Sports in Kansas: What impressed us after Week 8 of the 2021 high school football season in Kansas?

By CONOR NICHOLL for Sports in Kansas

Headlines from Week 8:

History for Washburn Rural and Wamego. Wabaunsee and Inman end long district winning streaks for Centralia and Smith Center, respectively. Big wins for 2A Ellis, Eight-Man, Division II Quinter and Six-Man Natoma after significant coaching flux earlier this season and/or this week.

Quick Look at the Playoff Picture for every class.

Class 6A

Derby running back Dylan Edwards finished with three carries for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns in the first quarter and had six total TDs in the contest. Derby rolled over a quality Maize South team, 52-14. Derby has won the last three 6A state titles and been ranked No. 1 in Class 6A all season.

Amr Sabbarini tallied a pair of touchdowns as No. 5 Washburn Rural won the Centennial League for the first time since 1996. WR, Junction City and Manhattan all finished with one league loss. Rural earned a key win, 42-31, for Topeka Seaman.

Wichita East delivered a shocking win versus 5A No. 1 Bishop Carroll, 26-19. East was significantly featured by SIK in the preseason after it had its best season since the ‘80s last year. East opened 1-3 and has delivered four straight big victories. It dropped Bishop Carroll from a top-2 5A seed to sixth. East gets a rematch with Garden City in Week 9. DaeOnte Mitchell passed for 204 yards for East, per the Wichita Eagle. Caquoy Patterson delivered six catches for 68 yards, and Justin Bell rushed for 147 yards and a score.

Quick Playoff Picture Look: Derby is the significant favorite in the West and perhaps overall. Blue Valley and Blue Valley Northwest have the slight edge behind its explosive quarterbacks, offensive lines and resume-building wins, though this should be highly close on the East side.

Top Records: 6A East: Blue Valley (7-1), Blue Valley Northwest (7-1), Olathe North (6-2), Olathe West (6-2)

6A West: Derby (7-0), Washburn Rural (7-1), Junction City (7-1), Manhattan (7-1), Dodge City (6-2), Lawrence (6-2), Lawrence Free State (6-2)

Class 5A

Salina Central dominated Salina South and won the crosstown Mayor’s Cup with a 49-14 victory. SC has quietly won five in a row and is 6-2. The Mustangs have a plus-five win improvement over last year.

St. Thomas Aquinas’ Sean Carroll continued his breakout season with 1,171 rushing yards. He delivered 142 rushing yards in a win versus Blue Valley North on Friday. The Saints are 4-4 in Class 5A East. Aquinas has delivered back-to-back 6A wins over 6A No. 3 Blue Valley Northwest and defending state runner-up Blue Valley North. Aquinas beat Blue Valley North, 35-14. Aquinas has two losses by a combined four points, along with a loss to a Missouri squad.

In a wild game where both teams held double-digit leads, Wichita Northwest came back from 40-27 deficit to beat Hays High, 61-40. HHS standout quarterback Jaren Kanak suffered injury and did not carry the ball in the second half.

Northwest has still averaged 51 points per game and has won five in a row. Northwest delivered 652 yards of total offense versus Hays High, including 534 on the ground. Senior Geremiah Moore completed 5 of 8 passes for 118 yards with a touchdown. He rushed 23 times for 259 yards and two scores. Sophomore Cencere Thompson has 12 carries for 140 yards and three scores. Junior L.J. Phillips has 10 carries for 135 yards and two TDs.

Playoff picture: Mill Valley has risen back up to the top in 5A East, though the West is probably the deepest of any classification. Six-plus teams are in contention in 5A West.

