Monday, July 30, 2012

Can't Miss Sunflower League Games in 2012

Olathe East and Olathe South last faced off in
the regular season finale of 2011, with Olathe
South coming out on top, 36-18
Week 1 - Olathe East at Olathe South
ODAC, Friday, Aug. 31st

Nothing says high school football is back like the annual week one clash of Olathe rivals.  This year's game features defending Class 6A champs Olathe South against a younger, inexperienced group from Olathe East.  But don't be quick to rule this game a victory in Olathe South's favor.  Neither team will be at their peak in week one and anything can happen in these Olathe clashes, as evidenced by past games.

Week 2 - Olathe North at SM East
SM South District Stadium, Thursday, Sept. 6th

I, like most people, am interested to see the kind of impact new quarterback Jordan Darling will have for SM East this year.  This second week Thursday night contest should fill us all in pretty well.  You know Olathe North is going to field a solid defense and secondary and it will be fun to watch the chess match between head coaches Chip Sherman and Gene Wier, who have a combined nine state championships as head coaches.

Week 3 - SM West at Olathe North
ODAC, Friday, Sept. 14th

SM West head coach Tim Callaghan got his assistant coaching start and learned the ropes under Wier at Olathe North in the 1990s and early 2000s.  Wier left in 2003 to coach in Texas, the same year Callaghan took the head gig at SM West.  Nine seasons have past since they were last on the same staff at Olathe North in 2002, but the protégé will meet the mentor for the first time on opposite sides of the field in what should be a week three thriller.

Week 4 - Leavenworth at Olathe Northwest
CBAC, Friday, Sept. 21st

This could be a sort of fork in the road type of game for both of these teams when they meet in the fourth week of play.  Leavenworth's early schedule is manageable and a 2-1 record would not in any way be surprising for them heading into week four.  Olathe Northwest on the other hand has a rough three weeks and could easily be 1-2 or 0-3 if things don't go their way early on.  Case in point, the implications of this game (while probably not league championship worthy) will be huge for each of the respective programs.

Week 5 - Olathe South at Lawrence
Lawrence High School, Friday, Sept. 28th

This game pits the two tops teams from my Preseason Power Rankings in a matchup that could be epic.  Sure, we're two months out and much remains to be seen on how both teams fair in their first four games (neither teams has an easy opening schedule, by the way) but it has the potential to be the best non-district/playoff game of the season in terms of hype.  Get ready for a big one if this ends up being a clash of undefeated squads.

Week 6 - SM East at Lawrence Free State
Free State High School, Friday, Oct. 5th

If you like offensive slugfests, this game in Lawrence in early October could be just what you're looking for.  While both teams claim they pride themselves on defensive efforts, we know that in their heart of hearts they both prefer offensive fireworks to anything on the defensive side of the ball.  Set the early over/under line on combined total offense at 800 yards.

Week 7 - SM South at Blue Valley Northwest
BVDAC, Friday, Oct. 12th

Forgive me for listing a game which involves a non-Sunflower League foe... but SM South might as well circle this game now.  It could be the make-or-break moment in their bid for making the playoffs.  A win in this first district game will basically set the Raiders up so that they would have to win one of their next two games (against a paltry Blue Valley North and/or what should be a solid Olathe East team) to qualify for the playoffs.  Blue Valley Northwest is never an easy out, however, and a win here for SM South would signal huge strides for the program.
Tyrone Jenkins and LHS will do anything
in their power to beat their talented cross-
town rival two years in a row.

Week 8 - SM Northwest at SM North
SM North District Stadium, Friday, Sept. 19th

I always throw the Hula Bowl on here for nothing more than the sake of posterity.  This game was as big as any SL matchup in the early 2000s, but since then it's faded quite a bit and it doesn't carry the same luster it once did.  Still, it's always a hard-fought game (these schools hate each other) and the winner sets themselves up well to qualify for the playoffs.

Week 9 - Lawrence Free State at Lawrence
Lawrence High School, Friday, Oct. 26th

Last season LHS played running back Tyrone Jenkins at quarterback and somehow managed to beat Free State (in inexplicable fashion), effectively earning LHS a playoff berth and ending Free State's season at 6-3.  You know that game has been in the back of the Free State players' minds all offseason, and likewise LHS would love nothing more than to beat their crosstown rival in consecutive seasons.

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