By CONOR NICHOLL & CHET KUPLEN – Sports in Kansas
Kansas high school football delivers every week. That occurred again in Week 1 of the 2022 season, historically the best first slate of games in at least 10 years. SIK looks first at the 10 defending state champions (six 11-man, two eight-man, six-man and KCAA), including four winning streaks of at least nine games ending. Then, a class-by-class breakdown.
SIK’s Bethany Bowman was at Blue Valley Northwest versus St. James, while SIK’s Conor Nicholl was at two Ellis County games: Kinsley at Victoria, and Junction City at Hays High. Continue to follow SIK for more coverage throughout the weekend.
6A Blue Valley Northwest at 4A St. James Academy – Northwest is ranked second in 6A, and St. James Academy is No. 1 in 4A. In a game that was tied at 14, BVNW pulled away to win, 35-21. St. James had its nine-game winning streak end. Northwest has won seven straight games. Blue Valley Northwest’s Grant Stubblefield continued his impressive career. He is a returning first team all-state running back and 6A basketball player of the year. Stubblefield delivered 37 carries for 281 yards.
Eight-Man, Division II Axtell at KCAA Cair Paravel – In an extreme rarity, both teams faced off in Week 1 after undefeated seasons last year. Axtell is No. 1 in Division II after a 13-0 season. Cair Paravel had won 11 straight contests. This is CP’s first year at the KSHSAA level and is part of highly challenging Eight-Man, Division I, District 2.
In a remarkable second half, Axtell trailed in the third quarter before it pulled away, 82-38. Axtell senior quarterback Isaac Detweiler, the reigning Division II Offensive Player of the Year, accounted for eight touchdowns. Detweiler rushed for four scores and passed for four.
5A Mill Valley at Olathe Northwest – Mill Valley has won three straight Class 5A state championships. In those years, MV has ranked second, first and first in Massey Ratings’ all-classes defensive rankings for all Kansas 11-man teams that feature points allowed and strength of schedule. Mill Valley went 12-1 and entered ’22 on an eight-game winning streak. MV was the clear-cut No. 1 team. Olathe Northwest went 6-4 last season, which tied the school record for wins. Mill Valley rolled, 40-0, and bumped its winning streak to nine games. MV held Northwest to 43 plays for 103 yards. Mill Valley has arguably the state’s best LB and DB units and kept Northwest to 2 of 11 passing.
3A Andale at Wellington – Andale has won three consecutive state championships. The Indians, No. 1 in 3A, entered this year with a 38-game winning streak, easily the best in Kansas. Andale defeated Wellington, 63-14, behind its historically talented senior class. Kelby Eck highly impressed with a 90-yard interception return TD.
2A Rossville at St. Marys – Rossville carried a 26-game winning streak after two straight 2A state titles. However, the Bulldawgs took major graduation losses and opened No. 3 in 2A. St. Marys moved down to 1A and was highly publicized by SIK in the preseason, both in stories and video. St. Marys is preseason No. 1 in 1A behind coach Kyle Schenk, especially with its defensive improvement. That occurred again with a 20-13 St. Marys victory. Rossville had paced 2A in scoring offense with 47.1 points a contest.
1A Olpe at Topeka Hayden – Olpe had won 24 straight games and allowed a remarkable 59 total points in those contests. The Eagles were preseason No. 3 in 1A. Topeka Hayden ranks No. 5 in 3A behind offensive tackle Joe Otting, a Notre Dame commit. Olpe, long known for great defense with coach Chris Schmidt and defensive coordinator Terry Smith, played tough with Hayden in a 21-7 loss.
Eight-Man, Division I Meade at Coldwater-South Central – Meade went 13-0 and won the Division I state title. In an extremely deep class, the Buffs are not ranked in the preseason top-5, though return key players like OL Brady Papay, LB Brayden Norris, and WRs Grayden Stapleton and Brock Keith. Meade earned a 48-0 victory against South Central and bumped its winning streak to 16 games. The Buffs won their last two games of 2020, and then 13 straight last year. Meade was second in Division I in scoring defense last season.
Six-Man Natoma at Northern Valley – Natoma went 9-0 last year, including a 53-50 regular season win in a game decided on the last play against Northern Valley. Natoma had significant graduation losses/transfers. NV returned multiple key players from a semifinalist squad. Natoma is ranked third, Northern Valley fourth. NV beat Natoma, 38-0. First team all-state lineman Kai Cox returned from injury and delivered nine tackles. Brody Preston rushed nine times for 106 yards. Junior Kenton Thalheim delivered six passing scores and nine tackles.
