Chet Kuplen of Sports in Kansas takes a look at some key happenings across the state in week number three of the high school season. Have a tip or suggestion each week for us to cover? While it doesn’t guarantee you will make our list, suggestions, stats, possible story ideas are always welcome by DM, @sportsinkansas on twitter or email – [email protected]
Seven unbeaten football teams remain 6A after three weeks at 3-0. East: Olathe North, Gardner-Edgerton West: Manhattan, Wichita Northwest, Free State, Lawrence, Washburn Rural 10 teams on the west are 2-1 or better. Only four teams are 2-1 or better on the east.
Drake McPherson had four touchdowns for Campus as they knocked off Salina South for their first win of the season.
While some outlets don’t have Derby ranked we certainly think they are still in the conversation of being a major 6A contender. The Panthers blasted Carroll 56-14 on Friday night as they’ve won two straight since dropping their opener to Manhattan. Huge matchup on the road at Hutchinson this week.
There are no moral victories but a shout out to SM Northwest for holding likely the states best team Mill Valley to just 14 points in the 14-7 loss to the Jaguars on Friday. Northwest is a little better than their 1-2 record shows with close losses to Mill Valley and Olathe North so far this season. Next week they get a 3-0 Lawrence Free State which should be an outstanding game.
T.J. Porter of Olathe North (6A) is one of the states best 6A players for this fall. Tonight he had five TDs and over 200 yards for the Eagles. Olathe North is a major contender on the 6A East as they improved to 3-0 tonight with their 61-28 victory over SM North.
Despite winning the state championship last year, many are still not talking a lot about Manhattan this year as they should be. The Indians have been outstanding the first three weeks and have a huge showdown next week versus Washburn Rural (3-0). Manhattan cruised to a 49-7 victory over Hays in week three and have an impressive victory over state power Derby (33-19) in week one. Manhattan and Washburn Rural are certainly big-time contenders in the class.
Cooper Warren had a huge night for Olathe South with three receptions for 228 yards (2 TD) in the game on Friday night in the 49-21 win over Olathe Northwest.
Cencere Thompson had five rushing TDs as the Grizzlies of Wichita Northwest (3-0) came from behind to beat Kapaun in a thriller on Friday night on the road. Northwest has scored at least 41 points in all of their games this season. Grizzlies will be at home next week against Wichita East in which should be a game full of talent for both teams. East (1-2) record is a bit deceiving as they’ve lost to Washburn Rural by one and Kapaun by two touchdowns last week. They are certainly a team to keep an eye on.
Free State and Lawrence are both quietly 3-0. Lawrence escaped a close scare in two overtimes on Friday as they beat SM East (31-28) but have improved to 3-0 on the season. Likely the most quiet 3-0 start in the state so far. They get Olathe East next week. They’ll have to get by Olathe East next week on the road on Thursday and SM North the next week but Gardner Edgerton on their schedule in a few weeks will be a serious, serious test as they could be the 6A favorite along with Manhattan. Free State schedule could favor them to have a very, very nice season with Olathe North not on the schedule until the last week and state powerhouse Mill Valley not on the schedule. MV also not on the Lawrence schedule.
Washburn Rural is looking more and more like a serious contender in the class after three weeks with three impressive victories. Their biggest test comes next week against Manhattan at home. Jaren Heim had a huge night defensively for the Junior Blues this week with nine stops, two interceptions, fumble recovery for 30 yards and a return for a touchdown.
Seven unbeaten football teams remain in 5A after three weeks at 3-0. East: Mill Valley, Highland Park, Spring Hill, Shawnee Heights, KC Washington West: Goddard-Eisenhower, Liberal 10 teams are 2-1 or better on the east. Nine teams are 2-1 or better on the west.
Liberal is unbeaten for the first time after three weeks since 2003. Nice work by HC Bryan Luetters, who is in his second year with the program. Kansas coaching legend Gary Cornelsen was the coach the last time Liberal was 3-0 after three weeks. Brooks Kappelman has been as advertised, throwing for over 700 yards so far this season and rushing for 300 plus more.
