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Midweek Rusher

By: Tom Witherspoon, Vype Email
By: Tom Witherspoon, Vype Email

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September 29, 2010

There's another big Class 3A match-up this coming week. On the heels of Week 4's Conway Springs-Garden Plain game (Conway won 29-14), Remington travels to Trinity Catholic in Hutchinson. I know you're probably chuckling to yourself a bit, because Trinity blasted the Broncos 49-0 last season, but there's precedent for a Remington win over Trinity in the last five seasons, and Remington has been posting offensive numbers as outrageous as Trinity. Remington is averaging 53 points per game, Trinity 55.

The competition has been sub-par for both teams, so someone is going to get exposed. In the past, Remington has always been a team that gets exposed against stronger teams in district play, which is often the case for Class 3A teams in the Heart of America League. But Trinity, also of the HOA, changed the perception of the league last season with their 33-28 upset of Conway Springs in the playoffs. Can Remington match Trinity's gamesmanship and step their game up to the next level?

Quarterback Caleb Cherryholmes and wide receiver Jake Green are a lethal combination in coach Chris Lawler's spread offense. Cherryholmes connected with Green for 131 yards and four touchdowns Friday against Inman. Remington is one of those interesting small-school teams that has benefited to a certain extent from the spread passing attack (Sedgwick is another one). But the case in the past five seasons for Remington in Class 3A (26 wins, no playoff berth) is that they display explosive offense against mid- to lower-tier teams but cannot maintain that output against better teams.

Remington moved into a new district this year (Marion, Hillsboro, SE of Saline), so they play their league nemeses Trinity and Sedgwick in the next two weeks. We'll know what kind of team 4-0 Remington is this week and next.

If you want to compare scores to see if Remington-Trinity will be a competitive game, here you go: Remington beat Inman 49-13 in Week 4, Trinity beat Inman 50-21 in Week 3. However, Remington tacked on two TDs in the fourth quarter against Inman when the game was already iced. So... the Broncs are an underdog, but I'm interested. I wish I could see Jake Green play. He's at least 6'4". I have a feeling some small college team is going to be very happy next year when he falls in their lap.

*****

Last week following Collegiate's 28-15 handling of Rose Hill and going into their game at Andale, I was wondering if Collegiate was on its way to its third consecutive undefeated regular season, and fourth in its last six. The league shift from the weaker, now-defunct MCAA to the AVCTL Division 4 hadn't even fazed them.

Well, I got ahead of myself. Fact is, the AVCTL 4 is better football, period (check the scores, Rose Hill embarrassed Pratt, 70-0, while Hesston, likely the class of the group of former MCAA teams now in the Central Kansas League, had to come back from a 14-0 deficit to beat Pratt 21-14), and while Collegiate got off to a great start, the schedule is a grind.

Following their 33-21 loss at Andale, which rebounded like a champion following last week's 31-8 home loss to Rose Hill, Collegiate is now not only defeated, but they're not yet out of the woods. In preseason, Andale, which led the Spartans 33-14 going into the fourth quarter, looked like they'd be Collegiate's final test before easing into the playoffs with a week home stretch of five games. While their district still is undoubtedly weak, Collegiate's final two league games against Circle this Friday and at Maize South the following week are looking like they could be challenges.

I still favor Collegiate in both games, but I think their lack of depth will be exposed. Circle is 3-1, coming off a rare win against Wellington, though the one loss came at Clearwater, which Collegiate handled in Week 1. Maize South also lost to Clearwater last week, 14-13, but I think Clearwater is getting better. It all depends on whether Circle and Maize South are capable of creating a defensive game plan to stop Collegiate's spread attack.

As for Andale, I'm very interested in the rest of their slate. They travel to Clearwater and Circle to round out their league schedule, before facing Trinity Academy and Maize South in district play. While Andale is heavily favored in each, I'm at least curious about the score in those games. All four opponents are better this year than I thought they would be.

A few members of my family went to the Andale game last Friday (one of my nieces was involved in a halftime performance). Their observations were that Andale has a special will to compete. They said Andale didn't out-size or out-quick Collegiate, they just played hard, finishing every run, block and tackle. I love hearing things like that. Sports are all about competition. Bring everything you have to the field of play, and leave it there.

*****

Game Takes

Maize 7, Andover 3 Before kickoff last Friday night, I tweeted that this was a sleeper game. Class 6A Maize was 2-1 going in with a narrow defeat to Derby, and Class 5A Andover, just moved up from 4A, was 1-2, including a bad loss to Newton in which they gave up a 22-point lead. It looked like Andover might lose by two or three scores. They didn't; they played Maize tough.

Is everyone aware of the disparity in number of students between Maize and Andover? Maize has about twice as many students, so for the Trojans to play Maize this tight, a 7-3 loss, the people in Andover grumbling over the Trojans' performance through the first four weeks of the season better zip their lips. Remember when you couldn't beat Andover Central and struggled to get a winning record in Class 4A? This program is way better than it used to be, so now just because they're up against it, don't start doubting. Last time I checked, a coach can't stop his top running back and wideout from suffering season-ending injuries. This season could have gone very differently for Andover, but based on this score against Maize, there's reason to have some faith in the future, though the team's stiffest test since McPherson awaits this Friday at Derby, which pounded Campus 40-6 for their 18th consecutive win over the Colts.