Top Records: 5A East: Spring Hill (7-1), Two-time defending 5A champion Mill Valley (7-1)

5A West: Kapaun Mt. Carmel (7-1), Six teams at 6-2: Andover, Maize, Wichita Northwest, Salina Central, Bishop Carroll, Hays High

Class 4A

Last week, SIK had noted that Eudora had statistically the better offense than 5A Spring Hill, which was the lone undefeated team in 5A East. Eudora had taken four close losses. Eudora rolled over Spring Hill, 33-7. Gage Hayden completed six of eight passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 11 times for 87 yards and a score. Brayden Beerbower delivered 26 rushes for 123 yards. Eudora has 57 plays for 419 yards.

No. 1 Basehor-Linwood defeated 5A Pittsburg, 34-27. Pittsburg twice led early. The Bobcats have its first perfect season since 2016. Brady Garrison completed 15 of 22 for 223 yards and three touchdowns. Zack Sisemore delivered 29 carries for 155 yards and two scores.

Coffeyville freshman Aaron Tunstall delivered 17 carries for 172 yards. Kainen White, a 6-1, 280-pound sophomore offensive lineman, finished with eight tackles, 4.5 for loss, three sacks, an interception, forced fumble, fumble recovery and four pancake blocks. Coffeyville beat Fort Scott, 19-8. Coffeyville opened with five straight losses and has won two of its last three.

Atchison won the KCAL title for the first time since 2016.  Jesse Greenly delivered 33 carries for 276 yards and two scores. Atchison held off KC Washington, 21-20, and has won seven in a row. Greenly has over 1,400 yards (25 TD) this season for HC Jim Smith.

Mulvane was expected to be a breakout team and opened with competitive losses to Wichita Collegiate and Andale. Since then, the Wildcats have won six in a row. Mulvane beat Wellington, 40-26. Mulvane tallied 456 yards and came back from a 20-7 deficit. Mason Ellis accounted for 379 total yards against a depleted Wellington squad, per the Sumner Newscow.

Wamego’s Hayden Oviatt went over 1,000 rushing and 1,000 passing yards for the second straight year. He delivered 109 rushing yards and a touchdown, along with 135 passing and two scores. Colin Donahue finished with 103 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Wamego has four straight winning seasons under coach Weston Moody and more than 90 players out for football. The Red Raiders are 7-1. It marked the first time Wamego has posted four straight winning seasons since 1979-82. Wamego delivered a 45-7 win versus Abilene.

St. James Academy quarterback Jackson House has continued his impressive year, his first as a starter. SJA is the defending 4A state champion and has turned it around in the second half. House has thrown for 1,651 yards with 14 touchdowns against four interceptions, along with 462 rushing yards and four scores. St. James opened 0-4 and has won four in a row against solid program: St. Pius X, Blue Valley Southwest, Blue Valley North and Bishop Miege. St. James defeated Bishop Miege, 45-28.

McPherson and Arkansas City will meet up in Week 9. AC went 2-6 last season, and then won four straight playoff games to reach the 4A finale. Arkansas City beat McPherson in the state semifinals. McPherson is 0-4 in the last four semifinals. McPherson beat Augusta, 56-28. No. 3 Andover Central beat Arkansas City, 35-0.

Rose Hill’s Teagan Cobb has delivered a 63-yard punt, along with field goals of 40 of 49 yards. RH beat Independence, 22-13. Rose Hill is 3-5 and has won two straight.

Chanute has won seven in a row after a loss to Circle to start the season. The Blue Comets beat Labette County, 56-0. Chanute finished 9-2 two years ago. Chanute was 3-4 last year. The Comets are looking to be a serious factor on the 4A East and feel they have the pieces to hang around with anyone.

4A Playoff Look: The expectation is that Bishop Miege (2-6) will still make a deep playoff run. Miege has scored at least 20 points in every contest this season and has averaged 27.8 points per game. Miege rival St. James had to break in some new key starters against its 5/6A schedule, but has delivered an exceptional last month. No. 1 Basehor-Linwood has delivered another big offensive season under coach Rod Stallbaumer. B-L has averaged 42.5 points a contest. Chanute has put themself in the conversation with improved line play and overall team speed.

