Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sunflower League Extra: Part VII

Lawrence running back JD Woods became
the first player in the Sunflower League to
eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark with his
294-yard rushing night. Photo LJWorld.
Week Seven Players of the Week

JD Woods, Lawrence: The league's leading rusher had 21 carries for 294 yards and three touchdowns on Friday against Olathe Northwest. The impressive thing about his touchdowns is they came on runs of 48, 85 and 76 yards. Big plays are very much a part of Woods' running style. In fact, seven of his 11 touchdowns have come on runs of 44 yards or more.

Isaiah Ross, Leavenworth: As mentioned yesterday, Ross had a pretty solid showing on Friday night. The fourth-year starter recorded four tackles, three interceptions (one of which he returned 30 yards for a touchdown) and one pass deflection. Offensively he caught three passes for 74 yards and a touchdown, and he also added 38 rushing yards on eight carries. Hats off to Ross for the impressive showing, and his coaching staff for getting him involved in a variety of ways.

Week Seven Coach of the Week

Dirk Wedd, Lawrence: Wedd pressed the right buttons on Friday. After trading scores with Olathe Northwest for three quarters, the Chesty Lions put the final touchdown on the board late in the third, then held on for victory. What we're finally seeing from LHS is a team that's playing to its strengths -- running the ball and hunkering down on defense. Wedd and his club looked completely lost in week one, losing by 24 points to Blue Valley West, but they've gone on to win four of their last six games, and they have a good shot at making the playoffs.


Passing Yards (QB rating)
Will Schneider, SM North: 1,445, 15 TDs (85)
Jake Seurer, Olathe South: 892, 8 TDs (101)
Gunnar Englund, SM East: 834, 11 TDs (116)
Chase Miller, Olathe East: 769, 6 TDs (56)
Landry Hodges, Leavenworth: 699, 6 TDs (54)
Jack Hatzfeld, Olathe Northwest: 611, 4 TDs (68)
Matt Hollingsworth, SM South: 537, 3 TDs (32)
Bryce Torneden, Free State: 493, 4 TDs (62)
Cole Murphy, Olathe North: 461, 5 TDs (80)
Adam Rellihan, SM West: 434, 5 TDs (45)
Ron Kopp, SM Northwest: 327 (21)
Alan Clothier, Lawrence: 292 (25)

Rushing Yards
JD Woods, Lawrence: 1,172, 14 TDs
Venus Triplett, Olathe North: 922, 14 TDs
Bryce Torneden, Free State: 835, 10 TDs
Wyatt Edmisten, Olathe South: 751, 18 TDs
Jalen Branson, Olathe East: 589, 5 TDs
Tarik Watson, SM West: 589, 5 TDs
DaeVonte Nance, Olathe South: 502, 6 TDs
Duron Lowe, SM Northwest: 483, 4 TDs
Calvin Jones, SM East: 481, 4 TDs
Collin Fischer, Olathe South: 448, 5 TDs
Jake Seurer, Olathe South: 420, 10 TDs
Dalton Lewallen, SM South: 409, 5 TDs

Receiving Yards
Nick Perez, SM North: 746, 8 TDs
Alec Dean, SM East: 431, 6 TDs
Zach Cahill, Olathe East: 367, 5 TDs
Jeighlon Cornell, Olathe North: 332, 4 TDs
Isaiah Ross, Leavenworth: 325, 3 TDs
Tyler Burnett, SM North: 286, 3 TDs
Manny Psihountas, Olathe Northwest: 259, 1 TD
Coleman Clanton, Olathe South: 202, 2 TDs

Price Morgan, Lawrence: 96
Anthony Hunt, Leavenworth: 95
David Burton, Olathe Northwest: 91
Nick Perez, SM North: 84
DJ Turner, SM West: 84
Zach Gerber, SM South: 72
Dalton Lewallen, SM South: 68
Josh Morgan, Leavenworth: 67
Kyle Ball, SM East: 64
Jake Seurer, Olathe South: 64
Joe Fales, SM South: 62
Micquel Riddle, Leavenworth: 61
Sean Young, Leavenworth: 61
Josh Compton, SM West: 60