In a remarkable win, Manhattan defeated No. 1 Derby, 26-23, in overtime. Manhattan led 15-0 most of the game. Braxton Frey kicked a 25-yard field goal for the win. Former Derby Informer reporter Adam Suderman noted the Panthers ended its 46-game home winning streak that dated back to a 35-28 loss to Hutchinson in the ’14 playoffs. It marked Derby’s first home regular season loss since the ’13 regular season opener.
As well, Derby, which has made seven straight state championship games, lost back-to-back contested for the first time since the ’12 season finale and the ’13 Week 1 game. However, Derby historically rebounds after losses. In ’20, Derby lost the season opener to Mill Valley and still won the state title. This marked the first non-playoff matchup between the two teams.
Garden City pulled a slight upset with a 36-26 home win against Wichita Heights. The Falcons are highly experienced with QB DJ Dingle and RB John Randle, who has several Power 5 offers. Heights coach Dom Dingle was a former GC assistant. Garden City forced five turnovers, including a pick-six by Ryan Heiman and a fumble return for a score from Frankie Guerrero.
Olathe North’s TJ Porter had 24 carries for 230 yards and two scores. ON defeated Olathe East, 26-6.
Shawnee Mission Northwest’s Malik O’Atis is a dynamic all-purpose player. He finished with 313 all-purpose yards, including 214 rushing and three scores. Northwest shutout SM West, 44-0.
Washburn Rural was significantly featured in the preseason on multiple SIK platforms. Rural defeated Wichita East, 49-42, in a matchup of teams just outside the top-5 in 6A. The state’s three best 11-man junior quarterbacks are: Rural’s Branton DeWeese, East’s DaeOnte Mitchell and Blue Valley Southwest’s Dylan Dunn. DeWeese threw the game-winning TD pass with 2:37 left in a 49-42 victory. Then, Rural had a huge goal line stand at the two-yard line.
Hutchinson defeated Goddard-Eisenhower, 27-20, against two teams looking to breakout. Hutchinson’s Nic Lange had 12 rushes for 106 yards and two scores. Noah Khokhar finished with 12 rushes for 78 yards and a score, and three catches for 47 yards. Hutchinson limited Eisenhower to 44 rushing yards. Eisenhower quarterback Tyner Horn, a returning starter and Wichita State University baseball commit, completed 16 of 23 passes for 266 yards with three TDs against two interceptions. Carter Pabst finished with seven receptions for 179 yards and three TDs.
Topeka Highland Park’s Tre Richardson helped the Scots end their 65-game losing streak that dated back to ’14, per 580 Sports’ Brendan Dzwierzynski. Richardson, a top-15 all-classes recruit and Division I New Mexico State commit, had more than 300 yards of scrimmage, 400-plus all-purpose yards, four rushing scores, a receiving score and a passing TD. Highland Park beat KC Wyandotte, 60-47.
Hays High had to replace Top 11 all-class players with Jaren Kanak and Gavin Meyers from the school’s best season since 1995. HHS set several school records. The Indians have 23 seniors, many of them starting for the first time. HHS delivered a great 33-21 win against 6A Junction City at Lewis Field Stadium.
Coach Tony Crough mentioned to SIK this summer that Malik Bah was a breakout player. Bah delivered 31 carries for273 yards and three scores. He caught a 13-yard pass and had 60-plus kickoff return yards, per veteran Indian broadcaster Dustin Armbruster. HHS had more than 500 yards of total offense and had contributions across the board in the comeback win (see more on Hays High’s win later in this week at SIK).
Maize South has 10 straight winning seasons under coach Brent Pfeifer, the only coach in program history. Maize South opened with Andover, which led 5A in scoring defense last season. Maize South won 44-16. Senior Conner Neill, featured on SIK’s Linebackers to Watch List and an athletic marvel, delivered 13 tackles. Jacob Gnagy finished with 13 stops, too. Sophomore defensive back Christian McDonald delivered 10 tackles and several pass breakups.
Sophomore Tate McNew finished 23 of 34 passing for 448 yards and five touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Sammy Dressie caught 14 passes for 271 yards and three scores. Junior wide receiver Jeron Askren finished with two catches for 91 yards and a TD. Junior kicker Sam Parks, one of top specialists in Kansas, kicked a 46-yard field goal and was five of six on extra points.
In the Mayor’s Cup, Salina Central defeated Salina South, 52-28. SC’s had more than 100 rushing yards and two scores, a punt return TD and a kickoff return for a touchdown, per radio broadcaster Jackson Schneider.
Two years ago, Arkansas City had an historic run to the 4A state championship game with a sub-.500 record. Last season, AC had a highly difficult season, including a forfeiture in the postseason to McPherson after a AC player tied in a car wreck. Senior Gabe Welch returns for his third year as a starter with more than 3,000 career passing yards. Welch passed 19 for 26 for 295 yards and five touchdowns. Welch rushed for 74 yards and a TD in a 43-14 win against Winfield.
