By CONOR NICHOLL
Council Grove defensive coordinator Derron Reddick grew up in CG and enjoyed a strong football career. He loves his hometown more than anything. Reddick has compiled an incredibly detailed online history of Council Grove football that would rival most collegiate sports information programs. CG, though, has won more than six games just once since 1987, per Kansas Football History.
He dreamt of nights like Friday throughout his life, an epic 20-14 district-opening home win versus Humboldt. Council Grove knocked down a fourth-down pass near the five-yard line with 23 seconds left.
“This team tonight showed they are willing to fight through anything,” Reddick told SIK late Friday. “So proud of our defensive effort. Our execution wasn’t perfect but we played with max effort and believed.”
Council Grove has already broken multiple school records, including receiving, pancake blocks and kicking. The Braves, named as a Potential Breakout Team this summer, have quadrupled last season’s win total and stand at 4-0. Fourth-year head coach Butch Hayes told SIK late Friday that he “can’t stop smiling” and “there were so many things to be proud of.”
“This team believes,” Hayes said. “We believe we can make the next play regardless of the previous. They stayed in the moment and competed till the end and always believed. I couldn’t be more proud.”
In 2011, Reddick was a senior on the Braves’ last playoff team. Council Grove battled hard in the postseason and lost to Silver Lake.
Reddick came back home a couple of years ago and joined Hayes, a longtime veteran who most notably led Ellis to its best seasons in school annals in ’08 and ’09.
In Hayes’ first three falls, Council Grove won a total of five games. This summer, Hayes mentioned several times to SIK that the town showed great support, even in a 1-8 season last fall when CG allowed the most points per game in 3A.
The Braves played multiple freshmen in key roles, including quarterback Ace Monihen along with linemen Dax Meyers and Holden Ziegler. For 2022, CG dropped down to 2A and returned the bulk of its team, along with senior speedy all-purpose threat Ethan Burton, a Division II Arkansas Tech commit.
I named Council Grove to my ninth-annual Potential Breakout Team list, along with a group that included 3A Scott City, 2A Norton and Six-Man Cheylin. Those four teams went a combined 12-23 in 2021. After Friday, they are a collective 14-2.
Plus, Eight-Man, Division I Burlingame, a 6-3 squad last season, was a SIK upset pick in Week 4 against second-ranked Chase County. The five teams’ turnarounds and huge close wins formed the foundation for a wild Week 4.
Two other ranked teams suffered upsets when Shawnee Heights defeated 4A No. 5 Basehor-Linwood, 27-0, and 1A Wabaunsee issued a huge turnaround in a 40-38 win against No. 2 Smith Center.
In non-district action, Council Grove opened with three straight shutouts for the first time since 1974. In Week 4, CG faced 3-0 Humboldt, which feature running back Trey Sommer, one of 2A’s top players. Burton caught two receiving touchdowns, including the game-tying touchdown pass. Overall, Burton delivered 23 tackles, including 13 solo. He finished with two interceptions, 119 all-purpose yards and a receiving score. Burton set Council Grove’s all-time school career receiving record.
This week, Council Grove has another big test with surprise 4-0 West Franklin. Nathan Teichgraeber, who coached at WF until this year, coached at CG before Hayes took over the program. The Falcons had five total wins in the last three years and hasn’t had a winning record since 2008. Council Grove is 4-0 for the first time since 2016 and is a victory away from its first winning season since ’17.
Also in 2A, No. 5-ranked Norton continued to stay undefeated with a 38-20 victory against rival Phillipsburg. The Bluejays were 4-5 last season and stand 4-0 this fall. Senior Sean Anderson was an all-state linebacker and entered this season with 240 career tackles.
He had been the starting quarterback, and Norton moved him to tight end. Eli Jones, who had an impressive freshman season in basketball, took over at quarterback. Garrett Urban, a state wrestling champion, has delivered huge games at running back. Norton has 14 seniors after just three a year. Longtime Norton coach Lucas Melvin was on the SIK All-Access Show last week.
Norton scored 182 points last season. The Bluejays have 161 this year.
In 3A, Scott City had opened 3-1 in 2021 before key injuries and close losses helped the Beavers finish 4-5, the program’s first losing season since 1986. In an odd game, Scott City and Thomas More Prep-Marian were tied at 14 after three quarters in Hays. TMP entered the fourth quarter with zero yards of total offense, though had a pair of non-offensive scores from senior Kade Harris.
