Football in Kansas: Takeaways from a wild Thursday include Clay Center, KC Piper, and Olathe Northwest

Clay Center shut out Collegiate in 3A.

By CONOR NICHOLL & Chet Kuplen – Sports in Kansas

Five takeaways from a wild Thursday night of Round of 16 contests. The other R16 games will occur Friday. Class 6A Olathe Northwest and Class 4A KC Piper both defeated ranked teams.

SIK’s Bethany Bowman also has video interviews posted from 6A Olathe West’s victory Thursday. Check out more this weekend on SIK, especially on the smaller classes.

Clay Center rolls over Wichita Collegiate in 3A – first Collegiate home loss to a non-Andale team since 2018.

Maybe not a surprise with an upset but the score opened up the eyes of everyone across the state on Thursday night. Clay Center has been an under-the-radar team all season with new coach Marc Henry. CC has posted two, three, four and four wins the last four years. The Tigers have two wins against Chapman and lost only to 4A No. 4 Wamego, 2A No. 1 Southeast of Saline and 3A No. 3 Rock Creek, squads that have a combined one loss.

Clay Center, which significantly relies on sophomores and juniors, defeated Wichita Collegiate, 35-0, in a road 3A contest. CC improved to 7-3. Collegiate has enjoyed one of the best home field advantages in recent years. The Spartans had not lost at home to a non-Andale team since a 42-28 playoff loss to Hesston in 2018.

Collegiate was ranked No. 2 in 3A most of the season and is highly senior-laden with quarterback Wesley Fair (K-State commit), lineman Brett Black and tight end Hayden Malaise. Clay Center has averaged 258 rushing yards and 7.8 yards per carry.

CC junior Brody Hayes, named to the SIK All-Underrated Team earlier this season, has enjoyed a huge year. Before Thursday, Hayes has 63 carries for 614 yards and 11 TDs. Junior Carter Long has 113 rushes for 598 yards and six TDs. Sophomore Owen Craig has 36 carries for 547 yards and five scores. Hayes has 81 tackles; the top-five tacklers are all non-seniors. Last season, Hayes delivered 47 carries for 495 yards (10.5 per carry) and eight scores.

Historic win for Olathe Northwest –

Credit to Lorne Clark and his staff after Thursday’s big Round of 16 win against 6A No. 5 Olathe South. Clark is a first-year head coach after a long stint as a Northwest assistant. Northwest opened 1-3 and has won six in a row. The victory also set a school season win total for a program that opened in 2004, per Kansas Football History.

Senior senior wide receiver/defensive back Micah Geary earned some type of all-league recognition on both sides of the ball for a 6-4 team last fall. Geary has been offered at the NAIA level and has significant MIAA attention.

Geary has a couple of other major accomplishments, too.

First, Maize’s Avery Johnson and Andale’s McKenzie Fairchild, generally considered the state’s best football player and female athlete, had at least one kid dressed up as them for Halloween. This received well deserved attention.

However, the same occurred for Geary and multiple others on a sign Thursday night, who are beloved in the Olathe Northwest community. Two young boys are diehard Olathe Northwest fans. One boy wrote a sign that in part said to several Olathe NW players, including Geary: “Thank you for letting me watch you my whole life. I don’t think I would be where I am right now without you.”

Last Friday, Olathe Northwest defeated KC Wyandotte, 59-6. Geary and Lucas Conover became the players part of the most wins in ONW history. Both Geary and Conover, a lineman, have played all four years for the Ravens. This fall, Geary had missed 2.5 games with an ankle injury, though came back in Week 9.

Entering Thursday, Geary had played in five games. He had 16 catches for 250 yards and four scores, along with three interceptions on defense. Despite the limited playing time, Geary was tied with Olathe North standouts Joshua and Jason Parrish and well-known Bishop Miege safety Aidan Wing for second-most interceptions among Kansas City area players, per 810 Varsity.

On Thursday, Geary helped Northwest defeat Olathe South, 35-21, for the biggest win in school history. ONW had lost, 35-7, to South in Week 3. South was ranked No. 5 in 6A. Northwest is into the quarterfinals for the first time in program annals.

The 6-foot-1, 165-pound Geary has posted a 4.62 in the 40-yard dash and a 400-pound squat. Versus OS, Northwest faced a 3rd-and-18 and throwing into a 35-mile per hour wind. Geary had an 89-yard touchdown pass on a catch and run play from quarterback Merak Greinert. The play occurred late first quarter and tied the game at 14.

Geary also serves as the holder on field goals and extra points.

KC Piper wins wild game against Chanute in 4A East

In an incredible comeback, KC Piper (7-3) beat previously undefeated Chanute, ranked 4A East No. 5. Piper defeated Chanute, 48-47, in double overtime. The game went to OT tied at 35 after a 21-21 deadlock at halftime. Piper recovered a second half onside kick.

Both teams have huge talent on both sides, including KC Piper’s Camden Beebe (K-State commit) and quarterback Logan Ladish, while Chanute has QB Eric Erbe, RB Ty Leedy and TE/DE Dagen Dean.

Piper has faced a much harder strength of schedule, including a 17-16 loss versus 4A Basehor-Linwood, a 37-10 loss to 6A Washburn Rural, and a 24-0 loss at 5A De Soto. Rural and De Soto are still alive in the postseason. Entering the game, Chanute was ranked No. 9 in 4A, and Piper No. 10 in 4A via MaxPreps’ statistical formula that includes strength of schedule. While Chanute had the better record, the deeper-level statistics showed a near coin-flip – and that’s exactly what occurred.

Columbus upsets Galena in 3A East

Columbus opened 1-5, including four straight losses. That included a 36-22 loss at Galena in Week 4. At that point, Columbus was 5-11 in its last 16 games. Since then, Columbus has four straight wins, including two by single figures.

On Thursday, Columbus won at Galena, 21-14. Galena had captured six straight wins behind senior all-purpose threat Tyler Little, a top-15 all-classes recruit. Columbus has multiple key pieces, including QB Brett Hamilton and WR/RB/OLB Landin Midgett. Columbus is into the quarterfinals for the first time since a semifinal showing in ’15.

Andale’s Wyatt Spexarth leads other top performers

Class 3A No. 1 Andale completely dominated a really good Pratt squad, 45-6. The Indians are 10-0 and have won 48 straight games. Andale opened the game on a drive that milked more than six minutes off the clock. The Indians are known for running, but three-year starting quarterback Wyatt Spexarth completed seven of seven passes for 218 yards and three scores. Andale continues to march toward the fifth squad in Kansas history to win 50 straight games (Smith Center, Colgan, Conway Springs, Claflin)

In 3A, Rock Creek scored 21 unanswered points to hold off upset-minded Hesston, 21-11.

In 1A, Conway Springs held off Plainville, 35-31. This marked the third consecutive year CS had defeated Plainville in a close playoff win. CS junior running back Brayden Kunz is the likely 1A Offensive Player of the Year at this point after another huge game with 34 carries for 319 yards and four scores.

In a huge Eight-Man, Division I matchup involving two top-five teams, Chase County handed South Sumner Co. its first loss with a 56-38 win. CC’s Mitch Budke ran for 265 yards and five scores. Brock Griffin delivered 19 total tackles and a huge interception on the goal line.

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