The Atchison Redmen in 2014 ended the season on a sour note, missing out on an opportunity to make the playoffs. Injuries played a major role in that outcome and that bad taste from last year has been taken out on their 2015 opponents. The Redmen stand at 4-0 and have been a runaway locomotive in the process.
Wykeen Gill Jr has been near flawless as you can be at quarterback for the Redmen. He is 34 of 53 for 696 yards and 10 TDs, 493 yards rushing and 7 TDs. Gill Jr. is averaging 15 yards per run and 20 yards per pass which are unreal numbers.
My normal response to this would be to throw the ball and run him more. The problem has been that Atchison has outscored their opponents 229-58. Each of the first four weeks the Redmen have scored more points than the previous, 42, 52, 62 and 73 respectively. I won't declare Gill a candidate for our POY honors yet but he is well on his way.
The simple thing to say about Atchison is that they have yet to face a challenge. Pleasant Ridge however sits at 3-1, Sumner Academy has two wins while Washington and Harmon have one each. So I will buy into that a little bit but in the end these players still have to execute and will have the opportunity this week to shut that noise up.
In walk the Schalgle Stallions who will have the athletes on defense and ability to matchup with Atchison. Schlagle's 3-4 setup anchored by standout LB's Greg Sloan and Phillip Randle are going to test Atchison against the run. Tylen Wallace as well at defensive end will also be able to get some penetration into the Atchison backfield. The biggest question will be if when they get around Gill, will they will be able to pull him down?
Last year Gill rushed the ball 22 times for 30 yards and two TDs against Schlagle. He had a long run of 33 yards in the game. So last year the answer to that question was yes. The problem for the Stallions is that like last year it may only take a couple of lapses against Gill to lose the game. So one streak I can assure you will end this week, Atchison will not score more than 73. If they get to 28 I will honestly be impressed with the outing.
So something has to give Friday night at Washington High school. Either I have over sold the play makers on the Schlagle defense or we will start looking at the first 4 games of Atchison's season as cupcake city. I honestly cannot envision a single scenario short of a lot of uncharacteristic turnovers by Atchison, in which I see them losing the game. Mainly because what I have not discussed in this has been the Redmen defense.
Junior DE Dai Coye Haley is off to a fine start with 30 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, two sacks and three forced fumbles. Free safety Adam Smith leads the team with 42 tackles which is mildly concerning when a member of the secondary is your leading tackler but this week I don't know that this will be a problem. Schlagle’s offense was very pedestrian last week against Sumner Academy and Cornelius Ruff had a very hard time finding running lanes. You have to think this to be a positive for Atchison.
The game plan for Schlagle will have to include time consuming drives with Ruff leading the way. The best defense against a high powered offense like Atchison is a good offense.
I am planning to catch this game live Friday. My first live look at Gill in 2015, as he looks to thrust himself into POY contention in a statement game.
Brox's pick: 24-14 Atchison.