Scott City, led by bruising 190-pound junior fullback Brady Welker, scored two fourth quarter touchdowns and won 28-14. He rushed 25 times for 169 yards and twice pinned TMP inside its own 20-yard line on punts.
Scott City is 3-1, 3-0 against Kansas schools, and held the Monarchs to negative total yards for the game. Five players recorded a sack. That included three tackles for loss, two sacks from junior JP Harris. (Check out more this week on SIK as Scott City is the American Implement Team of the Week).
In Eight-Man, Division I, District 2 was selected as the classification’s most competitive district since the summer. Five teams, Chase County, Lyndon, Madison, Burlingame and Cair Paravel, are likely battling for four playoff spots. All entered districts 2-1 or better. Thin margins separate one through 10 in the Division I rankings, Kansas’ closest classification.
That showed Friday when eight-man newcomer Lyndon beat Cair Paravel, 28-24. Burlingame, with experienced seniors and a great sophomore class, defeated Chase County, 26-24. The Bearcats were fifth in Division I scoring defense last season and has allowed just 36 total points this year. Burlingame was especially experienced in the back half of the defense.
Coach Jeff Slater talked with SIK last week and noted he believed “our ceiling is growing.”
“We are solid in eight spots,” Slater said. “Some of the concern I had in the offseason, I feel like seniors have stepped up in those roles and have performed really well.”
On Friday, he was highly pleased Burlingame allowed just 98 yards in the second half against Chase County’s high-octane offense.
Burlingame trailed entering the fourth quarter before senior dual threat quarterback Colby Middleton scored from nine yards out with 7:52 left. Chase County outgained Burlingame, 341-198. The Bearcats, though, were plus-2 in turnover margin.
Sophomores JD Tyson and Dane Winters finished with 13 and 11 tackles, respectively. Middleton delivered 12 stops, 87 rushing and 85 passing yards. Matthew Heckman, the state runner-up in high jump, finished with nine tackles and an interception.
This season, Burlingame’s pass defense has held teams to 24 of 52 passing for 125 yards with five interceptions.
The preseason projection was that the first month of KSHSAA sanctioned six-man football was essentially a round robin among the ranked teams in the preseason: Cunningham, Ashland, Cheylin, Northern Valley. Tescott jumped into the poll after Week 1. Those five squads have all faced at least two ranked teams.
On Friday, No. 5 Cheylin edged No. 4 Northern Valley, 49-48. NV has remarkably played three one-point games in the last five contests. NV is 0-3 in those contests, including 25-24 against Tescott this season. Last year, the Huskies defeated Cheylin, 56-6.
Cheylin has zero seniors this season. The Cougars lost, 50-28, at home versus No. 2 Ashland last week. However, the game was closer than the final score. Ashland outgained Cheylin, 404-385, though the Bluejays ran 27 more plays. Cheylin had a pair of pivotal first half turnovers. Ashland scored late to widen the margin.
“Hopefully we can execute some things a little more efficiently on offense,” Cheylin coach Chris Walden told SIK last week.
Cheylin held a 530-492 edge in total yards against Northern Valley. The Cougars had zero turnovers, NV four, which Husky coach Marvin Gebhard called “the difference.”
Cheylin junior quarterback Logan McCarty finished 19 of 28 for 373 yards with five touchdowns. He delivered 20 carries for 126 yards and two scores. Similar to Council Grove, Burlingame and Scott City, Cheylin held on late for the key win.
Cheylin led 49-46 entering the fourth, and the last points came on Cougar safety with 8:28 left. NV quarterback Kenton Thalheim completed 12 of 18 passes for 306 yards and five scores for the Huskies.
The Centennial League has not won a state title since 2008 with Junction City and Hayden won. Junction City entered this season with 13 winning seasons in the last 14 years. Manhattan is one of the all-time great Kansas programs. However, the league had trouble breaking through the upper echelon. That is not the case in 2022. 6A programs Manhattan, Junction, Washburn Rural and 3A Hayden all seem to be contenders.
Manhattan is the No. 1 team in 6A and had ended Derby’s 46-game home winning streak in Week 1. Junction City has captured three in a row and defeated 5A No. 3 Bishop Carroll on Friday. Topeka Hayden is the likely 3A East favorite with wins against Olpe and Silver Lake. Washburn Rural has defeated Wichita East, a top-10 6A team. On Friday, Junction City won, 28-21, against Bishop Carroll. Manhattan picked up a 28-25 victory versus Rural.