4A West has had multiple close, generally low-scoring games, with Andover Central, Buhler, Mulvane and McPherson. Wamego has delivered an impressive year.

Top Records: Basehor-Linwood (8-0), Atchison (7-1), Chanute (7-1) in 4A East

4A West: Andover Central (7-1), Wamego (7-1), Buhler (7-1), McPherson (6-2)

Class 3A

No. 1 Andale beat No. 2 Wichita Collegiate, 29-6. Andale has won 33 straight games, a school record and the longest current run in Kansas. Andale has permitted just 36 points all year with its waves of depth. The Indians have won back-to-back 3A state titles and have not lost a regular season game in the five-year Dylan Schmidt era. Andale won District 7.

No. 3 Cheney completed its second consecutive perfect regular season. Quarterback Harrison Voth has continued his elite career and is 3A’s best quarterback this season. Voth has 2,005 passing yards on 67 percent completion rate with 31 touchdowns and six interceptions. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Voth has also rushed for 291 yards and has all-state honors in three sports. Cheney defeated Larned, 56-20. Cheney won District 8.

Galena lost its first contest to an Oklahoma school and has since won seven in a row. Galena won, 36-16, and captured the District 1 championship. Galena is 7-1, 5-0 in district and 7-0 against Kansas teams. Brett Sarwinski and Tyler Little are two of the best multiple sport athletes in 3A after leading Galena to a runner-up in basketball last year and a final four appearance the previous year during the Forever Four cancelled season.

Hesston sophomore quarterback Hudson Ferralez finished 19 of 31 passing for 443 yards and seven touchdowns. Ferralez has helped Hesston win three straight games with 79 of 100 passing for 1,236 yards with 17 touchdowns against one interception. He has 2,155 (24 TD) on the season. Hesston finished third in District 7 behind Andale and Collegiate. The Swathers are 4-4 and beat Clearwater, 60-20, at home.

Chapman running back Eli Riegel continued his breakout season after he missed the majority of last year with an injury. He finished with 34 carries for 234 yards and five touchdowns in a victory versus Concordia to clinch the North Central Kansas League championship. Riegel was featured as one of SIK Most Underrated players this season. Riegel ran for 1,503 yards in a 6-2 regular season. Chapman finished as district runner-up to Riley County. The Irish beat Concordia, 42-26.

Rock Creek quarterback Dalton Whitworth enjoyed a huge game with 427 passing yards and seven total TDs. RC was a KPreps Potential Breakout Team in the preseason as Rock Creek has highly successful baseball coach Shane Sieben leading the football program. Plus, RC has standout two-way player Yanci Spiller, and Whitworth has stepped up at quarterback. Whitworth passed for 427 yards and seven touchdowns. He finished with 2,212 passing yards and 29 scores. Rock Creek finished as District 4 runner-up to Holton (8-0). Rock Creek won at Royal Valley, 51-7. Highly impressive coaching job from Sieben and his staff. Rock Creek had to replace 18 starters. RC has back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2013. Three straight years in the playoffs.

Girard has its best year since 1999 with an 8-0 regular season. Brecken Trioke is one of Kansas’ best linebackers. On Friday, he had a late touchdown reception from Luke Niggemann. Girard won Class 3A, District 2. Girard beat Frontenac, 13-6. Girard has permitted seven or fewer points in five wins. Girard and Frontenac are both serious contenders on the East to get to the title game.

3A playoff look: No doubt Andale remains the favorite, though there’s more than 10 teams who are contenders. Cheney looks for its first double-digit winning season in school history and is 17-1 in the last two years. Southeast of Saline has five straight shutouts and has allowed just 12 total points.

District champions: Galena (7-1), Girard (8-0), Topeka Hayden (7-1), Holton (8-0), Riley County (8-0), Southeast of Saline (8-0), Andale (8-0), Cheney (8-0)

Class 2A

No. 2 Wellsville running back Nash Money delivered 12 carries for 173 yards and three scores. Wellsville beat West Franklin, 49-0.