Amani Bledsoe, Lawrence: 10
Kyle Ball, SM East: 7
Eli Pruss, Olathe Northwest: 5
Parker Soukup, Olathe South: 4.5
Mitch Holsinger, Olathe Northwest: 3
Noah McGinnis, SM North: 3
Isaac Medrano, SM North: 3
Rider Terry, SM East: 3

Forced Fumbles
David Burton, Olathe Northwest: 3
Shane Hofer, Free State: 3
Nick Perez, SM North: 3
Joe Fales, SM South: 2
Mitch Holsinger, Olathe Northwest: 2
Parker Soukup, Olathe South: 2

Fumble Recoveries
(12 players tied with two)

Johnathon Sands, Olathe South: 7
Isaiah Ross, Leavenworth: 6 (1 TD)
Isaiah Macklin, SM West: 5 (1 TD)
Andrew Keating, Free State: 4
Jordan McKinney, SM West: 4
Asher Goldston, SM West: 4 (1 TD)

Kick Return/Punt Return TDs
Juwan Potts, Leavenworth: 2 KR TDs
Nyle Anderson, Lawrence: 1 KR TD
Venus Triplett, Olathe North: 1 PR TD

Field Goals
Devin Antcil, Olathe Northwest: (5/9)
Chris Diddle, Olathe East: (5/6)
Jonathan Killeen, SM Northwest: (4/4)
Logan Swartz, Olathe South: (3/4)
Jake Boyce, Leavenworth: (2/6)
Tyler Thayer, SM West: (2/4)
Daniel Clarke, Free State: (1/1)
Cody Corbin, SM South: (1/1)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sunflower League Power Rankings, News & Notes

SM West's Jordan McKinney added his second,
third, and fourth interceptions of the season on
Friday against SMNW. Photo David Compton.
Eli's News and Notes

**Following Olathe East's Junior Williams' three interception game in the Regional Round of the 2011 playoffs, the league went through 35 weeks of play (including playoff rounds) without having a player intercept three or more passes in a game.

Go figure, in the past two weeks, we've seen it happen three times. Last week, Olathe South's Jonathon Sands claimed Player of the Week honors after snagging three picks against Lawrence. And then on Friday Leavenworth's Isaiah Ross and SM West's Jordan McKinney came away with three interceptions apiece in their games. Sands even added two more on Friday, giving him a league-leading seven interceptions on the season.

**The Sunflower League has gone 12-3 (.800) against non-conference opponents this fall, which is an impressive mark, especially considering nine of those wins have been against non-KCK schools.

**Olathe Northwest's loss at Lawrence on Friday was a gut-wrenching outcome for a program that really appears to be on the rise. They're not out of things yet, but it's going to take a strong showing the next two weeks. One statistic I wanted to point out is how dominant the Ravens have been in the special teams game. Their special teams units have combined to block eight (!) punts and kicks through seven weeks of play. That's basically unheard of, and suggests Olathe Northwest has some wonderful schemes on their punt and kick block teams. Additionally, the Ravens have made five field goals, and with Devin Antcil at kicker, they have a good shot at points anytime they get inside the opponent's 30-yard line.

**Below is the point breakdown for each district in which a league team resides. Remember, in most cases, the general rule of thumb is two wins and you're in. Although on occasion we get a situation where three teams finish at 2-1, and then it comes down to points.

6A District 1
SM East (1-0) +21
SM North (1-0)+21
Harmon (0-1) -21
Wyandotte (0-1) -21

6A District 2
SM West (1-0) +21
SM South (1-0) +12
BV North (0-1) -12
SM Northwest (0-1) -21

6A District 3
Blue Valley (1-0) +21
Olathe South (1-0) +21
BV Northwest (0-1) -21
Gardner-Edgerton (0-1) -21

6A District 4
Olathe North (1-0) +21
Lawrence (1-0) +3
Olathe Northwest (0-1) -3
Olathe East (0-1) -21

6A District 5
Lawrence Free State (1-0) +21
Topeka (1-0) +11
Manhattan (0-1) -11
Topeka Washburn-Rural (0-1) -21

5A District 1
Leavenworth (1-0) +21
Lansing (1-0) +15
Washington (0-1) -15
Schlagle (0-1) -21

**There are a few key metrics that seem to accompany the stat line of of every state title winning team from the Sunflower League, year-after-year. Here are three I pulled away from studying the data.