Connor Profitt was huge for Pittsburg in the blowout win over Labette County in week three as they improved to 2-1. Profitt had three interceptions in the game and a pick six.
After the injury to Gunnar Gross, QB Jack Gordon has stepped up big with six touchdown passes and 302 yards passing on Friday night in the win over Emporia.
Colton McKanna of Spring Hill had four touchdowns and over 300 yards rushing in the victory over Eudora. Spring Hill is quietly 3-0 on the season and have a huge matchup this week against 5A Blue Valley Southwest on the road. Nice work by HC Jason Feeback.
Hutch (5A) over Maize South (5A), 28-23 tonight. Terrell King 5 rec, 185 yds, 3 TD / 2 INT on defense Jax Heneha with 2 INT on defense, as well Robert Hunter, 200+ passing, 3 passing TD. Salthawks improve to 2-1. Lone loss in week one, Eisenhower, 7-3. Huge matchup versus 6A state power Derby at home next week.
How about the Newton win over Maize tonight? Newton (5A) knocks off last years state runner-up Maize (5A) for the first time since 2011. Nice work by second year HC Greg Slade. Newton lost this game 49-0 last year and 54-10 in 2021. James Hulse had 176 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the contest.
Goddard Eisenhower is 3-0 for the first time in school history as they won 21-7 against Valley Center on the road on Friday, setting up a huge matchup against 3-0 Andover Central (4A) next week at home.
Six 4A teams remain unbeaten at 3-0 after three weeks of the football season. East: Aquinas, Miege, Louisburg, Atchison West: Mulvane, Andover Central
Declan Battle, 2024 ATH/QB, out of Louisburg (4A, 3-0) has 14 total touchdowns after the first three weeks after the season. 9 rushing TDs, 4 passing TDs, pick six. Battle had 18 TDs all of last season.
Frontier League looks to have some balance this year. Spring Hill is 5A but 3-0 on the season as they just knocked off Eudora (2-1) within the league. Louisburg is 3-0 on the season and Paola also off to a 2-1 mark. Quietly Tonganoxie is another team to keep an eye on with a very nice victory over previously unbeaten Chanute. Five teams in the league are 2-1 or better.
Mulvane continues to impress as they are 3-0 for the first time since 2012 with their win over Augusta on Friday. More impressive is that they’ve won all three games within one score. This team has figured out how to close out ballgames after losing five games last year that were winnable. Nice turnaround for a team that was 1-8 last year. Nice work by Daniel Myears. They are at Rose Hill this week.
Trevor McGraw of Tonganoxie has thrown for over 700 yards through the first three weeks of the season with 7 TD. Colton Brusven has rushed for over 500 out of the backfield as they knocked off Chanute on Friday. Tongie improves to 2-1.
Who will be the team to beat on the 4A West this year? It seems to have a lot of parity. Will it be Andover Central (3-0). The Jaguars have looked solid after three weeks and feature back Maddox Archibald who has 474 yards and five touchdowns so far in 2023. We’ve seen Wamego, Andover Central, Ark City represent and recent years while McPherson has been knocking on the door of getting to their first ever title game. How deep does it go on the 4A west?
Topeka-Hayden (3-0) is starting to look like the favorite on the 3A East. Three weeks of domination over Olpe, Silver Lake and Rossville, all contenders within their own class. Who else do you have your eye on in 3A east? Finn Dunshee is one of the fastest players in 3A and had 170 yards rushing and two touchdowns on just 11 carries, he also had 85 yards receiving. He also had a sack and two interceptions on defense, one returned for a TD, giving him three touchdowns on the night. He’s one of the fastest players in the state with 10.84 speed at the state meet last year to win the 100-meter dash in 4A.
