By CONOR NICHOLL
Last week, Burlingame senior quarterback Colby Middleton and Conway Springs junior running back Brayden Kunz both discussed their team’s seasons.
Burlingame opened the fall outside of the top-5 in the Eight-Man, Division I rankings. The same occurred for Conway Springs in 1A. Burlingame and CS are consistent winners under veteran coaches Jeff Slater and Matt Biehler.
Last season, Burlingame went 6-3, though didn’t get an opportunity to play Madison because of a COVID cancellation. Burlingame had lost three in a row to Madison, including a 26-24 loss in 2018 when the Bulldogs had a goal line stand at game’s end. The contest decided the Lyon County League title, a loss Slater brought up this week.
Last fall, Conway Springs was 8-3 and fell to Inman in the playoffs. This fall, Burlingame, paced by seniors and sophomores, opened 6-0 against a challenging slate in District 2.
“Coach has told us that we have a chance to go real far this year,” Middleton told SIK’s Conor Nicholl. “He said that this is one of the best teams he has ever coached, and we know what we have to do, and coach knows what he has to do, and to be a better team, we have to play good, and beat the best teams in our district.”
Conway Springs opened 0-3 against bigger classification squads that have combined for four losses. Since then, CS delivered three straight big victories.
“We started off a little bit rough, but we’ve got back on track, starting coming back out there, our line is firing off great,” Kunz said to SIK’s Chet Kuplen.
Friday yielded big wins for both Burlingame and Conway Springs, part of a recalibration in Week 7 for multiple teams and classifications.
As well, 6A No. 4 Olathe North, which also opened the year unranked, earned a massive victory with a 20-16 win against three-time defending 5A champion Mill Valley. North won the Sunflower League and clinched the top seed in 6A East.
Burlingame defeated rival Madison, 44-28. Burlingame held Madison senior standout Bryson Turner to 166 rushing yards; Turner suffered injury in the final part of the fourth quarter. Madison led 8-6 before Burlingame scored 24 straight points.
Middleton finished with 27 carries for 195 yards and four rushing scores. He completed 9 of 12 passing for 89 yards and a score.
Burlingame (7-0, 4-0) clinched the District 2 title and the Lyon County League crown with the victory. The Bearcats has emerged as the favorite atop a very closely packed Division I East.
No. 1 Inman has moved atop 1A the last several weeks. The classification is parity-laden, though Conway Springs remained out of the top-5 entering Friday’s key District 5 home against the Teutons.
“There’s high expectations, and you love to live up to it,” Kunz said. “And winning has always been a tradition here.”
Conway Springs solidified itself as a top 1A contender with a 35-14 win against Inman. CS led 13-6 after the first quarter and 28-6 after three quarters. Kunz rushed 34 times for 287 yards and three scores along with a sack and a pick-six. Kunz is up to 172 carries for 1,348 yards and 14 TDs. Kunz is also top-20 in the world in calf roping.
“I hope we just keeping playing well,” Kunz said. “See where it takes us, hopefully far into the playoffs, make a run at it.”
Burlingame, Conway Springs and ON were the big winners Friday.
Olathe North picked off four passes in the second half, returned two for scores and had another one in the end zone in a 20-16 win at Mill Valley. MV is the three-time defending 5A state champions and had won 14 straight, the longest winning streak in school annals. The victory clinched the Sunflower League championship for Olathe North. MV and ON matched for the first time since ’05; the Jaguars are 0-3 all-time against North. ON held Mill Valley without points after intermission.
Mill Valley was generally considered the state’s best team – and is still the 5A East favorite
Olathe North (7-0) has clinched the No. 1 seed in 6A West. ON’s victory recalibrates Class 6A, which, like Eight-Man, Division I, is very closely packed. Manhattan, Derby, Wichita Northwest, Olathe North, Gardner-Edgerton, Washburn Rural and defending champion Blue Valley Northwest are among those in 6A contention.