A. 1,500-yard rusher 
Every Sunflower League team that's won a state title since 1996 has had a player on their roster who rushed for 1,500 yards or more. Below I took each player's average rushing yards per game, then took it times a 13-game season (the amount of games a team would play if they made it to a state title). Here are the only four league players who finish above or near 1,500 rushing yards, at their current per game average extrapolated over a 13-game season.

1. JD Woods, Lawrence (167.5 ypg, 2,175 rushing yards)
2. Venus Triplett, Olathe North (131.7 ypg, 1,712 rushing yards)
3. Bryce Torneden, Free State (119.3 ypg, 1,550 rushing yards)
4. Wyatt Edmisten, SM East (107.3, 1,394 rushing yards)

*Of note: in 2011, Sunflower League MVP Jordan Ward, of Olathe South, finished the regular season with only 847 (94.1 ypg) rushing yards after missing five games with an ankle injury. He ended up churning out 893 (223.3) rushing yards in the Falcons four playoff games, helping the program to its first state title. Sometimes players save their best stuff for the playoffs.

B. Takeaways 
The general rule of thumb is if you can average more than two turnovers per game, you're golden. The following seven teams meet that criteria.

1. Olathe South (18 takeaways, 2.57 per game)
2. SM West (17 takeaways, 2.42 per game)
3. Free State (16 takeaways, 2.28 per game)
3t. Lawrence (15 takeaways, 2.14 per game)
3t. Olathe North (15 takeaways, 2.14 per game)
3t. Olathe Northwest (15 takeaways, 2.14 per game)
3t. SM East (15 takeaways, 2.14 per game)

C. Six regular season wins
We've seen Cinderellas come out of the EKL. Blue Valley entered the playoffs at 3-6 in 2010, then rattled off upset victories in consecutive weeks before losing to Olathe North in Sub-State on a last second field goal. Blue Valley North sat at 4-5 at the end of the regular season in 2003, but won their Regional and Sectional games, including upsetting 10-0 Olathe East, before losing to Olathe North in Sub-State. But neither won a state title. Bottom line: there isn't a state title representative on record from East 6A who didn't have six or more wins at the end of the regular season. Right now, the league teams who either have six wins or can reach six wins by season's end are as follows:

1t. Olathe North (7-0)
1t. SM East (7-0)
3. Olathe South (6-1)
4. Lawrence (6-3)*
5. Olathe Northwest (6-3)*
6. Free State (6-3)*

*Hypothetical six wins if the team finished the regular season with two consecutive victories.

Trending Up

SM North: The Indians ending their 25-game losing streak was certainly cause for celebration. The streak began in October of 2011, and spanned 36 months, four different seasons and three head coaches. There were some bad losses mixed in there -- a 58-0 loss to SM West in 2012 and the surrendering of 60+ points in back-to-back weeks in 2013 come to mind -- but as of the start of districts, SM North is 1-0, and will very likely be 2-0 once they square off with Harmon this Friday.

Olathe South: Assuming they take care of business in week nine against an 0-7 Gardner-Edgerton team, the Falcons will finish at either 8-1 or 7-2, depending on the outcome of their matchup with Blue Valley this week. Either of those records would be quite impressive, considering the regular season schedule they've played, which may be the most challenging of any team in the league this year. It will have included quite possibly six opponents who had winning records, which is not something you see every day from one of the better teams in the league.

Lawrence: With wins in three of their last four games, the Chesty Lions are finally starting to resemble the team many thought they could be in the preseason. In the category of athleticism, Lawrence might only trail Olathe North in the league. But we've seen plenty of athletic teams do little when it counted. What the Chesties were able to do against Olathe Northwest on Friday -- overcoming a third quarter deficit, against a good team, then pitching a shutout in the fourth quarter -- was not something this group wouldn't have been able to do last season, or even five weeks ago.

Trending Down

Olathe Northwest: No Sunflower League program has had as many "close, but no cigar" moments as Olathe Northwest. And Friday's three-point loss to Lawrence was the epitome of what we've seen from the Ravens through the years -- a great opportunity, which just slipped through Olathe Northwest's fingertips. Maybe they win their next two. Maybe they beat Olathe East this week (for the first time ever) and then Olathe East takes down Lawrence in week nine, and the Ravens slip into the playoffs through the backdoor. I think we're all waiting for Olathe Northwest's breakthrough moment, but the jury's still out on whether it's going to happen this season.