Marion opened 0-3, and then won five straight games for a 5-3 mark. Marion beat Lyons, 36-13.

SIK has been keeping a close eye on St. Marys, under Smith Center alum Kyle Schenk. St. Marys have won its last four games after losses to Riley County, Silver Lake and Rossville, teams that are a combined 22-2. St. Marys beat Atchison County, 46-12. Keller Hurla has had a fine junior year at the QB position. This is a very scary underdog in the 2A playoffs.

Hoisington held off Beloit, 7-6, and won District 8 at 5-0. The defending state runner-up Cardinals have won seven in a row and finished 7-1. Beloit finished 5-3, 4-1. Hoisington is 3-0 against Beloit since the start of 2020. The Cardinals have won 15 consecutive district games in the last three years. Hoisington held Beloit inside the nine-yard line to hold on for the win, per Cardinal broadcaster Cole Reif.

Kingman will likely be ranked this week after an impressive showing versus Chaparral and its passing attack. Kingman’s havoc defense shut out Chaparral, 41-0. Kingman quarterback Nolan Freund finished 16 of 22 passing for 284 yards with a touchdown. He also completed 2 of 3 on field goals with makes from 24 and 25 yards. Cole Watkins delivered six catches for 112 yards and a touchdown, and an interception. Kingman is 7-1 and has won seven in a row after it started with a competitive loss on a rainy night versus Cheney. Former Fort Hays State wide Tanner Hageman, who served as a St. James Academy assistant, has does impressive work. Plus, defensive coordinator Dustin Beam has delivered several nice seasons at Kingman.

Riverton improved to 6-2 with a 24-20 win versus St. Mary’s Colgan. Riverton lost, 44-12, to Colgan last year. Johnny Mallatt, who has coached several decades in southeast Kansas, has delivered a nice turnaround. Riverton’s Kadyn Allen delivered 11 carries for 139 yards and three touchdowns, along with two two-point conversions in the first half versus Colgan. He delivered 193 yards for the contest. It was the first win since 2012 over SMC.

After a season of coaching upheaval and an early season cancelled game because of COVID issues, Ellis won its third straight contest with a 15-14 win versus Cimarron. The Railers finish the regular season at 3-4.

All season, the top teams have tilted toward the East with War on 24 rivals Rossville and Silver Lake. Those two, Wellsville, Osage City and St. Marys, headline the East. Rossville continues to be the favorite and has won 21 straight games. Rossville won, 51-6, at Mission Valley. 2A West is parity-laden with six-plus teams in the mix, including Hillsboro, Kingman, Cimarron and Hoisington.

District champions: Riverton (6-2), Wellsville (8-0), Rossville (8-0), St. Marys (4-3), Hillsboro (7-1), Kingman (7-1), Cimarron (6-2), Hoisington (7-1)

Class 1A

No. 2 Inman beat No. 3 Smith Center, 38-15. Inman allowed its first touchdown of the year and continue to be a state championship contender. The Teutons, which lost to Smith Center last season, ended SC’s 23-game district winning streak. Inman showed its tremendous speed, athleticism and matched SC’s physicality. Inman’s front six, especially its defensive line, played really well.

Coach Lance Sawyer noted that junior defensive tackle Dominic Nuese-Rasmussen, who is not as well known as some other Inman standouts, did a great job with clogging the run lanes. Four-year senior quarterback Jace Doerksen passed for 229 yards and two scores and also rushed for a pair of TD. Harrison Brunk, Kendyn Blank and Tanner Heckel all scored a touchdown. Inman has never made a state final. Inman has now outscored opponents, 452-18.

Inman gets a first-round bye, which bumps its record to 9-0. Inman has matched last year’s win record from a 9-3 season and 1A state semifinal berth. Inman held Smith Center to 206 yards (all on the ground) and four yards a play. SC entered with 330 rushing yards and 8.4 yards per rush. Inman also tackled well, including a big fourth-down stop from Kyler Konrade.

