All games times 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted
Leavenworth (1-7) at SM North (1-7)
Last season the "Toilet Bowl" featured two 0-8 clubs, Leavenworth and Lawrence, squaring off in a week nine battle for supremacy of the cellar. It's ironic that this season the two teams with the worst records in the Sunflower League would be playing eachother in week nine once again. Fortunately both teams were able to collect wins against Wyandotte, so neither team will go out winless. The crazy thing it that due to the wacky district playoff qualifications, the winner of the game will make the playoffs. SM North head coach Dennis Grayless (above) could really make folks forget about the team's 0-7 start if he could will the team to a victory.
SM South (2-7) at SM East (7-1)
Senior Robby Moriarty will be making his first start at quarterback for SM East this season following the injury to starter John Schrock in last week's game. Don't expect much of a drop off though. Moriarty passed for 765 yards last season and was SM East's starter for much of the year. The Lancers need to watch out for a letdown as well. Last week's big win over SM West was huge for the program, but a loss to SM South would be equally disappointing.
Wyandotte (2-6) at SM Northwest (4-4)
SM Northwest had their way with SM North and Leavenworth, and this one should be no different at their home stadium. The Cougars can match last season's win total of five games with a win in this game, but more importantly the team is in the playoffs and this game will be a great opportunity for a tune-up before the playoffs begin.
Lawrence Free State (4-4) at Lawrence (3-5)
Despite the presumed disparity between these two programs we find them battling it out in week nine with similar records. Free State who is 1-1 in district play can seal a playoff berth with a win by any margin. Lawrence, 0-2 in district play, can claim a playoff spot if Olathe North beats Olathe Northwest, and they manage to beat Free State. This game is always a heated contest, but this year's playoff implications should add a whole new meaning.
SM West (6-2) at Blue Valley North (3-5)
The last thing SM West wants to become is a poster child for why the KSHSAA should reformat the way they determine playoff qualifiers, but with a loss the Vikings would become just that. SM West will be entering an unfamiliar venue against an unfamiliar team, and those elements have not treated the Vikings well in the past. The team has gone 0-3 since 2007 against Blue Valley opponents, with two of those losses coming in the playoffs. Right now, SM West is focused on just making the playoffs.
Olathe Northwest (3-5) at Olathe North (7-1)
Since Olathe Northwest's inception in 2004 they have a grand total of one win in 20 games against Olathe opponents. While the Ravens have shown flashed of brilliance in 2010, they haven't really ever been in consideration as one of the top six teams in the league. Olathe Northwest could shed quite a bit of frustration with a win against Olathe North, but it certainly won't be easy. The Eagles have been on a roll lately and looked primed for a long playoff run.
Game of the Week
Olathe South (6-2) at Olathe East (7-1)
These two programs have squared off in some pretty heated battles over the last decade. The game that first comes to mind was the 2005 regular season finale between these two. Both teams were 8-0 heading into the game, and there was a great cast of athletes in competition including Olathe South's Brady Croucher, Devin Cummings, and Tony Bryant and Olathe East's Derek Miller, Adam Parks, and Dee Bell. Olathe East jumped out to an early lead on a long Bell touchdown run an never looked back. Despite the Hawk's lead throughout the game it remained a heated contest and neither team let down. This year's game doesn't feature quite the stables of talent, but the matchup of running backs should be fun to watch. The Hawks' Brandon Willingham and Austin Fulson lead what may be the top duo in the Sunflower League, while the Falcons' Nick Sands and Jake Crist have been headliners all season in the running game as well. Both teams have qualified for the playoffs so the game will be for bragging rights more than anything.
Photo courtesy the Shawnee-Dispatch