Shawnee Mission East’s Cole Clesi delivered 200 yards and three scores. After three straight tough losses, SME defeated Shawnee Mission North, 35-34, in overtime.
Olathe Northwest’s Micah Geary is one of Kansas’ top defensive backs. He recorded more than 100 receiving yards, along with a touchdown. He picked off a pass and returned it 30 yards in a 31-28 loss to Olathe West.
Undefeated Teams: No. 1 Manhattan (4-0); No. 4 Olathe North (4-0)
Maize South is just outside of the 5A top-5. Sophomore Tate McNew has continued his breakout season with a 34-14 win versus Newton. He completed 28 of 39 passes for 323 yards. McNew has 1,095 yards in the first month.
Last season, Andover led 5A in scoring defense. On Friday, Salina Central picked up a 54-44 victory versus Andover. Kenyon McMillian, one of Kansas’ fastest players, had six touchdowns. He exceeded 1,000 rushing yards last season.
Highland Park entered this season with a losing streak that stretched back to 2014. The Scots switched to the newly formed Meadowlark Conference, which primarily encompasses the Kansas City-Kansas schools. Plus, HP has a top-15 all-classes recruit in all-purpose threat Tre Richardson. On Thursday, Highland Park rolled over KC Harmon, 74-0. The Scots are 4-0 for the first time since 1995.
Kapaun Mt. Carmel standout running back Omari Elias rushed for more than 2,000 yards last season, second-best in the state among 11-man players. He recorded a school record 363 yards rushing yards and three touchdowns. KMC defeated Westminster, 63-24, a Colorado team. The contest was played in Colby.
Shawnee Heights’ Alan Baughman and the offensive line recorded another 100-plus yard rushing yards and three touchdowns. Heights is quietly 3-1 after a 27-0 home win against Basehor-Linwood, which is currently ranked No. 5 in 4A.
Undefeated Teams: No. 1 Mill Valley (4-0), No. 2 Maize (4-0), Highland Park (4-0)
St. James Academy defeated 4A No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas, 24-20, and launched back up into 4A state title contender status. SJA won the 4A crown the last two seasons and lost four Eastern Kansas League games both falls.
Last year, the Thunder became the first team in state history to open 0-4, and then win nine straight and capture the state championship. This season, SJA was preseason No. 1, though then dropped out of the rankings with three straight losses, albeit to EKL teams. This marked the first time the Thunder had ever defeated Aquinas in school history. The schools are just 11 miles apart.
St. James was 0-8 all-time versus the Saints, including 14 total points in the last three meetings.
John Niesen recorded seven catches for 201 yards and a score. Niesen paced Kansas in receiving yards last year. Blake Boydston has stepped up at quarterback after he came in Week 1 because of an injury. Boydston finished 16 of 22 for 242 passing yards with two pass scores and a rushing touchdown.
No. 3 Chanute improved to 4-0. Eric Erbe finished with 225 passing yards and a score. Kaden Seamster finished with 170 receiving and 71 passing yards with a score. Dagen Dean, with MIAA offers, recorded 95 receiving yards and two scores. Ty Leedy finished with 10 carries for 82 yards and two TDs.
Wamego is 4-0 and Colin Donahue continues to play well at quarterback in place of injured Hayden Oviatt, an Army West Point commit. Donahue has not played in a full game all season. Donahue recorded 110 passing and three touchdowns. For the year, Donahue has 682 passing yards and 12 touchdowns.
Tonganoxie’s Colton Brusven rushed for 191 yards and two scores. The Chieftains beat Paola, 28-14, at home and moved to 2-2.
For the second straight season, Arkansas City quarterback Gabe Welch suffered a serious injury, per Brady Bauman, voice of Ark City. In 2020, Welch helped AC to a surprise state runner-up showing.
Coffeyville has continued to be a surprise team under coach Deonta Wade. On Friday, junior Jeremy Colbert finished with 192 yards and four scores. LaMarcus Allen delivered 130 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The offensive line opened holes for 60 rushes for 400 yards and six scores in a 42-13 win versus Independence. First time unbeaten since 2013 after four weeks.
Coffeyville is at Wamego this week in a matchup of 4-0 teams.
Eudora, which moved into the rankings at No. 4 this week, improved to 4-0 with a 49-28 victory at Ottawa.
McPherson beat previously undefeated Circle, a surprise team, 35-15 behind four rushing touchdowns from Jaytin Gumm.