Other key results:
5A No. 2 Maize 41, 5A No. 5 Hutchinson 13 – does Maize take the mantle as Kansas’ best squad? Maize has averaged 54.4 points a contest. The Eagles have clinched AVCTL Division I and won its first conference title since before 2004, per Kansas Football History.
4A No. 4 Chanute 40, Coffeyville 26 – Chanute, already off to its best start since the 1930s, faced a big test with Coffeyville. Class 4A No. 5 Wamego rolled over Coffeyville in Week 5. Chanute scored twice late.
1A No. 2 Olpe 49, Jayhawk-Linn 0 – Olpe, the two-time defending 1A champions, won its fifth straight and now has not allowed a point since Week 3. Lone 1A undefeated Centralia (7-0), Olpe (5-2) and St. Marys (5-2) headline a closely packed class.
Olathe North leads 6A East, while Gardner-Edgerton, Olathe South and Olathe West are all 5-2. G-E and O. South play each other this week. On the West, Manhattan (7-0) and Wichita Northwest (6-1) play in a top-four matchup that has ramifications for the No. 1 seed in 6A West.
The West has significant log jam at 5-2: Derby, Wichita East, Washburn Rural and Junction City.
Shawnee Mission Northwest’s Malik O’Atis rushed for 407 yards and four touchdowns in another huge performance. Northwest defeated SM East, 38-28, and improved to 3-4.
Undefeated Teams: Olathe North (7-0); Manhattan (7-0)
Maize moves from No. 2 to No. 1 in 5A rankings this week and is the last undefeated squad in the classification. Maize will be significantly favored in a home contest versus Campus this week and should be the top seeded 5A West squad.
Highland Park’s Aydren Drew had three interceptions, two for touchdowns. Highland Park clinched a winning season with a 63-0 win at KC Northeast (Mo.).
Spring Hill’s Colton McKanna had five touchdowns and more than 200 total yards. SH has quietly won three straight with a 46-0 home win against Fort Scott. SH is 4-3.
Great Bend continues to be an incredible turnaround. GB opened 0-2 and has won five straight games. Cayden Scheuerman completed 21 of 34 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed 16 times for 95 yards with a score and collected two tackles. Braylon Council had 12 catches for 166 yards and three touchdowns. Council, in his first time kicking, completed three of four extra points and had five kickoffs. Great Bend has defeated Buhler (31-6), Wichita Southeast (45-0), Dodge City (21-14 in overtime), Liberal (28-14) and Ulysses (27-22).
Hays High won the Western Athletic Conference with a 56-12 victory against Liberal. HHS is 6-1 and went 4-0 in WAC play. HHS, No. 3 in 5A, has won or shared the WAC football crown in the last three years, which is a first in program history. After Friday, Malik Bah has 118 carries for 1,182 yards and 18 scores. Kyreese Groen has 494 passing yards with eight touchdowns against three interceptions. Keamonie Archie has 16 catches for 258 yards and four scores. Bah has eight catches for 166 yards and two TDs. Wyatt Waddell has 57 tackles, four for loss, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Evan Lind has 52 tackles, three for loss.
The East looks to be Mill Valley as the heavy-heavy favorite as they should be with several other teams looking to make a name for themselves when playoff time comes. De Soto is quietly flying under the radar at 6-1. With Aquinas moving down to 4A it certainly made things interesting in 5A as the Saints always seem to be at least a semifinal caliber team that has also reached the title game multiple times since 2014. Some teams have good records but is their schedule quality? We shall see. There are going to be some new teams in unfamiliar territory this 5A postseason.
Valley Center has quietly had a nice 6-1 season after going 2-7 just one year ago. They will have a heavy challenge this coming week against 4A Andover Central.
Undefeated Teams: Maize (7-0)
Paola’s Landon Taylor scored four touchdowns and rushed for more than 300 total yards. Paola had lost three straight before a 41-22 road win against Bonner Springs.
