By CONOR NICHOLL
Week 6 was significantly marked by four games: the two Holy Wars – St. Thomas Aquinas at Bishop Miege, and Kapaun Mt. Carmel at Bishop Carroll; Maize’s 52-51 win against Derby; and Madison’s Bryson Turner with more than 590 yards accounted for in the Bulldogs’ key win against Cair Paravel.
For SIK, Bethany Bowman was at Maize/Derby and has interviews up on SIK platforms. Conor Nicholl was at Aquinas/Miege.
ROELAND PARK, Kan. – St. Thomas Aquinas rallied from 20 points down midway through the third quarter at rival Bishop Miege on Friday. Aquinas senior fullback Sean Carroll, known for his physicality at 6-foot, 220 pounds, had carried the ball 39 times. That included 29 after intermission.
Carroll, a defending 5A state runner-up in wrestling at 195 pounds, can squat 585 pounds and rushed for more 1,600 yards as a junior. He had fought through injury and fatigue Friday. Aquinas faced 3rd-and-1 at the Miege 18-yard line with 1 minute, 30 seconds left. A first down would run out the clock and seal the victory.
Before the play, legendary Aquinas coach Randy Dreiling tossed out two calls. Carroll responded with: “It doesn’t matter. I am getting it.”
“That’s the kind of leadership that kid provides,” Dreiling said.
Dreiling obliged, and Carroll ran five yards to seal a 29-26 victory. Carroll finished with 40 carries for 233 yards and three touchdowns.
“It was mentally draining,” Carroll said. “Mentally draining. I mean, I was close – I felt like I was going to collapse every once in awhile, but I just kept going. I just told myself I wasn’t going to quit. It’s my senior year, and it paid off.”
Eastern Kansas League private schools Bishop Miege, St. James Academy and St. Thomas Aquinas are ranked 1-2-3 in 4A. All three are 1-1 against each other this season. Plus, Miege, Aquinas and longtime Missouri power Rockhurst (Mo.) went 1-1 in its round robin.
“We didn’t quit,” Sean said. “We saw a little bit of light, and we took it, and I am just proud of my whole o-line. This is the best game we’ve played. We just didn’t quit one bit. It was awesome.”
It’s highly likely Miege, SJA and STA will all play each other in some form in the playoffs. Either Miege or St. James has won a 4A title every year since 2013. SJA has captured the last two. This is Aquinas’ first season in 4A. Plus, Chanute is ranked fourth and stands at 6-0, its best start since 1935, per Kansas Football History.
“It’s exactly what we expected,” Miege coach Jon Holmes said. “We knew it was going to be a one-possession game. We knew we were going to have to try to make a stop right there. And I told our guys at the end, ‘When you are a championship-level team, you are going to be playing in games like this a lot,’ and this won’t be the last time we see them, so that’s the mindset we’ve got to have. We have got to get better and figure out a way to move on.”
Carroll’s performance helped Aquinas match the largest comeback in Dreiling’s career. He won seven state titles at Hutchinson and has a state crown with the Saints. Dreiling is 76-25 at Hutchinson and 261-101 in his career.
“Coach was just making sure we still believed,” Carroll said of halftime. “Our whole thing this week was just believing we can win, and he made sure that we could, and made some adjustments, and it worked. Coaching was great the second half.”
Aquinas had lost its last two games. Dreiling, who coordinates the flexbone offense, wasn’t pleased with the Saints fumbling and poor pitches the last three games. Aquinas had some similar issues in the first half Friday before the comeback.
“The first two drives, we were moving them,” Carroll said. “It just one error every drive. We knew we were stronger, faster than them. We just had to show it, and I am glad none of us quit.”
“Second half, we finally eliminated that stuff,” Dreiling added.
On Saturday, KU offered Aquinas sophomore defensive lineman Julian “Juju” Marks. He is 6-foot-5, 255 pounds and is the No. 1 Kansas defensive tackle for the Class of 2025.
Aquinas has zero senior starters on the offensive line. That includes freshman right guard Stephen Carroll, Sean’s brother. Stephen is 5-foot-11, 223 pounds. It’s the first time Dreiling has ever started a freshman up front in his career. Sean and Stephen are part of five children. Stephen squatted 405 pounds in a powerlifting meet three months ago. Stephen continually had to block Miege senior defensive tackle Lonnie Reed (6-2, 394).
