October 29, 2010
The district title, home field in the first round of playoffs, and bragging rights are on the line tonight in the best group of match-ups we've had all year long.
Carroll wants nothing more than to beat Hutchinson. Despite its rivalry with Wichita Heights, Carroll has said again and again that Hutchinson is the measuring stick for the success of their football program. Hutchinson, meanwhile, takes on all comers, toppling rival after rival, winning title after title. Carroll has won six consecutive district titles. Hutch has won six consecutive state titles. Every streak comes to end sometime.
Also in 5A, Kapaun and Andover Central play for the first time, though Kapaun is not entirely new to Central head coach Tom Audley. While coach at Andover High before the split in 2002, Audley's Trojans beat Kapaun in four of five meetings. Seven-win Central hasn't had a win over an impressive opponent since Salina Central in Week 2. Seven-win Kapaun hasn't since Week 1 against Northwest. If nothing else, this is a great new east-side rivalry.
Derby returns to Heights for the first time since stalling their final, potentially game-winning drive on the two-yard line at sub-state last season. With the way Heights is scoring this season, nearly 54 points per game, Derby will have to do better than the 10 points per game they've scored against Heights in their last three meetings. And they'll need a couple defensive stops, too.
Home-field advantage in the playoffs means so much to the teams that have to travel the furthest -- Manhattan, Junction City, Garden City and Dodge City. But in addition to the district title and home field, these are just two great rivalry games, Manhattan at Junction City and Garden City at Dodge City. The gravity of this game is nothing new for Manhattan and Junction, who are perennial favorites in 6A, but it's been awhile since the Hatchet Game meant this much. Since the Kansas playoff system began qualifying two teams from each district in 2002, this is the first time both Dodge and Garden have made the playoffs. Dodge with a win can complete its first undefeated regular season since 1994.