SM Northwest: The Cougars just came across lifeless against SM West. They weren't able to free up their talented playmakers like Duron Lowe and Sam Sullivan, they turned the ball over six times, and they allowed five touchdowns and 36 points to a team with statistically the worst offense in the league (to be fair, the Vikings scored once on defense and once on special teams). At the end of the day, the Cougars still have a shot at making the playoffs for the second year in a row, but it's going to take great effort these next two weeks.

Playoff hopes: Districts are a cruel time of the year, especially for seniors. By this time next Friday, we could potentially see three league teams eliminated from playoff contention (that number's actually not as high as what we normally have entering week eight). With the way the Kansas high school district system is set up, all you can hope for is that the best two teams from each district make it. Here's to hoping every team in the league can stay healthy from here on out.

Week Eight Power Rankings

1. SM East (7-0): An undefeated regular season is looking like a formality for the Lancers (and to be fair, it has since about week two or three). SM East's key objectives the next two weeks will be closing out with two wins and staying healthy. And, oh, maybe collecting the 71 points they need to set the all-time league mark for points scored in the regular season.

2. Olathe North (7-0): The Olathe North defense has gelled, clamped down, and gone into full on DEFCON mode. They've surrendered just five touchdowns the past four weeks, and they continue to lead the league in total defense. Meanwhile, the offense is connecting on big play after big play. LHS presents some challenges this week, but the Eagles will be the favorite to leave with the W.

3. Olathe South (6-1): The Falcons checked the box on a huge victory against BV Northwest on Friday. This week's game, at Blue Valley, presents the club's toughest opponent since they matched up with Olathe North in week three. If Olathe South can beat the Tigers on the road you'd have to consider the Falcons as much of a state title favorite as Olathe North and SM East.

4. Lawrence (4-3): The Chesty Lions love to run the football, and they will have no greater test than Olathe North's front seven. The good news for LHS is that their win against Olathe Northwest this past week sets them up well to make the playoffs, so long as they either pull an upset against Olathe North, and/or take care of business against the wounded duck Olathe East in week nine.

5. Olathe Northwest (4-3): The loss to LHS might have been a knockout blow to the Ravens' playoff hopes. They still control their own destiny, but it will require two more wins, or one win and some extremely good luck in week nine. It's a tall order with Olathe North still on the docket, but the Olathe East game looks very winnable, and crazier things have happened.

6. Lawrence Free State (4-3): The *stuff* gets real this week for the Firebirds. They'll be traveling an hour and half west to take on a Manhattan team that stands at 6-1, who's literally playing for its playoff life after losing in week one of districts. Then, as if that wasn't tough enough, the Firebirds will visit the state capitol in week nine to face a Topeka team which may be the favorite in West Class 6A.

7. Leavenworth (3-4): Maybe the Pioneers should have been playing 5A competition the whole time? After defeating Schlagle on Friday, Leavenworth moved to 2-0 against their 5A opponents, while only going 1-4 against 6A competition in league play. Their next two weeks will be solid challenges, but I wouldn't be shocked if they find a way to close the regular season 3-0 in districts, and 5-4 overall.

8. SM West (3-4): For the first time all year it looks like the Vikings are actually moving in the right direction. They've won two straight games, will be favored to win their next two, and could close out the season at 5-4. This fall may not go down in SM West lore, but the team's young core of talent has meshed and they look so much better than they did seven weeks ago.

9. Olathe East (3-4): Nobody is playing as poorly as the Hawks at this point in the season. In the past three weeks they've gone 0-3 and been outscored 94-17. Talk about a midseason meltdown. It's hard to imagine anyone outside the program predicting this kind of performance a month ago.  If the Hawks don't beat Olathe Northwest this Friday their season will effectively be over, if it isn't already.

10. SM South (2-5): The Raiders took care of business on Thursday, and positioned themselves in a situation where they need to win just one of their remaining two games to clinch a playoff berth. But this isn't the first time the program has been in this situation, only to come up short. If the Raiders can close out the season well, and make the playoffs, the season would be a successful one considering the injuries they've had.

11. SM Northwest (2-5): With the loss to SM West on Friday, this week's game against BV North has become a must-win if the Cougars want to keep their playoff hopes alive. The good news is BV North is just 1-20 in their last 21 games. By all means SM Northwest should come away victorious -- but another lackadaisical effort and they could be packing up on the 2014 season a week early.