Undefeated Teams: No. 1 Bishop Miege (4-0), No. 3 Chanute (4-0), No. 4 Eudora (4-0), Atchison (4-0), Wamego (4-0), Coffeyville (4-0)
No. 1 Andale rolled again in a 57-8 victory versus Smoky Valley and bumped its winning streak to 42 games. Andale has scored 50 or more points 35 times since 2017 in a game. Andale is 65-2 under coach Dylan Schmidt. In 58 of those contests, the Indians has allowed two touchdowns or less. Andale is quickly closing on the fifth-longest winning streak in Kansas football history. In addition, Andale’s volleyball team is the defending 4A champs and has won 20 straight matches entering Saturday.
Andale again be heavily favored at Nickerson next week before the big road matchup against rival Wichita Collegiate, ranked No. 2 in 3A.
No. 5 Rock Creek won the Mid-East League for the first time in 18 years. Dalton Whitworth, which led Kansas in passing yards last fall, finished 21 of 34 for 337 yards with three touchdowns. He delivered eight rushes for 78 yards. RC defeated Silver Lake, 44-28.
Galena defeated rival Columbus, 36-22. Longtime coach Beau Sarwinski has never had a losing record in his 15 seasons with the Bulldogs. Tyler Little has Division I offers and is a top-15 recruit all classes, per 247 Sports. Little (6-foot-4, 235) delivered 206 rushing yards. Zane Turner added 152 on the ground.
Hugoton is 4-0 for the first time since 2009 with a 47-6 win versus Colby. The closest margin is 17 points. The GWAC has Holcomb, Scott City and Hugoton with a combined mark of 11-0 against Kansas/Colorado schools.
Next to Andale, Girard continues to have the second-best 3A record since the start of 2021. The Trojans are 14-1 in that stretch, including a 35-0 road win versus Frontenac in a game that essentially wrapped up the CNC title.
Parsons has its second 4-0 start since 1990, last coming in 2018, the Vikings are a team to keep a serious eye one with one of the best offenses in 3A. The question for the Vikings later on in the year will be defense and line play against better competition. So far, its a team that you need to start considering on the 3A East to make a run.
Undefeated Teams: NR Parsons (4-0), NR Girard (4-0), NR Wellsville (4-0), No. 3 Topeka Hayden (4-0), No. 2 Wichita Collegiate (4-0), No.1 Andale (4-0), NR Holcomb (4-0), NR Hugoton (4-0)
The Lakin/Cimarron rivalry has often had memorable games. In 2019, then-Cimarron kicker Emmanuel Aguilar had never attempted a field goal in a game. He kicked the game-winner. Aguilar played his senior season at Dodge City, was a Shrine Bowl pick and now the true freshman kicker at Fort Hays. On Friday, Lakin defeated Cimarron, 2-0. Sophomore Armando Salcido recorded three interceptions. Lakin moves to 4-0.
The NCAA has been off to a great first month with No. 1 Southeast of Saline rolling, a 4-0 start from Ellsworth and solid starts/bounce-backs from Ellsworth and Beloit.
Ellsworth is 4-0 under veteran coach Josh Homolka and has allowed just six points all season. Ellsworth has three straight shutouts. The Bearcats had four wins in the last two years combined.
In the last two years, Beloit has started slowly in the regular season, especially in 2020 when it was 2-6 entering the playoffs. However, the Trojans rebounded to earn state semifinals and state runner-up, respectively. Beloit had opened 1-2 and had more interceptions than completed passes. Standout running back Benson Berndt has more than 3,000 career rushing yards, though had missed time with injury.
On Friday, Beloit faced a much improved Russell team. Beloit won 38-22 and improved to 2-2. The Trojans rolled up 552 yards of total offense. Berndt returned and delivered 162 rushing. Logan Arasmith finished with 300 rushing yards and 39 receiving yards in his second straight big game. Beloit has its big line paced by Grady Seyfert, the reigining 2A Defensive Player of the Year.
No. 2 Nemaha Central continues to be the top eastern squad. Cooper Hajek, with multiple NAIA offers for defense, delivered four carries for 128 yards and four touchdowns. Hajek had just one carry in the second quarter. NC rolled over struggling Horton, 78-0.
No. 3 Kingman, which has a quality Week 1 victory against Cheney, improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2014. The Eagles defeated Douglass on Friday. Last season, Kingman went to the 2A state semifinals, its best showing in 49 years.