St. Thomas Aquinas defeated Blue Valley, 44-14. The Saints rushed for 465 yards. Sean Carroll had 17 carries for 172 yards and three scores. Carroll, who just committed to Northern Illinois wrestling, had 16 touchdowns. STA scored 37 straight points.
Mac Armstrong of Miege has passed for 2,2273 yards with 20 TD (2 INT) this season for the Stags. Isaiah Coppage has 57 catches for 782 yards (9 TD) along with Tery Jackson & Dagen Jesen each over 417 yards.
Louisburg seems to be a team nobody is talking about and the Wildcats are unbeaten against Kansas teams this season with their lone loss coming to a team in Arkansas. Riley Van Eaton has rushed for 761 yards this season on 110 attempts for 13 TD while Declan Battle has added 603 with nine scores. Battle has also passed for 635 yards with 4 TD. Louisburg has ran for 1,628 yards this season, averaging 7.7 yards per carry. Mason Dobbins has 256 yards recei ving to lead in receptions.
Bishop Miege, Aquinas, and St. James wont be top seeds in the east bracket but are all three the favorites in this class to win it all. Who else on the East should be looking at contending with the three? Several. Eudora, Louisburg, Chanute, Basehor are all teams in the conversation. The West bracket is wide open. Many may favor McPherson to get to their first ever title game this year, their lone loss coming to a 6A and they defeated Circle another contender earlier in the year. Is Wamego’s schedule as quality as what it needs to be in the playoffs? We shall see but it may not have to be as Wamego has been handling competition very easy all season and without their best player the majority of the time. Also a s/o to Coffeyville for elevating its play this year (losses to unbeaten Wamego, Chanute). There are alot of teams in the mix to win multiple playoff games on the West this year that nobody is talkingabout being a big-time contender. Andover Central is still very much in the convo.
Chanute and Atchison are undefeated in 4A East, while Eudora, Bishop Miege, Louisburg and Basehor-Linwood are 6-1.
Undefeated Teams: Chanute (7-0), Atchison (7-0), Wamego (7-0)
Holton defeated Topeka Hayden, 37-13, in huge top-5 district matchup. Holton outgained Hayden, 508-132. Holton rolled up 474 rushing yards on 72 carries. Holton has won six straight and has emerged as the 3A East favorite.
Willie Dorsey recorded 348 passing yards and five touchdowns for Wellsville. The Eagles defeated Santa Fe Trail, 48-8. Dorsey and Nash Money form one of the best backfield in 3A.
No. 1 Southeast of Saline defeated Lyons, 94-0.
Frontenac continues to impress after a 2-2 start, the Raiders have won three straight including a 27-21 win over Parsons that would be considered an upset to many entering. Mario Menghini has been outstanding as expected for the Raiders this season. Frontenac and Galena will play in a district championship this Friday in Frontenac. Galena has also been impressive in district play with their victory over Parsons last week. They have one loss to a Kansas team (Girard) and the only other loss coming to a team out of Oklahoma.
Rock Creek quarterback Dalton Whitworth completed 26 of 33 passes for 416 yards and five scores. Ethan Burgess delivered 11 catches for 206 yards and three scores in a key 42-21 win against Clay Center.
Royal Valley’s Jamison Shane delivered 29 carries for 283 yards and two scores. RV defeated Jefferson West, 46-0.
Undefeated Teams: Girard (7-0), Wellsville (7-0), Andale (7-0)
Cimarron’s Trace Kopper delivered 21 carries for 292 yards and four rushing touchdowns and delivered a passing score. Cimarron beat Southwestern Heights, 51-22.
Council Grove will host the first playoff game in school history after a 42-6 home win against Eureka. Ethan Burton delivered 324 all-purpose yards, third-most in school history, along with four touchdowns and an interception. Burton, one of Kansas’ fastest players, delivered nine rushes for 184 yards and three scores. He caught two passes for 67 yards and a TD. Burton recorded a 25-yard punt return and had a 48-yard interception return for a score.