No. 2 Bishop Miege has back-to-back state semifinal losses to St. James. Miege quarterback Mac Armstrong completed 24 of 32 passes for 363 yards and three scores. Isaiah Coppage had nine catches for 167 yards and two TDs. Miege earned a 40-14 win against Blue Valley North. Defensive back DeAndre Beasley has committed to Northern Iowa. He allowed one target and no catches.
No. 3 St. Thomas Aquinas defeated Blue Valley West, 31-7. Aquinas received 15 carries for 105 yards and two scores from Sean Carroll. STA held BVW, ranked No. 4 in 6A, to 25 carries for 93 yards.
Wamego quarterback Hayden Oviatt is a top-15 all-classes recruit. He collected more than 3,000 yards of total offense last season and has committed to Army West Point. Last season, Wamego had its best scoring offense since at least the mid-80s. Oviatt is out for several weeks with injury. Wide receiver Colin Donahue delivered 320 passing yards and four scores in a 45-6 win against Clay Center.
Abilene ended a 25-game losing streak with a 14-7 win against Marysville.
Defending 4A runner-up Andover Central returns Cooper Tabor was listed on several SIK preseason to watch lists and is expected to contribute in all three phases. AC faced Buhler for the third time since the start of ’21 and moved to 3-0 in those contests. Andover Central won in the state semifinals last fall. Tabor had three catches for 137 yards and three TDs, along with a two-point conversion pass off a busted play. New quarterback Braden Barsewski completed 7 of 13 of 230 yards and four scores. AC defeated Buhler, 35-13.
In a big Central Kansas League game, Hesston defeated Hoisington, 21-14. Hesston junior quarterback Hudson Ferralez threw for 2,436 yards and 27 scores last season. He opened with 215 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Nickerson senior Colton Morrell finished with 18 carries for 222 yards and two scores in a 28-0 win against Lyons.
Baxter Springs ended a 26-game losing streak with a 42-0 win against Southeast-Cherokee.
Jahmarion Washington & Tra Mack of Parsons w/ huge nights in 56-22 win over Prairie View.
Washington- 5 rushes 148 yards, 2 TD. (95 yard run)
Mack – 6/7 228 yards passing, 3 TD
522 yards of offense on just 30 plays.
As we said in preseason Vikings a team to circle in 3A.
No. 1 Southeast of Saline defeated Rock Creek, No. 3 in 3A, 38-26 in a big home win. SES led 14-0 in the first quarter, including a 56-yard TD pass. RC closed to 14-13 and 22-20.
No. 2 Nemaha Central was featured by SIK in the preseason. NC defeated Holton, 35-28. Holton is ranked No. 2 in 3A. In the last two seasons, Holton defeated Nemaha Central on last-second field goals. NC senior Cooper Hajek, known for his great athleticism and lateral quickness, finished with 25 carries for 201 yards and four scores. NC’s line features Holden Bass, Connor Deters, Josh Gonzalez, Abe Hilbert and Dylan Keim up front.
Russell was a KPreps Potential Breakout Team and the projection is for the Broncos to have their first winning season since 2003. New coach Christien Ozores coordinated the defense last season. Russell defeated Ellis, 39-7, and beat the Railroaders for a second straight season. Russell led 39-0 at halftime. Charles Krug finished with two touchdowns and more than 100 all-purpose yards in one half of play. Roman Hernandez recorded two defensive scores and two tackles for loss in one half of play. Russell had its biggest margin of victory since a 50-12 win against La Crosse in Week 2 of 2018.
Osage City beat Mission Valley, 58-6, behind another huge game from Landon Boss, a back-to-back three-sport all-state athlete. Boss is a four-year starter for OC football. Boss accounted for five touchdowns, a safety and four tackles for loss.
Silver Lake’s C.J. Hamilton retired as Kansas’ all-time winningest coach. Logan Pegram, a former Shrine Bowl lineman for SL, Northern Illinois lineman and Anderson County head coach, stepped in as head coach and won his first game with the Eagles, 28-21, against Mid-East foe Riley County. SL has a huge Week 2 home game versus Topeka Hayden.
Ellsworth upset No. 4 Beloit, 14-6. Beloit is 2A state semifinalist and state runner-up the last two years.
Jackson Heights’ freshman Drake Mellies delivered 104 passing yards, 88 receiving yards, 49 rushing yards and an interception return. He delivered four total touchdowns. JH beat Horton, 61-7.
No. 5 Pittsburg Colgan went 4-5 for its first losing season since 1997. Colgan dropped down to No. 1 and is highly experienced with Cooper Simmons and Tucker Harrell, who switched from WR to QB. Colgan defeated Frontenac, 14-12, in a big CNC rivalry matchup. Frontenac is the defending 3A runner-up to Andale. Colgan lost, 46-12, to Frontenac last season, 28-7 in ’20 and 41-12 in ’19. This ended a three-game losing streak in the series for Colgan.