Undefeated Teams: NR Council Grove (4-0), NR West Franklin (4-0), No. 2 Nemaha Central (4-0), Ellsworth (4-0), No. 1 Southeast of Saline (4-0), No. 3 Kingman (4-0), NR Chaparral (4-0), NR Lakin, No. 5 Norton (4-0)
In a game that will likely decide District 5, Smith Center travelled east for a rare matchup with Wabaunsee. The Chargers enjoyed their best season since the ‘90s last year. In Week 1, Wabaunsee lost a close game to Troy when it committed seven turnovers. On Friday, Wabaunsee beat the No. 2 Redmen, 40-38. SC led 26-6 at halftime and 32-18 after three quarters.
Oakley tight end Brayden Cunningham, a returning first team all-Mid-Continent League player, delivered five catches for 140 yards and three touchdowns. Oakley quietly took control of District 8 with a 22-7 home win versus Plainville. The Plainsmen are 2-2.
Conway Springs’ Brayden Kunz delivered 331 rushing yards and six scores in a 43-13 win against Medicine Lodge.
Ellis defeated Johnson-Stanton County, 60-0, for its first win this year. The Railers enjoyed a big first half, including a long touchdown pass from junior Logan Russell to wide receiver Mason Younger in the game’s first couple plays. This year, Russell is 7 of 9 passing for 215 yards with four scores against zero interceptions.
Ellis has used two quarterbacks this season, though Russell has provided a spark with his passing ability. A junior, Younger is well-known for his wrestling and is a 3-2-1A state runner-up. Younger had not previously played high school football. He is Ellis’ top receiver with seven catches for 211 yards and three scores. Senior Rex Johnson is solid out of the backfield with 36 catches for 244 yards and four scores.
Undefeated Teams: NR Jayhawk-Linn (4-0), No. 5 Centralia (4-0)
Eight-Man, Division I
Eight-Man, Division I has limited separation between one and ten in the rankings and is Kansas’ closest classification. That is especially true in District 2 where the top-five squads: No. 2 Chase County, Burlingame, Madison, Cair Paravel and Lyndon entered with a combined mark of 13-2. Burlingame defeated Chase County, 26-24. In its first season of eight-man football, Lyndon held off Cair Paravel, 28-24.
Central-Burden delivered a quality 52-35 win against previously undefeated Argonia-Attica. Quarterback Jace Wunderlich went 14 of 27 passing for 250 yards and four scores. He rushed 20 times for 150 yards, along with a touchdown. Wunderlich picked up six tackles. Longtime coach Jeff Savage, well-known for his passing offense, is in his first year of his second stint at Central-Burden.
Ell-Saline is 3-1 in its first year of eight-man football since the mid-90s. The Cardinals defeated Bennington, 34-20.
Undefeated Teams: NR West Elk (4-0); NR Lyndon (4-0), NR Burlingame (4-0), No. 5 South Sumner Co. (4-0), No. 3 Hill City (4-0), Macksville (4-0), Meade (4-0, 18-game winning streak), No. 1 Leoti-Wichita County (4-0)
Eight-Man, Division II
No. 1 Axtell ran its winning streak to 17 games with its 56-0 win against Linn that ended at halftime. Axtell ran 18 total plays and scored on seven while converting all seven two-point conversions. Senior quarterback Isaac Detweiler continued his remarkable career with seven of 10 passing for 149 yards with four touchdowns. He played just the first quarter and one minute into the second quarter.
Stafford is 4-0 for the second time since the late ‘80s with first-year coach Mitchell Engelken.
Minneola delivered a solid 46-34 district win against Bucklin. Junior Eli Lang had produced more than 500 yards of offense in Week 3. This week, he completed 19 of 28 passes for 200 yards with two touchdowns against one interception. He rushed 10 times for 133 yards and two TDs.
Undefeated Teams: No. 1 Axtell (4-0); No. 2 Canton-Galva (4-0), NR Beloit-St. John’s/Tipton (4-0), No. 3 Victoria (4-0), NR South Barber (4-0), NR Stafford (4-0), No. 5 Dighton (4-0), Minneola (4-0)
In addition to Cheylin’s big win, Cunningham won at No. 3 Tescott, 42-0. The Wildcats are the defending state runner-up and returned all but one player. Cunningham paced six-man in scoring defense in 2021. This year, Cunningham opened with a 38-30 victory against No. 2 Ashland and has allowed just 43 points this season.
Undefeated Teams: NR Waverly (4-0); No. 1 Cunningham (4-0)