12. SM North (1-6): It took a long time -- 25 games to be exact -- before the Indians were able to collect a victory, but they finally did, and it's got to be a great feeling for interim head coach Ben Bartlett, his staff and players, and the other members of the SM North football program. The Indians will almost undoubtedly starting a winning streak when they face Harmon this week.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunflower League Week Seven Game Recaps

Lawrence's Dearion Cooper tackled Olathe Northwest's
Manny Psihountas. Lawrence won the game, 20-17.
Photo Lawrence Journal World.
SM South 21, Blue Valley North 9

SM South was able to pick up a key district victory, while also ending their five-game losing streak. The Raiders have now defeated Blue Valley North in each of the last four seasons. Blue Valley North actually got on the board first, knocking in an Emmerson Womble field goal to go up 3-0. SM South answered in the third quarter with a 33-yard touchdown run from Tyler Perdue, and led 7-3 at the half. In the third quarter Dalton Lewallen tacked on a 12-yard touchdown run to make things 14-3. Marshall Bland caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Matt Hollingsworth in the fourth quarter, pushing the lead to 21-3. Blue Valley North's final push came on a five-yard touchdown pass from Joey Dolan to Cooper Lantefield.

SM East 83, Harmon 0

SM East set the record for points scored in a Sunflower League game with this effort, even despite the fact they pulled their starters after the first quarter. The Lancers scored 12 touchdowns, and they came, by quarter, as follows. First Quarter: 42-yard run by Wyatt Edmisten; 52-yard pass from Gunnar Englund to Jackson Gossick; 41-yard pass from Englund to Charley White; 28-yard run by Gossick; 35-yard run by Edmisten. Second Quarter: 30-yard run by Calvin Jones; 50-yard run by Mike Banford; 12-yard run by Luke Kaiser; 10-yard run by Parker Shirling. Third Quarter: Two-yard run by Jackson Lovelace. Fourth Quarter: four-yard run by Tommy Barreca; 15-yard run by Carl Young.

SM West 36, SM Northwest 10

The game started with the teams exchanging field goals, SM Northwest's coming from Jonathan Killeen and SM West's from Tyler Thayer. Midway through the second quarter SM West went ahead 10-3 on a three-yard run from Tarik Watson. Then, just before the half, SM West faked a punt and Andrew Ferguson took the ball 47 yards for a touchdown to make things 16-3 heading into the intermission. A one-yard keeper from Adam Rellihan made the score 23-3 early in the third quarter. Next, Watson scored on a 21-yard touchdown run to make the lead 29-3. Late in the fourth quarter Asher Goldston intercepted a pass and returned in 85 yards for a touchdown to make the game 36-3. SM Northwest added a late touchdown run from Sam Sullivan to make the final score 36-10.

Olathe South 42, Blue Valley Northwest 20

The Falcons jumped out to an early lead (like always) and carried the momentum through for a huge district victory. Olathe South struck first on a 37-yard touchdown run from Jake Seurer to go up 7-0 early in the first quarter. Shortly thereafter, Seurer found Jordan Wall on a 31-yard touchdown pass to make the lead 14-0. A Zach Zegunis run before the end of the quarter made things 14-6. Olathe South answered with a 26-yard touchdown run from DaeVonte Nance to push the lead to 21-6. Seurer then connected with Jonathon Sands on a 58-yard touchdown pass to go up 28-6. Blue Valley Northwest kept things somewhat honest, adding a 10-yard touchdown pass from Zegunis to Dalton Schoen to make the game 28-14 at halftime. Zegunis found Schoen on a 33-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, which pulled the Huskies to within eight, at 28-20. But Olathe South put things out of reach in the final quarter, adding a four-yard touchdown run from Nance and a eight-yard touchdown pass from Seurer to Cole Browning to claim the victory.