Eight-Man, Division I
No. 2 Leoti-Wichita County led Division I in scoring offense last season. WC leads all of eight-man in scoring offense since Brant Douglas took over four-plus years ago. The Indians opened with a 76-0 win against Wheatland-Grinnell, the defending Eight-Man, Division II runner-up
In a game played Thursday night, Hill City defeated Osborne, 58-12. HC delivered big games from its standout three-man backfield of Aiden Amrein, Jaden Nuss and Kaleb Atkins. Amrein completed 5 of 11 passes for 162 yard with two scores against zero interceptions. Atkins, Amrein and Nuss combined for five rushing scores.
Amrein and Chase County’s Mitch Budke are returning 8MI Offensive POY finalists. Chase County delivered an impressive non-conference 60-8 win against Frankfort. Budke rushed 10 times for 187 yards and five scores. He was 2 of 3 passing for two scores and finished with nine tackles.
Sedan finished 10-1 and was second in Division I in scoring offense with 54.4 points a game. The Blue Devils had not lost a regular season game since Week 9 of the 2019 season. Central Burden delivered a 50-12 win against Sedan under veteran coach Jeff Savage, who is in his first year in his second stint at the school. Central Burden quarterback Jace Wunderlich delivered 287 passing yards for three touchdowns. Wunderlich finished with 138 rushing yards and two scores. C-G lost, 58-8, in his game last year.
Burlingame opened with a 46-0 win against Marais des Cygnes. QB Colby Middleton had two rushes for 29 yards and two scores. He completed five of six passes for 128 yards and four scores. Middleton’s reception was a 17-yard catch. Overall, he accounted for seven TDs.
Ness City’s Danny Guzman recorded a punt return touchdown, two interceptions and a rushing TD. NC beat Central Plains, 26-8.
Madison has the longest current regular season winning streak in Kansas. The Bulldogs have not lost in the regular season since the 2017 finale. Since then, Madison is 9-1, 11-1, 11-1, 10-1. The Bulldogs opened with a 66-6 win against Hartford. Madison’s outstanding senior running back Bryson Turner finished with nine carries for 122 yards and three scores. Hayden Helm replaced his brother Casey at quarterback and finished 6 of 7 for 66 yards and three TDs.
Eight-Man, Division II
Behind an historic performance from senior Jett Vincent, Canton-Galva defeated Little River, 66-36, in a matchup of Wheat State League rivals. C-G is ranked No. 2 in Division II, and LR is ranked No. 1 in Division I. C-G had three senior starters out with injury: quarterback Garrett Maltbie, running back Ryder Norstrom and Braison Alcala (out for the year).
As a freshman at W-G, Vincent was pressed into QB duty when the team had injuries, though he has generally always played receiver.
In ’21, Vincent had more than 1,300 receiving yards and is the reigning Division II Defensive Player of the Year. Vincent stepped in at quarterback and delivered 4-6 passing for 149 yards and two TDs. He rushed 24 times for 349 yards and eight scores. These teams have faced five times since 2019; all five have at least 93 total points.
No. 5 Victoria defeated Kinsley, 49-0, a team missing multiple starters. Senior quarterback Thaddeus Wohler accounted for five touchdowns and picked off a pass.
Mitchell Engelken, a former all-state player at Baileyville B&B and an assistant at several places, opened his head coaching career with a 50-0 win against Fairfield.
Oswego went a highly challenging 3-6 season last fall that included a 68-66 loss to St. Paul and a 106-98 loss to Marmaton Valley, the highest scoring game in Kansas history. Oswego delivered a nice 63-34 win against Marmaton Valley. Oswego’s single wing rushed for 272 yards. Jake Hutchinson scored four touchdowns and Hunter Kelly accounted for three scores.
Six-Man had its first-ever KHSAA sanctioned football week. The classification started with some great games. No. 1 Cunningham defeated No. 2 Ashland, 38-30. In addition to Northern Valley’s win, Bird City-Cheylin, a team just outside the top-5, earned a 45-27 victory against Cheyenne Wells (Colo.).
Plus, Burrton defeated Centre-Lost Springs, a top-10 team, 79-71.
Notable teams that won its first-ever six-man game (as of Saturday morning):
Altoona-Midway 46-0 over Chetopa
Triplains-Brewster 60-13 over Deerfield
Ingalls 41-19 over Greeley County
Wetmore 58-0 over Southern Cloud
Last year, Midway was 1-6, Triplains-Brewster was 2-6, Ingalls 0-9 and Wetmore 1-8. Ingalls ended a 12-game losing streak.