“For a freshman who weighs 220 to be moving a 400 pound dude, I mean, he’s pretty good,” Sean said.
Their dad, Tom, played left guard for Louisville and was part of teams that won the 1991 Fiesta and ’93 Liberty Bowl.
The Carroll’s older brother, Danny, had played linebacker for Aquinas, but Dreiling needed him at center. Danny made the change without hesitation. Danny became the first player in Aquinas history to earn team MVP as an offensive lineman. He is currently the starting center at FCS North Dakota (More on the rest of Aquinas’ offensive line later this week at SIK).
“They are totally good kids as far as all in,” Dreiling said.
Once Aquinas kneeled out the clock, Sean, full of adrenaline, went to midfield and led his team down the postgame handshake line with Miege.
“I was so happy,” Sean said. “Everything I did today. I was just glad it paid off, and it wasn’t for nothing.”
The Saints went to the track where they sang with the student sections and fan. The Carroll’s parents, Tom and Michelle, stood on the raised cement slab and leaned on the black fence that separated the stands from the track.
They watched their boys sing, and the parents snapped a photo of the two. Tom reached over the railing and patted Sean’s head. Sean called the moment with him, his brother and parents “awesome.”
“He was proud,” Sean said.
But Sean quickly pivoted toward his brother and line, which helped yield an historic comeback for the Saints – and add more intrigue to closely packed 4A East.
“He was making holes for me all night,” Sean said. “…I want to give credit to him and the rest of the o-line.”
Class 6A continues to be very close in at least the top-seven. Manhattan has the season-opening OT win at Derby. Manhattan is currently No. 1 in 6A, and Derby is No. 2 in 6A. Manhattan rolled over current 6A No. 5 Junction City in the Silver Trophy contest on Friday. Manhattan and No. 4 Olathe North are the lone undefeated squads in the classification. ON gets 5A No. 1 Mill Valley this week for the Sunflower League title.
In 6A East, 15 of 16 teams have at least two losses, and 12 have at least three. 6A West has 13 of 16 with at least two losses. Derby has the OT loss and the one-point loss to Maize on Friday.
Manhattan is 6-0 for the first time since 2016 after its dominating 44-7 road victory against Junction City. Manhattan has allowed 14 points in the last two weeks.
Washburn Rural defeated struggling Topeka High, 66-6. Quarterback Branton DeWeese had two passing scores and two rushing TDs in one half. In the preseason, SIK pegged Rural as a team similar to last year’s Blue Valley Northwest, which had the biggest one-season turnaround of any 6A champion ever. Rural has averaged 35.2 points per game. The Junior Blues bounced back after competitive losses to Manhattan and Junction City. Rural delivered 35.1 points a contest last year.
Undefeated Teams: No. 1 Manhattan (6-0), No. 4 Olathe North (6-0)
In front of 8,606 fans, Bishop Carroll continues its long winning streak in the Holy War with a 26-21 win against Kapaun Mt. Carmel at Riverfront Stadium, home of the Wichita Wind Surge. Carroll has won 26 straight in the series.
No. 1 Mill Valley, the three-time defending 5A state champions, ran its school record winning streak to 14 games. The Jaguars are 36-3 in their last 39 games. MV rolled over Shawnee Mission South, 58-6, and set up the huge matchup against 6A No. 4 Olathe North this week. The Jaguars have allowed 41 points in six games. Mill Valley has won every game by at least 21 points.
MV has enjoyed the state’s best defense and that’s the case against this year. Senior Broc Worcester has 42 tackles, 3.5 for loss, while Noah Coy has 40 stops, seven for loss. Senior Jayden Woods and junior Truman Griffith have five TFLs.
For the third straight season, Maize and Derby came down to one point. Maize won 52-51. In 2020, Maize earned a 36-35 victory. Derby won 42-41 last year. Quarterback Avery Johnson, the state’s top recruit and Kansas State commit, finished with 360 passing yards and four scores, along with 156 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Justin Stephens recorded 200-plus receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns. Caden Miranda, a back-to-back first team all-league player, had a key sack late.