Lawrence 20, Olathe Northwest 17

This was just week one of districts, but it very well may have determined the playoff fate of both teams. Olathe Northwest got on the board first with a 27-yard Devin Antcil field goal in the first quarter. Toward the end of the first quarter, LHS added a 48-yard touchdown run from JD Woods to take a 6-3 lead. Olathe Northwest came back with the only score of the second quarter on a 10-yard touchdown run from Dominique Bruce. The Ravens led 10-6 at halftime. Woods opened the second half with an 85-yard touchdown run to put LHS back up, 13-10. Later in the quarter, Jack Hatzfeld tacked on a 14-yard touchdown run to put the Ravens back in front, 17-13. Woods proved to be the difference, however, adding his third touchdown of the day on a 76-yard touchdown run to give LHS a 20-17 lead. Both defenses held their ground in the second half, which resulted in LHS' fourth victory of the season.

Lawrence Free State 42, Topeka Washburn-Rural 14

The Firebirds pushed their record back above .500 with this convincing victory. Free State led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter after Bryce Torneden closed out a drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Next, Khaury El-Amin scored on a 20-yard touchdown run to make things 14-0, before Torneden found Tye Carter on an 18-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 21-0. Paul Bittinger intercepted a pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown push the lead to 28-0. Before the half, Washburn-Rural got on the board with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Blake Peterson to Drew Lewis, making things 28-7. Torneden added a touchdown run midway through the third quarter to make the score 35-7. Washburn-Rural responded with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Peterson to Jovon Hall to put the game at 35-14. Free State closed the door with a 38-yard touchdown run from El-Amin late in the third quarter.

Leavenworth 29, Schlagle 8

Leavenworth recorded a nice victory, their third of the season, to push their record to 2-0 against 5A competition. The Pioneers scored first on a six-yard touchdown run from Sanchez Williams to go up 7-0. Later in the second quarter, Isaiah Ross intercepted a pass and returned in 30 yard for a touchdown to make the game 14-0. In the second half the Pioneers would add a four-yard touchdown run from Williams, and a 27-yard touchdown pass from Landry Hodges to Ross to close out the victory.

Olathe North 49, Olathe East 3

The Eagles found a way to get all of their playmakers involved in this one, as five different starters scored touchdowns. Meanwhile, on the other sideline, Olathe East continued an unprecedented midseason slide which has cast a shade of doom and gloom onto the program. Venus Triplett added two first quarter touchdowns of 52 and one yards to make things 14-0. In the second quarter, Marcel Spears scored on a 17-yard run, and then Isaiah Simmons added a 24-yard touchdown run. At halftime Olathe North led 28-0. Triplett added a touchdown to start the third quarter, making things 35-0, before Olathe East put their lone points on the board courtesy of a 36-yard Chris Diddle field goal. A two-yard touchdown run from Cole Murphy gave the Eagles a 42-3 advantage entering the fourth quarter, and they finished things off with a 12-yard touchdown run from Vinnie Shabbaz.

SM North 58, Wyandotte 13

No box score was reported. SM North finally snapped their losing streak, and in the process set themselves up for a likely playoff berth if they can win one of their remaining two games. Their next opponent, Harmon, stands at 0-7 on the season, and is coming off an 83-0 loss to SM East.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sunflower League Week Seven Game Scores

Thursday, Oct. 16

SM South 21, Blue Valley North 9
SM East 83, Harmon 0

Friday, Oct. 17

SM West 36, SM Northwest 10
Olathe South 42, Blue Valley Northwest 20
Lawrence 20, Olathe Northwest 17
Lawrence Free State 42, Topeka Washburn-Rural 14
Leavenworth 29, Schlagle 8
Olathe North 49, Olathe East 3
SM North 58, Wyandotte 13

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sunflower League Week Seven Game Previews

SM Northwest's Nehemiah Jones looks to recover
a fumble against Lawrence on Sept. 26. The Cougs
and Vikes will be squaring off in the biggest game
of their respective seasons this Friday. LJWorld.
Game of the Week
SM Northwest (2-4) at SM West (2-4) at SM South District Stadium

In week nine last year, SM Northwest beat SM West, 17-14, to clinch a playoff berth and send SM West packing ... these teams' combined four wins have all come against Olathe East and SM North ... the Cougars defense ranks last in the Sunflower League, surrendering on average 417 yards per game ... the Vikings offense ranks last in the Sunflower League, managing on average just 242 yards per game ... SM West leads the series 8-3 over the last decade ... Cougar running back Duron Lowe and Viking running back Tarik Watson are two of the league's speediest tailbacks, and should make for a good showing.