As for Maize, I'll be subbing in for Walt Bettis as color commentator on the VYPE Game of the Week on AM 1330 KNSS for this Friday's Salina Central at Maize match-up. Pregame starts at 6:30 p.m. I saw Salina Central at Hutch last Friday. Maize must cover the pass better than they did against Derby to win. Central found a decent passing attack against Hutch at times on Friday, but their intensity and physicality were lacking, to state it kindly. There's no reason Maize, which is 1-4 against Central in the last five seasons, should be intimidated.

Carroll 35, Wichita Northwest 7 Wichita Northwest is 1-3 with 4-0 Heights waiting for them this Thursday in the City League showcase game. The City League has been predictable since I started covering preps in 2007 (three teams on top, then the rest), but never has it been in this state. Northwest is no longer a contender, leaving Heights and Carroll atop the league, all alone, and I think by far. We'll see what Kapaun, coming off a stretch of games against North, South, West and Southeast, brings against Carroll in Week 8, but this season marks a low for the City League. The level of competition is so poor. Ironically, the league also might have its best team in a decade, Heights, which is now on everyone in the state's list of top 6A state contenders. Part of me is rooting for Northwest this Thursday to begin a season turnaround like Heights did last year, just because I want to see more competitive games in Wichita, the major city in the state of Kansas. Folks, we're going into Week 4, and I haven't attended one City League game on a Friday night.

Conway Springs 29, Garden Plain 14 Doug Downs, who called this game Friday night on KNSS, told me during the week leading up the game that the game would be decided by special teams. He was right. Garden Plain gave up a safety on a bad snap on a punt, and Conway Springs' Cory Misak ran a punt back for a touchdown. Garden Plain's first touchdown also came after they blocked Conway's first punt of the season. Doug's hunch came from the fact that Conway hadn't punted once, and Garden Plain had punted three times all year going into the game. This is a continual concern, in my opinion, for these programs: very rarely are they tested in the Central Plains League. Here's to Trinity Academy giving Conway Springs a game in Week 6, and I know Garden Plain will have their hands full against Trinity Catholic in Week 7.

WAC Thoughts

Dodge City 41, Liberal 20

Hays 17, Garden City 3

This is probably appropriate at this time of year, when the Western Athletic Conference begins its in-fighting. I have paid little attention to Dodge City in the first three weeks of the season because they beat up on three City League teams. I'm slightly impressed by Dodge City's 41-20 win over Liberal. Something tells me new coach Dave Foster is going to pick up where former coach Justin Burke left off and make Dodge a perennial contender in Class 6A. Manhattan and Heights are the class of the 6A West, but Dodge is right there with Derby chasing those two, I'd say.

Conversely, I was starting to get high on Hays, but a 17-3 win over Garden City, which opened with a loss to Class 3A Scott city, was unimpressive. I can't figure that district -- Salina Central, South, Hays, Great Bend -- but I can figure that they're not going to upset the balance in the 5A West.

Unexpected Contrast

Nickerson 40, Kingman 15

Circle 38, Wellington 19

Big week for Nickerson, which is 3-1 going into this week's game against Hesston following two 1-8 seasons. Meanwhile, Wellington dropped to 0-4 with a rare loss to Circle.

8-Man Note

Pretty Prairie 37, South Barber 2

Pretty Prairie, a popular pick to win the 8-man Division I title this year, won 37-2 over South Barber, usually a quality team in the Heart of the Plains League. The test comes this week, however, against Macksville, a perennial 8-man titan.

Capital Watch

Topeka Hayden 23, Washburn Rural 21

Topeka 42, Highland Park 13

Is it just me, or is Class 4A already decided? Topeka Hayden won 23-21 over Washburn Rural, a quality Class 6A team, not a pushover. In addition, Hayden has just one loss in the Centennial League, which is a large-class league, to Manhattan in Week 1, 7-6. Manhattan is a contender to win Class 6A. How is Hayden a 4A team?

Also out of Topeka, High, a school with little football tradition, is for real again after upsetting Junction City a year ago to make the Class 6A playoffs. They're 4-0, including a thumping of Topeka Seaman and a win over Holton, which is supposed to challenge Hayden in Class 4A. Topeka High hosts Hayden this week. That may be your game of the week for the state.

Out of the East

Blue Valley 28, Bishop Miege 13R

St. Thomas Aquinas 35, BV Northwest 7

Gardner-Edgerton 56, BV Southwest 7

Miege cannot win Class 5A, I'd say that's pretty clear, following two-score defeats to 5A East favorites Gardner-Edgerton and Blue Valley Stilwell. Can you believe that district slate for Gardner, Stilwell and Aquinas? Those are the three best teams of the 16 in the 5A East, and they're all in the same district, keeping one out of the playoffs. Broken system.

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