The game featured more than 1,000 yards of total offense. Maize’s offense was expected to be able to move the ball against Derby. Entering the game, Maize had tallied 492 yards a game, while Derby was at 336, per SIK research. Maize outgained Derby, 572-484. Bryce Cohoon, a Syracuse commit, delivered four catches for 116 yards a score.
Valley Center has quietly delivered an impressive turnaround. The Hornets are 5-1 this season, including a four-game winning streak after its 19-12 road victory against Andover. VC was 2-7 last fall.
Goddard switched to the single wing after a 0-9 season and is 5-1 this year. Goddard’s only defeat was a 20-13 overtime against Andover. Goddard has three wins against Arkansas City, Andover Central and Maize South.
Goddard has averaged 279 rushing yards and 5.9 yards per carry. The Lions have run on 89 percent of plays. Senior Devin Mathes and junior Micah Johnson each have 574 rushing yards and five rushing scores apiece. Mathes and Johnson combined for 102 rushing yards. In 2021, Goddard averaged 109 rushing yards, 3.2 yards per carry and ran on 79 percent of plays.
Goddard, Hays High, Hutchinson and Valley Center are tied for second in 5A West. Goddard, Valley Center and Hutchinson combined for six wins last year. Hays High, ranked No. 3 in the classification, has been highly impressive after huge graduation losses from its 5A quarterfinal team last fall.
Hays High defeated Dodge City, 41-6, at home. HHS led 41-0 at halftime. Malik Bah, who leads Kansas 11-man football in all-purpose yards, delivered 171 rushing yards and three touchdowns, per Indian broadcaster Dustin Armbruster. Wyatt Waddell continued his breakout season with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
The Indians have clinched at least a share of the Western Athletic Conference title for a third straight season. Hays High’s Week 1 and Week 2 wins against Junction City and Great Bend look better and better. Those squads are a combined 8-2 when not playing the Indians. GB’s losing streak reached 19 games after Week 2. Since then, the Panthers have won four straight and allowed just 34 total points. Great Bend has delivered a colossal turnaround.
Pittsburg has won four straight after a 0-2 start and defeated Independence, 40-8.
Undefeated Teams: No. 1 Mill Valley (6-0), No. 2 Maize (6-0)
Atchison’s Jesse Greenly delivered nine touchdowns in a 70-56 win against Topeka Highland Park. Atchison is 6-0, and Greenly, a returning first team all-state selection, had 26 total TDs in the first six scores.
Chanute continued its best start since 1935 with a 49-6 win against Fort Scott. Chanute has not allowed more than 14 points in any game this year.
Undefeated Teams: No. 4 Chanute (6-0), Atchison (6-0), No. 5 Wamego (6-0)
Andale, featured on SIK last week, moved past Hanover on the Kansas all-time consecutive wins list. Andale has won 44 straight after 49-0 win against Wichita Collegiate in a 1 versus 2 matchup. The Indians are a top-5 team all classes. The Indians are on a pace to threaten several state records. Andale has an opportunity to become the fifth team in state annals to win 50 straight games.
Andale led 21-0 after the first quarter and 35-0 at halftime. Wyatt Spexarth passed for three touchdowns. Andale outgained Collegiate, 419-133. The Indians held Collegiate quarterback Wesley Fair to eight rushes for nine yards. Fair is a top-10 all-classes recruit and is a K-State commit. For Andale, Spexarth finished 6 of 6 for 96 yards with three touchdowns. Gage Prosser finished with 12 carries for 169 yards and a score.
Galena came back to beat undefeated Parsons, 14-13. Galena trailed at halftime and scored twice after intermission. Dawson Mooney had both the five-yard run and two-point conversion to beat Galena up one. Galena completed one pass and rushed for 252 yards.
As SIK has written about and had on video interviews, Girard has the second-best record in 3A since the start of last season. The Trojans are 16-1 since last fall. Girard has permitted just eight points the last three weeks. Girard has scored at least 35 points in their last four contests.