Russell continued its impressive turnaround with 76 yards allowed against Phillipsburg. Russell defeated Phillipsburg, 7-0. The Broncos have two shutouts and have allowed just 13.6 points allowed a contest, which will be Russell’s best scoring defense in well over a decade. In the preseason, SIK projected Russell to have its first winning season since 2003.
Cooper Hajek of Nemaha Central continues to be one of the most impressive players this high school football season as he rushed for 331 yards (4 TD) on Friday night as he went to 1,338 yards rushing (3o TD) on the season. Hajek is 6’2″ and 230 pounds.
Undefeated Teams: Nemaha Central (7-0), Southeast of Saline (7-0), Ellsworth (7-0), Kingman (7-0)
Keller Hurla continues to impress as he has passed for 1,650 yards (17 TD/2 INT) this season for St. Mary’s a team that will be a serious contender in the 1A playoffs. Kason Gomez and Abe Huaracha have also combined for over 1,000 yards receiving.
The East is looking to be loaded in the playoffs with Olpe, Centralia, Troy, St. Marys and St. Mary’s Colgan as the heavy favorites. On the West, Conway SPrings put themselves back on the map with their big 35-14 upset over previous #1 Inman. Brayden Kunz, featured last week on SIK, is really making a name for himself as one of the best backs in 1A. Only a junior. Who else will step up on the West? Wabaunsee, Smith Center, Inman, Marion?
Northeast-Arma didn’t field a varsity team last season. It was unknown if they would have enough players to play this season but the Vikings have impressed the last two weeks with back to back wins to give themselves a 2-5 record. It marks the first time they’ve won back to back games in eight years. S/o to coach David Pitts and the Vikings for getting in the win column and the opportunity to win three straight against a Southeast Cherokee squad this next Friday. Arma’s two wins this season have came against Uniontown in week six and Northern Heights in week seven.
Undefeated Teams: Centralia (7-0)
Eight-Man, Division I
Atwood-Rawlins County’s Drew Withington has enjoyed a stellar last two weeks. RC has won three in a row: 54-6, 46-28 and 66-6. The Buffs (5-2) have clinched their first winning season since 2017.
Clifton-Clyde has worked itself back into contention after the loss to Eight-Man, Division II No.1 Axtell. Senior defensive end Seth Leclair and junior linebacker Trent Long has paced the defense. In four district games, C-C has allowed just 67 total yards a contest and 2.3 yards per carry. The secondary, paced by senior Maison Slater, has eight interceptions. In its six wins, C-C has three shutouts and three other games when it permitted six points.
Chase County’s Mitch Budke continued his amazing career with 21 rushes for 229 yards and six touchdowns. Budke paced a great defensive effort with 13 tackles in a key 54-8 win against Cair Paravel.
Logan Meier finished with 125 yards and four touchdowns, along with 14 tackles, three quarterback hits and a pass breakup for Lincoln. The Leopards have back-to-back victories, including a 40-20 road win at Bennington.
Undefeated Teams: West Elk (7-0), Burlingame (7-0), South Sumner Co. (7-0), Macksville (7-0), Leoti-Wichita County (7-0)
Eight-Man, Division II
Canton-Galva senior Jett Vincent, who played at Wheatland-Grinnell, has enjoyed his well-publicized run to multiple stare interception records. On Friday, C-G, ranked No. 2 in Eight-Man, Division II, beat Beloit-St. John’s/Tipton, 58-12.
Vincent has five interceptions this season and 33 in his career. He broke the all-classes mark of 32 set by St. John’s Travis Neidig from 2004-07. The eight-man mark is 31 set by Bennington’s Gunner Boss from ’85-88.
Undefeated Teams: Canton-Galva (7-0), Axtell (7-0), Victoria (7-0), Stafford (7-0), Dighton (7-0), Minneola (7-0)
Undefeated Teams: Waverly (7-0), Cunningham (7-0)