By CONOR NICHOLL for Sports in Kansas
Eight-Man, Division I, District 1 has had four teams enjoy a strong start: Sedan (4-0), Yates Center (4-0), Marmaton Valley (3-1) and West Elk (3-1). Plus, Oswego, with three straight winning seasons under coach Matt Fowler, is 2-2 with one loss on the game’s final play.
While Sedan is expected to be strong, YC, Marmaton Valley and West Elk have all had surprise starts. Yates Center is off to its best start since 1969. West Elk was 1-8, 4-5 and 4-4 in the last three years.
Entering this year, Marmaton Valley was on a seven-game losing streak and had to forfeit its final three games because of lack of players. MV opened with a 62-52 road win versus Altoona and then lost to Crest, Chetopa and Cedar Vale-Dexter, all by at least 32 points. Marmaton Valley last earned a winning season in a 6-3 mark in 2017.
In 2021, Marmaton Valley has enjoyed a solid start with a 50-0 home win versus Altoona-Midway, an 86-50 home loss to Colony-Crest and back-to-back road wins. The Wildcats won at Chetopa (66-14) and at Cedar Vale (54-6). Marmaton Valley has coach Max Mickunas, a former Lebo assistant, per The Iola Register.
Freshman Brayden Lawson and Jaedon Granere have been solid players. Lawson has played quarterback and accounted for three touchdowns versus Chetopa. Granere scored four TDs in the Chetopa win. Senior Quincy Adams returned a punt for a score against Chetopa. Versus Altoona-Midway, Adams rushed for 172 yards and four scores and returned a punt return for a TD.
Bryce Ensminger, Evan Kent, Dylan Drake and Garrett Henderson have been key players, too.
The Crest and Chetopa games were played on a Monday and Friday, just four days apart.