No. 4 Sedgwick delivered a key district-clinching win versus Conway Springs. Sedgwick, which lost to Conway Springs last season, beat Conway Springs, 28-14. Sedgwick never trailed in the contest. Sedgwick opened the game 33 seconds in with a 59-yard touchdown pass from Lance Hoffsommer to Ryan Stucky. He also completed a 54-yard TD pass and ran for a five-yard score. Overall, Hoffsommer completed 9 of 11 passes for 222 yards and two scores. Connor Tillman moved closer to breaking the all-time Kansas kick scoring record with four extra points.

Wabaunsee delivered an historic win for its program with a 45-40 win versus Centralia. The Chargers, a KPreps Potential Breakout Team in the preseason, have enjoyed its first winning season since the ‘90s. Wabaunsee finished 6-2. Centralia lost in district play for the first time since 2016. Wabaunsee had lost five in a row to Centralia. Wabaunsee led 21-7 after the first quarter.

Since the preseason, SIK has noted the strength of the top-10 in Class 1A. The classification should have a great postseason. Defending champion Olpe has won 20 straight games. Olpe has five straight shutouts and seven overall this season. The Eagles have allowed just 12 total points. No. 2 Inman is on an historic season. Those two are the favorites, though Centralia, Smith Center, Conway Springs, Wabaunsee, Jefferson County North are all among contenders.

District champions: Olpe (8-0), Centralia (6-2), Inman (8-0), Sedgwick (8-0)

Eight-Man, Division I

No. 2 Madison completed another district title run and undefeated regular season. Running back Bryson Turner finished with four rushes for 106 yards and three scores. He also delivered four catches for 156 yards and three TDs. Quarterback Casey Helm became of the few players in recent Kansas history to commit to an Ivy League school. Helm, who had Division I/II offers in football and track, has committed to Princeton University for track. Madison earned a quality 52-0 win versus Central Burden. Helm completed five of six passes for 164 yards and three passing TDs. Madison limited Central Burden to 31 plays for 69 yards.

KPreps/Sports In Kansas has tracked Canton-Galva senior wide receiver Tyson Struber approaching the three big eight-man state marks: receptions, touchdowns and receiving yards. On Friday, Struber is now the eight-man all-time leader in receiving yards. Canton-Galva beat Lincoln, 54-0. C-G finished the regular season 7-1. Struber finished with four catches for 84 yards and a TD.

West Elk freshman Creyo Koop continued his big season with 202 rushing yards and six touchdowns, along with 12 tackles. Garrett Toon delivered two rushing touchdowns, two passing scores, along with a blocked punt recovered for a score and several tackles. WE has won four in a row with a 54-6 win versus Yates Center. West Elk has won four in a row. Koop, who has past family members enjoy great success with West Elk, has 104 carries for 1,100 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns.

Mitch Budke continued his nice season with 11 carries for 184 yards and four touchdowns in 46-0 win versus Oxford. Chase County finished the regular season 7-1 with only a loss to Madison.

Burlingame quarterback Colby Middleton continued his fine season with 29 carries for 190 yards and three TDs. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 185 yards and two scores. Middleton delivered 11 tackles on defense. Burlingame beat Doniphan West, 36-28 in overtime, and clinched a winning season. The Bearcats have won four in a row and will have a intriguing Week 9 test versus Bennington. Burlingame had its Week 1 game versus Madison cancelled because of COVID issues. In Week 2, Burlingame lost, 26-20, in overtime to Waverly. Burlingame is 5-3 and has clinched a winning season. Coach Jeff Slater has eight straight winning seasons. Before he took over, Burlingame had eight losing seasons in the previous nine years.

Eight-Man, Division I was expected to be parity-driven, and that has borne out so far. On the East, Little River, Madison, Canton-Galva and Clifton-Clyde are the top contenders thus far. Division I is headlined by Meade (10 straight wins), Hill City, WaKeeney-Trego and Leoti-Wichita County.

