August 9, 2010
KEY GAME Winfield at Wellington October 22
If Wellington and Winfield will be the ones to advance, winning District 11 or placing second might be based on this game’s outcome – and has huge implications come playoff time. The second-place team out of District 11 will have to play the District 12 champ, likely Andale, in bi-district play to open the playoffs.
Winfield just got another rivalry game on its schedule, and though it doesn’t have the recent history of the Cowley Cup game with Ark City, Wellington is just as close to the west.
Even more important than Winfield’s grouping with Wellington is its demotion to Class 4A. Resurgent to near .500 football the last two seasons, 5-5 and a playoff berth in 2008 and 4-5 last season, Winfield was one of the smallest schools in Class 5A struggling to compete week to week. In 2010, they play only two teams which they have played previously in the past five seasons, Ark City and El Dorado.
What if Winfield, a 14-13 winner over Andale and ender of their 29-game win streak in 2008, had been in 4A that year? Though star quarterback and Pitt State recruit Tanner Bailey graduated, fifth-year head coach Justin Price has to feel the Vikings’ prospects are looking up.
Wellington continued its 18-year streak of playoff appearances in 2009, but the Crusaders also continued their streak of losses to Andale, which wrested the title of Area’s Best In 4A from Wellington in 2005 and have held it since. Wellington has lost six straight over the past four seasons to Andale, unbeaten by an area team in Class 4A since 2004. The Crusaders’ season in both 2008 and 2009 ended at regionals against Andale; in 2010, it begins at home against the Indians.
Wellington has not made sectionals since 2004 and have three four-loss seasons in their past four. The upside is that the Dukes’ down years of late since winning state titles in 2001 and 2002 have been winning playoff years; the next couple seasons are supposed to be strong for Wellington, led by juniors running back Taylan Ybarra and first-year quarterback Ryan Jenkins.
In their first season under Dirk Ankerholz, Clearwater seemed to take a step back early on in 2009. At 1-5 entering district play, having lost only one game by fewer than three touchdowns, Clearwater nearly stunned Wellington to open district play, losing 20-14. The Indians won their next two, earning their third consecutive playoff berth after a 23-year absence.
Mulvane started the 2009 season with a win over Class 5A Great Bend but ended winless in district play with 24- and 20-point losses to Andover Central and Rose Hill, which sandwiched a shocking 28-26 loss to upstart Trinity Academy. –Tom Witherspoon
Advancing: Wellington, Winfield