|LHS' Erick Mayo. LJWorld.
Olathe South (3-1) at Lawrence (3-1) at Lawrence High Stadium
The defending 6A champ Olathe South has had a brutal stretch to begin the season, and this game only furthers that notion. This will be their third consecutive road game--and they are not entering calm waters. Lawrence has been on a roll since ever since their week one loss to SM West. The Chesty Lions have averaged 435.6 yards of total offense and 38.7 points in the three games since. Led by quarterback Brad Strauss, who leads the league in touchdowns with 14, LHS has totaled 21 plays of 20 or more yards this year which is likely the highest total in the Sunflower League.
Olathe South is coming off their first loss in their past ten games and they're really going to have to play well at LHS this Friday to avoid two straight. The Falcons offense looked uncomfortable last week against SM East, scoring zero points and not once making past the Lancer 29-yard line. How they do this week will be very indicative of the impact last week's loss has had on them. One thing's for sure, the Falcons would like to get off to a hot start. LHS has pounced early this year, outscoring opponents 48-0 in the first quarter of games. If Olathe South could get on the board early it could really swing the momentum in their direction. If they struggle to score like they did last week they're going to be in trouble because of LHS' potency on offense.
SM South (3-1) at SM West (3-1) (Thursday Game) at SM South District Stadium
It's always interesting when a former assistant coach goes head-to-head against his former head coach. That's what we have this week, when SM South's Ryan Lonergan faces off against Tim Callaghan and SM West, the same program Lonergan was an assistant coach for from 2003 to 2010. Both teams run similar offensive and defensive sets and both have found much success running the football in 2012. SM South's running back Gabe Guild leads the league in rushing yards with 882. SM West's primary running back, Brett Sterbach, ranks second in the league in rushing with 643 yards. I'm anxious to see which back leaves more of an impact to the onlookers.
Lawrence Free State (3-1) at SM North (0-4) (Thursday Game) at SM North District Stadium
SM North is trending towards running the football more and more with each week. And who knows, it might be enough to upset somebody here along the way. The Indians are led by their two workhorse running backs, Henry Bell and Jesse Patterson who create a formidable backfield. This will be a good test for the Free State defense which has been susceptible to the run in various games this season. Free State, if they play to their ability, should be able control the game in terms of tempo and they'll be the heavy favorite to leave with the W.
Olathe East (1-3) at SM East (4-0) at SM South District Stadium
On paper, SM East is the last team Olathe East wants to face this week. The Hawks have gotten off to an awful start at 1-3, and the undefeated Lancers are not going to help them buck that trend. SM East's main nemesis in this game will be the element of letdown. The Lancer program is only cloud-9 following their defeat of Olathe South last week and their new identity as the league's only undefeated team. If they come out and focus on the defensive side of the ball they should be able to shut down Olathe East's rushing attack, much the way they put a muzzle on Olathe South last week. SM West had some major success passing the ball on Olathe East last week and I'm assuming SM East will work to exploit that even more this Friday.
Olathe Northwest (0-4) at SM Northwest (1-3) at SM North District Stadium
This game really pits what on paper looks like two pretty evenly matched opponents. Neither the Ravens nor the Cougars have had the start to the season they were hoping for, but both could get moving in the right direction with a win here. Olathe Northwest quarterback Holdyn Halperin leads the league in passing yardage and he along with the Raven offense, have been doing quite well through the team's four losses. The problem has been the atrocious efforts of the defense which will need to step up if Olathe Northwest wants a victory here. SM Northwest's week one victory seems like a distant memory anymore. The Cougars have some decent talent, they just haven't been able to come out on the winning side of several close games in recent weeks. Look for a great game between these two clubs.
Leavenworth (3-1) at Olathe North (0-4) at ODAC
Who would have thought Leavenworth would have three more wins than Olathe North entering week five? Who would have thought Leavenworth would have three wins, and Olathe North zero! It's been a crazy year in the Sunflower League and perhaps no game epitomizes that more than this one. While Olathe North has a bevy of speed in their backfield with Venus Triplett and Elbert Johnson, Leavenworth can match it with Isaiah Ross and Jason Randall. Olathe North's losing streak, which now sits at eight games, has been a nasty mark against the program of late, and you can imagine how badly the Eagles want a victory. If they lose it will have been a full year since they've enjoyed a win.