie Reed recovered the other two fumbles. Wing also had one of the Stags’ three interceptions. Jack Baird corralled the other two.
The win against St. James was business as usual for Miege quarterback Mac Armstrong. He’s thrown for three touchdowns in each of Miege’s four wins and hasn’t thrown an interception. Armstrong has completed 98 of 129 passes for 1,458 yards. The Miege quarterback has spread the wealth to his receiving corps. Isaiah Coppage has led the way with 35 catches for 535 yards and three touchdowns. Teryn Jackson (20 receptions for 342 yards and touchdowns), Daegan Jensen (14 catches for 225 yards and two touchdowns) and Tommy Wright (14 receptions for 178 and two touchdowns) have also been a big part of what Miege has done in the passing game.
The Stags have kept opposing defenses honest as well thanks in large part to what David Garcia has done out of the backfield. Garcia has rushed for 299 yards and five scores.
Along with rolling past the Thunder, the Stags have upended Blue Valley North, Blue Valley Southwest and Rockhurst. The Stags will return to Eastern Kansas League play at Blue Valley.
While I haven’t seen Eudora play in person yet this season, the Cardinals’ 4-0 start doesn’t surprise me. I covered Eudora’s 33-7 win over Spring Hill in 2021, which handed the Broncos their first loss after a 7-0 start.
Eudora had entered that game against Spring Hill with a 3-4 record, but their four losses were by a total of 12 points. The Cardinals rode the momentum of their victory against the Broncos all the way to the 4A sectionals, where they fell to Miege, 21-6. The confidence that the Cardinals developed at the end of their 2021 campaign appears to have carried over to 2022, as they’ve won all their games by at least 21 points. The Cardinals have upended Baldwin, Bonner Springs, Spring Hill and Ottawa.
The one-two punch of running backs Octavius Lyles and Errol Siemon have made life difficult for opposing defenses. Lyles is averaging 10 yards per carry, rushing 61 times for 611 yards and 10 touchdowns. Siemon isn’t far behind, as he’s rushed for 477 yards and six scores on 64 totes.
Kole Manley has engineered the Eudora offense by completing 20 of 31 passes for 415 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions. Adrion Seals has shown his big play making ability by hauling in 12 catches for 262 yards and four touchdowns.
Defensively, Braylen Hoobler and Siemon have led Eudora in tackles with 38 and 31, respectively. Seals and Jaiden Bender each have two interceptions.
The Cardinals will be back in action tonight when they play host to Louisburg.
After edging Ottawa by seven points in its season opener, Atchison has made quick work of Sumner, Harmon and Schlagle. Jesse Greenly IV has been running wild for the Phoenix. Greenly has tallied 620 yards and 13 touchdowns on 67 carries.
Trey Carter has handled the keys to the Atchison offense and has had the Phoenix in cruise control. Carter has completed 16 of 31 passes for 312 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s also ran for 214 yards and three scores on 25 carries. Aiden Battle has been on the receiving end of two of Carter’s four touchdown passes.
The Phoenix have had a balanced effort defensively during their 4-0 start. Jaden Carter is the team leader in tackles with 24. Lavonte McGowan (three sacks), Jeter Purdy (two interceptions) and Brenden Martin (two fumble recoveries) have also played big roles in the Atchison defense.
Atchison will look to improve to 5-0 tonight at Washington.
Like Highland Park, Chanute isn’t in the PrepsKC coverage area, but I’ll touch on Blue Comets really quick to round out the article. Chanute has collected wins over Augusta, Pittsburg, Tonganoxie and Ulysses. Eric Erbe has highlighted an impressive passing attack for the Blue Comets. He’s completed 43 of 63 passes for 739 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions. Erbe has also run for 113 yards and two scores on 15 totes.
Dagen Dean (15 catches for 325 yards and seven touchdowns) and Kaiden Seamster (20 catches for 380 yards and two touchdowns) have been Erbe’s top two targets. Ty Leedy has rumbled for 431 rushing yards and six touchdowns to lead the Blue Comets on the ground.
Chanute will put its perfect record on the line tonight at Independence.
I’m excited to see if these seven teams can stay hot as we head into the second half of the regular season. I’ll miss Week 5 due to a wedding I’ll be attending in Dallas, but am very much looking forward to looking at PrepsKC’s live scoreboard on Friday night and being back for Week 6.