Rock Creek’s Jaydon Winans delivered six touchdowns and more than 200 yards. Rock Creek rolled over Hiawatha, 70-20, and won its fifth straight game.
Scott City, featured on SIK in the last two weeks and a preseason Potential Breakout Team, continues to improve. SC defeated rival Holcomb, which entered undefeated, 28-14, in a key GWAC game. Scott City is 5-1 after an injury-plagued 4-5 season last year. SC owns a quality shutout win against Wray (Colo.) and its only loss came against Millwood (Okla.).
Frontenac’s Vinny Pile kicked a 41-yard field goal. He went 4-of-4 and has been one of the state’s top kickers through the first half of the fall. The Raiders have won two in a row after a 51-7 victory against Baxter Springs.
Wellsville finished 10-1 in 2A and bumped to 3A this season. The Eagles are 6-0 and have won every game by at least three scores. Wellsville defeated Prairie View, 49-14.
Undefeated Teams: NR Girard (6-0), NR Wellsville (6-0), No. 2 Topeka Hayden (6-0), No.1 Andale (6-0)
Osage City enjoyed a critical District 2 win against Humboldt. Quarterback Landon Boss, a three-sport all-state selection, delivered 253 passing yards and two scores. He rushed for 152 yards and four touchdowns. Defensively, Boss delivered 10.5 tackles with a sack and a pair of tackles for loss. All five teams in District 2 are 3-3 or better: Osage City (5-1), Council Grove (5-1), Humboldt (4-2), Eureka (3-3) and West Franklin (4-2).
After an 0-2 start, Beloit won its fourth straight game. Logan Arasmith finished with 211 rushing yards and four touchdowns. This is the third straight season Beloit has started slowly. The Trojans were state semifinalist and state runner-up the last two falls. Beloit won 28-6 at Norton, a team that has suffered significant injuries in the last few weeks. Beloit opened with losses at Ellsworth and versus Southeast of Saline, teams that remain undefeated. Since then, the Trojans have defeated Republic County, Russell, Phillipsburg and Norton. Russell is 3-3 and Norton stands at 4-2.
Ellsworth continued its best start since the mid-80s with an 18-15 victory versus Russell.
Undefeated Teams: No. 2 Nemaha Central (6-0), No. 5 Ellsworth (6-0), No. 1 Southeast of Saline (6-0), No. 3 Kingman (6-0)
In a non-district game, Marion pulled a 46-15 upset against 2A Council Grove, an undefeated team. Marion is a highly experienced squad and was a preseason Potential Breakout team. The Warriors dropped from 2A to 1A. Marion is 4-2, 2-0 in District 6, though the Council Grove victory was a non-district win. Marion has won three straight and only has losses to 1A No. 1 Inman and one-loss Hutchinson Trinity. Council Grove had four shutouts in the first five games and had allowed just 14 total points.
Jayhawk-Linn remains undefeated behind three catches for 165 yards and two scores from Garrett Seely. J-L won 20-6 at Pleasanton and gets Olpe, ranked No. 2 in 1A and a two-time defending state champion, next week. Jayhawk-Linn stands at 6-0, 3-0 in District 2.
St. Marys Colgan only has a loss to 3A Girard, which is 16-1 since the start of last year and is 6-0 this fall. Colgan is 5-1, 2-0 and headlines District 1.
Undefeated Teams: NR Jayhawk-Linn (6-0), No. 3 Centralia (6-0)
Eight-Man, Division I
District 2 has a little more separation now. Five quality teams, Madison, Burlingame, Chase County, Lyndon and Cair Paravel, are competing for four spots. Madison (5-1, 3-0) and Burlingame (6-0, 3-0) are playing for the district lead this week. Chase County (5-1, 2-1), Lyndon (4-2, 1-2) and Cair Paravel (2-4, 0-3) are in the top-five.
Chase County won at Lyndon, 40-38, on Friday. Madison won a wild 86-72 road game at Cair Paravel in a contest played at Highland Park. In Week 4, Burlingame won, 26-24, at Chase County.
Madison’s Bryson Turner is among the state’s most well-known players and might be the best Eight-Man, Division I player. He is a two-time 100-meter state champion and led Kansas in yards per carry in 2021. Turner has moved to quarterback as Madison has gone through a couple of players at the position.