Olathe South (5-1) 
at Blue Valley Northwest (4-2) 

These teams last faced off on Oct. 13th, 2011 ... Blue Valley Northwest won that game, 49-34, and it was significant because it was the only loss Olathe South suffered in 2011, as the Falcons went on to go 12-1 and win the state title ... Olathe South's one loss was by one point in double overtime to undefeated Olathe North ... the Falcons have outscored their opponents 191-102 through six games, with a defense that ranks fourth in the league and an offense that ranks fifth ... Olathe South's defense has forced 15 turnovers, the most of any team in the league.

Olathe Northwest (4-2) at Lawrence (3-3) at Lawrence High Stadium

A win for Olathe Northwest would tie their school record for most wins in a season, set when they finished 5-5 in 2011 ... LHS defeated Olathe Northwest, 35-20, in week four a season ago ... LHS running back JD Woods is the league's leading rusher with 873 yards and 11 touchdowns on 122 carries ... Olathe Northwest doesn't do anything spectacular, as they rank eighth in the league in total offense and total defense, but they've compiled the fourth best record in the league.

Topeka Washburn Rural (2-4) at Lawrence Free State (3-3) at Free State Athletic Stadium

These teams last met on Oct. 29th, 2004 ... Free State won that game 14-10 to qualify for the playoffs ... quarterback Bryce Torneden ranks third in the league in rushing with 675 yards, but surprisingly only ninth in passing, with just 318 yards ... Torneden has been in on 11 of Free State's 15 touchdowns this fall ... the Firebirds rank seventh in the league in total offense, but stand at .500 because of the play of their defense, which ranks third in the league.

Leavenworth (2-4) at Schlagle (4-2) at Schlagle

Leavenworth has faced one 5A opponent this season, Great Bend in week one ... the Pioneers won the game, 19-0 ... Schlagle is averaging 43 points in each of their victories this year ... Leavenworth's Anthony Hunt has 84 tackles to lead the league in that category ... Leavenworth's secondary is the best in the league, statistically, allowing just 53 passing yards per game ... the Pioneers' defensive issue has been their run defense, which is surrendering 267 yards per game ... Juwann Potts, Leavenworth's talented receiver and defensive back, has more return touchdowns (two) than any player in the league.

Olathe East (3-3) at Olathe North (6-0) at ODAC

Olathe North leads this series, 6-5, over the past 10 years ... Olathe East is 3-4 in their last seven games dating back to last season, while Olathe North is 6-1 in their last seven ... Olathe North has the top defense in the league, surrendering just 212 yards per game ... the Eagles have also forced 14 turnovers, which ranks second in the league ... Olathe East's top receiver, Zach Cahill, is averaging 28 yards per catch and has five touchdowns on the season ... Olathe North is ranked 10th nationally in the Midlands Region by Prepnation.com.

Harmon (0-6) at SM East (6-0) at SM North District Stadium (Thursday game)

The Lancer offense averages 42 points, 350 rushing yards and 120 passing yards per game, and 7.8 yards per offensive play ... their offensive ranks first in the league ... defensively, SM East is second in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (122) and seventh in pass defense (94), and they rank second overall in the league in total defense ... SM East running back Wyatt Edmisten leads the league in touchdowns with 16 ... six Lancers have rushed for over 150 yards ... Harmon has been outscored 317-62 on the season, and they have a 27-game losing streak going which dates back to October of 2011 ... SM East is ranked sixth nationally in the Midlands Region by Prepnation.com.

SM South (1-5) at Blue Valley North (1-5) at BVDAC (Thursday game)

The Raiders have dropped five games in a row after beginning the season with a victory over SM North ... last week Blue Valley North ended a losing streak of 22-games which had stretched back to September of 2012 ... the Mustangs defeated Gardner-Edgerton (0-6) 31-15 in the game ... SM South has gone 1-2 in districts each of the last three seasons, missing the playoff after losing the final district game all three years.

Wyandotte (1-5) at SM North (0-6) at SM North District Stadium

Aside from SM East, Wyandotte, SM North and Harmon are a combined 1-17 ... the winner of this game will be in good position to clinch a playoff berth against Harmon ... SM North leads the league in passing averaging 210 yards per game ... the Indians rank sixth in the league in total offense and 11th in total defense ... SM North sophomore quarterback Will Schneider has passed for 2,736 yards and 24 touchdowns in 15 games as a starter.