Little River, the defending state champions, has a pair of one-score wins and has won 16 straight games. Wichita County, the defending state runner-up, has averaged 55.5 points a contest. WC beat South Gray, 82-36.

District champions: Sedan (8-0), Madison (8-0), Clifton-Clyde (6-1), Little River (8-0), Goessel (6-2), La Crosse (6-2), Meade (8-0), Hill City (7-1)

Eight-Man, Division II

No. 1 Axtell quarterback Isaac Detweiler continued his dominant season and is probably the favorite for Division II Offensive Player of the Year honors. He completed 16 of 21 passing for 234 yards and four touchdowns. Detweiler had 12 rushing for 71 yards and a score. Axtell delivered a 54-8 win versus a quality Onaga team that had delivered big offensive numbers versus Frankfort and Hanover. Axtell has posted its first undefeated regular season since the ‘90s.

After a week of coaching upheaval within the program, Quinter beat Logan-Palco, 48-0. Quinter is 7-1 and has its most victories in a single season since it went 12-1 and won Eight-Man, Division I in 2009.

Lebo’s Landon Grimmett delivered four catches for 169 yards for four touchdowns and two interceptions. Lebo beat Marais des Cygnes Valley, 56-0. Lebo won District 2.

Dighton won at Bucklin, 34-14, and completed another impressive turnaround and surprise season under coach Ken Simon. The Hornets have won six straight games. Dighton entered this year on a seven-game losing streak with two forfeit losses. In 2019-20, Dighton had one total on-field win. The Hornets have paced Division II in scoring defense some of the fall. Versus Bucklin, Dighton’s defense limited the Red Aces to 46 plays for 260 yards (5.7 yards per play).

The big playoff question for Division II: No. 1 Axtell and No. 2 Thunder Ridge have been a step ahead of everyone else so far and both teams are on the East. Osborne, which gets a Week 9 matchup with defending champion Hanover, played TR in a very close contest. Victoria remains a slight west favorite, though Wheatland-Grinnell, South Barber, Dighton, and Bucklin are definite contenders.

District champions: Waverly (5-1), Lebo (7-1), Axtell (8-0), Thunder Ridge (8-0), Victoria (7-1), South Barber (7-1), Dighton (7-1), Wheatland-Grinnell (7-1)


On Saturday afternoon, Natoma beat Ashland, 67-18, in a game that was called with 3 minutes, 2 seconds left in the game. Natoma has won its first playoff games in 47 years. Cunningham beat Northern Valley, 57-22. Natoma (8-0) will play Cunningham (9-0) for the Six-Man state championship next Saturday in the Wild West Bowl in Dodge City. Ashland (7-2) faces Northern Valley (7-2) for third place.

Natoma had a wild week. On Tuesday, Natoma beat Pawnee Heights at home in the quarterfinals. On Friday/Saturday morning, Natoma learned that head coach Robert Cox was not going to be coaching in the state semifinals. Tyler Masters, the Natoma graduate and four-year assistant coach, had never before called offensive plays. Masters was helped by Chris Broeckelman, who has served in many roles at Natoma.

Broeckelman is currently the head boys’ basketball coach, and Masters is the assistant. Kayden Martinez threw for 148 yards and a score and rushed nine times for 160 yards for four TDs. He also caught a scoring pass. Derek George had another big game with double-digit tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Tracen Frye finished with five catches for 217 yards and three TDs. Roy Bright was six of seven passing for 167 yards and two TDs.

Natoma and Cunningham have enjoyed its best seasons since the ‘70s. Cunningham has its top year since a runner-up in 1975, and Natoma since a runner-up showing in ’74.

Cair Paravel’s Carter Brian threw for four touchdowns in one quarter versus Life Prep. CP improved to 8-0 with a 56-6 win versus Wichita Life Prep Academy. He finished 5 of 5 for 187 yards with four touchdowns.

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