Turner had a performance for the ages: 3 of 4 passing for 28 yards; 39 carries for 435 yards and nine touchdowns; 4 kick returns for 131 yards and a score; 15 tackles with an interception.
Madison led 48-22 after the first quarter and 48-44 at halftime. CP led 58-46 in the fourth quarter. However, Turner scored back-to-back touchdowns.
For Chase County, Mitch Budke delivered 30 carries for 219 yards and two scores. Brock Griffin rushed 11 times for 120 yards and a pair of TDs. Budke delivered 22 tackles, while Griffin finished with 16. Chase County outgained Lyndon, 355-305, per Hudl.
Additionally, separation occurred with several other big games:
No. 5 South Sumner Co. defeated Wichita Independent, 74-28, in a matchup of undefeated teams. SSC took control of District 3.
Hoxie defeated No. 2 Hill City, 20-14. Hoxie now paces District 6.
No. 1 Wichita County ended Meade’s 20-game winning streak with a 56-20 win. WC has matched last year’s win total and leads District 8.
Sublette was expected to be a much improved team in Eight-Man, Division I this season, the program’s first in eight-man football. Sublette has won back-to-back games with a 36-34 home win against South Gray. Miguel Hernandez delivered 19 carries for 250 yards and three scores; along with 132 passing yards and a score. Hernandez delivered 13 tackles and an interception. Sublette had three wins combined from ’16-21. The Larks have their most victories in a year since a 5-4 record in 2011.
West Elk has outscored teams, 308-38 after a 62-0 win against Cedar Vale-Dexter. Sophomore Creyo Koop recorded five rushes for 101 yards and four scores. Koop has exceeded 100 rushing yards in every contest. He has 97 carries for 1,030 yards and 22 scores. In 16 career contests, Koop has exceeded 100 yards on 11 occassions.
Undefeated Teams: NR West Elk (6-0), No. 3 Burlingame (6-0), No. 5 South Sumner Co. (6-0), NR Macksville (6-0), No. 1 Leoti-Wichita County (6-0)
Eight-Man, Division II
Axtell collected win No. 19 in a row with a 62-14 win against longtime Hanover. This has been the marquee eight-man game several times in recent seasons. However, Hanover, which made a state title game every year but one from ’14-20, is 8-8 since the start of last year.
Isaac Detweiler is closing in on 100 career passing touchdowns. He completed 8 of 12 for 161 yards with three passing scores. Detweiler rushed for 94 yards and three scores. Brandon Schmelzle had another huge game with 137 yards and two receiving scores. He finished with 84 yards and a rushing TD, plus an interception.
Stafford held off an upset bid from Norwich with a 36-32 win. The Trojans remain undefeated under first-year coach Mitchell Engelken, a former first team all-state player at Baileyville B&B and former assistant coach at Osborne. Stafford is 6-0 for the second time since 1975, per Kansas Football History.
In a matchup of 5-0 No. 3 Victoria against much-improved 4-1 Wallace County-Sharon Springs, the Knights avoided the upset with the 30-28 victory. Wallace County led 8-6 after the first quarter. However, Thaddeus Wohler tossed three touchdown passes of 13 and 25 yards to cousin Seth Schwien, and 68 yards to Chase Schumacher. Overall, Wohler accounted for 206 yards of total offense and four scores.
Undefeated Teams: No. 1 Axtell (6-0), No. 2 Canton-Galva (6-0), No. 3 Victoria (6-0), South Barber (6-0), Stafford (6-0), No. 5 Dighton (6-0)
No. 1 Cunningham continues to be highly dominant after a 57-6 win against Southern Coffey County. Cunningham has allowed 19 points total in five consecutive wins after a 38-30 season-opening victory against No. 2 Ashland.
Ashland, featured on SIK last week, again put up big numbers with a 74-26 road victory against Moscow. The Bluejays have won five straight contests.
In District 1, Waverly held off an upset bid from Wetmore in a 38-32 victory to stay undefeated and seize the inside track for a district title.
Undefeated Teams: No. 1 Cunningham (6-0), No. 4 Waverly (6-0)