Griffin Heger of Hugoton (3A) with another big week in the 45-26 win over Guymon (OK). 33 carries, 242 yards. 3 total touchdown touchdowns. 2 interceptions (one pic six for 85 yards). 327 all-purpose yards. Eagles are 3-0. Nice work by HC Jay Witt.
Willie Dorsey continues to impress as we feel like he’s one of the most underrated players in the state. Dorsey has 11 total touchdown passes this season along with one rushing TD. Dez Winton is also one of the top two-way players in the class so far as Wellsville has improved to 3-0 after their blowout win over Burlington on Friday.
Clay Center improved to 3-0 with their 26-13 victory over league rival Abilene (4A). Clay Center has allowed just 20 points all season. First 3-0 start since 2012 as the Tigers look to be a major contender once again on the 3A west.
Baxter Springs is off to a 3-0 start under first year head coach Jeff McCoy as they’ve allowed just 12 points all season. Jacob Grant showed his range as a kicker in this game with a 46-yard field goal in the win over Afton (OK), 27-12. Payton Gaines is also having a standout year at QB as is Grant at receiver. Huge matchup next week versus 3-0 Parsons.
Halstead had a 20-point comeback on Friday to knock off previously unbeaten 3A Pratt, 42-38, in one of the bigger upsets in the state on Friday. Joey Millspaugh ignited that with a 95 yard kickoff return. Braxton Creed was also huge for the Dragons.
Zane Farney of Sterling, a sophomore, with 5 TDs 220 yds rushing on 39 carries in a 41-6 win against Sedgwick last night.
Eli Jones of Norton (3-0) has put himself in the conversation as one of the top signal callers in 2A early in the season with his 596 yards passing and 10 total TDs. Jones had six total touchdowns in the win over Oakley on Friday. Has great size at 6’2” and 205 pounds as a junior. Jones has completed 60% of his passes this season compared to 50% last year as a sophomore. Tyce Melvin has established himself as a premier receiver with 247 yards after three weeks with two touchdowns, he’s also a junior. Roman Hauser leads the defense with three sacks and was a 2A POY finalist on defense from SIK last season. Brennen Pfannenstiel leads Norton in tackles with 22.
Unbeaten teams that remain after three weeks are Sabetha, Nemaha Central, Ellsworth, Southeast of Saline, Council Grove, Humboldt, Osage City, Hoisington, TMP, Norton.
Osage City improved to 3-0 this season with their 14-0 shoutout win over 1A power Olpe on Friday. The defense was big led by Cooper Parsons (8 tackles), Lamb (7 tackles) and Farwell (2 INTS). Kason Parsons has been big as a sophomore QB in replacing all-state star Landon Boss who graduated last year. Parsons had two total touchdowns in the game. OC line has also got the job done in the trenches over the first three weeks.
2A District Two has an exact feel to last year. We have three 3-0 teams after three weeks (Osage City, Humboldt and Council Grove). West Franklin is also 2-1 while the only team in district with a losing record is Eureka (1-2). While this will certainly change soon with all the teams playing each other, it’s hard to guess who the favorite might be in this district.
Nemaha Central has been as good as expected despite losing a loaded senior class. The two favorites in this class may be Nemaha and Sabetha, with both being in the same league and district. Nemaha has allowed six points all year, those coming to Holton in week one. Have had back-to-back shutouts in week two and three. And we also feel this is a legit schedule for 2A. Sabetha has allowed 22 points over the last two weeks after pitching a shutout in week one. Still a lot of football left before these two meet the last district game and regular season game of the year. We feel pretty good about saying one of these two will be the 2A east representative at this point for the state championship game. Can anyone else put their name in the convo on the east?
Ellsworth has put its name in the hat as a serious contender on the 2A west under HC Josh Homolka. A loaded cast of senior players that have started since their freshman year, this has been one of the best rebuilds in Kansas. They’ve allowed 23 points over the first three weeks. While many are circling the last regular season district game of the year versus Southeast of Saline, there’s still a lot of good football left in the upcoming weeks.
According to Hoisington play by play voice Cole Reif, Hoisington has scored in the following ways over the first three weeks: rushing, passing, fumble recovery, interception return, punt return, safety. They’ve allowed just 21 points all year. Major contender on the west under HC Zach Baird.
Luke Franklin had a big night for Smith Center as he rushed for over 250 yards along with four rushing touchdowns. Franklin is one of the best players in the class.
Valley Heights (2-1) is a team to keep an eye on this season with only a close loss to Centralia earlier this season. On Friday, Carson Spoonts had 215 yards (2 TD) as Jayden Dewalt had 154 yards and two more scores.
Baker Moore of Central Heights had three interceptions in the same game as they defeated SE-Cherokee (29-0). One of those going for a pick six of 50 plus yards.
Jeff County North picked up an impressive victory over Wabaunsee, 36-34, on Friday as both seem to be contenders in 1A. Grady Noll had two rushing TDs and a passing TD in the game. Ethan Noll also had a 64-yard kickoff return for tD and a 3- yard touchdown run in the game.
Brayden Kunz had 11 carries for 219 yards and three touchdowns in Conway Springs first win of the season over Chaparral (42-7). Despite a rough 0-2 start, the Cardinals are certainly a team to watch for in the 1A west. Kunz was last season’s 1A DPOY from Sports in Kansas and finished second in the voting on offense.
McLouth is 3-0 for the first time since 2012. The Bulldogs led by Seth Mills will play Jefferson County North (3-0) next week.
Unbeaten teams that remain after three weeks: Jayhawk-Linn, Colgan, Pleasanton, McLouth, Jefferson County North, Centralia, Jackson Heights, Ellinwood, Marion
Tanner Heckel of Lyndon stat line tonight: 8 TDs and 2 interceptions. 18 total touchdowns in three games. Heckel is one of the best multiple sport athletes in the state in any class.
J.D. Tyson had a night for 8M-I Burlingame. 2 rushing TDS, 8/9 Passing, 150 Yards, 3 TDS 1 passing 2pt conversion, one handed INT on defense. All in just one half of play against Hartford
Nice win for Ell-Saline (8M-I) tonight over 8M-I state power Little River, 24-14. Ell-Saline improves to 2-1 on the season in their second year back in 8M-I since they were last there in the early 1990s. After Lyndon who is the favorite on the East and Wichita County the favorite on the West, we could have a lot of parity amongst the rest of 8M-I in the playoffs this season. LR is on East bracket, Ell-Saline on West.
Kaizer Kanitz of Moundridge (8M-I), a sophomore, with 3 touchdowns tonight, in a very rare way: 2 punt returns & a pick six. He also has another INT in the 60-0 win over Wichita Independent. Moundridge under first year HC Tyler O’Connor is 3-0 to start the season for the first time since 2007. Have allowed just 12 points over three weeks.
Hayden Helm (QB) of 8M-I Madison had a huge game tonight with seven rushing TDs in the win against Lebo
Dalton Morrison of Arognia-Attica had seven touchdowns on Friday with six rushing and one passing TD.
A pass by sophomore quarterback Braxton Alpers to sophomore receiver Jace Reyes from St John to defeat Otis-Bison with 11 seconds left in the game. The score would make it 16-14 to take the lead, St. John would then pick off a pass for a pick six to make it 22-14.
Owen Reece, a 6’4” 190 pounds senior, had 202 yards passing (3 TD) along with 11 yards rushing (4 TD) for seven total TD in the game, along with nine tackles on defense. He has 18 total touchdowns in the first three weeks.
Cheylin improved to 3-0 and may have shown they are the favorite in this classification with their 62-32 win over Ashland on the road Friday. The game of the week in 6-man next week will be in Bird City as Cheylin hosts Northern Valley (3-0). Northern Valley coming off a 30-25 victory over Ingalls.